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Chemical deterioration due to dirt which is typically a combination of air-borne soot, nicotine, cooking oils, smudges, and finger and palm marks that has accumulated on the surface of an object and may also be embedded into the support.

Capodimonte, covered vessel, glazed porcelain basket weave and floral design, undated, 10 x 9 x9 inches. Grime (dirt, dust and cooking grease) has collected in the interstices of this object.

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

Surface dirt, surface deposit, accretion, soiling

Synonyms in English[edit | edit source]

Filth, dirt, stain, soot, grunge, dust, soil

Translation[edit | edit source]

English grime
French crasse
Spanish mugre
Portuguese sugiera
Italian sporcizia
German shumutz
Arabic سخام
Chinese (Traditional) 油垢

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Grime is a disfiguring deposit on or ingrained in the surface of a object.(CCI, 1994) Grime can be in the varnish, on top of the paint layer, or on top of the varnish (Smithsonian, Painting Conservation). It is also surface dirt or dirt embedded in the finish of a piece of furniture (The Fine Arts Conservancy).

Pollutants in the environment can cause grime to be deposited on objects “Particulates circulating through unfiltered ventilation systems may deposit grime, soot, and abrasive dirt on the face of documents and other surfaces”(van der Reyden, 1995). Dirt, dust, grime and gaseous pollutants can harm fabric and accelerate its deterioration (CCI, 2002).

Paintings installed above a heat source will experience more grime than paintings installed elsewhere because heat softens the paint and varnish layers making it easier for dirt and debris to be trapped (Smithsonian, Caring for your Painting).

Improper handling of objects can cause grime to accumulate on paper and objects made of other materials. ”To prevent transferring body oils or grime, hands and gloves should be cleaned frequently" (van der Reyden, 1995).

In addition to improving the condition of an object, removing grime can improve visibility, such as with paintings and works on paper and documents (CCI, 2013). It is also important that any grime which can cause abrasion be removed before objects are put into storage or packed for shipment (van der Reyden, 1995)(Marcon, 2011).

When conditioning an object, descriptions of the surface should include any surface dust, dirt and/or grime (CCI, 2013).

General recommendations for minimizing the deleterious effects of grime include a clean environment, installation of objects away from heat sources, and handle objects as little as possible and always with clean hands and/or gloves. Protect objects from dust and grime to reduce the need for cleaning.(CCI, 2007)

References[edit | edit source]

Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI). Condition Reporting - Paintings. Part III: Glossary of Terms - CCI Notes 10/11, 1994

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute. Painting Conservation Glossary of Terms,

The Fine Arts Conservancy. Glossary

van der Reyden, Dianne. In Storage of Natural History Collections: A Preventive Conservation Approach, Vol. I, edited by Carolyn L. Rose, Catharine A. Hawks, and Hugh H. Genoways, (1995) entitled "Paper Documents" on pp. 327-353.

How to Care for Textiles.CCI, 2002

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute. Caring for your Paintings

Condition Reporting - Paintings. Part II: Examination Techniques and a Checklist - CCI Notes 10/7 part of CCI Notes Series 10(Paintings and Polychrome Sculptures, 2013

Marcon, Steve. Six Steps to Safe Shipment. CCI, 2011.

Care of Ceramics and Glass - CCI Notes 5/1 part of CCI Notes Series 5 (Ceramics and Class). CCI, 2007.

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