Advice & Guidance


The cleaning of the interior of an historic place of worship should be approached with care and caution in order to avoid inflicting damage on the historic fabric.

Grisaille glassAll materials are subject to change: metals oxidise and lose their shine, wood contracts and expands, textiles wear and fray and stone changes colour over time. When you are cleaning, you should not attempt to make everything look new. It is far better to try to retain the historic patina of an object by leaving ingrained dust, dirt and staining well alone.

As with many tasks it is vital to ensure that you have the correct equipment for the job before you start.


It is generally advisable to steer clear of proprietary products such as aggressive cleaners, abrasives, silicone polishes, aerosol polishes and furniture creams as these may cause damage to the object you are endeavouring to care for. If water is needed, it should be used in minimal quantities and the surface dried after it has been rinsed.

MosaicHousekeeping hints...

Download our sheet of handy Cleaning Tips.

Consider putting together your own ‘cleaning manual' for your place of worship. This could contain instructions about how to clean specific items in your building along with advice on which tools and materials to use. Remember to include any guidance prepared for you by your professional advisors or conservators.

Organise a ‘spring cleaning day' at your place of worship and invite everyone to help.

If you notice any fragile or damaged areas on historic object or artefacts consider seeking advice from your professional adviser.

The ‘spring cleaning day' might also be a good opportunity to get rid of any old piles of paper and other unwanted items that may be lying around. And remember to reward your volunteers - tea and cakes are always appreciated!

Brasso stains on stonework

Further information

The Conservation Register lists details of accredited conservators as well as guidance on commissioning conservation reports.

The Institute of Conservation provides excellent advice on the care of objects including glass, furniture, stone, textiles, books, metalwork and paintings.

The Regional Furniture Society has produced an advice note on The Routine Care of Historic Furniture & Fixed Woodwork in Churches in association with BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association) and The Churches Conservation Trust.

Minerva Stone Conservation has produced a useful Church Monument Handbook containing tips for the identification, care and repair of monuments.

© SPAB 2010