Learning how to clean an acrylic painting from cigarette smoke at home is a big time and cost saver for any art collector looking to save acrylic paintings damaged by smoke. Cigarette smoke is hugely damaging for any artwork let alone a durable medium such as acrylic paint.
It can create a brown film that sticks on the surface of the painting, it can discolor the acrylic painting, it can make the paint peel and more. Though it might seem like your acrylic painting is permanently ruined if it has been damaged by cigarette smoke, this is not the case. Acrylic paint is a polymer based paint which means it will dry to have a protective film which will make it a bit easier to clean.
With the help of some great tips and careful cleaning, you can restore your acrylic paintings, even if they have been dirtied by cigarette smoke over a long period of time. All it takes to clean an acrylic painting from cigarette smoke is cotton wool, or buds, some bread and various types of solvents such as white vinegar or dishwashing detergents that are suitable for acrylic paints.
Below are some methods detailing how to clean an acrylic painting from cigarette smoke using every day items you may have in the kitchen or bathroom.
How to Clean an Acrylic Painting from Cigarette Smoke
The first method that might be worth a try is to use a slice of bread to help remove the layer of nicotine and discoloration that is on the top of the painting. Bread is slightly acidic, that means that it can help to cut through the nicotine that is on the surface of the painting.
To use this cleaning method, take a slice of bread and gently rub it on the surface of the painting where the nicotine is present. The idea is that the nicotine is going to transfer to the bread and come off of the painting.
If that does not work, you may need to opt for a stronger cleaning method. White vinegar is a rather mild cleanser that can help to remove cigarette smoke from the surface of the painting.
Take one part vinegar with three parts water and mix them in a bowl. You do not need much, a teaspoon full is more than enough. If you are worried that your tap water is hard and might leave a residue, you can use distilled water.
Take a cotton ball and gently rub the dirty area of the painting. After you have cleaned the area, you do need to use a clean cotton ball with just water to neutralize the vinegar.
Don’t worry about the mild vinegar smell, this will eventually go away.
When is Professional Cleaning Needed?
In some cases, at home cleaning methods might not be enough to help get the cigarette smoke off of the surface of the painting and get it back looking great. With professional cleaning products or professional cleaning, you do need to take the time to do a spot test first to ensure that it is not going to damage the painting that you are cleaning.
When cleaning cigarette smoke off of a painting you do need to get a cleaner that is going to neutralize the cigarette smoke and help to fully remove it from the painting. Use cotton balls or small cotton pads to help remove the cigarette smoke residue from the surface of the painting. Switch out the cotton balls as they get dirty to ensure that the residue is not being redeposited to the surface of the painting.
Clean small sections at a time. This is going to help you to ensure that the cleaning is done properly and that your painting is not going to be damaged. You want to work in small 3 to 4 inch sections, taking care to not scrub or not press too hard on the surface of the painting. After you have cleaned a section, you need to use a neutralizer to ensure that the cleaner stops working and that it does not damage the painting.
This is not a fast process, it is not something that you are going to be able to finish in an hour and then move on. Removing cigarette smoke from a painting can be difficult and it can be time consuming, so you do need to devote time to cleaning the painting. Another thing to keep in mind is that you might not be successful on the first try. It can take several attempts to clean the painting.
Do Not Give Up
If you are cleaning an acrylic painting that is covered with cigarette smoke residue, it is important that you do not give up on your painting. If the methods already discussed do not work, you can try using a degreaser to remove the residue. If the painting that you are cleaning has a coating or has been sealed, it may be easy to remove the residue.
Cigarette smoke tends to stay on the top of the painting, it does not tend to go deeply into the painting so the key to cleaning a painting that has been stained by cigarette smoke is to get that top layer of cigarette residue removed.
There are tons of cleansers and cleaning methods that can help to restore your painting and get it back to its former glory. If you are having trouble or simply cannot figure out how to clean your painting properly, it may be necessary to get the help of a professional.
There are plenty of professional cleaners or professional companies where you can send your painting or have someone come and help you get your painting clean.