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How to Save Wet Baseball Cards

how to save wet baseball cards

Baseball cards and water should not mix. Well, baseball cards and any liquid should not mix. Liquids have a way of destroying collectibles. Always do what you can to protect your baseball cards from water or any other type of liquid.

If your cards get wet, you may be able to save them. Methods involving books, smooth paper with plastic bins, as well as penny sleeves and binders will help. You’ll dry them first, then start working on restoring them. 

In this post, we’re talking about what to do if your baseball cards get wet. We’ll also touch on things you shouldn’t do with wet baseball cards. You can salvage some soaked cards if you take your time and use an appropriate method. Keep reading to find out what does and doesn’t work.

Dry Wet Baseball Cards Immediately

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Don’t wait to get started with drying out the wet baseball cards. Cards that stay wet for a long time risk getting torn, rubbed, or moldy. All of those are types of damage you can’t fix. Work on fixing water-damaged baseball cards as soon as you notice they’re wet.

How to Dry a Wet Baseball Card

Most of us will likely think we should lay our wet baseball cards out to dry. Will it work? Sure, they’ll dry out. However, they won’t be in good condition. Baseball cards that air dry while laying on any surface will likely curl and wrinkle. 

Here’s a better alternative. Place one wet baseball card between the smooth pages of a book made with high-quality paper. Make sure you don’t use newsprint. Newsprint paper is prone to ink transfer. You would end up with words or pictures from the newsprint on your baseball cards. 

Close the book with the baseball card in it and weigh it down with something heavy. This presses the pages together tighter around the wet card allowing the pages to wick the moisture away from it. Leave it there for around 10 minutes. Then, move it to another set of dry pages. Repeat this process several times until the card is dry.

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What if I Have a Large Amount of Wet Baseball Cards?

If you need to dry a whole stack of wet baseball cards, the book method may take much too long. Get a plastic card case with a hinged lid. Place some sort of smooth paper that’s sturdy enough to absorb water without breaking down between each of the wet cards. For instance, cardstock will work for this.

You must make sure the card case is full. There shouldn’t be any additional space left over. If there is because there weren’t enough wet cards, add some dry ones to fill up the case. Once the case is full, close it and secure it tightly with a rubber band, string, or anything else you can wrap it with. Then, place something heavy on top of it.

Leave the case for around 10 minutes. You’ll want to switch out the absorbent paper about every 10 minutes until the cards are dry. As long as you filled the case enough, there shouldn’t be any warping of cards.

How to Restore Water Damaged Baseball Cards

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Sometimes cards get wet, and we don’t even know it. Other times we use methods for drying out the baseball cards that we shouldn’t. When that happens, we often end up with water-damaged cards with warping, curling, and wrinkling. So, what do we do?

The best thing you can do is use penny sleeves and thick books. Insert your damaged baseball cards into the sleeves. Next, place them between pages in a book. Close the book and place something heavy on top of it. Leave the cards there for as long as it takes to press them flat. 

The same method is done with 9-pocket binders. Insert the warped cards into the pockets in the binder. Close it. Then place something heavy over the entire binder. Leave the weight on top for as long as it takes to flatten any bumps or wrinkles. 

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Can You Iron Water-Damaged Baseball Cards?

This question comes up a lot with regards to trading cards. Plenty of collectors feel it’s fine to iron baseball cards. Others feel it’s too dangerous.

The truth is you can iron bumps and creases out of damaged baseball cards. You must be careful, though. Place the cards under a heat-resistant cloth. Gently iron back and forth over the cards to flatten them. DO NOT use the steam setting on the iron for this. You’ll defeat the purpose of all you were trying to do. 

What Not to Do With Wet Baseball Cards

Some things seem helpful, but they’re not. Don’t use a blow dryer to dry cards quicker. While it will speed up the drying process, it will dry the cards so fast they curl and warp. 

Don’t just lay the cards flat exposed to the air. It’s ideal for the cards to dry slowly. However, they have to be kept flat during the drying process to avoid any warping. This is the reason why the heavy books with weights on top of them work so well. 

Wet baseball cards often stick together. Should this be the case, do not pull them apart. Pulling them apart will allow for ink transfer between the two cards. Once the cards are dry, they’ll come apart easily without any transfer of ink.

Final Thoughts

Wet baseball cards don’t have to be thrown away. They may be salvageable. There are things you can do to try to save them.

The way you choose to dry the cards out is important. Drying them too quickly will result in warping and curling. Drying them flat out in the open air will also result in warping. You must dry them slowly within an absorbent material that’s held tightly by a heavy weight. 

Next time you lay a card down on a wet counter or spill your drink all over one, keep your cool. Get a big book, put it between the pages, and lay a stack of heavy books on top of it. Move it a few times to dry pages until it’s dry. You’ll have a dry, intact baseball card that’s flat and like-new with a little patience and effort.

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