Cleaning Paperback Books

February 15, 2011

Cleaning Paperback BooksI love to buy books for my young grandchildren, but the costs of good books makes it impossible for me to buy them at the book store. I go to garage sales and buy like new books for well under $1.00. Many of them (like the pop up books), one can tell have not even been read.


But I am a germ fighter, so I use sanitizing wipes with alcohol that quickly evaporates and I quickly go over each page. The books are like new and I can be confident that my grandchildren can enjoy them without "catching" anything.

Be sure to use a sanitizing wipe that is child safe or wipe with a baby wipe after using the sanitizing ones, I have an extensive children's library for any age and I encourage them to take care of them so they can be re-cycled again.

By Betty

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
November 3, 2006

Cleaning Paperback Books. Do you know that with their slick covers, the soil on paperback book covers can often be wiped off gently? Nice to know when passing around mysteries and so on to friends!



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

July 25, 2007

I recently purchased a large lot of paperback books. The books are in great physical condition. They smell horrible. I believe they have been in a garage for years. (Old gas, oil, exhaust-just like you would think). Any way to remove the smell? Thanks!

Alsy74 from Falmouth, IN


By SusanG (Guest Post)
July 25, 20070 found this helpful

A book dealer told me that he removes musty mildew smells by putting a scented dryer sheet in the book, then putting the closed book in a closed box for a few days.

By Mary Ann (Guest Post)
July 27, 20070 found this helpful

Try enclosing in a bag of kitty litter for awhile.

July 27, 20070 found this helpful

I've had good luck removing all or most of cigarette smoke smell from paperback books by placing the book and about a tablespoonful of unused, dry coffee (NOT instant) in a zipper-style bag. Takes at least a couple of weeks, but it works the best of anything I've tried. Good luck!

By Sheri (Guest Post)
July 27, 20070 found this helpful

You can also try good old newspaper. In a container that can be tightly closed, put in a few books and some sheets of crumpled newspaper. Leave for 2-3 days. Try changing the newspaper out after each day. The smell should attach to the newspaper.

July 27, 20070 found this helpful

febreeze 'em! Works for me

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July 6, 2011

I have a newer book, new within the last ten years, and I'm wondering if I can restore the condition of the book without destroying it. Are there any Thriftyfun tips out there to clean a soiled paperback book that also has creased pages and cover?

I have read about putting fabric sheets between the pages to remove a moldy smell. If anyone has feedback on that tip, please provide. Thank you!


By abc8xyz


July 9, 20111 found this helpful

Sometimes you can use a slightly damp cloth on the outside of the paperback to remove dirt and grime. I have used Goo Gone Extreme for glue residue and marker residue. It needs to be tested on an inconspicuous area though as it can take the ink off or mar certain surfaces. I have used clear packing tape to strengthen creases, but be aware that after 5-10 years the tape may dry and crack.

The fabric sheets may work, I don't know, but sometimes laying the book out in the sun on a day when you know it's not going to rain will kill the mildewy smell. If it's very bad, I would forget it and buy a new book on ebay.

Good luck

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