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GOJO experiment on cleaning painting!

Not to long ago there was a discussion on cleaning old paintings. The rule of thumb is to let a professional take care of it. I'm in agreement.

Someone I admire and respect suggested using “GoJo” from the local auto place to clean the nicotine build up off a painting. He said it will clean the nicotine and not harm the painting. There was a bit of controversy about this.

However....Not only am I a wee bit hard headed, but I've learned years ago to "listen" to words of wisdom. Not just brush off someone’s life experiences. I wanted to know first hand if using this product would work for me.

Occasionally we all have a painting that we are pretty certain that it has little monetary value.
I decided to do a little experiment.
Two paintings that I wasn't to concerned to much if they were ruined.

The first painting I admit I was feeling a bit uncertain and may not have given it the necessary amount of time for the experiment. The surface had cracks in the paint. I attempted to clean two small areas. They came out dull looking and a small amount of “glitter affect” appeared. I put it aside. Thought to myself, no, you better not! I read the label at this time and it reads as follows “Creame hand cleaner, for removing grease, tar and oil” This is the one in the white bucket. I was told the orange container had a bit of grit to it so I didn’t think the abrasion would be so good. What concerned and confused me a bit was the part about removes oil! I was cleaning an oil painting. Hmmmm?

Second painting had fairly good surface. Only a few specks of missing paint. I put a small amount of Gojo onto an old t-shirt and began cleaning in the upper left corner of the painting. This time I gave it a minute before starting to wipe it off in a gentle small circular motion. I was amazed at what was coming off! A little more added and again small gentle circles. When I was finished, I used a slightly dampened cloth to sort of rinse a bit. At this point I thought I should try and take a couple of pictures. I’ve taken a picture of before and after.

I finished cleaning the painting with amazing results! It may need another once over but I am satisfied and will use this painting now. It was useless before. I will definitely do it again.

Folks, this is my choice to clean my personal paintings. I am in no way recommending to anyone to do the same. A person should at the very least know the type of painting they have. Some folks are unable to determine a print from a painting. You sure would not want to clean a watercolor like this. I will use only when there is no flaking in the paint or cracking. When I feel it is one that doesn’t need to be by a professional.

Thank You,

Your IAO friend,

PS: I have used other suggestions and this has worked best for me so far. The experiment isn't over. Any changes will be updated as time progresses.

Views: 382

Tags: cleaning, gojo, iantiqueonline, oil, oralei, painting, rescuelifeproducts


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Comment by Artorable on October 21, 2011 at 4:29pm
Follow up! Well, more than a year and a half later and the paint on this experimental painting is still looking great. I wonder if it is time to try another one? Fun, fun, fun.
Comment by Artorable on April 2, 2009 at 2:40am
gainsboroughproducts.com sells a product to neutralizer the acid. I was also reading on one of the many links that turpintine is also used as a neutralizer. I'll need to read up on that a bit more.
Comment by rescuelifeproducts on April 2, 2009 at 2:07am
Recently I responded to a question from a person who has a name that in my mind is the second most beautiful name ever named, the first being "Jesus".
I individual having asked the question and after receiving the answer went on to appy what could have turned out to be tragedy,but instead it, It turned out well.
I want to thank her for her kind word and to inform her that I work for nationally known top three retail store for 20 year as paint and hardware manager and received my personal training from Interprise paint company of Ws.
Thou we were labeled as hardware and Paint specialist, I never let this desination affect my good judgement.
You were saved by the fact that old oil painters often made up their own paint from various matterial, matterial that drastically differ from substances found in todays oil paint.
The vehicle of paint is not even the same substances used in old oil paintings.
Recently we were part of a search for information on a painting by Rembrant's student Gerard Dou or Douw.
The search revealed the fact mentioned earlier about Rembrant and some others of his day chose to generate his oil paint by grinding up what I'm going to call rock, etc and making an oil paint that would apply and harden in such a way as to make them look better and to enhance the life span of the artwork.
It is alway better to go to a proffessional when he promises to compensate you in the event of a loss.

But If you find that cost is stand in your way and you own the item and do not mind the possibility, give it a try!

As for me, I like trying things.
I want to thank all of you for being so helpful and understanding. What a team!!
Comment by Artorable on April 2, 2009 at 12:30am
This is interesting: Facts and Myths
Petroleum Distillates
by Dean Whitehead

“Recently, I have heard and read comments made in seminars, in Web site forums and even in product advertising about petroleum distillates that truly misinforms the consumer. Anyone who makes the blanket statement that products containing petroleum distillates are harmful has no real knowledge of science or petroleum refining. After forty years of direct experience with this issue I have learned that false information is usually meant to take advantage of the consumer's lack of knowledge in order to sell something that wouldn’t sell otherwise. This is unfortunate and reflects the seamier side of negative marketing and advertising.”

Comment by Artorable on April 1, 2009 at 11:41pm
A Word of Caution
"Improper cleaning can harm a painting. Therefore, we suggest that beginners engage a conservator to clean paintings having monetary or sentimental value. Always practice on an old, inexpensive painting before cleaning a painting of importance to you."

Comment by Artorable on April 1, 2009 at 11:15pm
Still researching, and looking for info on neutralizers for acid. I have come across this information:


“The restoration of paintings is generally a serious business, more paintings get ruined by enthusiastic, careless restoration, than by fire.
We like to warn the reader that the restoration and/or cleaning of valuable oil paintings should be left to a reputable professional expert.”

“If one, however likes the idea of cleaning ones own paintings then, it might be advisable to buy some cheap paintings and restore those, to gain some first hand experience.“
Comment by Artorable on April 1, 2009 at 5:26pm
I want to make sure that EVERYONE understands that I am not recommending anything to anyone.as I stated in the last paragraph. "Note: Folks, this is my choice to clean my personal paintings. I am in no way recommending to anyone to do the same". Please also note the first statement made.." The rule of thumb is to let a professional take care of it. I'm in agreement.".

This was an experiment that I did for myself only. Using two paintings. One with good results and one with not so good results. If anyone trys this on their own they are accepting any and all risk involved.

When I cleaned the painting there was no color from paint on the rag anywhere. Does that indicate that the paint itself wasn't harmed? Only the residue of grime was on the cloth.

Perhaps it will continue to work its way to the paint?

I will be examining this painting to see if it deteriorates as time goes by.

Here is a few questions yet to be answered.

Does the varnish that is put over many oil paintings contain oil as well? I'll need to look into that a bit closer as I am unskilled in chemistry and am not a professional restorer.

Also what is a neutralizer?
Just what ingredients make up a neutralizer?
More digging to do.

Perhaps the acid will continue to work on the painting. Maybe not.

Either way...my choice, my painting, my loss or my gain.

We shall see. I love learning new things.

Smile everyone.

Does this really need a "DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME" warning label? ok then....

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. If you do it's like I said. It is at your own risk!
Comment by Artorable on March 31, 2009 at 9:07pm

In this picture you can see at the top right side a dark line. It no longer exists!
Comment by Artorable on March 31, 2009 at 9:04pm
First picture at the top left corner is the start of cleaning. (Note this is not the entire painting but merely the best two pictures to show the experiment.) Does anyone care to guess about how long it actually took to clean this painting?

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