From microfibre cloths to poly(vinyl alcohol) hydrogels – conservation cleaning of plastics heritage

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Abstract

In 2012, the EU 7th Framework Programme project Preservation of Plastics Artefacts in Museum Collections (POPART) used optical- and scanning electron microscopy, changes in surface energy and gloss to conduct an exhaustive evaluation of cleaning techniques for their effectiveness at removing sebum and carbonaceous soils from cellulose acetate, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene and poly(methyl methacrylate). POPART concluded that applying anionic and nonionic detergent solutions with polyester microfiber cloth cleaned more effectively and produced fewer scratches than using dry, cleaning tools. Polyethylene and polystyrene were the plastics found most vulnerable to scratching. In 2018, the Horizon 2020 research project Nanomaterials for the Restoration of Works of Art (NANORESTART) had added hydrogels and -gums to the cleaning tools examined in POPART and infrared spectroscopy to the suite of evaluation instruments. The present study compared on an equal basis, the materials, model soils and most effective cleaning techniques examined by the POPART and NANORESTART projects and concluded that hydrogels induced significantly less damage than traditional cleaning tools and that sebum soil proved more resistant to removal from plastics than carbonaceous soils.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
ISSN1296-2074
Publication statusSubmitted - 2 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • conservation
  • cleaning
  • plastics
  • soil
  • microfiber cloth
  • nanomaterials
  • infrared spectroscopy
  • iodine staining

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