There seem to be many interesting approaches in removing musty smells from books. However, short of trying those, is there some known spray or air freshener that works well to this end? Granted, its only a cover-up, but may be just enough to make the situation bearable. Thanks.
Bob the Bookman from Chicago, IL
I was told to cut up a grapefruit and put the piece of fruit with the open book in a plastic bag. I never heard how long etc., but they swore that works. (08/31/2006)
I too like to buy old books and found that this works great for me. I buy the sachets in the envelopes that people use to make their houses smell good, (you can purchase them at most gift shops) and I put one in a garbage bag, put the books in and let it sit. The longer it sits the better, say a week or 2. It works, it really does and the books smell awesome. I like the Willow Brook Sachets, but you could use any. Good luck. (12/12/2006)
I often buy used paperbacks books at the library thrift store. To ensure that I don't pick up some unwanted contaminant, I microwave them. The government does this to foods imported to the US and kills living things including mold. (03/18/2007)
tipster123 had a good one. I saw it on "How Clean is Your House", using "used" dryer sheets. But this must be done with books that aren't "valuable" because of oil spots. Seal in garbage bag for 7 days. (05/06/2007)
I buy hamster/gerbil litter (probably cedar shavings). Put the books in a suitcase and sprinkle the litter around them. Close the suitcase. It takes a few weeks, but it works.
Just a heads-up on the freezer method listed below (or above?). From my own info gathering I've seen it much repeated that freezing mildew, or any other mold / fungus, will not kill it. Mildew is not a plant. There's also a seemingly endless number of examples of plant life that do not die in extended freezing conditions, trees, bushes, seeds, etc. It seems that the truly effective part of putting a book in a zip lock bag with an odor absorbing material into the freezer, is just the odor absorbing material part of the equation. (09/29/2007)
By Mildew Dude
I would like to mention that some of these tips might work, but they will also damage the book. Newspaper is an acidic paper, and if it comes in contact with your book, it could speed up the deterioration process. I'm sure you've seen books that have very brittle/yellowish pages, this is because of the acid in the paper. Also, sunlight is very bad for books, since it activates the acid. Although many books are being published now on non-acidic paper, it is still necessary to be careful.
I've found that the Kitty Litter technique works well, but make sure you use a smaller container inside a larger container, so that the kitty litter and the book do not touch. Basically, you don't want stuff touching your books it can be very damaging to them. You may not notice right away, but there are many things like sunlight and acidic papers that can shorten the lifespan of a book.
Hope this helps. Your friendly neighborhood librarian. (10/16/2007)
To really get rid of the mold odor on books you have to get rid of the mold. Spraying any liquid on a book or paper is going to damage the surface. That is why you need to use a gas product. Unfortunately most of the gas products are very toxic, and corrosive.
There is, however, a new product on the market that I have used that gets both mold and smoke odors out of books. Its called OdorXit CLO2 and it really works. The product is little packets with powder inside. When they are exposed to water vapor, they produce a gas called chlorine dioxide that actually kills the mold and the spores without harming the paper or leather cover.
I stood the books with the pages fluffed in an old school locker with the vents covered and a 5 gram packet in the top on the shelf and a very small fan running on low. In 2 days, the mold odor was gone and it didn't come back. It really worked for me. (11/15/2007)
I found this at Virginia Cooperative Extension website.
Remove any dry, loose mold from paper with a clean, soft cloth. If mildewed paper is damp, dry it first in an airy place if possible. Spread pages of books out fanwise to air. If the books are very damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder between the leaves to take up the moisture. Leave starch or powder on for several hours, then brush off.
For leather book bindings and covers, wipe off the mold. Wipe the leather surface with a cloth dampened with a solution of one part denatured or rubbing alcohol to one part water. Apply saddle soap or leather conditioner. (01/18/2008)
I have successfully removed very strong musty smell from a book by fanning pages and spraying with with a dry antiperspirant deodorant spray. Needed repeating treatment after a few days, but is now completely pong-free. (12/12/2008)
By Jean O.
Try the baking soda. (03/16/2009)
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