How to Conserve & Restore Old Paper


Old documents, such as death certificates, property deeds and even personal letters, provide links to the past that can be both sentimental, and of legal significance. The ravages of time can severely damage paper, hastening its decay. However, it is possible to repair and store papers in a manner that will ensure they last for years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Acid-free gloves
  • Basin
  • Acid-free boxes, sleeves and envelopes
  • Soap
  • Rags
  • Save papers from water and take the steps needed to restore them. Carefully lift papers from water, or other liquid, taking care to brush away any debris and place them in a tub of clean water to rinse. Papers which are only damp can be air dried and dusted with talcum powder to absorb moisture. When partially dry, weigh them down with something flat and heavy to prevent wrinkling. Books can be placed standing upright, their pages spread, and allowed to dry.

  • Remove mold from old paper as a first step in restoration. Brush away any loose pieces of mold gently by hand, using a soft rag. Dry the paper if it is damp, allowing it to sit in a well ventilated room. If the paper can be washed, wipe it down with a soapy cloth and rinse it clean with water, removing any residue or suds. Remove stains by using a gallon of water mixed with half a cup to one cup of bleach, cleaning the paper with a wet sponge to rinse it away.

  • Store the paper in the proper setting to preserve it. Cool, dark and dry places are ideal for paper storage, as exposure to sunlight can fade ink and discolor paper, while heat and humidity can promote the growth of mold. If the paper is framed and hung on the wall, place it in an area with little sunlight, and close the curtains to protect it further. Avoid storing papers in basements and attics, which are prone to damaging temperatures and high humidity levels.

  • Place papers in files, folders and boxes that won't damage them. Though any old envelope or plastic sleeve might seem fine, such items can contain acids which will erode the paper over time, hastening its degradation. Only store papers in plastic folders made of polypropylene, polyester or polyethylene, as other types will eventually release acids. Place sheets of acid-free paper between each piece of paper to be preserved, if storing multiple items in one folder or box, and use acid-free envelopes as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves when handling old or important papers, as acids in human skin can damage them.
  • Newspaper is printed on very acidic paper, so make photocopies of articles in case they can no longer be preserved, and store them separately from other items.
  • Do not use tape on old or damaged documents, as it can cause further problems, degrading the quality of paper and ink.
  • Make photocopies of important papers and documents, so in the event that they cannot be saved, their information is kept in tact.


  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • How to Restore Old Milk Cans

    Old milk cans are readily available and look great with many different types of decor. They can be used for decoration, as...

  • How to Protect Antique Papers

    Family histories can be wonderful things to compile. They allow you to explore your roots, and become familiar with family members and...

  • How to Restore Old Comic Books

    If you have an old comic book that needs repair, you may consider restoring it. The repair of collectible and rare comics,...

  • Restoring Furniture with Curved Glass

    Getting curved glass to fit furniture you are restoring can be very difficult. Get tips on matching curved glass to your furniture...

  • How to Restore Paper Money

    Completely restoring paper money is an impossible task, but you can clean it to remove stains, ink, fingerprints and other impurities that...

  • How to Restore Old License Plates

    For owners of classic cars, nothing completes the look of an old car like an authentic license plate. Securing an old license...

  • How to Restore an Old Book

    Even though many books are in digital shape, there are many old books in libraries and private collections now available for sale....

  • How to Clean Mold From Paper

    Mold is a fungus that grows and thrives in damp and musty places. It should be taken care of immediately because it...

  • How to Restore Antique Trunks

    Storage trunks were the suitcases of yesteryear. They were so durable that many are still around. If you have an antique storage...

  • How to Do Paper Restoration

    Many people discover their heirloom family documents becoming yellow and brittle due to acid in the paper, or they discover fading colors...

  • How to Restore Vintage Paper

    Whether it's your grandparent's marriage certificate or a scrap of wrapping paper from your childhood, there are steps you can take to...

Related Searches

Read Article

How to Build and Grow a Salad Garden On Your Balcony

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!