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How to Save a Wet Photo Album

Photograph albums are often among our most treasured possessions. And what can you do if your photo album gets wet? Don't panic--here are some things to try.


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    Remove the photos from the album. If possible, gently remove the photographs from mountings or sleeves. If the photograph threatens to tear, stop. Instead, dry the photographs in place keeping the leaves of the album as open as possible.
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    Gently dry the photos. The first thing to do after getting them out of the album is to dry them. The preferred method is to hang them on a line - this allows gravity to work on them best. The water runs down on the page (hang them from a corner, one clip only) toward the point, and keeps the paper from warping as the water's weight allows the top part to dry first, keeping downward pressure on the drying paper.
    • If you can't hang them, they will dry fine on an absorbent material such as a kitchen or paper towel, although they may be more prone to buckling here and there (harmless).
    • Do not blot as it could damage the surface.
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    Soak any photos that are stuck together. Water will not harm most photographs, as exposure to water is actually part of the chemical development process for conventional photographs. If photographs have stuck together: soak the photographs for at least an hour in lukewarm water. Gently peel apart.
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    Soak any photos drenched with a sticky or other liquid. If the album was wet by another liquid: You may be able to clean off the substance by soaking and gently drying the photograph as above. Some liquids, like coffee, tea, grape juice, wine, and the like, may not come off very easily, however.
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    Consult a professional. Nothing worked? The photographs were damaged? A professional photography restoration may be necessary. You can find these services through professional photographers, antique restoration professionals, and sometimes through colleges and universities.


  • Store photo albums in large plastic Ziploc bags or waterproof container to keep this issue from occurring in the first place. Even if you are very careful, accidents can always happen, such as flood or water damage from a house fire.
  • Hopefully, you can save the photographs even if the album is no longer usable. This can be a good opportunity to put your photographs in an archive-quality album, or acid-free paper scrapbook if it wasn't before.
  • Back up your photographs (especially important ones such as baby photos or photos from an overseas holiday) on CD regularly. Keep these CDs somewhere other than where you keep your album, such as a relative's house, in case you lose your originals.
  • If the pictures were taken with a digital device, try backing them up onto a computer or memory card, or even uploading them to a cloud.(i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox). If the photos were developed in at a store or somewhere similar, and/or if you only have physical copies of the photos, you can scan them into a computer or memory card and back them up that way. If you have no way to back physical images up digitally, you can always save the negatives (if you have them) in a safe place and have them redeveloped when needed if they stay in good condition.


  • Be gentle. Don't rush.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Container of some sort for the water, preferably tray-like with tall sides.
  • New album

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