How to clean picture frames without Windex

You love displaying prints and photos, but do you know the right way to clean decorative frames and the glass inside them?

Jennifer Ickes, head registrar for the New Orleans Museum of Art, sure does. Over the course of her 20 years at NOMA, she’s cleaned her fair share of them. She passes along these insider tips for cleaning like a museum pro.

Check out our interactive guide to learn how to clean your home from top to bottom.

To clean glass-front picture frames:

Glass fronts are often coated to prevent glare and protect against UV light. Unless you’re a framing professional, you probably can't tell if glass has coating just by looking at it. Since ammonia-based glass cleaners (like regular Windex) can damage these coatings, play it safe and clean all glass fronts as if they were coated.

Ammonia Free Windex Cleaners, $17, Amazon

Ammonia Free Windex Cleaners


This version of Windex is ammonia-free, meaning it won't strip the class coating.

AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, $12 (usually $15), Amazon

How to clean picture frames without Windex

AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth


These best-selling microfiber cloths can be used for picture frames as well as all over the home for a variety of cleaning projects.

E-Cloth Glass and Polishing Cloth, $10, Amazon

E-Cloth Glass & Polishing Cloth


Unlike other cloths, these are specifically made to be gentle on glass and mirrors.

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To clean acrylic-front picture frames:

Novus Plastic Clean & Shine, $5 (usually $6), Amazon

Novus Plastic Clean & Shine


Ickes recommends this for cleaning hard plastic or acrylic frames. It doesn’t scratch and it leaves a shine that resists fogging and fingerprints, repels dust and eliminates static, she said.

Note: Novus also makes scratch removers for acrylic. If you use it, Ickes advises that you do not reuse the same cloths to clean acrylic or glass later on. Debris does not wash out of the cloths completely and leftover bits may scratch surfaces. Repurpose these cloths for less delicate cleaning chores.

Other products for cleaning acrylic:

Brillianize Plastic and Glass Cleaning Kit


Alcohol- and ammonia-free, this formula is safe for acrylic fronts and frames. Apply according to directions using a clean, made-for-glass microfiber cloth.

Novus Polish Mate Cloth


Made for cleaning acrylic, plastic and glass, these disposable cloths eliminate the risk of scratches from leftover abrasive particles in reusable cloths.

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To clean modern or antique frames:

While it’s off the wall, take time to inspect the overall condition of the framed artwork. Mark Rogers, owner of Frame Destination in Dallas, suggests checking the following:

This article was originally published on Sept. 11, 2017.