How To Remove A Picture Stuck To Glass – The Easy Way


People take photographs to remember the good times with friends and family, but the truth is that most pictures aren’t designed to last forever.

Photographs can fade, bleach, or worst of all, even get stuck to the glass!

You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Can’t I just put on some rubber gloves and cleave through the photo & glass with a credit card?” and the answer is absolutely not. Brute force won’t separate a photo and glass. But fret not, because there are some reliable methods to get to remove your photo stuck to glass.

We’re Not Like ‘Other’ Photo Restoration Services.

Take into account that, unlike other photo restoration services, we don’t just fix the obvious problems and throw a filter over everything – we comb through your images pixel-by-pixel to repair damage & create a perfect restoration of your prints!

Why Do Photos Get Stuck To Glass?

It can be devastating when a cherished photo gets stuck to the glass on your picture frame, but understanding why it happens can help you avoid it. Here are some simple methods on ‘how to unstick a picture from glass’.

The “emulsion” on your photo sticks to the glass

When an image is processed in a photo lab, it goes through a series of chemical processes for clear results. This process results in lots of thin coatings on your photo, which forms an “emulsion” that can stick to glass. Note that this is way more common with glossy photos.

Heating and humidity

These can be disastrous for all kinds of photos. Leaving your picture frame in direct sunlight can lead to water build-up, resulting in moisture damage and light damage. This is especially true if you have no photo mat or tissue paper in place. Consequently, the trapped moisture can seep into your photos and leave them stuck to the glass of your frame.

Before You Try Any DIY Remedies

If you’ve decided to take your photograph into your own hands and do some work on your precious, glass-adhered photos, consider saving yourself some trouble. Here’s some advice before you try any methods to your photo:

Use A Flatbed Scanner To Scan Your Picture

Before trying any DIY methods to separate your precious memories from glass, consider making a digital copy of your photos, just in case. The best way to do that is by using a dedicated product like a photo scanner. You can do this at home or with a company that provides scanning services to their customers.

flatbed picture scanner

Take A High-Quality Picture Of Your Photo Through The Glass

Taking a clear digital picture of your photo before doing anything drastic can make the whole process a little less scary. Just make sure your photo is well-lit and in frame, all the details are clear, and you’re good to go!

Take a high quality photo of your image using a camera

Consider Professional Photo Services

When it’s a question of bringing your precious moments back to life, you may want to consider working with photo experts for the best possible results. The issue with doing it yourself is that sometimes there may be imperfections in your picture that you won’t notice until much later. 

Your local community center or library might even make a digital copy of your photos for you!

Bonus: How To Scan Your Pictures

  1. Take the photo in good lighting
  2. Sticky tack the corners of the photo down
  3. Take the photo on a flat 90° angle
  4. Make sure the photo is in frame & in focus

How To Remove A Photo Stuck To Glass

So you’ve finally decided to take on the challenge of separating your photo stuck to the glass of a picture frame – we salute you! Here are two ways to get them unstuck while minimizing damage.

Use A Hair Dryer To Remove Your Photograph

We hope your blow dryer has a heat setting because it’ll be instrumental in removing a photo that’s stuck to the glass of a frame. This method requires a steady hand and a little bit of patience to work, but it might just be the thing for you.

Using your dryer’s lowest heat setting, slowly apply heat while holding the photo and glass about 5 inches away. One of the things you’ll have to be super careful about is using too much heat since this can damage your picture. We recommend alternating between applying heat and pulling on the edges of your photo stuck to the glass for the best possible outcome.

dry your picture image using a hair dryer

Put The Glass And Photo In A Freezer

Does the idea of heating a beloved picture frame make you queasy? The following method might be the one for you. 

Step 1 is simply to safely place the photo and glass into your freezer, making sure it’s nice and secure before leaving it alone for about an hour. Once the timer is up, carefully pull your photos out. Cold glass is more likely to shatter, so we recommend using protective gear while fiddling with your photo frames. 

