Urban75 Home About Offline BrixtonBuzz Contact

Help How to clean/preserve old photos


Because I could not stop for death
I've recently inherited some 1960s photos from an uncle who won competitions with them. No one wanted them and they were going to be dumped.

The photos are hard mounted to proper mounting card. Some are foxed, luckily the pics are fine.

What I need is some advice on how to clean or remove the foxing and how to preserve them for the future.


Pickman's model

every man and every woman is a star
Foxing is a chemical reaction in the paper and can't be dealt with AFAIK, I'd scan the pics to the max resolution you can (pref 1200 dpi but 600 will do) save a tif for preservation from which lower res jpgs can be made

Pickman's model

every man and every woman is a star
Go to your nearest archives and discuss this with them, they'll be able to assist and see if they've a conservator they might suggest for further assistance eg removing the photo from mount


Must fly!
Foxing can be removed using oxidising or reducing solutions, but it's a fairly specialised business. To prevent the foxing getting worse (it's caused by moulds or fungi) you need to keep the humidity at about 50%.

If the photos are black and white (as opposed to sepia or some other brown toning method) then you should be able to remove the foxing marks relatively easily from the scans in PS by using different coloured filters, rather than having to retouch them individually.


Well-Known Member
Foxing comes from Ferrous Oxide produced when spores are attracted to the iron in paper.
You need to figure out whether it really is foxing or mildew or mould or other funghi. There are lots of different ones.


It really is very specialised.

Do NOT ever use bleach even in a very dilute form. Do not put it in the microwave or freezer...some do that to kill the spores. But not for photographs.
Sometimes keeping the paper in an extremely dry and very warm place for an extended time will kill the mold / foxing. It wont remove any of it though..
Really you're better off bringing them to a conservationist. And as others have said, scan first just in case.


Because I could not stop for death
Thanks for all the advice.

For now I think I'll just enjoy them as they are, warts and all. And be pleased that they've been saved from the dump.