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Can Water Damaged Photos And Documents Be Salvaged?

Updated: Apr 9



If your home has recently experienced a flood – even a minor one – property damage could be extensive. Furniture, drywall, carpeting, and more may have to be completely replaced. But what if you have water damaged photos and documents? Can they be salvaged?


Hopefully, the most personal parts of your home may not have been completely destroyed by water damage and flooding.


What Needs Saving?


Ideally, there are certain papers that are worth saving and should, whenever possible, be completely protected against water damage. Some of these could include the following:


  • Tax returns

  • Special Letters

  • Marriage certificates

  • Birth certificates… and more


There are fireproof/waterproof lockboxes that can be used to prevent these types of documents from being harmed.


For Immediate Salvaging


The documents listed above, and others, may not be lost forever or even need replacing. For immediate salvaging of wet and damp paper after water damage, follow these simple steps:


  • To a dry area, carefully move documents and papers.

  • On plain paper towels, place the individual sheets. Put them in direct sunlight. There should be no designs on the paper towel. That way your documents won't absorb the print.

  • If books need drying, between the pages, place paper towels. Give the pages room to breathe and lay the book flat. Naturally, between each page, it would be difficult to place a paper towel. So, every 20 pages or so, space out your paper towels.

  • Near the papers, place a fan but place it to blow away and up. This is a necessary step for photo and document drying, even though it's a slow process. Don't substitute the fan with something else, like a hairdryer.

  • On the edges of each paper, place paperweights to stop curling.

  • With dry paper towels, regularly replace the wet or damp ones to make the drying process go a little faster.


Salvaging at a Later Date


The steps listed above will work nicely if you can get to those wets, soggy, damaged documents immediately. But what if you can't?


If, right away, you are unable to care for the damaged documents, is all hope lost? Answer: Not necessarily. You can try freezing them in a Ziploc bag while they are still wet. This prevents the possibility of mold infection and keeps them from deteriorating.


Salvaging Photos


The beauty of salvaging photos is that, in many cases, they are already separated from each other. (But not always.) If they are separated, however, you can skip right into the salvaging process.


  • To a dry area, carefully move the photos. As soon as possible, they should be removed from water.

  • Begin with photos that have no damage.

  • To remove dirt, you might be able to use cool water to gently clean photos. Replace the water frequently and don't rub the images.

  • On plain paper towels, place the individual photos faceup. Direct sunlight should not touch the photos.

  • On the edges of each photo, place paperweights to stop curling.

  • Regularly replace the wet or damp paper towels with dry ones.

Again, if you can't get to them right away, photos can be frozen, as with the documents described above.


If photos are in an album, as soon as possible, they will need to be removed from the wet album covers. Carefully pull them apart if they’re stuck together. On the photos’ wet surface, be careful not to put your fingers or hands.


Framed photos should be separated immediately or they will stick to the glass forever.


Have You Experienced a Flood or Water Damage?


Contact us at Provision if you have experienced a flood, water damage, are experiencing a mold problem, and more. Don't wait another day. Your health could be at risk!



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