Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

How to Clean Cigarette Smoke From Paintings

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Cleaning cigarette smoke from painting is necessary at times but how do you do this and why. When you have a painting, whether it is oil or acrylic-based, that over time becomes more valuable you want to make sure that it does. When hanging, they do become dirty no matter how well you take care of it. Many things can stain your paintings, and cigarette smoke is one of them.

How to clean cigarette smoke from paintings will depend on whether it is acrylic or oil painting. Each of the methods has several steps to do this cleaning process so it is not a quick brush-off and done. When cleaning your painting, it must be done gently and meticulously.

We will go over each step of the cleaning process to get rid of cigarette smoke from oil and acrylic paintings. If you do not want to do it yourself or feel that the painting is too valuable for you to clean, you can always contact a professional to clean the painting.

Why is it Important to Clean Cigarette Smoke From Paintings?

As paintings, bot oil, and acrylic, become older they become more valuable. Cigarette smoke, along with other pollutants, can cause your painting to look old and stained. This can cause your paintings to decrease in value. This is one of the reasons why it is important to clean cigarette smoke from it.

How to Clean Cigarette Smoke From Paintings?

When cleaning cigarette smoke from paintings, there are two different ways to do so. One is for acrylic paintings and the other is for oil paintings. Both will use the same supplies. With oil paintings, they can stand harsher cleaners than acrylic paintings. Acrylic paintings are more sensitive to water-based cleaners and solvents because they are water-based.

How To Clean Cigarette Smoke From Paintings

Make sure that you only attempt to clean the painting if the surface is undamaged and stable. If not, then you should contact a professional to clean the paint for you, so you do not damage it and decrease its value. Depending on the size of the painting, it can take a lot of time to clean it as you need to do it gently and methodically, one small section at a time.

You should also do a small test area on a spot that is not noticeable on the painting to make sure that you have the right cleaner before you do the entire painting. If not, then you could accidentally ruin or damage the painting.

Related: How To Clean Cabinets Before Painting?

What You Will Need

  • Surgical gloves, which will protect your hands and the painting from any dirt that could be on your hands.
  • Cotton cloth
  • Neutralizer
  • Emulsion cleaner
  • Kraft or brown paper, never newspaper
  • Cotton swabs
  • Varnish: Acrylic polymer for acrylic paintings and gloss varnish for oil paintings
  • Metal container
  • Wide paintbrush

Acrylic Paintings

Acrylic Paintings

  • Step 1: Moisten your clean cotton swab with saliva. The saliva contains enzymes that will act on the smoke and dirt residue. You could also use deionized water instead.
  • Step 2: Find a small area on the painting that is not that noticeable. Take a clean swab that is wet with saliva or deionized water and roll it gently over that little area of the painting. Keep the moisture to a minimum.
  • Step 3: Look closely at that small area after you have cleaned it to make sure that there is no change in the gloss or that the cotton swab did not pick up any color.
  • Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you have cleaned the entire painting. Then you need to coat it with acrylic polymer varnish. This will enhance the colors and protect the painting. If you notice that the swab has picked up any color or there is a change in the gloss, stop cleaning the painting and call a professional.

TIP: It is advisable to wear surgical gloves to protect your hands and to make sure that the workspace is well ventilated. You should lay your painting face-up on Kraft or brown paper.

Oil Paintings

Oil Paintings

  • Step 1: Put on the surgical gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals that you will be using to clean the painting. You also want to make sure that the workspace you are using is well ventilated. The reason is that the chemicals you will be using will give off fumes.
  • Step 2: Lay down the Kraft or brown paper on your workspace. Put the painting down on the paper face up. Using a piece of the cotton cloth, apply the neutralizer to it before gently wiping it over the entire painting surface. This is done to clean off any dirt on the surface.
  • Step 3: Dip a cotton swab into the emulsion cleaner. Apply it to a two-inch square of the painting in a rolling motion. Be sure you are not using a scrubbing or wiping motion. Be careful you are only removing smoke residue or dirt, not the paint. Once this is done, you will need to neutralize this two-inch area using the cotton cloth you used before.
  • Step 4: You will need to repeat Step 3 until you have the whole painting clean. Be sure you are only doing one two-inch section at a time. Use a clean cotton swap for each area. Dispose of the cotton swabs and cotton cloth when you are finished in a covered metal container.
  • Step 5: Once the painting is finished, cover it with a gloss varnish to protect the painting. This will also bring out the colors of the painting.

Tip: When using the emulsion cleaner on the oil painting, make sure that you are cleaning in small areas because you do not want it to dry before you use the neutralizer. This is important because if this is not done this way, you could damage the painting.

Things you Should Avoid When Cleaning Cigarette Smoke From Paintings

One thing that you need to avoid when cleaning a painting of cigarette smoke is do not use bread, alcohol, water, baby oil, or vinegar. Any of these could damage your painting and ruin its value. Any of these can be especially damaging to an oil painting.

Final Verdict

How to clean cigarette smoke from paintings can be done but even when cleaned, there can be a lingering smell of cigarette smoke. Paint is a porous substance and any exposure to cigarette smoke can cause the painting to absorb the smell. Even if the smell is still there, you should seal the painting to seal off the smell that is already in the canvas. This article also covers the steps to clean both oil and acrylic paintings.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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