How To Salvage Flood Damaged Documents

Immediate recovery and restoration of water damaged books, documents and letters is crucial as these items can get permanently destroyed if left in the water for too long. And because all of these items are irreplaceable, the loss can be even more devastating.

Sometimes, despite keeping all of our precious keepsakes as safe as possible, floodwaters that come rushing in can invade our safe spot and damage our documents, letters and books. When this happens, the best way to minimise the damage is by removing all of these items from their breached space and take a few proven document recovery steps.

Here are a few quick and effective document drying measures. 

Very carefully and gently lift the books and flood damaged documents out of the water and lay each one down separately on a clean, dry sheet or towel.

Few things to think about when doing this:

  • If the books have gotten submerged in dirty water, dip them into a bucket or bowl of clean cold water, quickly remove and place them on a sheet to dry.
  • Do not use brightly colored or printed sheets and towels to dry wet books as the print may rub off on to the books.
  • Take extra care of books or papers that are particularly fragile.
  • Make sure all papers and books are placed flat on the sheet
  • Dry all papers away from the direct sunlight.

If you have too many water damaged books and not enough space for drying them out, a temporary fishing line strung across two points in a room will work just fine.

Keep a fan on to circulate the air in the room to hasten document drying.

If the books have become completely sodden, place a dry absorbent material, such as cloth or blotting paper in between every 25- 40 pages to absorb the excess water.

Often, after a water disaster there are so many things that need to be attended to urgently and document restoration may need to be put off for a while. In that case, seal the flood damaged documents in an airtight plastic bag and put it in the freezer. This will help prevent any further deterioration of the paper till you have time to attend to it.  

Make sure that all of your water damaged books and documents are completely dry before you put them away. Very often, water-logged papers tend to smell musty even after they are completely dry. If you find that your books have a lingering musty smell, put them in a large closed box along with a small open container of baking soda. The baking soda will absorb all the musty odors, leaving your books free of all smells.

Even if your books have not suffered any direct water damage, it is a good idea to place them in a closed box so they stay dry as excess humidity in the air can still cause the pages to become damp and attract mould. 

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