View Full Version : Drying out flooded acrylic paintings

09-20-2008, 11:06 PM
I had five acrylic painted canvases in a Galveston Gallery and after Hurricane IKE flooded the gallery under nine feet of water, wet canvases. Does anyone have a good way to try to clean mud Etc. off of paintings?


09-20-2008, 11:47 PM
OMG....I feel so bad for you. I sincerely hope you find a way to salvage these. I have no really good alternative to offer, but again, I hope you find a way to fix them. Hopefully, someone here will chime in soon and offer some alternatives for you!

09-20-2008, 11:52 PM
Ohhh wow that is so sad.. I am so sorry to hear of your situation. no idea what to suggest. Let me write to a local art teacher/artist in our area and see if she has any suggestions.

what about inquiring at a museum or something as they I'm sure have ways of cleaning old things donated.
Or callig art stores.. maybe even writing to one of the acrylic paint companies like Golden or liqutex.

09-21-2008, 12:02 AM
I will check with my daughter, she does restorations...maybe she will have some ideas. Will probably be tomorrow afternoon till I can get her.

Bob Rooney
09-21-2008, 02:02 AM
If it's acrylic on canvas why not just use soap and water. I would just make sure the cleaner contained no alcohol or ammonia. I think acrylic is pretty indestructible. Some of my paintings I sold were in a house fire. They weren't burnt but suffered heavy smoke and were covered in soot and water from fire hoses. They cleaned up just fine with soft soap and water. They had been finished with a smooth gloss isolation coat and varnish. It might not have worked so well if they had been a matte finish.

09-21-2008, 06:00 AM
oh that's so horrible!

If they're just acrylic I'd be tempted, since they're wet already, to flush them with clean water front and back. I personally would probably use a very very soft brush (even a large watercolour brush if it's the softest you can find) to 'scrub' the area gently to make sure muck and debris is out of the nooks and crannies of the paint texture or canvas texture on the front. Bob's idea of soap and water is fine too.


09-21-2008, 07:02 AM
Oh my - how terrible! I have never experienced anything like this, but I would probably go with the clear water and soft cloth or brush to start with. I was thinking that what would probably be the most permanently effected would be the canvas's wooden stretcher bars since wood tends to warp when wet. There's always the option, if this is the case, to restretch the canvas. I'll be interested to hear too what your daughter advises, Susan.

I'm so sorry to hear this happened, Geo. :(


09-21-2008, 07:50 AM
Sorry to hear about this, hope the paintings can be salvaged.

Does anyone have a good way to try to clean mud Etc. off of paintings?

How about hosing 'em! Take a garden hose, at low pressure, and thoroughly spray the canvases to get the bulk of the gunk off.

Depending on whether you varnished your paintings - and what you used - the surface could be very susceptible to damage from abrasion so direct cleaning methods on the painted side should be approached with caution.

It's possible the stretchers may need to removed and replaced; after a thorough wetting like this parts may bow or twist when drying.

You may also want to consider giving them a rinse off with a weak bleach solution to kill off any nasties. If you're replacing the stretcher bars then you could treat the canvas at that time.


09-22-2008, 06:59 PM
My daughter also suggested a damp cloth, but rub lightly in circles, and perhaps light air for anything that had dried on.

Hope all of these suggestions help, and that you can rescue everything!!

09-22-2008, 07:35 PM
I don't see how you can get by without restretching the canvasses.

I would be very worried about mildew setting up around the stretcher bars;

If you don't get the salt out of the canvasses, it may cause separation of the paint from the canvas. I don't see how you can get the salt out without soaking the back of the canvas. Can you ever sell the paintings without declaring the salt water damage. It would be like selling a water damaged auto.

I know it's a lousy comparison but in the Navy I had a pair of shoes salt water soaked and I was never able to get the salt out of the leather and the salt would come up through the shoe polish leaving white spots. My Chief didn't like it.