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How to Clean and Care
for Your Picture Frames

July 19, 2022

The proper frame for a photograph or piece of art does just what the name implies—it “frames” the work for a finished look. Combined with the right matting and frame design, your favorite pieces of art and pictures also serve as decor elements. While old photos and contemporary art look best when the frame fits the type of work, all framed work looks terrible when it’s dusty and dirty.

To keep your “art gallery” show-ready at all times, it makes good housekeeping sense to learn how to clean a frame, and you can do it with green cleaning products. Picture frames get dirty, and cleaning them can often be overlooked because we see them every day. Like other decor in our homes, art and picture frames require cleaning and maintenance to keep them looking their best. Follow the directions below for how to clean picture frame glass and cleaning framed art so your wall hangings can take center stage where they belong.

How to Clean Old Wooden Picture Frames

Old photos and traditional works of art are often framed with ornate wooden frames. Like hardwood floors and wooden furniture, wood picture frames need periodic cleaning to keep them looking beautiful. To learn how to clean old wooden picture frames, all you need is a microfiber duster or cloth, distilled white vinegar, dish soap, and wood oil.

Here’s how to clean a frame made from wood:

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  • Remove the framed picture and lay it back down on a counter.
  • Dust the wooden frame with a microfiber duster or cloth, being sure to get into grooves and crevices.
  • Fill a bowl with warm water and add four drops of liquid dish soap.
  • Dip one corner of the microfiber cloth into the solution and test a hidden part of the wooden frame before moving on.
  • Dampen your cloth with soapy water and wring out excess liquid.
  • Clean the front of the picture frame and then the sides, moving to a clean part of your cloth as needed.
  • Wipe down the frame with a microfiber cloth dampened with water only.
  • Dry the wooden picture frame with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
  • Use a dry cloth to apply wood oil to protect the wood and bring back the shine.
  • Clean the glass with a damp cloth and dry it with a microfiber cloth.

Let the frame absorb all the wood oil and dry completely before rehanging the picture. If the frame and glass aren’t dry beforehand, the moisture will attract dust and dirt.

How to Clean a Plastic Picture Frame

If you have modern art or recent photographs hanging in your home, the frames may be made of plastic or plexiglass. The material is ideal for a contemporary-looking frame, and the material is light and strong. The only shortcoming is that you have to know how to clean a plexiglass frame without scratching it.

Abrasive cleaners, scrub pads, and even dust can scratch plastics. Use only water and a microfiber cloth when you’re learning how to clean a frame made from plastic to be safe.

  • Remove the picture from your wall and lay it backside down on a counter covered with a towel.
  • Use canned air to blow off dust and dirt, or use a soft-bristled brush.
  • Dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe down the picture frame.
  • Add a drop of dish soap to your cloth for stubborn buildup and fingerprints.
  • Wipe down the frame with a clean, damp microfiber cloth.
  • Dry the picture frame right away with a dry cloth to prevent spotting.
  • Clean the glass with a damp cloth and dry it.

If your plexiglass picture frame has scratches, try something mildly abrasive like baking soda. Use a damp cloth to rub the baking soda into the scratches with circular motions, then damp wipe and dry.

How to Clean Silver Frames

Ornate silver frames give your artwork or photos a touch of elegance as long as you know how to clean a frame made with silver correctly. Dust, dirt, and tarnished spots can ruin the look of silver, but when you deep clean the silver about every three months, it will look shiny and new all year long.

All you need to clean silver is aluminum foil, baking soda, warm water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Here’s how to clean a frame made with silver and prevent tarnishing:

  • Take down the picture and remove the art or photo, the backing, and the glass.
  • Lay the frame backside down on a counter covered with an old towel.
  • Find a bowl or plastic bin large enough to hold the frame and line it with aluminum foil.
  • Fill the bowl or bin with warm water and two cups of baking soda.
  • Submerge the silver frame in the water and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Flip the frame and repeat if you can’t fit the entire frame in the bowl or bin.
  • Remove the frame from the bowl or bin and lay it flat on the towel.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub crevices and remove any dirt left.
  • Rinse the picture frame with cold water and dry it with a clean microfiber cloth.
  • Clean the glass with a damp cloth and dry it.

Once everything is clean and dry, reassemble your picture and frame and rehang it. To keep dust to a minimum, use a can of compressed air or a microfiber duster on the frame weekly.

Now that you know how to clean a frame, add the task to your weekly cleaning routine. The Maids has 40 years of experience cleaning homes across North America, so we’ve learned the best ways to clean almost everything. Check out our library of helpful housekeeping guides for cleaning from floor to ceiling.

Whether you clean and maintain your home yourself or let The Maids do it for you, we want your home to be clean and healthy. Find out how we can give you a clean home and free time more often with affordable residential cleaning services. We’ll tell you all about it when you get a free online estimate.

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