How To Clean Antique Gilt Picture Frame

Antique gilt picture frames are beautiful decorations that hold pictures of loved ones or special photos. These frames are classics, and can be used in almost every room of the house.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of how these frames are made, they can be difficult to clean. The inside of the frame can have a gritty texture from the gold plating process, and the edges can be rough due to sanding during assembly.

Cleaning an antique gilt picture frame requires some patience and skill. You do not want to scrub too hard or too much as this could chip the gold plating or texture. Also, you want to make sure you use the right cleaning agents so that you do not damage the frame any further.

Mix water and alcohol together in a spray bottle

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

Now it is time to clean the frame! Start by spraying the frame with the water and alcohol mixture. Make sure to get all sides of the frame, the front, back, and edges.

Make sure to do this outside or in a well-ventilated area as you will be spraying water. Since the alcohol is a drying agent, it will help remove any remaining residue.

Dry the frame by carefully blotting it with a paper towel. Do this outside or in a well-ventilated area as you will be drying out the frame! You can also use a hair dryer on low heat to speed up this process.

Spray the picture frame gently

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

After you have washed and dried the picture frame, you can now proceed to cleaning the frame itself. The best way to clean an antique gilt picture frame is to spray it gently with a cleaning solution.

Most people have a cleaning solution such as a glass or surface cleaner in their home. These work great for cleaning antiques because they are not abrasive.

Abrasive cleaners would possibly scratch the gilded surface, and that would ruin your picture frame! Just make sure your cleaner is pH neutral and does not contain oils or detergents that could stain the frame.

To spray the picture frame, use either an adjustable nozzle bottle or just hold the bottle several inches away from the frame while spraying it. Make sure to keep spraying in different spots to avoid any spots of missing cleanup solution.

Use a soft cloth to gently wipe the frame

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

Once the frame is dry, you can move onto cleaning the actual frame. Antique gold-leafed frames can be tough to clean due to the texture of the frame.

Many people use a soft brush to dust off the frame, but you can also use a soft cloth. The texture of the cloth will help grab some of the dust that gets stuck in the gilding.

Be careful not to rub too hard or you could scrape off some of the gold. Just like with any painting, it is important to keep your hands off of the front of the frame to avoid getting dirt in there.

Take off any dust with a soft brush

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

Once your picture frame is clean, you can move onto cleaning the actual frame. Antique gold frames are often made of several different materials, some of which can be tricky to clean.

Most gold frames are made of either nickel or silver, both of which are soft metals. This makes it easier to work with them when cleaning!

To begin, look for any signs of damage. If there is any cracking or chips in the frame, you will need to get it re-enforced or re-made. Once you have done this, you are ready to clean!

To clean the outside of the frame, use a soft brush to take off any dust and grime. You can also spray a gentle glass cleaner on the outside of the frame to get rid of smudges and grease. Let this sit for a few minutes before brushing off the excess with a dry cloth.

Use a toothbrush to get into tight spaces

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

Antique gold frames can be tricky to clean. You do not want to use chemicals like bleach or ammonia on them as these can potentially damage the frame.

Instead, look to toothbrushes for help!

Toothbrushes have soft bristles that are able to get into the crevices of the frame where dirt and grime can hide. You can either dip the toothbrush in water and scrub, or use a brush cleaner if needed.

Just make sure your brush is dry before you use it on the frame, or you will leave water behind. Water could potentially lead to more damage of the frame due to not being able to dry it quickly.

Wash all hanging pieces separately

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

Once all the pieces are off the frame, you can wash the frame itself. If there are any gilt edges, these can be washed as well. To do this, you must wash the frames and hanging pieces separately to prevent water stains on the painted surface or damage to the frame itself.

Separate washing means using different buckets, soaps, and towels to wash each piece. You also need separate drying tools such as towels and racks to dry each piece properly.

Wetting one piece with soap while leaving the others dry will not work- soap residue will be left on one piece but not the other, which will result in bacteria growth or molding.

Dry carefully with a hair dryer

Once the gilt is removed, you can proceed to dry the frame. An easy way to do this is with a hair dryer.

Hold the hair dryer at a distance from the frame and direct the warm air towards it. Do this for several minutes until you see no more moisture coming off of it. Make sure you watch it carefully so that it does not overheat!

Another way to do this is to put the frame in an oven on a low temperature. Once again, watch carefully that it does not burn. Let it sit there until it is dry.

Apply some wax to protect it

how to clean antique gilt picture frame

After you have cleaned your antique gilt picture frame, you can add a protective layer to it. You can do this in the form of wax or spray.

To add wax, brush on a soft candle or wax onto the frame. Let it dry and then buff it out to a shine. To add extra protection, repeat this process several times.

To use spray protector, find one that is suitable for wooden surfaces and says that it protects against water. Spray the protector onto the frame and let dry. Check the instructions to see if it needs a second coat!

You can also use linseed oil as a protective layer for your frame. Apply some with a paintbrush and let it dry before framing your piece.

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