Removing Photos Stuck To Glass


I have some old pictures that were once framed and now are stuck to the glass. The frames had long since been removed and now I couldn't put them in photo albums or even in different frames without getting them unstuck. I did some research and found three ways most often recommended and decided to give them a try. Here are my results.




The three more recommended ways involved:
  • Heat
  • Water
  • Cold
Let me begin by saying that before you try any of these methods I highly recommend you scan your pictures first. Remove the frame and scan the picture right through the glass at a high resolution. If you do not have a scanner you can use one at Walmart, Walgreen's, or almost anywhere that has photo service. That way, if you do ruin the picture, you can at least print out the scan on photo paper.

The glass on one of my photos was actually cracked completely across the photo making removal harder and more hazardous. Some of the picture had already torn off leaving little bits of photo stuck on the glass. Let me mention it here, you may want to use gloves as the edges of your glass, even if unbroken, will be sharp. So please be careful!

Heat. For this method you use a hair dryer set on low setting. Hold it so it is about 4-5 inches away from the print and blow the warm air on the back of the print. After a few minutes try peeling back just a corner to see if it has loosened. If it has then continue with the heat, peeling just a little at a time until your picture is free from the glass.


I had limited success with this. One picture loosened a little but not completely. It could have been that they had just been stuck too long.

I did see a few people writing about using steam. The method was similar to the hair dryer. But since I didn't see many people using this method I chose not to try it.

I did have one surprise! As the picture was beginning to loosen I found another picture underneath that I didn't know was there.


Water. This was the scariest method to me but seemed to be the most recommended. It should never be attempted with photos made before 1930. Use room temperature water and soak the photo for several hours or even overnight. Keep checking to see if it is coming loose as you don't want to soak longer than necessary. I did see posts where pictures were soaked for days if necessary, but I also read that it is possible for the photo to actually dissolve so continue to check it. Do not attempt the heat method after using the water method as it may make the photo stick even more. This is why I chose to attempt the heat method first. 

I had better success with this method. At first I just soaked a piece of glass that had some pieces of a photo still stuck to it after someone had pried off the picture. It took awhile but once the pieces came off I stuck them back on the picture. This gave me the confidence to try more pictures with much success.

I soaked just one edge of two more photos by standing them up in a pan and then filling to the height I needed. I had to soak these overnight but my morning one just slipped right of the glass and the other came off easily with the help of a non-serrated sharp knife. I didn't see any new damage to either photo.

Blot your photo with paper towels or clean dishtowel without rubbing and then let air dry. Make sure your photo is thoroughly dry before putting it back in a frame with glass or even in a scrapbook. It was moisture that made it stick to begin with so you may want to let it air dry for a couple of days.

Cold. This one was a bit odd to me but some have had success with it. You need to wrap the picture and glass in newspaper and put in the freezer for one hour. After one hour you need to check to see if it has loosened. Be very, very gentle when trying to pull them apart. I didn't see anything about putting it back in the freezer if it doesn't work after one hour.

I tried this on one photo that was really stuck on the entire lower half. It was stuck all the way up to where my finger is.


First I wrapped it in newspaper.


Put it in the freezer and left for an hour then took it out for a look. The freezing did not work at all, nothing, nadda. Not saying it may not work for a different picture, it just didn't work for me on this one. So I let it come back to room temperature then soaked it in water which completely loosened it for me.

I am guessing that different methods will work better on different photos. Just a reminder to scan your photos first and double check to make sure you have a good scanned image before you try any method to release pictures stuck to glass. Keep in mind that you could destroy your photo, but if its stuck to glass its already partially ruined, right?

Hope this post has been some help to you.

You may also be interested in my post on organizing photos.

And check back to see my post on organizing all those digital pictures!




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