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My wife and I buy a lot of used books. The problem is, often the books have been in storage, or in a smoker's home (no offense to any smokers), or in other conditions that have left behind odors. I used to apply Febreze to rid books of these smells, but I've found a much cheaper way.
Simply take a sample perfume strip such as are found in many magazines and slip it into the book. Place the book in a sealable storage bag for a day or so. I've found that this will replace odors with the scent of the strip.
Of course, use a scent you don't mind smelling!
Source: My personal experience
By Mad Rabbit from Lovington, IL
Try putting the book in a zipper-lock bag with either a new, unused fabric softener sheet or with about a teaspoon of fresh, dry, unused coffee grounds. Leave the book in there for at least 8 hours. Good luck!
Unfortunately, I'm allergic to most perfumes and laundry fragrances. And I don't drink coffee, so I don't have coffee grounds on hand.
Any other suggestions?
I haven't done this following suggestion myself, but you may want to consider dusting all of the pages with baking soda, and let the soda sit on the pages for several days. First, test a small area of a page in each book to make sure that the soda can be easily brushed away without ruining the look of the books pages. Maybe use a clean dry soft makeup brush to brush the soda off the pages.
I wanted to share a tip about how to get rid of cigarette odor from books within an hour. No baking soda, no use of charcoal which only mask the cigarette smoke, no waiting for days or weeks to get rid of the smoke.
Here is the method which worked for me:
I recently bought a used book online from a heavy smoker. It was really, really stinking like an ash tray, awfully, I could not read it.
You can remove the smoke particles from pages by applying heat. This is not without risks, but the risk is minimal. I would not put the book in an oven, this would cause fire, but I used a hairdryer for this purpose.
Put the hairdryer on hot position (but not too hot!) in my hairdryer it is the 2nd (or middle) of the three positions.
Then direct the hot air from the hairdryer on every single page of the book with smooth equal movements. 5 sec for every page is enough. Do not forget the edges and cover boards. The smoke particles will just diffuse away with the hot air.
After this procedure, the pages of the book will be bent because the heat deforms them. Do not panic, they will return to its original form after three or four days.
Then there should be not even the slightest cigarette odor noticeable. Smell the top edge of the book to be sure. This is the place where the smoke gathers most.
With this method I removed the odor from my book within an hour. It can happen that your hairdryer will overheat and stop working. It happened to me once. But here also do not panic: there is a protection mechanism in every hairdryer to switch it off, when overheated. When it cools down it is again working.
Greetings to all non-smokers!
The hot blow dryer really works! Thank you to whoever posted that. I have now saved quite a few pattern magazines (which I just bought on eBay) from the recycling bin. Yeah!
One more thing... I just tried this on mildew odors and it works for that too!
What a great tip! I'm going to try it. I just had a book from the library that I was really looking forward to reading but it was so stinky that I was gagging the whole time. Next time that happens, I will run for the blow dryer!
It worked! I also did not turn each page put from the end of the book I held the blow dryer and of course the pages open with the air so the hot air touches every page like that. Thanks!
Does this make the room you do this in smell terrible? Or do you somehow do this outside?
This worked perfectly!! I had already punched out a lot of shapes and they stunk! I tied one end of an old t shirt, put them inside, wrapped the other end around the hairdryer and alternates between hot and cold while shaking the shirt around. They don't smell at all anymore!! Thank you so much to whoever posted this comment!!
I had a chest freezer once. My daughter had accidentally unplugged it and I didn't find it until about 2 weeks later. The whole thing was filled with nasty rotten meat. I cleaned it out, bleached it and used everything under the sun and nothing helped rid the odor of spoiled meat.
Finally someone told me the coffee trick. Go to the store and buy the cheapest darkest coffee you can buy. If you don't have a grinder at home grind it at the store on the finest grind, like espresso. Come home and put the coffee in cheap knee high hose and tie them shut. Coffee will remove the smell of all most anything.
For books, I place the coffee in the knee high and tie it and the book up in a plastic grocery bag and leave it for about a week. Voila! No more stinky cigarette smells. I sell used books on Amazon and eBay so this is a must!
I do have allergies and I do buy many books from ebay annd amazon; but, I think you may be adding to my problem with your "coffee trick".
You see, I am allergic to coffee. I cannot shop in any book store that has a coffee bar in it because the odor of the coffee circulating through the store is enough to make me nauseous AND I get a rash on my hands after I handle the books, magazines, etc. there.
I noticed I also get a rash after handling some of the used books that I buy online also.
Can't you try something that is SAFE like baking soda or something like that. I do not know of anyone with a baking soda allergy. (I am also allergic to fragrances, tea, tobacco, and a lot of other things and so are a lot of other people.)
Set the opened books out to air in the sun. A further solution is to place unused dryer sheets among the pages of closed books.
