I have tried many different methods for trying to remove the smell from musty books, and this is the best I've found.
Take the book and place a sheet of newspaper between the pages (need not be every single page, don't worry!), then seal in a tape box surrounded by more newspaper which you've crumpled into balls for three days. The newspapers absorbs the odor, and is better than using cat litter because the litter gets caught in the pages and spines of the books.
By Brianna Southworth from Dutch Harbor, AK
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In damp summer weather, keep papers and books as dry as possible to help control mold growth. If you have an enclosed bookcase, keep a small electric light lit continuously in the bookcase or use a chemical dehumidifier, keeping the doors closed as tightly as possible.
What I did was take the book and spread it out, blowing it with the blow dryer. I flipped the pages back and forth to get them all. Then, I sprayed the outer cover with some Febreeze fabric spray and then wiped it off.
To get a musty odor out of old books, place the books outdoors in the sun and frequently fan out the pages so that the air can reach them. Brush off any mildew or mold. If the pages are damp, sprinkle cornstarch between them and brush it off after a few hours.
Put the book into a microwave oven along with a cup of water. Microwave for few seconds. Fan the book. Repeat until the book is very warm. This will remove a lot of moisture and smell.
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I have 4 big boxes of smelly books that were stored in a garage for 19 months. I can't do any labour intensive work as I am sick, can I just set them out on the floor to hopefully air out?
The most common solution I have seen is to put newspaper between some of the pages, then wrap the book in newspaper and then put the books in a box full of more newspaper for few days. Some variations use charcoal as well. You read all the way down this page you can read lots of ideas about this subject:
How do I remove the musty smell from books?
By Booklover from Galesburg, IL
I use Snuggle dryer sheets when storing books or for moving, so maybe a week or so in a plastic bag with fresh dryer sheets might work. I also use fresh bars of Tone Soap when packing anything including books.
I moved and the boxes got wet. Many books were destroyed, but some like my grandmother and great-grandmother's cookbooks are okay but smelly. What do I do?
Use a product called Nok-Out. You can get it on Amazon.
I had moderate success in the exact same situation by covering the books in a thin layer of baking soda and putting them in the freezer for a few weeks. It wasn't perfect, but it got a lot of the smell out.
It is very messy. You need to have big plastic zipper type bags to fit the book (1 book per bag--just fan the book and let some of the baking soda in) and hold all the powder as you don't want it floating around in your freezer.
A friend tried freezing the books in a zip bag without the baking soda, and she had some luck..I think I had less smell after, but it still wasn't 100%.
If it would ever stop raining long enough, I'd like to leave them in the sun for a few days....another friend had good luck doing that. I will let you know if I am ever able to do that as it seems it is always raining in Pittsburgh :(
They may not appear so, but most likely these books are still a little damp as it would be almost impossible for them to be in damp conditions with other books and not retain some of that moisture.
you want to kill the mold spores
the best way I have figured to not harm the books (much) is to leave them in the sun or the car in the day in summer, the intense heat will kill mold and a lot of times eliminate the smell
also baking soda
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