Tricks and Tools for Removing Family Photos from Sticky, Deteriorating Magnetic Photo Albums

Posted by | · · · · · · · | Family Photo Resources | 6 Comments on Tricks and Tools for Removing Family Photos from Sticky, Deteriorating Magnetic Photo Albums

analog-mediaThe tell-tale signs are appearing – a yellow, brown or hazy fog is starting to emerge. These are the inevitable symptoms of aging magnetic photo albums. And many families have an abundance of albums like these, languishing on shelves around the world. Magnetic photo albums were a popular storage method for photos throughout the 1970s, 1980s and even in the early 1990s. They seemed convenient and safe. Magnetic photos albums enabled you to stick photos directly on pages via a chemical adhesive. Then, photos were covered by a plastic sheet. Once upon a time, you may have thought that the plastic covering was a great idea; it kept dirt and dust off of your priceless photos! But eventually, your photos paid the price. The chemical adhesive in these albums started to break down over the years. As the years took their toll, your album’s pages turned yellow or brown. What’s worse, the chemical adhesive used in these magnetic albums was releasing fumes. These fumes cause deterioration over time, even causing full-fledged lines to appear on the family photos trapped under the plastic. As this happened, the adhesive was also solidifying, causing your pictures to feel permanently glued to the page, instead of loosely lifting off. Ugh!

If you’ve got albums like these in your family photo collection, it’s time to take action. You need to rescue your family photographs from those toxic tomes! That’s why we are here to give you tricks and tools for removing family photos from sticky, deteriorating magnetic photo albums. The sooner you can permanently remove your pictures from these albums, the better. Below, you’ll find tips from professionals and recommendations for tools to use as you embark on your photo rescue mission.

Old photograph album binding and page covering

The Tools You’ll Need to Rescue Your Photos:

• Gloves

• One or two of these – waxed dental floss, a new putty knife, fishing line or a new crafting spatula

Sticker removal tool

How to Safely Remove Photos from Old Magnetic Albums:

Start by putting on some fresh gloves and cleaning all of your tools. Then, begin by gently peeling back the layer of plastic on each page. Your photos have already been exposed to so many chemicals, don’t run the risk of further damage by exposing them to oils on your hands too. This is when you need to pick your poison. It may take trial-and-error, but one of the tools we recommended above will effectively remove photos from deteriorating magnetic albums. 
They key is to move slowly and steadily.

  • Using Dental Floss or Fishing Line: 

Hold your string taught and gently work it under one corner of the photo you’d like to remove. Moving slowly, use a see-saw motion, and slide the string back and forth underneath the photo, separating it from the adhesive backing. Depending on how stuck on your photos are, this process may take a long time. Patience, patience, patience is your mantra.

  • Using a Clean Putty Knife or Crafting Spatula:

Carefully slide your tool under each photograph. Make sure to push very, very slowly. You don’t want to risk ripping or tearing your photos. This method is more likely to damage the photos if you aren’t extremely careful. You may feel the page starting to rip as you wiggle your tool under the photos; this is ok as long as the sharp edge of your tool is not cutting into photos on the back side of the page. As you work carefully, observe the back side of the pages as well as the front. Warning: this is the riskiest method. Even the slightest slip of your hand, and the sharp edges of your putty knife or crafting spatula can cut through your precious family heirlooms. So proceed with caution and don’t push your luck; if you feel like the photos are simply stuck beyond hope, then consider leaving them in the albums and seeking help from pros.

Finally, use the sticker removal tool to clean up the backs of your family photos.

After your photos are free of the magnetic album, you can use the sticker tool to remove any adhesive residue that remains on the photos. If you can’t get all of the adhesive off, make sure to use photo safe paper when stacking and storing photos so that the adhesive doesn’t damage any other images.

Tools, Tediousness and Time…OH MY!

If all of this sounds like too much tedious hassle, then our team will gladly help! Our lab experts can take your magnetic photo albums, remove all of the photographs for you, and scan your images so they are safely digitized for future generations. As a precaution, if photographs are very stubborn and stuck, then our techs will scan the entire album page, without ever removing the photos. Then, they will separate the digital image into the individual pictures. No matter how bad it seems, there’s always a solution for removing family photos from sticky, deteriorating magnetic photo albums.

headshotAbout the Author: Cora Foley has worked at Smooth Photo Scanning Services for almost a year now. Her passion for memory preservation and creation drew her to this family-owned company. She has always loved to travel, so she’s acquired thousands of her own photos and videos on her adventures that she wanted to share with her family across the globe. While this is easy to do with current travels, she needed a solution for her older memories. After using Smooth Photo Scanning Services for her own memories, she wanted to help the company spread their reach so many more people could enjoy, share and preserve their own experiences through digitized videos, slides, photos and more. So she joined their team and hasn’t looked back!


Diane says:

December 17, 2016 at 3:18 am

To have this done professionallyrics, what is the cost?


Rachel LaCour Niesen says:

January 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Hey Diane, the folks who wrote this helpful blog post are the team behind Smooth Scanning Services. They serve clients all around the world and could definitely help you!

Here is the contact person at Smooth Scanning Services:
Cora Foley


Name says:

December 17, 2016 at 3:51 pm

What is a “sticker removable tool”?


Rachel LaCour Niesen says:

January 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm


bEVe says:

January 11, 2017 at 4:33 am



How To: Remove Photographs Stuck to Glass - Smooth Scanning says:

June 19, 2017 at 8:48 pm

[…] paper photos in the forms of natural deterioration, damage due to the elements, photos glued down, photos stuck in magnetic albums, etc. And while many of us have experienced a photo getting stuck to the glass of a picture frame, […]


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