Art & Decor Trends

Cleaning an oil painting after a storm?

I got a question from a reader that I wanted to share with yall…

“Hello Brei,
I live in Newcastle Australia and we have just experienced a terrible flood. Unfortunately, my mothers much loved oil painting was damaged by water and mud. It is painted on masonite and we are lucky that it survived, but I do not know how to clean it. I would much appreciate any advise you may be able to give me.
Thank you, Ann.”

If this is a painting that is cherished and important to you my recommendation would be to take it to a restorer. You can damage it so easily if you try to do it yourself. Go ask at a museum near you; they will either have art restorers on staff or ones that they prefer to use, and you can contact one of them. Even if they happen to only do work for museums, they should know a colleague that does private restorations.

However, you can try and do it yourself, but please realize that it is very risky and can cause damage to the painting, so at your own risk here are the steps I would take to treat the flooded art work:

  1. Mild soap and water will work for the oil paint… but it’s the Masonite I am concerned about. I would try to scap the excess water and mud off.
  2. Perhaps you can try a dry brush for the rear and a brief cleaning with mild soap and water for the painted surface.
  3. Dry it with a cloth then go over it with a damp cloth let it dry in the sun. Don’t use any solvents of course.

Then, if it’s damaged and you have a photo of it try going over it with oil paint or try asking an artist to repaint it. has a service where you can turn a photo into art.

Hope your painting will find itself back on the wall soon and that the weather will settle down in your neck of the woods…

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.