Friday, May 07, 2010

How to Dry Out a Book That Has Been Wet

My cousin, James Jackson, has more than twenty years experience as a book restorer. He learned the trade from his father and took over the family bindery business, Restor-A-Book, in the early part of this century when James Jackson Sr. died.

I accidentally left a book outside and of course it rained that night and it got soaked. It wasn’t an expensive book, just one that I love and use a lot. It has great photos of native flowers and was published by the Audubon Society in 1986. I searched online but didn’t find it available in print. Naturally, I turned to my cousin for advice on the best way to dry out the book so the pages wouldn’t stick together or curl up. I wasn’t sure if I should try to iron it dry.

Here is what James advised:

If the pages are enamel paper, they will more than likely stick together regardless of what you do, but to start with, you need to try to get most of the water out of the book. Using a dry towel, pat each page to absorb the excess water. You might even put paper towels between the pages to draw the water out of the paper.

However, remove the paper towels as soon as they absorb water or they may stick and cause a worse mess. When you get as much of the water out as you can, put the book in a frost free freezer and leave it for a month or two. The freezer will continue to draw moisture out of the book.

Even if you iron the pages, the spine will still be wet. It’s best to take the book apart and iron each page, but the iron only needs to be lukewarm. If it sizzles, it is too hot and may burn the paper. When the pages are dry, send it to us and we will put it back together (rebind it) for you.

If you have books, Bibles, church hymnals, genealogy papers, newspapers, tabloids, or courthouse record books that you want to preserve, give James a call at (318) 995-6800. See before and after photos of some miraculous transformations at

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