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Subject: Paper stained by windex

Paper stained by windex

From: Niccolo Caldararo <caldararo>
Date: Saturday, October 11, 2003
This is a follow up to an inquiry by Daria Keynan concerning paper
stained by Windex (Conservation DistList Instance: 12:42 Monday,
November 9, 1998).

Daria Keynan <dkeynan [at] aol__com> writes

>I have an Ellsworth Kelly print which was stained with Windex  (a
>lot of it, bright blue)

Anne Kahle and I recently were faced with this problem again and by
reference to Ian Cook and Heather Mansell's very useful paper on
"The effects of conservation  treatments on watercolors" in ICCM
Bulletin, Australia, v. 3, n. 2-3, 1981:73-103, we revisited the
problem of the colorant in Windex.

In this case, the problem was introduced when the owner was cleaning
the glass of a framed work on paper.  Windex was sprayed onto the
glass and then was attempted to be wiped off with a rag.  Apparently
the process of wiping dislodged the frame from the wall and the
framed work fell on the floor breaking the glass and exposing the
paper art to the Windex.

I was a little unsure of this scenario as the paper was not only
stained with Windex (very apparent blue) but a yellowish pattern of
cardboard staining was noticeable as well. The manufacturer was
unhelpful about the components in Ms. Keynan's case, but a Safeway
brand of the same product lists bluing agents. We did also receive a
copy of the Windex MSDS report #126000007 which tells us only that
the colorant is blue and the volatile organic compound is
2-butoxyethanol and isopropanol with ethylene glycol n-hexyl ether
as an ingredient. We then referred to Cook and Mansell finding that
some blue pigments and dyes are soluble in Methanol (as were some
pink tones in the paper which had run when wet) but also that blues
could be moved by pH shifts.

Keeping in mind Grubenmann's 1993 advice regarding the dramatic
variation from ideal solubility parameters by many solvents
interacting with pigments and especially alcohols, we proceeded
using a number of alcohols and other solvents related to those
mentioned in the MSDS. As Keynan had reported using ammonia in
combination with alcohol, we assumed she meant ethanol and, relying
on Adel Koura and Thomas Krause's observations with ammonia on paper
which they found cause substantial fiber movement and reduction in
density (The Conservation of Library and Archive Materials and the
Graphic Arts, 1980), we proceeded to apply the methanol in
combination with ammonia (2%), because no other alcohol seemed to
have any affect whatsoever.

Applications were alternated between the two solvents on the suction
table.  The result was a near complete removal of the blue tone we
attributed to the Windex, but little movement of the yellow stain. I
must say that the application was long, wear your ear protectors!

The yellow stain had to be reduced using a combination of a 1:1
solution of peroxide and isopropanol alcohol and 2% ammonia.
Differences in our results from that reported by Ms. Keynan might
also arise from the design of suction tables and their suction
power, or the sustained use of the Methanol.  I have built 5 or 6
suction tables over the past 20 years and altered several of these
more than once.  The performance of tables is dependent on a number
of factors and the draw can be deflected or reduced even when using
high powered motors.  Another factor could be the difference in
composition of the bluing in the formulation.

I would very much like to hear from anyone else who has had a
problem with Windex or a similar product.  It would be very helpful
to be able to compare experiences and the behavior of Windex stains
in different papers and with different media.

Niccolo Caldararo
Director and Chief Conservator
Conservation Art Service

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:34
                Distributed: Thursday, October 16, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-34-009
Received on Saturday, 11 October, 2003

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