How to Get Musty Smell Out of Books

While reading old books, there is almost always an unsettling musty odor associated with them.  One always questions, where have these books been and what did the last owner do to it to make it smell this way.


Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to neutralize the odor and return some form of freshness within your aged book.  By following the below solutions, you can be sure that the mustiness will be eliminated to return your book to it’s former state.


Solutions for Deodorizing Musty Books


1 Microwave Your Book

It may sound strange to microwave your musty smelling book, but this can have the effect of killing the mildew spores that are causing the foul odor.  The high heat within the microwave create an environment which is unlivable for the odorous mold spore.  To put this solution into effect, start by microwaving your book for 15 seconds, and move on to 20, or 30 seconds if no positive effects are experience.  As a note of precaution, make sure that your books do not contain any metal before placing it within the microwave as this may led to disastrous results.


2 Freeze Your Book

Similar to microwaving, the musty smelling book can be placed within the freezer for similar results.  The cold environment of the freezer will create a cold environment that the mold spore within the book will not have a chance of surviving.  To use this method, place a book within a ziplock bag and place within the freezer for a minimum of 48 hours.  Once two days have passed, the bag can be removed from the freezer revealing a fresh smelling book.


3 Ziplocked Baking Soda

This household powder is fantastic at absorbing odors from items within the home.  Place the book within a ziplock bag and add in a half cup of baking soda.  Shake bag vigorously to make sure that the deodorizing powder makes it’s way within the pages of that mildew ridden book.  Provide 24-48 hours for the baking soda to absorb the odor, before opening the ziplock bag and clearing the powder from the pages.


4 White Vinegar Mixture

As a household acid, white vinegar can work miracles at cutting through mildew spore within aged books to return freshness to the pages.  Mix a solution of of one part with vinegar with three parts warm water within a spray bottle.  While flipping the book’s pages spray within to ensure that all pages have made contact with the deodorizing acid.  It is important to turn the spray on the lightest mist and only spray a coup, of time to prevent water damage within the pages.  Finalize by hanging the book to have the solution air dry from the pages.


5 Tea Tree Oil

This natural oil also contains anti-fungal properties that will be sure to combat the smells within a musty book.  Mix a solution of one part tea tree oil with ten parts water within a spray bottle.  Proceed to spray within the pages with a light mist while flipping the pages.  During this process, make sure that you spray a maximum of 2-3 skirts to avoid water damage.  Once the tea tree oil dry the scent of the oil and the existing musty odor will cease to exist.


6 Vodka Mist

This party drink has a secondary function of eliminating difficult smells and drying away odorlessly.  Pour a small about of vodka within a spray bottle and proceed to lightly mist the book while flipping the pages.  Hang the book up and the alcohol should quickly evaporate away and lift off the residual musty odor.


7 Activated Charcoal Absorption

If you have the time, this solution can be effective at lifting away musty book odors without the need to come into contact.  Place several activated charcoal briquettes within an old pair of nylon leggings and place within a small cardboard box.  Proceed to add musty books within, and sealing the box closed so no air can come in our out.  Finally, allow for the box to sit for 5-7 days before returning to remove the freshened books.


Preventive Measures


1 Cool, Dry & Light Location

Musty books are best avoided by keeping books within a space where mildew is not likely to develop.  Ideally, store your books within and cool, dry location with a moderate light source to avoid developing an unpleasant smell.  The worst place that books can be stored are within a warm, wet and dark location similar to a basement.


One Response

  1. Dorothy-Clare Jacobs January 19, 2017

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