How to clean an oil painting on board

There is a need for maintenance for oil paintings. This is the same as you washout your cars to get out dust and dirt. But there is a little difference in that cars need to be cleaned daily but oil paintings need cleaning only if they get dirty.

To start with, first, you have to understand the difference between canvas and wooden board which is essential to clean the oil painting on board.

Boards are wooden surfaces that can be used to get control over textured to create smooth results from oil paints. They are solid and ideal for those who have a risk of damaging the surface. They are also easy to adjust the thickness because you don’t get these benefits on any other surface including canvas.

As wooden boards are different in structure so there is a need to clean on oil painting in specific conditions than on a canvas.

Table of Contents

Things to know before cleaning an oil painting at home

Suppose your painting gets dirty when it was wet. To avoid any loose, don’t try to clean it as the oil paint is still wet. To practice good cleaning, wait for the oil paint to dry completely from the wooden surface.

Drying time can be 1 month to several months or even years. If the paint layer is very thick, then don’t dry clean it before 6 months. If your painting is made with the impasto technique then don’t touch it for 2 to 5 years.

If your painting is framed already, then you gonna need to remove the frame first. Removal of the frame can damage the corner ends which contain oil paint but in wooden boards, the risk is lower as compared to canvas. Here are some home remedies for cleaning oil paintings.

1. Using soap and water to clean oil painting

Using soap and water mixture to clean an oil painting

Things to be aware of:

  • The painting should be 6 months old
  • This technique is applicable for small dust stains


  • Piece of cloth
  • Soap & water
  • Clean Brush


  • STEP 1: Take a clean piece of cloth and wipe all the dust from the surface of the board
  • STEP 2: Make a mixture of soap and water in a small bowl. You can also use any other cleaners like a detergent.
  • STEP 3: Take a clean brush and dip it in the soap solution to remove all the dust from the painting. For this purpose, you can also wet and clean cloth. Avoid applying so much pressure on the surface.
  • STEP 4: Use a clean cloth to wipe the surface again. Now check the painting again and make sure the surface gets completely cleaned.

2. Using turpentine to clean oil painting

Things to be aware of:

  • Turpentine can be toxic which can cause vomiting or even shortness of breath when inhaled. To minimize this risk, use a face mask to cover the nose completely.
  • The use of turpentine is ideal for those paintings which are very dirty.
  • Again, make sure that the painting is at least 6 months dry.


  • Turpentine
  • A medium-sized brush
  • Clean cloth


  • STEP 1: Gently clean the front of the board with a clean cloth piece
  • STEP 2: Pour some turpentine into a bowl. Make sure you wear the face mask for safety reasons
  • STEP 3: Take a clean brush and wet it with turpentine solution.
  • STEP 4: Gently wipe it over the whole surface.
  • STEP 5: Wait for some time to let the paint completely dry

3. Using a varnish Solvent to clean oil painting


  • Use a little amount of varnish solvent to use on the corner of the painting. If the paint comes off then don’t use it further
  • Make sure the painting is at least 6 months dry


  • Varnish solvent
  • Clean brush
  • A clean piece of cloth


  • STEP 1: Take the board and gently wipe all the dust with a brush
  • STEP 2: Take Varnish solvent on a cloth and gently rub the painting to clean it

How much does it cost to clean an oil painting

It depends on the damage to the oil painting. If there is little dust that can be easily removed then you can clean it at home which is going to cost a few hours of time.

But if the condition of your oil paintings is really bad and you want to use a cleaner, then it is gonna cost you between 15$ to 20$.

If you want to go to a professional art restoration company then the average cost could be 150$ to 200$.

What solvent is used to clean oil paintings

There are various solvents that can be used for cleaning dust from oil paintings. The most useable solvents include turpentine and varnish solvents.

Ways to protect oil painting from dust

Suppose, you have created an oil painting recently which gets dirty because of not providing a clean storage place. To avoid the risk, you have to place your newly made oil painting in a clean and well-ventilated place where dust particles cannot get stuck to wet oil paint. As wet oil paints are enough sticky to attract small dust particles consistently which can ruin the whole artwork.

Follow these guidelines to avoid any dust particles on the newly made oil painting

  • Always place the painting in a back direction facing a wall or any other clean surface. This practice will not go to let any particle come in contact with wet oil paint
  • Practice good ventilation in the room, you can use an exhaust fan for this purpose
  • Make a small separate store room to place the oil paintings to dry. Let the light come into this room through a window but do not place the painting directly in the sunlight. As sunlight contains UV rays which can damage the natural glow of the pigments.

Final Words

There is a need for good knowledge before cleaning an oil painting. This knowledge includes the knowledge about the age of a painting to determine whether it is ready or not to bear rubbing from any chemical or solvent. If there are so many dust stains then you can use oil painting cleaners.

There are so many beginners who often try to clean their handmade oil paints but they ruin the painting instead of cleaning it. So, there is a need to share such content with those who are beginners in this field.


Will acetone clean oil paint?

Acetone is a hazardous material not just for health by also for oil paint because it will strip off the paint from the oil painting. You can easily recognize its reacting power with the fact that it is enough to make the glue strip off then realize what it will do with oil paintings.

Can you use bread to clean oil paintings?

Using bread can work for oil paintings but it is not recommended for such an act because it is wet and contains sticky ingredients that are gonna attach to the painting. Finally, you will get an oil painting with a coating of bread instead of varnish.

Can you use saliva to clean oil paintings?

It is wired to imagine your own saliva to clean your oil paintings, but it works. You can use a cotton bud and put it in your mouth until it soaks saliva then use it to rub on the surface where is dust present. Believe me, it is gonna work perfectly because it contains some natural cleaning power which prevents dust to enter our body.

Why is turpentine oil used for cleaning oil paints?

Turpentine is a traditional solvent used in oil paintings. It is like alcohol which removes dust from mechanical parts in a car. But the difference is that we use it in cleaning oil paintings.



Leave a Reply