There are many, many ways for a tape to get wet; whether or not the footage can be salvaged depends on what it was exposed to.
The important thing to keep in mind that the only thing that really matters is the tape itself, not the cassette or shell.
If your tape was exposed to water only all you need to do is let it air-dry naturally and slowly and you’ll find that it will be just fine to play in a few days.
Unfortunately most tapes are not dipped in pure water alone, and it’s what’s left behind that causes the trouble. Any chemicals in the liquid can and probably will cause a chemical reaction, permanently etching the surface of the tape and causing playback issues ranging from static interference to potential equipment damage.
We’ve seen tapes that have been in floods, seawater, soda, washing machines, purses with a broken perfume bottle, and much more. Luckily the tape is usually wound up tightly on the reels of the cassette which prevents substances from seeping all throughout and ruining the majority of the footage; in most cases only a small amount of tape needs to be removed and the cassette either needs to be cleaned or replaced to get the tape back in working order.
If your tape has been exposed to anything except water it’s very important to just let it be- attempts to clean out the cassette including rinsing with water could simply spread the substance, subsequently damaging more footage than the original exposure.
Give us a call or send us an email, we’ll be here to help!