How should I clean my photo prints, slides, or negatives?

  • Updated

Cleaning your photos is an important part of preparing your items before shipment. Close inspection of the best kept photos, even in they've been sitting in a closed box, reveals all the things they've accumulated over the years that will keep them from being scanned at their best.

To make sure they are their best for scanning, some cleaning may be necessary. While cleaning, consider wearing cotton or latex gloves, to avoid leaving fingerprints, grease, or grime on the surface of the photo. Additionally, make sure any cloths or brushes you use are clean, otherwise they’ll just add more dust and grime to the photo.

  1. Remove any objects that cover the photo.
    1. Anything that isn't a photo should be removed, including sticky notes, adhesive, bits of tape, and rubber bands. 
  2. Clean any flecks of paper, dirt, or hair from the photo.
    1. Just give your photo a quick shake in the air, or a couple taps on a table.
    2. Be sure to do this to photos individually, rather than in a stack.
  3. Remove dust from the photo.
    1. Dust is the most common bit of crud found on photos.
    2. Canned air or a bulb blower can be used to remove dust.
    3. Microfiber cloths or a soft paintbrush can be used dry; do not use any moisture or sprays, like Pledge or Windex as these can damage the photo.
  4. Always clean the storage location for your photos. A clean photo is great, but returning it to a dirty bag, tray, or holder defeats all the hard work of cleaning it in the first place.

For photos with water damage, like mold or fungus, be cautious. When a photo has mold or fungus, cleaning can damage them more, and depending on the mold or fungus type, it is often unsafe to work with them. If you have moldy photos, we recommend you find a specialist to assist in restoring them.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to go! Send in your photos, and we’ll get them digitized in a flash.

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