Disaster has struck your home or office, water is everywhere and the clock is ticking down to the arrival of mold and mildew.
Important paperwork, family photos and books have all been damaged by the flooding water – what do you do?!
Restoring Your Flood-Damaged Books, Photographs & Paper
For the best results, you will want to carefully remove paper items from the water and dry them slowly:
- If you’re dealing with category 2 water damage, gently rinse the paper with clean, cold water. (Due to health risks, category 3 water damage should be handled by a water restoration company like ServiceMaster Absolute.)
- Lay papers out individually on a flat surface – out of direct sunlight – to let them dry. If you’re dealing with a stack of soggy papers, let them dry out in piles for a bit before attempting to separate them.
- Photographs should be individually laid face up on clean blotting paper (like a paper towel), with the paper being changed every hour or two. Be careful not to rub the photos or leave them in direct sunlight. Do NOT use newspaper or printed paper towels or else the ink may transfer to your photos.
- Cornstarch or talcum powder can be sprinkled on paperwork or books (not photographs) that are very damp. Leave the powder on for a few hours to absorb moisture before carefully brushing it off.
- Stand books on end, allowing the pages to fan out, and place paper towels within each book (every 20 or 50 pages). When they’re partially dry, pile and press the books to keep the pages from getting wrinkled, and alternate drying and pressing the books until they are completely dry to prevent the possibility of mold. Fans can be used during this stage to expedite the drying process.
- For books of high value, if they are almost dry you can press the pages with an electric iron set on low – just be sure that you separate the pages to prevent musty odors from setting in.
- Wipe book covers using a solution made up of one part rubbing alcohol and one part water.
- After books have completely dried out, close them and use C-clamps to help them retain their shape. Apply a light coat of petroleum jelly or leather/vinyl dressing to vinyl or leather book covers.
If you notice a musty smell lingering after you’ve completely dried everything out, you can place the affected items in a cool, dry place for a couple of days. If that doesn’t work, try placing everything in a large container with an open box of baking soda (just make sure the baking soda doesn’t get on the books).
Low on Time? Freeze Your Flood-Damaged Photographs, Papers & Books
As you can see, properly drying and restoring papers and books can be a very time-consuming and tedious process.
If you’re not able to immediately start on the cleaning and drying process, you may want to buy yourself more time to do so by rinsing off any dirt, placing them in plastic Ziploc bags and storing them in your freezer. (FYI: Books should be frozen while standing vertically on their spines.)
If you have multiple items around the same size (file folders or books), place them in upright in a milk crate or box that won’t become water-logged and separate each item with wax paper or a paper towel (this will make it easier to separate them later).
Freezing your water-damaged items won’t hurt them, but it’s still a good idea to deal with them in a timely fashion.
Don’t Feel Comfortable Restoring Important Papers or Books Yourself? Call ServiceMaster Absolute!
If you don’t want to risk causing more damage to your water-damaged possessions, we’re ready to help.
The ServiceMaster Absolute team specializes in salvaging and restoring contents damaged by fire, flood, or even mold. Give us a call at (619) 287-7070!