The DC-Arlington-Alexandria region Maid To Clean serves is full of educated and worldly people. And we see that reflected in many of our clients’ homes. They have rich carpets, wall hangings, great sculptures from far-flung corners of the world, art, and always, photos from lives well lived – whether abroad, or as equally precious, over the river at Great Falls during a family hike.

For the most part, our clients are clear about how to care for their objets d’art, what to dust, what to never touch, and we appreciate and take all the guidance very seriously.

But we’ve learned a few things about caring for art over the years, and we thought we’d share some tips with you:

photo wall by Travis Isaacs on Fllickr
(image by Travis Isaacs/Flickr)

Bump Up The Frames
By the time you have bought your art, cropped and tweaked and printed out that picture, matted, framed, found a spot, and finally hung up a frame you have no desire to spend another penny or do another thing. Understandably so—who knew framing art could be as expensive as actually buying the art?! Clearly, we are in the wrong business. But we digress….

Before you hang up a frame, add felt bumps on the back. That way you’ll protect the paint and avoid scratches from when we remove or replace the frame for cleaning.

Directions On The Back
Always ask your framer or the original artist how to care for your art. And save those directions on the back of the frame for easy reference. Because how you should care for your art depends heavily on the type of glass, plexiglass, mylar sheet, or framing material used to encase the art. (If you have art that’s framed but not glassed off, it’s a whole other ballgame—we probably won’t touch it at all. Not even to dust the frame.) And if you know how to care or not care for your art TELL US. We know a lot of things about cleaning, and we have learned a lot about art and photography over the years. But we’re not art experts or conservationists.

Spray The Cloth, Not The Frame
This post is largely about dusting, but even if you’re going to spot clean a frame with a (barely) damp cloth, always dampen or spray water on the cloth. Never on the frame. You may inadvertently mar the finish of the glass, or worse, introduce moisture into the frame.

Now imagine the dust at above eye-level, collecting where you can't see it. (image by John Liu/Flickr)
Now imagine the dust at above eye-level, collecting where you can’t see it. (image by John Liu/Flickr)

Look On Top
You say “frames,” we say “ledges of dust.” Even the flattest float frames and lowest profile mouldings have tiny ledges and surfaces. If you can see dust collect at or below eye level, you can be sure there’s plenty more where that came from on the top. Don’t wait for a tall guest to notice.

Start At The Top
A core piece of cleaning wisdom that has probably existed since time immemorial, but one that many people are still unaware of—start cleaning from the top down. That means, if you have a wall full of art that you’re not going to take down to clean, start at the top of the wall so that the bits and pieces of grunge that may fall get cleaned up as you approach the bottom.

Break Out The Q-Tips
And then there are the pretty, ornate, antique frames. The ones we love for a touch of class. The ones that suck up dirt like you wouldn’t believe. And if the frame, and the photo or artwork inside it is old enough, you may not want to open up anything for fear of tearing. Enter Q-tips, and specifically, Precision Q-Tips. How else does one get into all those nooks and crannies?

Old t-shirts are also worth saving. About the time they’re beginning to fall apart and have more holes than coverage for you is when they’re perfect for using on your valuables.

What other art care tips would you add? Tell us!