Living and Lifestyle

Tips for saving flood-soaked photos

Curbs piled with wet drywall, carpet and home furnishings are a sad sight, but it’s doubtful anyone’s crying over an old nightstand. Family photos are another story.

These images record personal milestones, birthdays, weddings and some of the happiest moments  of our lives. They also serve as a reminder to your children and grandchildren that you once were young. 

If your photoss spent time under water after Hurricane Harvey and subsequent floodwaters, don’t automatically assume they’re lost. There are steps to save them.


Here’s advice from a guy who takes care of precious things for a living — Steve Pine, senior conservator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Wet or dirty photos: Rinse them in clean water until mud or dirt are gone, then gently blot them dry with plain (unprinted) paper towels. Lay them to air dry. Wax paper works; if you use paper towels, change them out every hour or two until the photos are dry. 

Photos stuck together: Hold photos in a bucket or sink of clean water, swishing them around until they come apart. Then blot them dry and lay on wax paper or paper towels to air dry.

Wet photos in frames: If framed photos spent time in water, the images could be stuck to the glass. Submerge the glass with photo attached in clean water and swish it around until the photo separates from the glass. Then blot and lay out to dry. 

If your photos are wet but you can’t deal with them now: Your time is better spent preventing mold from getting in your home. So rinse off any mud or dirt and put your wet photos in resealable plastic bags and store them in your freezer until you’re ready to deal with them. If you’re putting more than one photo in a bag, put wax paper between the images.

Historical photos: Dry them as best you can and take to photo restoration experts. These are more sensitive to water and may not be recoverable. 

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