Conservation Cleaning

Historical items require a careful approach when it comes to cleaning. Inappropriate techniques, materials or equipment can produce negative affects on the thing that we are trying to look after.

Conservation cleaning is an aspect of preventive conservation where the aim of cleaning is not to make an object clean, but to remove layers of dirt or corrosive properties which will cause damage and degradation of its surface.

The act of cleaning itself can be damaging to historic fabric. Abrasive chemicals and equipment and an rough technique can aggressively abrade the surfaces of metals, stone and wood. Layers of the historic surface are lost resulting in loss of inscriptions or painted details and exposure of the underlying, more vulnerable surfaces underneath. Using liquids, soaps or bleaches also have negative effects. These soak into porous materials like stone and wood and cause staining and other lasting damage like flaking surfaces. When used on metals chemical reactions and eventual rusting.

The techniques and equipment described in this guide are tried and tested by conservation professionals and promoted by the Churches Conservation Trust, the Nationals Trust and English Heritage.

RA Conservation offers expert, practical cleaning of the following materials:

  • Metalwork
  • Stained glass
  • Stone
  • Wood
  • Tiles

We also offer training workshops in appropriate techniques for cleaning historic objects