Afterward, use a thin object like a sticker remover or envelope knife to lift the corners of your photo from the glass gently. Don’t rush it, and your picture will be good as new.

fridge freezer

Soaking The Photograph In Water

Soaking your photos in water can be just as effective as heating or freezing them – although it can be a little more nerve-wracking. The same rules about temperature apply, but you may want to mix a bond-breaking agent like PhotoFlo into the solution if your photo has been stuck on glass for more than a few years.

an effective soaking method is using distilled water

Preventing The Problem: Tips To Stop It From Happening Again

You’ve got questions, and we have answers. Here are our four best tips for making sure your photograph never gets stuck on glass again.

  • Use high-quality photo paper and mats
  • Keep picture frames away from direct sunlight
  • Be mindful of humidity and moisture damage to your photos
  • Keep everything backed up to a secure cloud-based website (Google Drive is great!)
photo albums

Hire A Professional To Restore Your Photos

While there may be more than a few ways to unstick your photo print from its glass paneling, there’s still a pretty significant chance something will go wrong – especially if you do it yourself. Even professional glass removal services can make mistakes! That’s why the only real solution is to have your photo restored and reprinted.

Image Restoration Center can take on your photo restoration orders and complete them within 72 hours, with digital delivery to your email address and photo prints to your door.

We’re Not Like ‘Other’ Photo Restoration Services.

Take into account that, unlike other photo restoration services, we don’t just fix the obvious problems and throw a filter over everything – we comb through your images pixel-by-pixel to repair damage & create a perfect restoration of your prints!

5 Responses

  1. The picture I’m dealing with, and extremely “fretting” over, is a picture of at least 32-35yrs old. It’s from the old style cameras from the 80s, not a “Polaroid”, (those instant print days were special though!) But from a camera, where we loaded film, and once the roll was filled up, we’d take it to our pharmacy, or photo department of our local grocery store and they’d process it,, we’d pick up an envelope of how ever many our camera took.
    I’m going to TRY to clean rest of the frame, and take a picture of the picture before trying any of the DIY methods. I’d love to have it professionally done, but financially that’s not an option for me at present time.
    So, I guess my main question is, since it’s the old-fashioned type of film, not a professional picture, or a more current laser printed picture, does that change any of the DIY instructions?
    It’s a picture of my Mom & I from 1984 or 85, when at my very small Christian high school, we had a charity basketball game one Friday evening, where the Fathers of the team played a game against their sons. Naturally, the cheer coach decided the Mothers would cheer for the the Dads, against us girls on the squad. It took ALOT of convincing & pleading with my pretty shy Mom. I kept pleading and She finally relented, and I’m so happy she did! We all had a great night! Afterwards, someone was going around taking snapshots of all the kids with their participative parent, and being young & limber, (Oh! Those days of youth!)
    I plopped down into my ever-impressive splits, while Mom just stood behind me. A rare event for us, but a memory so dear to my heart today.
    Today, she’s 75, and sadly resides in a long-term facility, with the beginning stages of dementia. My husband and I took care of her for 9 years at home, but her medical issues became more than I could handle, and the stress of it all took a huge toll on my own health, and landed me in the hospital for 31 days. It breaks my heart, but it was the safest & most responsible thing I could do to ensure she received the proper medical care from the professionals.
    Right now I think she’ll remember the picture, just maybe not what we were doing. But I know she’ll enjoy seeing the picture in a new frame, though its a beautiful 2 glass pieces frame, (picture only stuck to the front piece?) with sweet words of “Memories, Love, Mother, Daughter”, it’s quite lovely.
    Here’s praying for the best!

    Thank You Very Much For Your Tips & Advice!

  2. Here is my situation. My mom and dad’s wedding picture, from 1944, is stuck on the glass and I want to put it in a new frame. From what my mom told me it was done in oils, in color. I do not want to take the chance of ruining it, what to do???

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Emily Hutton

As a photographer, a restoration, and a designer, Emily isn't just a jack-of-all-trades, she's a certified expert. She's a tech junkie, and the most screen-addicted member of the IRC team. When it comes to product reviews, her insights and recommendations are second-to-none.

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