HOW TO: Water Damaged Photos (DIY & Professional Restoration)

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Dealing with the aftermath of water-damaged photos can be devastating, and recovering your most beloved memories can feel nearly impossible.

However, even significant flooding doesn’t have to inflict permanent damage on your favorite photographs.

Is it possible to save water-damaged photographs?

The answer is a resounding yes!

There are several ways to restore water-damaged photos – we go through a few tips for salvaging wet photographs below. But if you value a professional touch, you can head straight to our order page to restore, enhance, and retouch flood-damaged photos!

What Causes Water Damage To A Photograph?

Contrary to popular belief, floods, leaks, and spills aren’t the only types of water damage your prints are vulnerable to. Other factors can affect your photos over time, such as: 

  • Central heating systems in your house
  • Humid environments 
  • Improper storage
  • Prolonged display in glass frames
  • Mold growth

While newer prints can withstand a certain amount of time in the water, the emulsification on your older photographs can break down. Prolonged water immersion can also make surfaces tackier, which can cause pictures to stick to each other.

Tips For Salvaging A Wet Photo

Fortunately, there are easy fixes that you can attempt at home or with a professional conservator. Take a look at these tips for restoring water-damaged photos.

Dry Your Photo Out

You’ll want to dry your water-damaged photos as soon as possible, prioritizing the ones without negatives. Carefully remove the wet photos from their respective albums or the dirty water they’ve been submerged in, making sure not to disturb the wet emulsion. 

Then, gently rinse both sides with cold water. Gently separate any stuck photos, laying each of them face-up on wax paper. If the images are badly stuck, don’t force photos apart. 

Act As Fast As Possible

If you’re dealing with hundreds of damaged photos, you’ll want to start the drying process as soon as possible or at least within two days. The longer you wait, the more your images are at risk of becoming stuck together and quickly deteriorating.

Remove Photos In Frames With Extra Caution

Photos in frames can get stuck to the glass if not carefully removed. When salvaging a wet, framed photograph, keep the images and the glass together. Then, rinse both materials with clean water until the photo separates from the display. 

When handling damaged photos, always wear gloves to prevent tearing and staining. Doing so is especially necessary when attempting to separate photographs or touching a wet photo surface.

photo in a frame

Lay Your Photos Down On Absorbent Material

Don’t lay your photographs on visibly dirty paper or newspapers, as the ink can transfer from one surface to another. Instead, place each image on something highly absorbent, such as unprinted newsprint or paper towels. 

You can also seal them between sheets of wax paper, freezing the photographs in an airtight bag to keep the damage from spreading. Later on, you can defrost the pictures for air drying.

lay them to dry on paper towel

Beware Of The Sun

As much as possible, do not dry your photos under direct sunlight,as this can cause your photos to fade in the sun. High heat and wind can cause your pictures to curl and fade. Dry your pictures indoors to prevent mold from growing.

Consult A Professional Photo Restoration Service

The best way to restore water-damaged photos is to consult with a professional photo restoration service

Our experts at Image Restoration Center have ample experience handling damaged photographic materials and converting them to their original state. In just 24 to 72 hours, we can undo the effects of water damage, including staining, fading, and tearing. We then deliver the final product directly to your home address or via email.

How To Prevent Future Damage To Your Family Photos

The best way to keep your pictures in excellent condition is to prevent water damage from occurring in the first place. Below are a few easy ways to avoid flood damage:

Make Copies Of Your Photos

Make high-quality scans of your most beloved photographs. This way, you always have a backup no matter what happens. You can easily scan your photos using a scanner or even just an app on your mobile device.

Store Physical Copies Correctly

Proper storage helps keep your photo albums and negatives in perfect condition. Avoid storing photographs in cheap, low-quality, or highly porous boxes. Instead, place them in acid-free paper albums inside a sealed case or dry storage.

Don’t keep your albums in a humid site such as your attic, garage, basement, or wherever water frequently gathers. Damp conditions are a breeding ground for mold and can cause your images to stain or bleed.

photo albums

Seek Expert Advice

No two photos react to any given photo cleaning process the same way. Seeking advice from a professional can make or break the restoration process. 

For instance, an expert can differentiate between a dye sublimation photo and pigment-type inkjet print. Both images have varied characteristics that sustain damage differently and will require different restoration techniques.

Save Your Photos From Water Damage

If you’re facing piles of drenched photographs, it may feel impossible to fix. The good news is that highly experienced professionals like Image Restoration Center can restore water-damaged photos in just a few days.

If you’re looking for an affordable, dependable, and fast fix that lives up to its word, contact us! We’ll restore your most precious memories, one photo at a time.

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