By Vivian P.
Never put dryer sheets between the pages of a book! The chemicals in them are highly toxic and they penetrate the paper and stay there for years.
Many people are extra sensitive to these chemicals and a few minutes of reading your "fresh smelling" book can cause a severe reaction - redness, swelling, itching, and a burning sensation on our hands.
I bought a book at Amazon that evidently was in a fire. It took a year for smell to go away. You could try putting the book in plastic bag with baking soda or flowers to absorb the smell or spray your book with orange oil. I use that for all stinky smells.
By Kathie K. from Dublin, CA
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I would like help for getting cigarette smell out of hardback books and paperback books?
By Patricia from Ramona, CA
I use to smoke and since I've moved 3 years ago my entire bookshelf has been packed away in boxes. I went to take them out and omg. I can't believe what my house must have smelled like. There are 6 large Rubbermaid containers full plus a few boxes. How will I ever get the smell out of my treasured books? Quickest and most effective. Help please!
I had the same problem with a large collection of postcards that I had purchased from an estate. What I tried was putting them in a cardboard box that was big enough to allow air space, put in 2 bounce dryer sheets and closed the box up for about a week. I was amazed when I opened the box back up - there was no sign of the cigarette smell ramaining at all. HTH
Please tell me how I can get tobacco odors out of hard back books.
Carrie Shuter from Meridian, Idaho
When I buy used books or from the Library I wipe the outside with baby wipes and spray a shot of lysol. Then I spray Lysol as I fan the pages. Lysol dries quickly. Try and keep a 10 inch distance. If you happen to spray closer no big deal. Lysol dries fast. Smells gone! And germs too!
I too had the task of taking that awful smell off of books and video cases, what I did was to get a pan of warm water with Tide in it , use a cloth that is wrung out fairly dry, wipe the jacket of the books,also stand the book on end so that you can wipe the ends and sides off, You will be amazed at the color of the water After I finished doing that i wiped them dry,"as best I could" and I tore up sheets of Fabric softener putting the part sheets 4-6 in each book. Then putting the books in an airtight bag for a few weeks. after that I aired them out and they were not too bad for smell. I had a real collection of about 50 books that were given me and They were just too valuable to throw out. I do hope this helps.
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How do I remove smoke odors from books?
By bigharv from Denver, CO
Try putting the book in a zipper-lock bag with either a new, unused fabric softener sheet or with about a teaspoon of fresh, dry, unused coffee grounds. Leave the book in there for at least 8 hours. Good luck! (07/08/2009)
How do you get cigarette smoke smell off of books?
By Maria from CA
I would spray the pages with air freshener. Just hold the book at a distance so the pages don't get wet. (11/13/2009)
Does anyone know how to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of books? A friend just gave me a wonderful cookbook that she bought at a yard sale and it smells so strong that my allergies go wild. It is a small spiral bound book about 1 inch thick.
SandyC from Indianapolis, IN
Dryer sheets are full of toxic chemicals which are far worse for you to breathe than the cigarette smell you're trying to get rid of. Best off to use the suggestions involving natural methods. (11/12/2008)
Try wrapping your book in a towel and placing the book in a bag of baking soda or even fresh (of course) cat litter for few days. It works.
I've even poured baking soda on the pages here and there and then placed it inside a bag, paper or plastic to remove the smell. Shaking the baking soda from the pages can be a pain, but it did remove the smell. (05/01/2009)
Dyer sheets worked really well. I received a book from an eBay bid and it had a very musty smell. In a matter of two weeks, the smell was gone forever. (06/04/2008)
Thanks so much! I have been plagued with this smoke and must problem in books for the longest time and was hoping, other than putting them out in the sun or fresh air that there might be another way to manage this issue. So I am going to give it a try and am hoping for the best. I am a huge book collector too! (06/17/2008)
By Penny Foss
How can you get cigarette smoke smell out of books?
By Vikki from Tucson, AZ
Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of a brown paper bag, then place the book inside and fold the top of the bag over two or three times. Leave the book inside the bag for several days (5-7). This has worked well for me in the past and the baking soda won't damage the book like liquids can. (12/10/2009)
Put them out in the sun on a nice day. Open them up. Periodically change the pages to expose new areas. This has worked for old musty books for me. (01/30/2001)
Place the books in a large plastic bag, sprinkle in some baking soda and close. After a few days the smell should be removed from the books. Just shake or dust off the baking soda. Don't use the baking soda for cooking afterwards, instead use to freshen your sink drains. (01/30/2001)
According to "Typical Mary Ellen", newspaper is good for removing odors. I'd wrap up the books with wads of newspaper in a plastic bag and leave them for a while. It may need to be repeated. For most people, newspapers are "free." (02/01/2001)
This happened to me, too. I hate the smell of smoke! I packed the book into a plastic bag with a paper package of scented bath salts. You might try an unwrapped scented soap, too. Best of luck! (02/03/2001)
I tried the baking soda in the plastic bag with the book and its been weeks and it still stinks. How long am i suppose to do this? (04/08/2004)
I found this on another board:
"It's too damp where I live to put anything valued out into the open air. I'd recommend putting the book into a chamber of some sort (I use a large rigid plastic box with a sealable lid) together with a zeolite, such as activated charcoal. I've experimented with several books that smelled musty by wrapping them well in pellon (spun polyester material, sold in fabric stores), then burying the wrapped book in deodorizing cat litter, which has a zeolite in it. After a few days the books smell fine, but as they weren't MY books, I don't know whether they have remained odor free. However, no one has told me the smell came back.
