How To Restore Photographs After A Fire

Posted on: 15 May 2015

A household fire is devastating. Even if you were home and had time to grab all of your photographs, they may have sustained some damage from the smoke or fireman's hose. Your precious family photographs may need to be restored after a fire. But all is not lost. There are professional services that can handle this for you, which is recommended for any antique or extremely delicate photographs. But there are also things you can do on your own to save your pictures. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the photographs, as the oils in your fingers can further damage the photos.

Reprint photos

If you have negatives of the photos, you can always have the photos reprinted. However, the photo paper of today won't be exactly the same as the photo paper used in decades past. The prints may not look exactly the same. The negatives may also be damaged from smoke and will need to be cleaned before any reprints can take place. The negatives can be cleaned by soaking in tepid water and hanging up to dry with a clothespin on a string.

Scan the photos

If you are proficient at photo editing software, you can scan the damaged photos and airbrush out any of the damaged areas. There are many tutorials online that can walk you through the tools you can use to make old pictures look new again. These can then be printed on high quality printer photo paper or sent to a lab to be printed on real photo paper.

Soak the photos in water

This can work for black and white or color photos in stable condition. This is the best way to get stuck together photos to come apart. Soak the photos for a few minutes in tepid water while rubbing your finger over the photo;s surface to remove dirt, then place between two towels to dry overnight. Flatten the photos by placing the photos between the pages of heavy books or by placing the books on top of the photos while they are protected by a sheet of acid free notebook paper.

Cloth clean

Take a microfiber cloth and gently wipe the soot off of each photo. A soft brush can be used instead of a cloth. Place photos into a plastic bag with baking soda overnight to soak up the smoke smell.

Spot clean

Take a damp q-tip and lightly rub over dirty areas to remove grime.

For further assistance, contact fire restoration professionals, such as those from Western Skies Restoration Inc.