How to Clean an Oil Painting

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Oil paintings are a unique and quantitative media. Most of these paintings take up to six months to completely cure and settle. From that, they take at least two weeks to dry. The paint used is a combination of linseed oil and various pigments. You never want to use any kind of paint thinner, alcohol, or abrasive force to clean that kind of art.


  1. Buy a doughy bread. A loaf or two, or more, depending on the paintings and their size.
  2. Work on a large white surface outside or inside in a controlled area.
  3. Grab the center of the pieces of bread and lightly dab and brush the bread against the paint. It should absorb the dirt or whatever imperfection that was added over time.
  4. Use a soft brush, like a soft house paint brush, to remove the crumbs from the bread and clean the painting of the bread.
  5. Check for anything you may have missed, and do this on a lighter scale on a regular basis to keep your paintings in the best conditions.


In addition to oil painting cleaning techniques, this video also explains how to clean water color paintings. 


  • Use this method for surface dirt only


  • Cleaning of paintings should be left to a competent professional conservator or restorer
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      • Sources and Citations

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