Surface Cleaning and Tape Removal~Paper

In our first installment on Saving Your Personal Treasures, we provided some general information on the handling and storage of documents and photographs. This largely covered some recommendations on enclosures, general guidelines on handling and additional resources from professionals.

Many of you who answered our Preservation Week 2014 survey asked about cleaning and repairing as well as storage for your important family documents. Conservators employ a variety of methods to clean paper using many techniques that are too advanced and specialized for our purposes. I'll provide information on these methods and giving an overview on cleaning materials, mainly the different types of erasers that could possibly be utilized at home.

Keep in mind; this is not advice for your particular item, simply information on what's out there. You should always consult a conservator with any questions about treatments for your important items.

Another question was in regards to tape removal.

                                                                                    Image from AIC

I found plenty of information on this, unfortunately most of it too advanced for home use. There are just too many variables to consider. I finally consulted a librarian at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center and a conservator there replied to my inquiry with this:

 "Tape removal is the bane of our existence! Every tape is different - from the carrier used, to the adhesive applied to the carrier. Each adhesive is removed 

using a different method and some are permanent. It is difficult for professional conservators to remove tape even with all the solvents, heating tools and                humidification tools at our disposal. It is the one area where I strongly advise taking any issues to a professional conservator."

                                            Katie Wagner, Book Conservator, Smithsonian Libraries