Frames are the one thing in your home that shouldn’t be cleaned very often. Dusting, yes, but you don’t need to have your frames on your weekly cleaning schedule.
The reason is that provided they’re hung at eye level; they shouldn’t be getting fingerprints on the glazing. What they will do is accumulate dust. You can easily take care of that with a feather duster or a dry cloth.
With wood frames, in particular, putting anything wet to the wood has the potential to increase moisture content. Too much moisture is never good for what’s inside the frame. For picture frames to do their best job at protecting paper prints, moisture control is mission critical. The less moisture there is, the safer your art, photos or anything sentimental you have in the frame will be.
The Best Method for Maintaining Pristine Frames
Dust frequently and clean rarely
The longer you can put off cleaning your frame, the better so don’t feel bad that it’s not one of those regular things you tackle.
Dusting is best done with either a feather duster or a soft microfiber cloth as they’re great for catching dust. Starting from the top ledge of the frame, work your way around, finishing off at the bottom. Try to get into the corners of the frame as you don’t want to be moving dust around when you get around to cleaning the glazing.
When you’re cleaning the glazing on your frames, do not apply any products to the glazing directly. Instead, apply it to a soft cloth as any liquid can increase moisture, and that has the potential to damage what’s inside the frame.
Spray a soft cloth and never any frame surface.
Cleaning Wooden Frames
How you clean a wood frame will depend on how the frame is crafted and the type of wood the frame is made of. Some types of wood such as cherry and oak frames can be polished, provided it’s done carefully. The safest approach is the same as you’d use for cleaning the glass. Applying the solution to a cloth and not directly to the frame, as that prevents applying too much.
For untreated woods, just use a damp cloth as wood polish could penetrate into the wood if there isn’t a protective coating applied.
For any wood frames with carvings or etchings in the wood, dusting between the crevices is easier done with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Cleaning Metal Frames
Similar to wood, how it’s maintained depends on the finish. Metal picture frames can be lacquered or unlacquered such as silver-plated frames. Silver-plated material can be cleaned with a silver polishing cleaner, but lacquered finished frames shouldn’t be as it can damage the protective coating.
If you’re unsure what type of finish your frame is, a damp cloth to wipe the surface is safest. Alternatively, you could use a tiny bit of product on a part of the frame that isn’t noticeable to test if it is safe to use it.