Can You Wash Oil Painting In Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Oil Painting In Washing Machine

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No, you should not wash oil paintings in a washing machine.

Oil paintings are cherished pieces of art that require special care to maintain their beauty and value. If you’ve ever wondered whether you can clean oil paintings by tossing them in a washing machine, the answer is a resounding no. Attempting to wash oil paintings in a washing machine is not only ineffective but also potentially destructive to the artwork.

In this article, we will explore why washing machines are not suitable for cleaning oil paintings, provide you with dos and don’ts for maintaining your artwork, discuss alternative cleaning methods, and address some frequently asked questions.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash Oil Painting In Washing Machine


  • Handle with Care: When moving or cleaning oil paintings, always handle them with clean, dry hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt from your skin to the canvas.
  • Dust Regularly: Dust your oil paintings regularly with a soft, clean brush or a microfiber cloth. Start from the top and work your way down to prevent dust from falling onto already cleaned areas.
  • Store Properly: Store your oil paintings in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity to preserve their quality and prevent damage.
  • Consult a Professional: If your oil painting requires extensive cleaning or restoration, consult a professional art conservator who specializes in the care of artwork.


  • Avoid Water and Detergent: Refrain from using water and detergent or attempting to wash oil paintings in a washing machine. Water can damage the paint, and detergent is not effective at breaking down oils.
  • Skip Dusting: Neglecting to dust your oil paintings regularly can lead to the accumulation of dirt and grime, which can be more challenging to remove over time.
  • Do Not Use Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals, solvents, or abrasive materials to clean oil paintings, as they can strip away paint layers and damage the artwork.
  • Don’t Hang in Direct Sunlight: Do not hang oil paintings in direct sunlight, as prolonged exposure can cause the colors to fade and the canvas to deteriorate.

Steps To Clean Oil Paintings in The Washing Machine:

As previously stated, washing machines should never be used to clean oil paintings. Attempting to do so can result in severe damage to the artwork. Instead, consult a professional art conservator for proper cleaning and restoration if necessary.

Alternative Washing Methods For Oil Paintings:

Cleaning oil paintings should only be done by professionals or experienced conservators. However, if you have minor surface dirt or grime, you can take these steps to care for your artwork:

  • Dusting: Regularly dust your oil paintings with a soft brush or microfiber cloth to remove surface dirt and prevent it from embedding into the paint.
  • Use a Dry Eraser Sponge: For more stubborn stains or dirt, you can try using a dry eraser sponge, which is gentle and effective in removing surface marks. Test it on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t harm the painting.
  • Consult a Professional: If your oil painting requires thorough cleaning, restoration, or repair, it is best to consult a professional art conservator who has the expertise and experience to handle delicate artwork safely and effectively.


Can I clean my oil painting with a damp cloth?

Answer:  It is generally not recommended to clean oil paintings with a damp cloth, as water can damage the paint and canvas. Dusting with a dry cloth or using a dry eraser sponge is a safer option.

How can I prevent my oil painting from yellowing?

Answer:  To prevent yellowing, store your oil painting in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity. Additionally, avoid smoking or cooking near your artwork, as exposure to smoke and grease can contribute to yellowing.

Can I use a hair dryer to remove surface dust from my oil painting?

Answer:  Using a hairdryer can dislodge dust and debris from the surface of an oil painting, but it may not be as effective as using a soft brush or microfiber cloth. Exercise caution and keep the hairdryer in a low, cool setting to avoid damaging the paint.

Is it safe to use an art varnish on my oil painting to protect it?

Answer:  The application of a varnish on an oil painting is a delicate process best handled by professionals. An art conservator can determine if varnishing is necessary and apply it correctly to protect and enhance the artwork.

Can I store my oil painting in a basement or attic?

Answer:  Basements and attics are generally not suitable for storing oil paintings due to their potential for extreme temperature fluctuations and humidity. It’s best to store artwork in a climate-controlled environment.

Final Words:

In conclusion, washing machines should never be used to clean oil paintings. Water and detergent are not effective in removing oils and can lead to severe damage to the artwork. Instead, adhere to proper care practices, such as regular dusting and consulting a professional art conservator when needed. Preserving the beauty and integrity of your oil paintings requires care, attention, and the expertise of those trained in art conservation.

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