Carol Pratt, Eugene, OR"
Then this suggestion...
"I was staying at a hotel once, and when I complained about the smell of smoke in my room, they put an ozone generator in it and left it running for some hours while I was away. When I returned, the smell was gone. Remember, however, ozone is toxic and should not be used in an area where people will inhale it."
For oder in a basement place in the open regular grill cooking CHARCOAL. I would place the books in a large plastic bag and inside with the books a generous amount of charcoal tied up in an old sheet or pillowcase (etc.) and you could add an old sock full of baking soda for musty smells. After you do this do not use the charcoal or soda for anything else. Discard. (06/14/2004)
I got the cigarette smell out of a very thick softcover textbook in a couple of days. I stood the book on its bottom edge and fanned-out the pages so it formed something like 3/4 of a cylinder shape. The book was placed like this on the floor with a piece of cardboard under it. (Some books, especially thinner ones, might not stand up like that, but you could easily clip the covers to an improvised support.) Then I took a fan of the type that normally stands on the floor on a high pedestal, and placed it horizontally over a chair so that it blew straight down onto the book. The pages soon fanned out evenly, and the air rushing between all the pages got out most of the smell in the first day. (07/11/2004)
Use bounce dryer sheets to remove odors from fragile items such as books, etc. (07/12/2004)
I got a smoky smelling book and just used fantastic lightly sprayed on paper towels then cleaned along all the edges, thoroughly on the covers and on the inside of the covers. This helped a lot, but there is still a slight smell if you stick your nose to the inside binding. (10/05/2004)
The best thing I have found to remove odors from old books is cedar chips. You can buy these from your local feed or pet store. Place the book in a large zip-loc back together with a couple handfuls of the cedar chips. Place the bag somewhere dry and cool for a few days. It's done the trick for me many times and removes the smell of cigarettes, mold and mildew. And the cedar smells really good, too. (07/25/2005)
Those are good ideas for books. Anybody have some good ideas of how to get cigarette smoke smell out of a sofa? My mother gave me her sofa for my new apartment but she is a chain smoker and the sofa smells like it's spent a year in the back of an old bar.
Well, what I did was hang the book on the clothesline :) Yep.. take a couple front and back pages and clip them on the line with the squeeze type clothes pins.. being a non smoker I was highly upset when cigarette smelling books were were returned to me after loaning them out. Hang them in the shade then switch to different parts of the book to let the pages air in between. It worked for me.. and taught me a lesson, not to loan my books to people that I know smoke.. I just didn't think of it at the time.
(not intended to offend smokers)
P.S. I let them hang a few days in the day time only. (03/07/2006)
How about solid items like plastic, can the smell be removed using the same technique? Or is it something different? (03/10/2006)
Put the books in a closed bookshelf (Barrister type) and put some incense sticks in with the books (not touching them, of course). It works like the cedar chips mentioned earlier. (04/18/2006)
I used Potpourri in a bag, I tried baking soda in a bag, neither worked.
Then I read this thread and used someones suggestion of a dryer sheet. I took one and rubbed it over the front cover, the back cover and each page. It has worked the best so far. The smell is almost gone.
One more sheet over each page should be the end of that gross smell.
And this is a Wedding Memory book I bought online. Not a good smell to have on it. :( (04/28/2006)
The same thing happened to me. I started by wiping the pages with a dryer sheet and then leaving the dryer sheet in the book. This just layered a pleasant odor over the smoke odor, but it was still there. I finally got rid of the smell completely with newspaper. I put a sheet of newspaper one every page of the book and let it sit for two days. The smell is completely gone. (03/26/2007)
Use the dryer sheets. I put a dryer sheet in my book and put it back on the shelf for 4 weeks and now the smoke smell is gone and the books smells dryer fresh. This will also remove the moldy smell on books too. For thick books put two or more sheets in the book. (08/25/2007)
By DEBRA J.
I wanted to give my mother's smoky books about her country of origin to my niece who has asthma. I used the dryer sheet method and it worked well without giving me asthma for my efforts. (11/12/2007)