How-To: Clean a Painting with…Bread?

A long time ago I read a post on one of my favorite blogs about cleaning vintage paintings with bread. You can read all about their success story here. So when I found these paint by numbers for my lovely friend, I thought it was time to break out the bread.

Full set of paint by numbersYou can see in this closeup picture there is a bit of a funk going on.

Paint by numbers beforeI thought this was some sort of nicotine staining when I first saw it. So I went ahead with my bread and followed the tutorial I had read about.

Bread cleaning time

Now you know just a bit more about me. We make our own bread. And clearly don’t eat the heels. They’re gross.

Bread cleanerSo after scrubbing around on the painting for awhile, my bread was definitely discolored. But not with the yellowish brown stains of nicotine I anticipated. This is just general dust. The entire painting just had some aged yellowing varnish or paint!

Paint by numbers after

Here’s the after shot for you. Not a difference. While not all of our stories are success stories, I thought I’d share this one because I had such high hopes for a dramatic transformation. After the bread failure, I did try a bit of dish soap with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. No dice. Then I tried just a touch of Windex. Fail. The next time I find an entirely filthy painting I’ll try the bread trick again and see if I can have more success. Until then, it’s off to feed the birds.

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4 Comments

  1. Carol
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Linseed oil will clean that right up. You can buy it at an art store, like Micheal’s or at a woodworking. I’ve used it a lot on my grandparents’ paintings that were done in the 1920’s and 30’s. It revealed a lot of detail in the paintings that I had never seen before. Use a soft rag soaked with the oil and don’t apply too much pressure. It preserves the oil paint too. When you’re done with the rag, lay it flat outside to dry and then throw it away in a sealed tin can. Linseed oil is prone to spontaneous combustion if not handled correctly.

    • Angela
      Posted December 13, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Carol I can’t wait to try that! I will let you know how it turns out. Thank you!

  2. dabney
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    The OP said to use soft white bread – maybe that’s why the (delicious, impressive) whole wheat didn’t work so well?

  3. Posted May 31, 2016 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing the tips to clean painting with bread. I never heard about the cleaning of painting by breed. Your article is nice I liked the most. Once again thanks for sharing this post, I liked it. Keep posting with us.
    Painters Canterbury

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