Rescue Wet Books




Water wrecks books - here's how to dry a really wet book you want to rescue.

If you have a ton of soaked books from a flood call a commercial service.

A dried book will never be like new.

But at least you will be able to read it and use it.

Creative Commons by-nc-sa

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: First Aid

  • Wet books are fragile, hold it flat with two hands and do not shake it.
  • Blot - do NOT rub - the wet pages with old tee shirts or cloth towels.
  • Careful blotting the cover as dye will transfer to your towel.
  • Stand the book up on an upside-down plastic mesh basket
  • Fan the cover and pages out in a warm, dry area
  • The plastic mesh helps air flow and supports the book
  • Sunlight and a fan will speed the drying
  • Allow a day or two to dry

Step 2: Cover and Flyleaf

Sometimes a hardcover book is so wet that the cover falls off.

This can actually be okay since it speeds the drying of the pages.

The cover has four parts: front and back cardboard covers, a cardboard back (spine) and a cloth covering.

You will see that the block of pages for older hardcover books has a mesh gauze glued to the back.

The mesh is then glued to the inside covers of the book - not to the spine.

Then heavy paper called a flyleaf or endleaf is glued over the mesh, and the inside of the cover, and to the first and last pages.

After the cover and pages are dry, use a flexible, water-based, craft glue like Aleene's Tacky Glue to glue all the pieces back together.

Step 3: Final Flattening

  • After drying the pages will be wrinkled and the covers may be bent
  • Put a wood board and 10 pounds (5 kilos) of weights on top
  • After a week or so, the book will be somewhat flatter
  • You can just store it flat on a book shelf under a pile of heavy books
  • If you are in a hurry just start using it without flattening it

Be the First to Share


    • Instrument Contest

      Instrument Contest
    • Make it Glow Contest

      Make it Glow Contest
    • STEM Contest

      STEM Contest

    12 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    Omg how did you revive it ??? Pls help !! I'd appreciate it heaps

    Ian M

    10 years ago on Introduction

    I had a bunch of books (magazines really) that were caught in a flood during the ice storm in November. There were I lot of them and they aren't particularly valuable, so I followed a different procedure: -bake them in the oven for 20-30 minutes -remove them, flip through the pages to let the steam out -bake them again, flipped if I remembered -press them between two pieces of plywood, lined with aluminum foil, and held together with C-clamps. obviously, they didn't come out perfect, but they're still serviceable.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    so I'm not the only one! And here my mum was making it out like I was.... would have been extremely valuable to me a few months ago... the librarians weren't too happy that I dropped their book in a tub! It survived, but a few of the cover pages sticked.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the reminder, I meant to explain about this. Home freezing a completely soaked book is destructive.

    Commercial water removal and restoration companies uses vacuum freeze drying. This causes the water to sublimate directly into a gas.

    Just plain old home freezing causes heavy damage to sopping wet books.

    Ice crystals expand and burst through pages and binding. Pages become welded together permanently and ink, glue and dies, spread through the book.

    When it thaws, you have a pile of mush, perfect for papier machie pinata.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This would also be a good way to antique a book for display or prop making. Nothing like wrinkly pages to make a book look old.