Need help! How do you get water stains out of an interior paper label?

Hi, everyone! This is my first post, after arriving here from I'm hoping that the experienced folks who frequent this site can provide some advice to help me out!

A couple days ago I took out a brand new Oasis humidifier, filled it with distilled water, and placed it in the soundhole of my circa 1900 parlor guitar. I have a flattop case, and when I closed the lid, I noticed that it pressed gently against the top of the humidifier. I didn't think this was a big deal, until I checked the guitar about a half hour later. Because the humidifier was a bit compressed, some water leaked out and stained the interior paper label and ran down some of the bracing. I immediately removed the humidifier and allowed the guitar to air dry.

Luckily, I caught this before any damage was done to the braces. Those water marks are not highly visible, but the interior paper label, which was in pretty nice shape and clean, now has a large brown water stain over it. Looks like someone spilled coffee on it. It made me very ill to think that label survived intact and clean for 100+ years, and I had to go and mess it up when I was just trying to protect the guitar from low humidity.

My question is -- how can I safely remove the stains from the label without doing further damage? Because of the age of the paper, I'd like to somehow treat it within the body of the guitar and not try to remove it.

Surely some of the experts here have run across this problem at some point? Any advice?

Thanks! Jeff

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There is probably no easy way to remove the stain without doing further damage to the printing, the label or the guitar. Mild bleaching agents in a dilute solution may work, but it's risky. Hydrochloric acid, Sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, oxalic acid are used by conservators, but I'd be inclined to leave it alone. You might check with a book or art conservator at your local university.
I use to date a lady that was an art conservator, there number 1 solvent and cleaning agent was just 100% pure distilled water.

But I agree it's a risky undertaking, I would suggest trying what ever you do on a very very small area first.
You've just given the guitar some additional character. I otherwise have no suggestions.


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