Removing Musty Smell from Books

October 18, 2010

Old Stained Book Laying OpenI 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

Read More Comments

More Solutions

This page contains the following solutions.

May 4, 2005

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.


February 25, 2014

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.


November 13, 2004

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.


April 28, 2015

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.


18 Questions

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

September 10, 2012

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?

By Catrina


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 141 Feedbacks
September 10, 20121 found this helpful
Best Answer

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:


Answer this Question

May 5, 2011

How do I remove the musty smell from books?

By Booklover from Galesburg, IL


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 146 Posts
May 10, 20111 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

Good Luck


Answer this Question

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?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
August 10, 20180 found this helpful

Use a product called Nok-Out. You can get it on Amazon.


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
August 10, 20180 found this helpful

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 :(


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
August 11, 20180 found this helpful

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.


  • There are lots of suggestions all over the Internet and most will work to some degree but you must get the books completely dry first.
  • Indirect sun is best for this if that is possible (just be sure there is no wind or place something on the open books to hold the pages down). Open the books to different pages so all will dry out.
  • If indirect sun is not possible, try finding a dry area to leave the books for a few days.
  • Most people say they have the best success with using cat litter in two containers.
  • Set up a larger container (Tupperware container will work), fill about 1/3 with fresh cat litter, place a smaller plastic container on top of litter and place one or two books in top container. It's best to do one book at a time so you can open up the book. Place lid on large container (must seal tight) and leave for several days.
  • Some people put newspaper between every 5-8 pages and then seal it up for several days (or use dryer sheets instead of newspaper).
  • Advertisement

  • These are all slow processes so don't give up in a week or so.
  • You can check some previous answers on the ThriftyFun site:
  • Here is another site that has other suggestions:

Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 107 Posts
August 11, 20180 found this helpful

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

August 14, 20180 found this helpful

Dust pages with baby powder.

Answer this Question


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

June 26, 2010

How do you clean a musty smell from a book?


October 18, 2010

I have very old books that are musty smelling. Help!


August 31, 2010

How can I remove the moldy smell from an old book?


April 12, 2010

How do I get a musty smell out of a used book I just bought?


October 1, 2010

How do I remove a musty smell from books? Also, how should they be stored to prevent this from happening again?


January 23, 2010

How do you get rid of musty book smell?


July 28, 2009

What's the best way to get rid of the musty smell from books? There seem to be many interesting approaches in removing musty smells from books.


August 30, 2006
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.

August 30, 2006
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
Home and Garden Cleaning Books and PapersSeptember 12, 2011
Father's Day Ideas!
Fourth of July Ideas!
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCoronavirusCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.
Desktop Page | View Mobile
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Generated 2024-06-09 16:20:03 in 5 secs. ⛅️️
© 1997-2024 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.