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water damaged book

How to Restore Photos, Books and Documents that Have Been Flooded

Property flooding puts documents and books at great risk. Both the water and humidity can cause permanent deterioration to paper. Yet, the good news is that water damaged paper restoration is achievable, but only when acting quickly and carefully. It’s important to start salvaging the water-damaged photos, books, and documents within two days or they will start to become mouldy and deteriorate.

Water Damaged Paper Restoration: Saving Water-Damaged Photos

  • Pictures in frames should be saved when they are still drenched. Otherwise, the photos might get damaged when trying to remove them. To safely separate a wet photo from a picture frame, both the photo and frame should be gently rinsed with water; then the photo should be carefully removed.
  • For saving very old photos, a professional conservator should be consulted first. Historical photographs are more sensitive to damage and restoration.
  • When ready, the photos should be removed from the water or mud being careful not to touch the front of the photos.
  • The photos should be placed image side up onto a rigid surface like a board.
  • If photos have dirt on them, they should be rinsed using clean water in a bucket or sink.
  • After cleaning the photos, they should be laid on blotting paper, such as a paper towel. To prevent ink from smudging the photos, newspapers should not be used.
  • The photos should be dried indoors. Taking them outside is not recommended as sunlight and wind will cause photos to curl more quickly.
  • The photos should be left to air-dry, but the paper towels should be changed every one to two hours.
  • If drying the photos is not the first priority, freezing them is a good way to buy some time. But first, they should be rinsed of dirt and stacked between sheets of wax paper. This will make them easier to separate when treated.

Water Damaged Paper Restoration: Saving Water-Damaged Books and Documents

  • The documents should be removed from the water with care. If the papers are dirty, they should be gently rinsed and laid on a flat surface on top of the blotted paper. It’s best to use paper towels without prints and avoid newspaper. The paper towels must be constantly changed.
  • Books or documents shouldn’t be dried outside where sunlight and wind can curl them. They should be let to air-dry indoors. Running an oscillating fan in the room can increase air circulation and speed up drying.
  • For waterlogged books, an absorbent paper should be placed between every 20 to 50 wet pages. Then, the books should be laid flat to dry. The blotting paper should be changed every few hours.
  • If the books can be put in a vertical position, the pages should be fanned out and allowed to air-dry. Using a fan can help speed up the drying process.
  • To postpone the drying of paper documents or books, they should be sealed in plastic zipper bags and put in the freezer. This helps preserve them and stops mould from developing until they’re ready to be restored.
  • If papers and books smell musty after drying, they should be placed in an open box, which should be put inside a closed container with baking soda to absorb odours. Baking soda should not touch the books.

For water damage restoration, call PuroClean

Although most property owners can follow all these water damaged paper restoration steps themselves, hiring a document and photo restoration professional is generally a safer alternative. Trained technicians have the equipment and experience to salvage sensitive documents and bring them safely back to life.