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10 Tips on How to Preserve Valuables after Water Damage

If your home is flooded, whether from a burst pipe or leak in the roof, your priceless possessions could be gone forever if you don’t act fast. Things like a couch or bookshelf can be easily replaced, but scrapbooks, photo albums, and other family memories are priceless. At first it may seem like these items are beyond saving, but it is possible to salvage valuable memories even when it seems impossible. Follow these 10¬†water damage restoration¬†tips to save and preserve these irreplaceable items.


The first step in saving photos is to take any stacks or full boxes and separate them all out. Make sure to handle them very carefully, only touching the edges and being careful not to rub the photo surface.

While this may go against your instincts, the next step in saving photos is to rinse them off in a bucket of clean, cold water. Avoid any rubbing and change the water often to keep it fresh.

For pictures that are inside frames, remove them as quickly as you can to keep them from sticking to the glass. It’s best if you remove them when the pictures are still soaking wet.

Next, lay down enough paper towels for all of the pictures and set them on the towels face up. Change the paper towels as needed until the photos are dry. Keep the pictures indoors if possible, as wind and sunlight can cause the photos to curl.

If you don’t have time to complete this process for all of the pictures, stack the ones you can’t get to between stacks of wax paper after you’ve rinsed them off. Put the stacks in a Ziploc bag and into the freezer to stop further damage until you can rinse and air-dry them later.

For all pictures, get to them as soon as possible to stop the damage. Begin with the pictures that have no other copies or negatives.


Just like with the pictures, papers will need to be separated as well.

Since rinsing will usually just cause more damage, lay out all of the papers on paper towels to let them air dry out of direct sunlight. For papers that have gotten dirty, wipe the dirt off after they have dried.

For books, place a plain paper towel between every 20 pages or so, changing the towel every couple of hours.

Seal Everything Else

For what you can’t take care of properly right away, put the documents or books in a Ziploc and then place that in the freezer just like the photos.

Make Copies

If any important papers or documents do end up developing mold, just make sure to make a copy of each document or scan them to your computer before throwing them away.

Prevent Mustiness

After everything is dry, your items may still have a musty smell. To help with the smell, put the pictures and documents in an open box and then in a larger, closed container. Store them in a place with an open box of baking soda to absorb the smell.