View Full Version : Negative re-washing after sitting a moldy house

Robbie Shymanski
20-May-2008, 06:59
I have recently come across a box of 4x5 BW negatives that have been in a damp moldy house. They are in mylar sleeves. Before I do anything with them, I need to re-wash them. Any suggestions on procedure or best materials for removing the wee beasties that might be sticking to the film.

20-May-2008, 08:53
Just dust them off with a gentle blast of air from one of the canned air products -- making sure that you hold the can upright and a fair distance from the neg. They should be fine. If necessary follow up with a light brushing. If absolutely necessary you can rewash and redry the negs.

Ed Richards
20-May-2008, 09:05
Whoa!! If they are in mylar, and they have been damp, then watch for the emulsion sticking to the mylar. If it does not stick to the mylar, then the odds are that the crap is on the mylar.

20-May-2008, 12:09
Hi, Robbie,

I think I would take it one big step further by contacting the pro lab you normally use for more advice. If you don't have one, I use Allied Photocolor out of St. Louis (Alliedphotocolor.com) and I think they would be good folks to contact for guidance. You should even be able to find tech reps at Kodak or Ilford who would be able to offer better ideas on care of these negs.

The possible good news is that as black and white negs, they are less likely to suffer extensive damage than color material which may have organic products in the dyes which could be eaten by mold.

As I understand it, even the film base on black and white has some organic chemistry and could well provide a food base for mold, so I think you are wise to pursue this through the best minds you can find.

If you have to rewash and dry them, you may need to use a VERY dilute bath of distilled water and a tiny bit of chlorine bleach which will kill mold. This is why you should talk with a pro lab or tech rep since too much bleach can also damage or "bleach" the images on the negs.

Ed's right, don't just rip off the sleeves without being sure they haven't adhered to the film.

As to just blowing off any residue, be sure you are outside and probably wearing a good painters or other type of filtering dust mask and even latex gloves for safety. Some molds can be deadly to some people if inhaled or ingested. Even if you're not allergic, blowing them off indoors just spreads the mold spores and gives them an opportunity to grow in a new environment that could be dangerous to you!

Be very, very serious about handling this stuff. I've had years of employment and contacts within the apartment industry where black mold exposure has resulted in some massive lawsuits and, in a few sensitive people, quite extensive medical problems and a few deaths.

Good luck.