Do you have an important, meaningful, or precious document you want to preserve? If you want to preserve a certificate, map, art print, or just about anything else printed onto paper, there’s no better way to ensure your document’s longevity than archival quality framing. But if the document is dusty or grimy, you may want to consider cleaning it.

Cleaning documents can remove potential contaminants that may damage your piece over time. But you need to be very careful when cleaning any document because if you do it improperly, or if you clean a document that’s not meant to be cleaned, you can do irreparable damage to the piece.

This is why we offer cleaning and restoration services in house. Feel free to do the light cleaning yourself, but if you would rather leave it to the professionals, then bring your document in and we’ll take care of the whole process for you.

For those of you who enjoy DIY, here are some useful tips for cleaning your documents.

What should I clean?

You can consider cleaning documents that have been printed, or where all the material has been firmly bound to the paper. This includes the aforementioned maps, printed pages, certificates, and other documents. Bear in mind that while these pages can be cleaned, you must still be careful because a tear is irreparable, so handle gently.

If, on the other hand, the material isn’t firmly bound to the paper, as is the case with many mediums including pencil, pastel and charcoal, do not attempt to clean it. In these cases cleaning will likely severely damage the piece.

Other documents that shouldn’t be cleaned include very old or brittle documents, and documents with severe blemishes such as tape residue. These pieces must be taken to a professional.

How to clean your document

While cleaning, always be sure to use the lightest possible touch. Torn paper cannot be restored so minimal contact is always the best.

If the document has a coating of dust, a careful sweep with a soft brush may be all it needs.

If a light dusting doesn’t do the trick, consider using document cleaning powder. This powder removes dust and even oil from fingerprints. Using a soft pad, rub the powder very gently over the document.

If the grime is too difficult to remove consider your options carefully. You can use a razor blade or scalpel to remove grime, but you’re at a high risk of damaging the document. If it seems like any amount of pressure might need to be applied to remove the grime, don’t do it. Better to have a blemish than a cut document.

When in doubt, bring your document in to one of our frame shops, where our restoration professionals can take care of the process for you, from cleaning to framing with archival quality materials.