How To Safely Dry Flood Damaged Books

13 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Books covered in flood water might seem impossible to save. Water and paper does not mix. Mold grows quickly. Books left in moist areas buckle and warp. Don't throw those precious books away. With a bit of labor and time, you can save those books. Follow these steps to safely get your flood damaged books back to looking new:

What You Need:

  • Cotton balls
  • Distilled water
  • Paper towel
  • Heavy weight

Clean the Book

Flood water is very dirty. If that dirt dries, it will stain the pages and cover of the book.

  1. Dip cotton balls in distilled water. Distilled water has most of the impurities removed that could harm the paper further.
  2. Rub the wet cotton ball on the cover and edges of the book.
  3. Do not open the book, as this can damage the binding and tear the pages if they are too wet. Only clean the visible areas.
  4. Do not use soap or other cleaning products. The chemicals could harm the book further.

Drying Wet Books

Really wet books require special care when drying. Opening the book too much can damage the book further. Wet pages are fragile and tear easily. Take extra precaution when following these steps.

  1. Stand the book up and open the cover carefully. As long as the pages are sopping wet, the pages should fan open a little.
  2. Slip a piece of paper towel between the pages of the book. Place one piece of paper towel every 20 pages. Only open the pages just enough to slip the paper towel inside.
  3. Close the book but keep it standing up.
  4. Change the paper towel when it becomes too wet. Keep replacing the paper towel until it stops becoming wet and the book is only damp.

Drying Damp Books

Damp books can be handled easier without so much fear of ruining pages.

  1. Stand the book up and open the cover.
  2. Fan the pages as much as possible.
  3. Let the pages dry until they are just moist to the touch.
  4. Close the book and lay it flat. Place a heavy object, such as another book or a brick on a board, on top of the book. Leave the heavy object in place until the book is completely dry. The weight will flatten the book back to it's original shape.

Important Tips

  • Never dry books outside in the sun. The sun will dry the pages much too quickly. Drying paper too quickly makes it warp and split. Dry the book in a room where you can control the temperature and humidity.
  • Mold can start growing within 48 hours after the book is hit with flood water. Check the book for mold growth throughout the drying process. If you find mold, clean it immediately following proper steps.
  • A circulating fan will help the drying process. Place a fan in the same room as the drying book, but don't point it toward the book. The rush of air might move the pages and damage them. The air will circulate around the room and make the drying process faster.

Drying flood damaged books is a time consuming process, but the result is a saved precious book that looks like it did before the flood. For more information about water damage cleanup, contact Servicemaster of Buncombe County or a similar company.