It is devastating to see your precious books get drenched in water. To avoid any possible long-term water damage, it is best to attend to the situation immediately. Your books can still be saved from water damage if you act quickly and wisely.
1. Protect yourself
If the book was submerged in floodwaters, you have to wear protective gear to avoid skin contamination from the germs and bacteria that may have been transferred to the books by the water.
Wear a shirt that you are not afraid to stain and gloves that are long enough to amply cover your hands and arms. If the floodwaters are murky and you think they may have come from the sewage systems, you can also wear a face mask so that you will not inhale any irritants and aerial bacteria.
2. Absorb the water off the books
You can absorb the excess water by using a paper napkin, a cloth towel, or a sponge. Gently dab the absorbent material on the pages of the book to absorb as much water as you can.
You can also use absorbent paper to remove the dampness. Just place the paper in between wet pages and close the book to allow absorption to take place. If the water is very dirty and the book is stained, you can rinse the pages very gently with cold water. If the pages are too wet and fragile, you can use a water sprayer to wash them.
3. Allow the pages to dry
Lay the book on a location with a flat surface and sufficient exposure to sunlight. Allow it to stand on the top or bottom edges. You can leave the book to dry while you take care of other matters related to the water damage. You can also use an industrial fan to speed up the drying process.
4. Freeze books that cannot be attended to
If you do not have the time to supervise the drying of the book, you can put the books inside a plastic, zip-lock bag after washing it. You can then put the covered book in the freezer. Freezing will arrest the spread of water damage and will restore the pages of the book to their original state. It will also avoid the blotting of the prints in the books.
5. Check the book for any sign of mold growth
You have to spot-check the book for possible signs of mold growth. Mold reproduction is a common effect of water damage. Because of the remaining moisture in the pages, the molds easily settle and damage the book. When this happens, you have to seek professional mold treatment in order to save the book from water damage.
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