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Techniques for Cleaning Acrylic Paintings

11 thoughts on “Techniques for Cleaning Acrylic Paintings”

  1. Before her passing my mother made several acrylic paintings. She did not varnish them.
    They were damaged by the smoke in a house fire. Do you have any advise on cleaning the smoke off the painting?
    Do you know of any products that will help?

    • Hi Daniel –

      Thanks for reaching out to us about your mother’s paintings. As cleaning and conservation issues are best dealt with on a case by case basis, let me send a more detailed reply to you directly, via email, and then if you still have questions just let us know.

  2. My grandmother painted a very large acrylic painting back I want to say in the late 60s early 70s and gave it to a relative who has since passed away. My mother got the painting back and found out that it had been displayed in a unfinished basement. Any advice on cleaning it.

  3. I had a few paintings stored in a storage room that became infested with rats. There is rat excrement and urine on a few of the paintings and would love to know how to clean them as they are family heirloom paintings. Any advice is helpful and appreciated.

    • Hi Jessica –

      Sorry for the delay in response. Somehow your comment went accidently unnoticed. As we are not conservators, and these paintings clearly have some value for you, we would recommend posting your question on the MITRA (Materials Information & Technical Resources for Artists) which is run by the Conservation Department at the University of Delaware and staffed by trained conservators who should be able to give you the best advice.


      But of course, if you do not get a satisfactory answer these and you still need our help, just let us know at help@goldenpaints.com

    • Hi Jeffrey –

      Sorry for the delay in replying. This type of question is really best handled by a conservator as they will have access to and a wider experience with various cleaning systems and potential solvents that can remove one without harming the other. The best initial step might be to post your question on the MITRA (Materials Information and Technical Resources for Artists) which is run by conservators and hosted by the conservation program at the University of Deleware:


      Beyond that, we can share that in general acrylics are fairly immune to mineral spirits, so you might try that if you want to test an area using a cotton swab wetted with full-strength mineral spirits. We would caution against alcohol as that can cause the acrylic to soften, as well as acetone, which will attack the film.

      We hope this helps. Again, posting on MITRA would be our best recommendations as you will be getting advice from professionals in the conservation field.

  4. I have a set of beautiful acrylic painting purchased from an auction to benefit our local museum. We recently had a hurricane come through and were without electricity for 24 hours and the house became very humid. There are water lines running down the painting. The darker colors don’t seem to be affected as they are on the tops of the paintings with the lighter colors at the bottom. The darker colors have run down a bit. Is there anyway to fix this?

    • Hello Christie,
      Thank you for your question. We would recommend consulting a professional art conservator, as it is possible to accidently damage an acrylic when trying to clean the painting. The American Institute for Conservation has resources about caring for artwork as well as a page to help individuals ‘Find a Conservator‘. We hope this will be helpful, and wish you great success with your paintings!
      Warm Regards, Cathy

  5. Hello Annare,

    Our Varnishes are removable in different solvents depending upon which you use. They are not removable with water. The Polymer Varnish can be removed with Household Ammonia. Our MSA can be removed with its compatible solvent MSA Solvent. Here is a link to a video showing our removal process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrZR7FbgU9A Our Varnishes are also not waterproof, they are both acrylics and acrylic is porous. If you want something more waterproof you may want to look into Water-Based Urethanes for example. We are happy to help problem shoot this if you have question. Email us at help@goldenpaints.com.

    Best Regard,

  6. Hi Annare,

    No, just using water will not remove our Polymer Varnish. Only a very alkaline solution can remove this specific type of varnish. We cannot speak to the general category of “artists acrylic varnish” as this indicates a wide range of different manufacturers products, but our Polymer Varnish is water resistant once fully dry and removable with alkaline solutions, which is best done if the varnish is over our Isolation Coat. All fine art grade acrylics dry to micro porous films, which do not completely block moisture from entering the film, but will not dissolve or reactivate by exposure to water. But they will allow moisture and air to enter into the film; they breathe. Here is more information for you;

    VARNISHING RESOURCES: https://www.goldenpaints.com/technicalinfo/technicalinfo_varnishresources
    Varnish Application Guidelines: http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicalinfo_varnapp1
    Intro to Varnishing: https://www.goldenpaints.com/technicalinfo/technicalinfo_varnapp
    Should you Varnish your Painting?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfi6H2dFlcw
    Tips and Tricks for Varnishing: https://www.justpaint.org/tips-and-tricks-for-varnishing/

    Isolation Coats: https://www.goldenpaints.com/technicalinfo/technicalinfo_isolationcoat
    Isolation Coat and UV Topcoat: https://www.goldenpaints.com/products/varnish-top-coat/protective-coatings
    Creating a Brushable Isolation Coat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jS3Rjd5P1g
    Brush Application of an Isolation Coat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gq9DJYJapE

    Polymer Varnish: https://www.goldenpaints.com/technicalinfo/technicalinfo_polvar
    Thinning Polymer Varnish Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y0mSuTPxXs


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