Saving Family Photos After A Flood – Water Damaged or Stuck Photos

These recommendations are intended as guidance only. Therefore, Image Master assumes no responsibility or liability for any treatment of damaged photos you may undertake.

It may be possible to save water damaged or stuck together photos but you must act swiftly. 

Before you do anything, see if you can locate undamaged negatives. If so, you will be able to have new prints made from these.

Damaged photos for which you do not have negatives need to receive attention first. Once photos have stuck together or become moldy, it may not be possible to save them.

Handle wet or stuck photos carefully because surfaces may be fragile. Try not to touch the image surface with your hands. 

It is a good idea to take new photographs of all photos as soon as you can see a clear image just in case their condition worsens. Take new photos before and or after soaking.

Remove photos stuck to matts, glass, or frames, if possible, to do without causing too much damage. If the photo is really stuck, follow the soaking instructions below. Take a new photograph before you attempt to remove the stuck photo or soak it. Also, if the stuck photo is in good condition, it may be possible to scan it in the frame as is, and then send a digital copy to a restorer such as Image Master for restoration.

If you have a number of photos stuck together they can be soaked in slightly warm water. If the water becomes dirty change it often. It could take about an hour to loosen them.

Wet photos may be rinsed in clean water if need be, and sealed in a plastic garbage bag with a tie, or a Ziploc type plastic bag. 

It is a good idea to place wax paper between each photo.

If a freezer is available, freeze the photos immediately. Later, the photos may be defrosted, separated, and air-dried.

If no freezer or refrigerator is available, rinse wet photos in clean water and dry them, face up, in a single layer on a clean surface such as a table, towel, or clean plastic laid out on the ground. 

You will reduce the growth of mold and mildew by reducing humidity. Increase air flow with fans, open windows, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. 

Don’t dry the photos in direct sunlight. 

You may want to add weights to the tips of each photo corner to help reduce curling.