How to Clean Antique Picture Frames

By Michelle Nesbit

Antiques are a wonderful. They bring with them a piece of history and each has a story of its own to share. This is especially true with antique picture frames, so care needs to be taken when it comes to cleaning them. Keep in mind that cleaning antiques can preserve them and help them last longer, so here you will learn how to clean antique picture frames.

Antique Technique

Find a flat surface such as a tabletop and cover an area at least three times the size of the picture frame with towels. Keep two towels in reserve.

Gently place the frame face down on the towels.

Open the frame and gently remove the picture backing and the picture or photo.

Place the backing and picture to one side but still on top of the towels. Try to place the backing and picture far enough away so that it will not be disturbed during the cleaning process. Cover the backing and picture with one of the reserve towels so that overspray from the glass cleaner does not land on the backing or picture.

Gently remove the glass from the frame and carefully place on the towels. Cover the frame with the remaining reserve towel.

Using the least amount of glass cleaner possible clean the glass with a soft cloth rag. If the glass is fairly clean, meaning it has only dust, spray the cleaner onto the rag instead of directly onto the glass.

When the glass is clean, place it back on the table covered with towels.

Using only a dry soft cleaning rag, gently wipe the frame. If absolutely necessary you can apply a small amount of water to the cleaning rag. If the frame seems to require a special cleaning solution, stop and consult an expert, like an antique dealer, before proceeding. If a dry rag or a small amount of water will suffice, continue cleaning the frame and place back on the table when finished.

Replace the glass in the frame.

Warning

Do not use paper of any type to clean the glass. Some old types of glass are soft enough to be scratched by paper. Only clean antiques, refinishing them can decrease or eliminate their collectible desirability and destroy their monetary value. Even if a frame looks its age and you think it would look better if it were refinished, don't do it before consulting an expert. Make sure that if you use any type of cleaner on the frame itself, whether it is wood or metal, that it will not alter the finish