The possibility of replacing volatile and toxic organic solvents by ionic liquids (ILs) could contribute to safer procedures for conservation and restoration. This study introduces the use of ILs in varnish removal from paintings. The efficacy of this new procedure was assessed by applying different types of ILs in mock-ups of several painting materials and varnishes. The removal of IL residues from the surface of paintings was assessed mainly by FTIR-ATR. The application of ILs to a real painting is illustrated.