How to Care for, Clean and Store Oil Paintings

Once you’ve made an investment in artwork you love, it’s worth to give a little extra thought to keeping your painting in the best possible condition. But how exactly are you supposed to do that?

Here are some general guidelines for caring for, cleaning, and storing oil paintings:

Caring for oil paintings

• Keep the painting out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources to prevent fading or cracking.
• Avoid hanging the painting in damp or humid areas to prevent mold or mildew growth.
• Handle the painting carefully to avoid scratches or damage to the surface.
• Sometimes a canvas can become loosened on the stretcher bars, especially if you live in very humid or very dry environment. A simple method to retighten the canvas is to spray water on the back of the canvas and leave the painting to dry for a couple of hours. Canvases are made of fabric, and with time the weave has become loose. This process is safe and will not damage the artwork itself

Cleaning oil paintings

• Dust the painting with a soft and fine brush or a Swiffer and clean the frame (if it’s framed) with a damp cloth.

• If the painting needs to be cleaned, do so using a solution of mild soap and water applied with a soft, clean cloth. Rinse the painting thoroughly with clean water and dry it gently with a clean, soft cloth.
• If the painting is extremely dirty, better consult a professional conservator for specific advice. Improper cleaning can cause damage.

Storing oil paintings

• Store the painting in a dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
• Use acid-free paper and bubble wrap to wrap the painting before storing it in a box or on a shelf.
• Do not store paintings stacked on top of each other, as the weight can cause damage to the lower paintings.

Protecting art during a move or shipping

• Wrap up the piece in brown acid-free paper.
• Wrap it up in bubble wrap.
• Place frame corners on all four corners.
• Place the wrapped-up artwork in a solid box (for a mirror), it’s better to double the box by adding cardboard on each side of the painting. Make sure the box is filled in with paper to avoid the piece’s moving within the box during transportation


In conclusion, taking care of oil paintings requires some extra effort. Regular dusting with a dry, soft, and fine brush or a Swiffer, and cleaning frames with a damp cloth are important routine maintenance steps. Also, it’s important to keep the painting out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, avoid hanging the painting in damp or humid areas, handle the painting carefully, and store it in a dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Remember, your oil paintings are an investment that you can enjoy for a lifetime if taken care of properly.

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