Smithsonian experts provide affordable, DIY tips for salvaging Harvey-damaged items

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HOUSTON– Don’t let the storm wash away your precious heirlooms. For anyone trying to salvage Harvey-damaged items like family pictures, baby blankets or even wedding guestbooks. Experts from The Smithsonian are here to help.

Teddy Reeves is a museum specialist of religion. He said a common misconception is that photos that are stuck together are no longer good.

“We are here to say that’s not it. All you need is distilled or deionized water, place the water into a container like a turkey baster, take your photos that are stuck together, or photos that have been stuck to a glass frame and place it in the water. Keep it there for about 20-30 minutes and we recommend sliding the pictures apart, instead of ripping to prevent any damage. It should slide right off with after it’s been soaking for a bit,” Reeves said.

“The same process applies for textiles– blankets, clothing, etc. You can also use a vinegar solution for those items, a 10 to 1, water to vinegar solution. Soak the textiles in the water or solution, wring it out and place it on top of a white towel to avoid any dyes from soaking through. Place a cheese cloth over your textile and then another white towel on top of that, and you simply roll the towel over, trying to push the water out of the textile,” Reeves continued.

Collections manager, Laura Manaker said salvaging books can be a timely process, but worth the effort if it’s something that’s irreplaceable.

Manaker said you can wrap a book with wax paper saran wrap, and place it in the freezer for six months to a year.

“The water will slowly evaporate and if you’re worried about mold, the cold will kill the mold or at least stop a lot of the mold growth,” Manaker said.

These D-I-Y tricks take time, but what’s a couple of dollars spent at a hardware store when it could save your priceless memories, forever?




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