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How to Clean Metal Art | Remove Fingerprints, Smudges, Dirt & Grime

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How to Remove Fingerprints from Metal Art

by Eric Waddington

It is not uncommon for fingerprints and smudges to accumulate on the surface of your metal art. Whether they be the result of handling the panels (for mounting, moving, cleaning or dusting) or perhaps from incidental contact by house guests or curious children, they can certainly be unsightly and can actually cause long-term damage. As with any fine art, metal artwork can be gradually ruined by the corrosive tendencies of the oils from finger prints as they sit and collect dirt and grime (however fine they may be.)

That being said, it is clearly wise to clean your metal art and remove fingerprints from the surface as soon as you notice them. With our decades of experience in the industry, we have seen just about every type of imperfection and damge that a metal panel can sustain, and we have therefore decided to offer up our tips and expertise and teach you how to remove fingerprints, smudges and other superficial muck from your metal art.

First Things First - the Easy Clean

The first tip we always recommend is a soft, clean cotton cloth, warm water, and a mild hand soap. It should be emphasized and noted that I said SOFT and CLEAN! Repurposing your grimy toolbench hand towl will clearly do more harm than good...

Start by dusting the surface of the artwork just incase there are any loose grains of dirt that could potentially rub and scratch when you wipe it down. Then get your soft, clean cotton cloth damp with warm water, rub a small amount of mild hand soap into it, and gently wipe the fingerprints or dirt off of surface of your metal panel.

Didn't Work? Tips for Heavy-Duty Fingerprint Removal

NOTE: This section is for the pure metal (aluminum) panels, without color or clear coat.  
If you have some serious fingerprints (maybe dad grabbed the art after changing the oil in the car...) try using a Scotchbrite-type pad. If possible, use a medium 3M scuff pad, or the maroon-colored Scotchbrite pad. If you can't find that, you can try a dry dish sponge, using the rough side that is usually attached to a clear handle and holds soap. Remove the sponge and make sure that it is dry. Take your pad or sponge and rub it in the SAME DIRECTION as the grain or pattern on the metal. Start gentle and apply more pressure as needed, until the fingerprints or smudges are removed.

I hope this simple how to guide will aid those of you trying to care for your metal wall art and remove those pesky fingerprints before the guests arrive... If all else fails and none of our tips or techniques work, you may have a more serious problem on your hands and you can feel free to contact us for additional options. Enjoy your fingerprint-free metal artwork!

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