Steps in Cleaning Your Vintage Picture Frame

In every household, there is a place where you will find all pictures of all the family members assembled. This shrine, if I may say, is used to remember the happiest moments of one’s life, whether it is the birth of a child or the wedding day of someone, picture frames are a decorative piece that no one misses. Frames are a practical and stylish way to show off photos, pictures, and mementos. However, picture frames are one of the dirtiest items that can be found in a home and the sentence “the more, the merrier” does not certainly apply here! The more beautiful a picture frame is, the more difficult it is to clean it. There are frames that have an intricate design and delicate finish, so extra care should be taken when cleaning it. Do not take a wood cleaner spray and wipe away the frame as it will cause more damage! There are several steps in cleaning a picture frame, and they are listed below to help you out.


You will need some materials before cleaning:

  • Towels
  • Cotton clean cloths
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton buds
  • Glass cleaner
  • Bowl of water
  • Orange oil
  • Anti-tarnish product
  • Silver cleaner


Take your time and set up the working area by following these steps:

  • Decide on a well-lit area.
  • Choose a durable table which has a flat surface, lay down the towels to cover at least three times the size of the frame. Keep the other two sheets for later use.
  • Place the frame face down on the covered surface.
  • Remove the photo or artwork carefully and place it in a safe and clean place while the cleaning process can start.
  • When removing the picture or artwork, better wear on gloves s that the corners do not get spoiled.
  • Remove the glass by placing it on a towel then use a soft cotton cloth rag to clean the glass with glass cleaner gently. Be careful not to get any glass cleaner near the frame body as it can damage the framework. Place the cleaned glass on the towel, and you will be ready to clean the frame.

Cleaning an Ornate Wood Frame:

  • Remove the frame from the towel.
  • Wipe and dust off any dirt with a clean and soft cloth.
  • Use a dry toothbrush to scrub the frame and get into the crevices. Do it all while being gentle.
  • Wipe the frame with a fresh, clean cloth that will help you get rid of any loosened debris.
  • If there are crevices that are hard to reach, then use cotton buds.
  • Then conduct a patch test with orange oil if you are in doubt. Start by applying the oil to a soft, dry cloth and test its effect on the frame. It is good to know that orange oil is safe for most types of wood picture frames.
  • In a cloth, apply orange oil sparingly and work in small sections to scrub the frame’s surface. Thoroughly work your way around the entire frame.

Cleaning an Ornate Metal Frame:

  • These are easily scratched, so be sure to apply gentle pressure on it.
  • Use a slightly damp and clean microfiber cloth to remove any unwanted tarnish or corrosion. Use either water or an anti-tarnish product for this. If you are using an anti-tarnish product, then be sure to test a small patch before touching the front of the frame.
  • For more complex frames, you may use cotton buds to remove tarnish or discoloration in the crevices. Unless you like the aged look of darker embellishments, then you can wipe over with a cloth for a soft surface clean.
  • Use silver cleaner for solid pewter, silver plated or sterling silver frames. Go according to the directions on the packaging.

It is vital that you know the difference between polishing and cleaning. Polishes use abrasives that cause a part of the original surface to be removed. Along with knowing what to use for cleaning, let’s now focus on what not to apply for frame cleaning. It is a fact that some homemade remedies for cleaning are usually too harsh for the frames. It can ruin the finish on the frames. These home remedies are meant to be a quick fix that is usually for conservation. It involves a slow approach with regular checks on the progress to ensure that the process is going smoothly and not causing any damage. Avoid following these when cleaning your picture frame:

  • Ammonia is harsh and causes more damage to the body of the frame by leaving a pink hue on the surface of a metal frame.
  • Commercial polishes can strip metal or wood from their original form as they contain a higher dose of chemicals. Do check the content on the packaging as some manufacturers use ammonia in their products.
  • Too much water can be a problem for metal frames as with time, it will cause corrosion and deterioration. If you want to use water, then do it sparingly!

If you are looking for some amazing frames, then drop by Frame Print Gallery in Markham and Etobicoke. They carry a large collection of original art pieces and frames, and you can also choose from over 1000 frames. The business also provides custom framing for your different photographs.

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