User:Jolssonwood/sandbox (surface cleaning)

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Surface cleaning refers to the removal of dirt, dust, varnish and other debris from the surface of an object. By cleaning, colors may become more vibrant, details may become more clearer and previously unseen aspects of an object may become more visible.

Abbott Lawrence by G.P.A. Healy, private collection, Hamilton, MA, 19th century painting and frame – before and after art restoration.

Related Terms

skinning, accretions, dust, surface dirt

Synonyms in English

wash, swab


English surface cleaning
French nettoyage de la surface
Spanish limpieza de superficies
Portuguese limpeza da superfície
Italian pulizia delle superfici
German Oberflächenreinigung
Russian очистки поверхности
Arabic تنظيف السطح


The manner of cleaning is dependent on the type of object to be cleaned. A cleaning test may be used to determine the best method to clean an object or painting. Cleaning should be undertaken with an an understanding that removing all debris is not always warranted. The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collection suggests that vacuuming, using low suction, is a safe way to clean textiles Landrey 2000. It is particularly important that an object is not excessively cleaned. This is called skinned when too much cleaning has resulted in the loss of paint or damage to the material.


Landrey, Gregory, Kate Duffy, Janice Carlson, Lois Olcott Price, Bruno P. Pouliot, Margaret A. Little, Linda Eaton, Debra Hess Norriss, John Krill, Betty Fiske, Mark F. Bockrath, Michael S. Podmaniczky, and Mary C. Peterson. 2000. The Winterthur Guide to Caring for Your Collections. University Press of New England. ISBN 9780912724522.

The Fine Arts Conservatory. "Skinned". Last modified 2006. from

The Fine Arts Conservatory. "Cleaning Test". Last modified 2006. from

Northeast Document Conservation Center. "7.2 Surface Cleaning of Paper". Retrieved from:

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