How to Remove Gold Leaf

frame. finished gold frame image by L. Shat from

Items finished with gold leaf can be beautiful when new, but over time, the gold fades and its luster can be diminished. A steady hand and a few household items are all that are needed to remove old leaf and restore the original surfaces to frames, antiques or anything else that has been gilded at one time.

Clean the surface. Using distilled water, clean the surface gently, removing any dust, dirt or accumulated grime on the surface.

Scrape the gold leaf. Use a sharp razor blade to carefully scrape the surface and remove the gold leaf. As gold leaf does not strongly bond to a surface, this may be surprisingly easy.

Use compressed air to blow off the gold leaf. Doing this will allow you to see what is left and what will need further treatment.

Use nail polish remover on the hard-to-reach spots. Use a q-tip to apply the remover and apply gentle pressure until gilding is removed.

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled water
  • Q-tips
  • Sharp razor
  • Compressed air
  • Nail polish remover


  • Use gentle pressure with the razor to not damage the underlying surface.


  • Be careful not to injure yourself with the razor and use the nail polish remover in a well-ventilated area.

About the Author

Egon Schiele is an art connoisseur who has been writing professionally for more than a decade. He works as a practicing attorney, and enjoys writing on many different topics for online publications such as eHow, Trails, and various contributions to blogs as well as print publications aimed at collectors of antiques.

Photo Credits

  • frame. finished gold frame image by L. Shat from