Velvet paintings are for some an unpardonable assault on good taste. For others, they are loving exemplars of the power of kitsch to lift the spirits. However you view it, cleaning velvet paintings, particularly vintage velvet, can be a necessary and tricky task. A few easy to come by and inexpensive tools will do as good a job as possible and if used carefully leave you with the painting you love minus the dirt.
Cleaning a Painting
Cut an old leg off of some sheer pantyhose and pull the toe end over the end of your vacuum hose snugly and secure tightly with a rubber band. Run the vacuum on low power and slowly draw the hose over the surface of the painting. If you have a very powerful vacuum or your painting is in weakened condition, do not touch the hose to the surface, just hover over it loosening and picking up dust and debris.
Brush with suede or nubuck shoe grooming brush to loosen caked-on dirt or debris. Be very careful with the wire brush side and make short strokes over the unpainted areas of the painting. Flip the brush over to the soft nubby grooming side to smooth the nap and around the edges of the paint.
Blow dust and debris off of the painting with a pressurized container of compressed air--the kind typically used to clean computer keyboards. You can pick up a can for a few dollars, and it should cover a medium-size painting. Hold the canned air straw nozzle and spray in the plane of the face of the painting, blowing dust out of the velvet nap. Tap the painting gently on the ground periodically to assist the dust or embedded debris in falling free.