How do you clean your artworks? As little and as gently as possible, experts say. Picture by Liza du Plessis
Whether your gallery wall contains rare French lithographs or drawings by your children, you should do your best to protect what you have chosen to display.

Often we don't take into consideration factors that may damage art over the long term, such as exposing it to sunlight or direct heat.

How do you clean your artworks? As little and as gently as possible, experts say. And if you have cleaning help or a cleaning service, make sure to go over the procedures you would like them to follow when dusting your items.

I spoke to Tiarna Doherty, the head of conservation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Using a glass cleaner

You shouldn't spray or pour any glass cleaner on your framed art. The fluid can seep into the edges of the frame and damage the art and the mat, Doherty says. To clean the glass, use a dry cloth. Or you can mix a little water with rubbing alcohol, dip in a corner of a soft cloth and then wipe the glass.

Cleaning wood frames with furniture polish

Spraying or wiping furniture polish on frames isn't recommended. You could disrupt a coating or a patina on your frame, Doherty says. An old frame may be made of wood with gilding and should be handled with care. It’s best, she says, to lightly dust a frame with a small, soft dry brush that you can pick up at an art store. Don’t use water or any other liquids to clean a frame.

Displaying art near an exterior door

Hanging original artwork near a front door exposes it to a lot of light and fluctuations in humidity. Both can damage art, possibly causing it to fade or crack. Try to hang original artworks in a more stable environment away from exterior doors.

Storing surplus art in a basement, attic or garage

This is a no-no. Basements can be damp environments and attics and garages tend to have vast temperature fluctuations and can get hot in summer, which isn't a good environment for original art. If you aren't displaying your artworks, store them leaning against a wall in a cupboard or guestroom. If you have a stack of them, separate them by boards. Museums use acid-free boards, says Doherty, who recommends Gaylord Archival as a source for archival supplies.

Hanging paintings on only one nail

Two hooks are always better than one nail. She recommends attaching two metal D-rings, one on each side of a frame, and then attaching to a wall with their corresponding hooks. This type of hardware is readily available and is sold by size indicating the weight it can hold.

Art in the bathroom

The condensation, humidity and steam from bath tubs and showers can be damaging to art over time. It’s better to hang your good pieces in places that have less moisture and more ventilation.