Take the 2-minute tour ×
Genealogy & Family History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for expert genealogists and people interested in genealogy or family history. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have some old photos that have smudges of dirt and other unknown stuff on them. These are the things that I have done to try to improve them:

  1. White eraser (this has worked okay).
  2. Soft cloth (sometimes this creates indentations in the photos if I use too much pressure).
  3. Nothing (cleaned it up with digital editing software).

Is there a liquid solution that I could use to help wash the gunk off?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

Some people do recommend using diluted Isopropyl alcohol (think that is how you spell it) which should be available from a good chemist, but I wouldn't personally as I think it could very likely do more damage.

You can also buy something called Pec-12 emulsion cleaner and Pec-Pads to which are specifically designed for cleaning soiled photos. They are aimed at more modern geletine hardened prints though, so if your photograph is very vintage, I would have reservations. Here is a link to the solution on amazon.ca

An excellent info page on the Pec-12 emulsion cleaner and pads can be found here.

My personal recommendation would be to scan the image and clean it up digitally, keep the original for prosperity, but get your nicely photoshoped version printed for general viewing.

If you are unable to take on the restoration work yourself there are quite a few people who can do it for a small fee on-line, most of which you don't need to send the original away if you can scan it yourself.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for the informative link on Pec-12! I'm gonna try it. (Don't worry, I'll scan first and then test on a safe photo on a part of the sky or something.) Love this: "Because it contains no water, PEC-12 will not cause emulsion swelling, tackiness, water marks or other damage associated with re-washing." –  Canadian Girl Scout Feb 10 '13 at 3:03
    
Your welcome. I've used it quite successfully on photos from the 1930-40s but never tried it on anything pre ww2. The key is to use very little and go very lightly. –  AvieRose Feb 10 '13 at 3:28
add comment

A lot depends on what your "unknown stuff" is, what emulsion was used to create the photograph, and the substrate. I beg of you to consider that, with your deep level of inexperience, and if there is no well-preserved negative on file, that gone is gone. Consider at least getting an estimate from someone with an education in the field.

American Institute For Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works - http://www.conservation-us.org/ Search page for finding a certified conservator - http://www.conservation-us.org/about-conservation/find-a-conservator#.UrJrcuXiG9g

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.