Our new Collections resource on cleaning.

In our new resource, our Conservation Development Officer, Helena Jaeschke, recommends the best ways to clean your museum safely and discusses the potential issues with fogging, during the reopening process.

As museums across the South West Screenshot of the Cleaning in the museum resource front pagebegin to reopen, one of the key considerations is now finding the best way to clean surfaces to keep volunteers, staff and visitors, as well as their collections safe.

Download our resource – Reopening: cleaning in the museum



Fogging – in most cases we don’t recommend this in museums. Here’s why:

What is fogging?

Fogging disperses tiny droplets of a disinfectant or antiviral solution by spraying it in an electrostatically charged mist. The droplets are attracted to surfaces because of the electrostatic charge and then the agent destroys the virus particles.

What’s the problem?

Fogging is uncontrollable. The mist disperses through the air and will settle on all surfaces, including any objects which are on open display and any historic surfaces such as decorated ceilings, walls, furniture and floors.

The effects of the disinfectant agent on objects and historic surfaces are unknown and could damage collections.

Are there any situations when fogging can be used safely in a museum?

Fogging can be used, but only in certain circumstances – for example if all objects on open display and historic surfaces are covered with acid-free tissue and then a non-permeable covering. Fogging could be used in rooms with no objects or historic surfaces (e.g  offices or reception areas) if other spaces are sealed off. 

Helena’s Top tips for cleaning (instead of fogging)

  • Nine day quarantine – Any museum that is closed with no people inside for more than nine days or any object which has been quarantined for nine days does not need cleaning to remove virus particles
  • Protect historic objects – Do not use disinfectant cleaners on historic surfaces or objects without guidance – they may cause irreparable damage.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Cleaners should wear appropriate PPE including gloves and a mask. Dispose of cleaning materials (such as cloths or paper towels) and used PPE safely.
  • Clean from the top down – Always clean from the top down so that any loose particles fall to the floor and are cleaned away at the end.
  • Use the appropriate dilution – Anti-viral or anti-bacterial cleaners should always be used at the appropriate dilution – do not be tempted to make up a stronger solution.
  • Surfaces – Surfaces which people touch need to be regularly cleaned, ideally after each use.
  • Floors – Floors also need to be cleaned regularly as the droplets which people exhale fall to the floor.

Download the resource for full guidance and top tips for cleaning your museum safely in preparation during reopening.

If you are in need of any support on maintaining or cleaning your collection during reopening, please get in touch.