How to Clean Old Paint-By-Number Paintings

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Clean your old paint by number portraits.
Clean your old paint by number portraits. (Image: number one image by Dragan Vasiljevic from Fotolia.com)

In the 1950s, many Americans fell in love with paint kits called “paint by numbers” or “number painting.” The kits came with a numbered easel that gave the artist instructions on where to paint colors to make a portrait. Would-be artists would then hang their artwork in their homes and show them proudly to visitors. Years later, old paint by number paintings were tucked away in garages or attics to be discovered by future generations. If you have recently rediscovered an old paint by number picture, clean it and hang it up.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat table surface
  • Sourdough bread loaves
  • Clean paintbrush
  • Drop cloth

Lay the painting on a flat surface like a table. Work under good lighting. Outdoor lighting works well for this project.

Lay a drop cloth on the ground around and under the table to collect the bread pieces.

Break the loaf of bread in half. Pull out the inner part of the bread, the softer the better.

Rub the painting with a small piece of bread, starting at the upper-left corner using light pressure. The dirt will collect on the dough. Continue to use pieces of the dough, not the crust, to scrub the painting gently.

Brush the entire painting with a soft, unused paintbrush to remove crumbs.

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