This is not something you want to see when you are washing documents.
The architectural plans we are washing after the flood are incredibly stable, except for the sheet numbers on the lower left-hand corner which, as you can see, are prone to floating off in the wash water. Fortunately, there were some clues that this was a possibility.
Our original concern had been about some numbers handwritten on the plans in a blue ink, which seemed to have faded in the flood water and were at risk of fading further in the bath. As we started copying these numbers on the plans in pencil, we realized that many of the black, printed sheet numbers had been covered at some point with tape. Other plans were missing the sheet numbers, in part or altogether, and we wondered if they had floated off in the flood. Then we came across a number of plans like the one shown below, where the sheet number had already been penciled-in on the border. It appears that the printed sheet numbers were susceptible to falling off even back in 1972 when the plans were first prepared.
The problem, of course, is that the sheets are organized by the sheet number and washing often lifts them off. In the best of all possible worlds, we would find another way to wash and sanitize the plans, but there are over three hundred of them and washing is the easiest and quickest (though not quick) way to remove the flood residue and smell, and to flatten the documents. Since these are functional, working documents, we have decided that penciling-in the sheet numbers before putting the plans in to the bath is an acceptable solution to the problem. And we kind of like seeing the floating letters and numbers as we take the plans out of the sink. Yes, it is geeky, but there are still many days of washing ahead, and you have to take your entertainment where you can get it.