14 December 2012

Getting smells out of books

image from here
A while ago I bought some old books online - and they smell a bit musty.  If this has happened to you here's some advice for dealing with the smell.

"Hints from Heloise" says:
"If there's mildew in the book, you'll first need to gently vacuum each page, using the brush attachment. And if the pages are damp, dry them thoroughly, even outdoors, if possible, but not in direct sunlight. Then, to absorb odors, sprinkle each page with baking soda or cornstarch, and place the book in a plastic bag for a week or two. When you remove it, turn it upside down and ruffle the pages to shake out the excess powder." 

Real Simple says:
"That unpleasant smell  stems from a high moisture content (and possible mold growth) in the paper, says Yasmeen Khan, a rare-book conservator for the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C. “Since paper is made of moisture-sucking cellulose, the pages dry at a snail’s pace, creating the ideal damp environment for bacteria to thrive,” she says. Get rid of any remaining moisture by standing the book up so its pages fan out in front of an air conditioner or a fan for two to three days. Then store the book inside a closed plastic storage container with an open box of baking soda until the mustiness clears. This may take up to a week for hardbacks, because their thick covers retain more moisture."

Elsewhere I've read to put the book in a bag with ground coffee. The coffee is supposed to absorb the smell from the book ... or maybe the book absorbs the smell from the coffee? In any case, throw the coffee away afterwards!

1 comment:

patty a. said...

I bought a musty book and I took ground coffee and tied it in a coffee filter, put the book and the coffee in a plastic bag. I tied it up tight and put it in the freezer for several weeks. The musty smell is gone.