Very old photographs....how do I get rid of the musty smell??

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Found 25th Mar 2012
I have a couple of boxes of very old photographs, like 50years plus, which sadly have a very musty smell. Anyone know how to get rid of the smell without damaging them?
Any help appreciated.

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11 Comments

Scan them

What you're smelling is mold/mildew due to moisture on the paper. I am in no position to recommend that you put chemicals on your prized possessions and memories, but I suggest you invest in a scanner and back these memories up digitally as soon as possible.

In regards to the smell, ask anybody who has bought anything new recently to give you the silica gel packets (like you get in trainers, leather briefcases, etc) and throw a handful of them in the box you keep your photographs in without letting them touch the photos. The smell may diminish over time but it will certainly help preserve them for longer. Make sure you're storing them in a dark box with no direct light or heat source too.

Banned

Fresh air....air them in a worm dry place for a few days. If you put them outside in the sun make sure they are face down to avoid bleaching.


Put them outside if you can do this safely or put them in a sealed container with a open box of bicarbonate of soda in the corner ,making sure you don't spill any and move the photos around every hour until the smell has gone .

Activated charcoal gets rid of odours and would probably do the same.
Edited by: "jeany123" 25th Mar 2012

Banned

jeany123

Put them outside if you can do this safely or put them in a sealed … Put them outside if you can do this safely or put them in a sealed container with a open box of bicarbonate of soda in the corner ,making sure you don't spill any and move the photos around every hour until the smell has gone .




Kitty litter is another good smell nutraliser.

use lighter or a match

wickedteen

use lighter or a match



OP wants to get rid if the smell from pictures. The solution to your nasal hair isn't applicable here.

Slice a Lemon & place the photo's & the lemon slices in a closed container & leave for around 24-48 hours.

ShaunR

What you're smelling is mold/mildew due to moisture on the paper. I am in … What you're smelling is mold/mildew due to moisture on the paper. I am in no position to recommend that you put chemicals on your prized possessions and memories, but I suggest you invest in a scanner and back these memories up digitally as soon as possible. In regards to the smell, ask anybody who has bought anything new recently to give you the silica gel packets (like you get in trainers, leather briefcases, etc) and throw a handful of them in the box you keep your photographs in without letting them touch the photos. The smell may diminish over time but it will certainly help preserve them for longer. Make sure you're storing them in a dark box with no direct light or heat source too.



I was going to say the same thing myself. Something I learned recently though is that you can actually buy silica gel pouches in bulk from eBay. Homebase sell chemical dehumidifier too, which I think might be the same stuff. It's reasonably cheap, like about £8 for a kilo. I'm not sure if it would kill the smell, but maybe enough of the stuff in an air-tight container will dry and kill the moulds, which should slow their damage down.

Original Poster

Thanks for all the helpful advice, I will give some of the suggestions a go.

Banned

Put them in the bin
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