How to Dry Wet Paper Before It’s Ruined Forever

Antique family photos serve as a record of your family’s history and heritage. Your child’s drawings have sentimental value and give you a way to reflect on her evolution as an artist, and a person. Even with the best precautions in place, things can go wrong: Floods, spills, and even extremely high humidity can damage paper-based art and photographs.

When a disaster strikes, knowing how to dry wet paper correctly can save a lot of heartache. When your paper art or photographs get wet, early intervention can make all the difference.

Check out these simple tips for how to dry wet paper:

  • When you have wet papers to repair, choose a warm workspace with low humidity. A sunny kitchen table or desk is ideal.
  • Do not blot the paper. This can cause further damage to drawings, watercolors, and ink.
  • If you have a few loose pieces of wet paper, lay the paper flat in front of an oscillating fan on its lowest setting. The fan will produce some wrinkling in the paper, but you can fix that later. When the paper is just damp, cover it with a large, heavy book or other flat object to press wrinkles out of the paper.
  • Microwave the paper for about 15 seconds to evaporate some of the water. Afterwards, press the paper flat with a heavy item to get rid of wrinkles.
  • If you have a book or binder full of wet paper, place a paper towel between every ten or so pages to absorb water. Then, place the papers in front of a gentle fan.
  • If you have a stack of papers that got wet and you don’t have time to deal with it right away, seal them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. Don’t separate the pages until you have time to deal with them appropriately, using the steps in the first two tips.

Waterlogged Photographs Require Special Attention 

Because photographic paper reacts to water differently than regular paper, drying out photographs is a different process than drying papers. Here are a few additional tips for drying soaked photos:

  • While freezing can help you salvage wet paper it can also help multiple photographs that are stuck together as well. In fact, it’s best to keep wet photos frozen until you have plenty of time to work with them and monitor their drying process.
  • If two photograph images are stuck together, don’t try to pull them apart. Contact a photograph restoration expert who can apply specialized techniques to separate and save both images.
  • Lay a wet photograph on a clean hand towel, image-side up. Do not use a fan to dry photos.
  • For antique or rare photos, seek a conservator’s help repairing the inevitable curling that will occur.

Find Professionals to Help You Repair Water-Damaged Paper 

 If you manage to get your cherished papers dried out but are not happy with the results, it’s time to find a professional conservator. An art restorer has the tools and training to fully repair your water-damaged papers, books and photos.

Art Recovery Technologies performs high quality, affordable restorations for a wide range of paper items. With locations across the country, ART’s restoration professionals are close by and ready to help. You can schedule a paper restoration appointment with ART online or call us at 800-227-0796.