Cry for Help

I have just mounted a large (24" x 16") print onto mounting board using a spray adhesive. This is for an exhibition in 3 days' time.

Some of the adhesive got on the front of the print.
This should not have been unexpected, as I am a complete clutz!
Is there a way to clean the glue off the print?

To make this question more generally useful: is there a good way to clean general dirt off a print?

Many thanks for any help!

2 Answers 2


It would depend what the print was created with. If the print was created with some kind of ink jet system, there is no way to clean it. The inks are soluble, and pretty much any cleaning agent will ruin the ink. The adhesive itself has also likely bonded to the ink particles, so trying to remove the adhesive will damage the print.

Some forms of print are more resilient, such as laser or possibly dye sublimation. Generally speaking, I would assume that there are few cleaning agents that would allow you to remove the adhesive without also removing the ink or ruining the paper substrate.

When it comes to board-mounted prints, usually after bonding the print to the base, you seal the print with some kind of spray-on sealant or laminate. If you use a print sealer, it might help mitigate the effects of the adhesive, as well as make your print resilient to any future damage.

  • Thanks. It was printed by a printing service (photobox.com). So not a domestic inkjet. I will try to find out more detail on how they do it.
    – AJ Finch
    Dec 1, 2010 at 20:29
  • According to their technical details page (photobox.co.uk/content/quality/technical), they use a color laser system. Laser printers usually bond the ink to the paper substrate better than ink jets do, however there is still no guarantee that the ink won't bond better to an adhesive. Also, assuming you could find a solvent that would only remove the adhesive, you are unlikely to find something that won't damage the paper substrate.
    – jrista
    Dec 1, 2010 at 20:56
  • for the record, if its silver (ie 'film' or developed photos), you can put those in water without harm. Darn hard to tell these days though.
    – cmason
    May 11, 2012 at 12:58
  • @cmason: Aye, "photographic" prints are managed by a chemical process, so they are pretty resilient to things in the short-term. But, since those processes are chemical, they are more susceptible to long-term chemical and water damage (and suffer in terms of overall longevity.)
    – jrista
    May 11, 2012 at 18:50

I use a product called PEC-12 from Photographic Solutions, and I'm amazed when I clean my prints how much gunk (fingerprint oils, etc.) comes off. It's "archival" and designed specifically for photographic emulsions. I'm not sure how well it'd do on adhesives, but I'd give it a try. Most photo store carry at least the 4oz spray bottle. (example) Best of luck!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.