How to Clean Smudges Off Canvas


Canvas is a fabric that has been used by humanity for thousands of years. It is also one of the most flexible and durable textiles around. Artists have taken advantage of canvas’ natural repellent nature to protect their artwork from pollutants such as dust, smoke, moisture, and light exposure over many centuries.

How to Clean Smudges Off Canvas

However, today this textile has found a new use in modern-day life – like wall art. Paintings are usually placed on canvases for display purposes, and thus it becomes important to know how to properly clean these surfaces off when they get smudged or stained during usage. This article will discuss ways on how to clean smudges off canvas. So let us get started.

How Do Smudges Occur on Canvas?

Smudges develop on canvas paintings for one of several reasons. First, smudges result from dust particles landing on the surface of the painting and then absorbing oil colors from either fingerprints or paintbrushes during application. Second, since the surface of a canvas is porous, these particles become trapped in the fibers making up its backing board.

Smudges Occur on Canvas

A smudge begins forming when color is applied directly to a canvas without first applying a ground coat (such as gesso), which provides an extra layer between your painting’s pigments and its backing board.   This creates a permeable surface that allows the paint to seep into the ground.

If you leave your painting to sit for an extended period of time without adding any layers over your colors, they may dry and become smudged stains on the surface of your work. If left alone for too long, they can begin to form cracks in the layer beneath them.

What is Gesso?

Gesso is a water-based white primer traditionally used as an undercoat on canvas works before oil paints are applied (it also comes in black). It creates an impermeable layer on top of the canvas that prevents pigment from bleeding through onto its backing board and creating smudges or cracks in your work’s later layers.

Used as an Undercoat  On Canvas

Step-wise Guide on How to Clean Smudges Off Canvas

You can remove the smudges using the following methods:

Precautions While Cleaning Smudges Off Canvas

Tips to Prevent Smudges Off Canvas:

1. Try not to touch the painting surface as much as possible.

2. If you must touch the painting, make sure your hands are clean.

Prevent Smudges Off Canvas

3. If a smudge does occur, gently wipe it off with a soft, dry cloth.

4. Do not use any liquid or cleaning agent to clean your painting, as this may damage the surface.

5. If the smudge is particularly stubborn, you can gently rub it with a very soft brush.

6. Test any cleaning methods on a small, hidden area of the painting before using to ensure it does not damage the surface.

Now that you know how to clean smudges off-canvas, you can rest easy knowing your artwork will be beautiful and smudge-free! By following these simple tips, you can keep your paintings looking their best for years.

Use Any Liquid or Cleaning

Why do You Need to Clean Smudges Off Canvas?

Cleaning smudges off canvas can be tedious, but it’s also important for preserving the artwork. Depending on the type of medium used, certain types of smudges can cause damage or discoloration if left untreated. Cleaning these smudges ensures that your artwork looks vibrant and beautiful for years.


While cleaning smudges off-canvas without any special tools or products is possible, the process can be tedious and time-consuming. In some cases, using the wrong cleaning method can damage the canvas or cause the paint to chip.

So there you have it! A few steps on how to clean smudges off canvas. We hope that this was helpful and informative for you. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Thank you for reading!

Jennifer Branett
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