Removing Odors from Your Books

October 27, 2014     erinbook     Discussion, Feature, Tips an Tricks

Removing Odors from Your Books
I am a big fan of used books but you never know where they come from. I’ve rescued books that were in house fires, belonged to heavy smokers, or had god knows what spilled on them. The thing about paper is that it soaks up all kinds of smells. But if you do pick up a book that’s a little stinky there are things you can do to help.
Febreeze can work in a pinch but it really just covers the odor, try these methods for something a bit more lasting.
The Dryer Sheet Method:
  • This one is pretty simple. Stick some dryer sheets between the pages and place the book in a gallon sized plastic bag for a few days. This is one of the better methods for those with allergies as you can get unscented dryer sheets. For tough odors you may have to replace the dryer sheets and wait a bit longer.

The Air Method:

  • Hang your book open over a bit of twine or clothsline on a warm day or inside with a fan pointed at it. This method takes a while.
The “Replace the Smell” Method:
  • If you have some perfume sticks from magazines, place those inside the book and seal the book inside a gallon sized plastic bag. Make sure it’s a scent you can tolerate.
The Baking Soda Method: 
  • Place the book inside a gallon sized plastic bag and shake in a bit of plain old baking soda. Seal and let sit for a day or two. Remove the excess baking soda with a vacuum hose or small dust buster so you don’t make a mess when you take the book out.
Other things you can try:
  • Potpourri
  • Cedar chips
  • Activated charcoal
  • Ground coffee
  • Unscented kitty litter (Thanks to LaLa In The Library for reminding me)
What methods have you used? What would you like to see a Tips and Tricks post about? Share in the comments.
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2 responses to “Removing Odors from Your Books

  1. Kitty litter works well especially if it is odor from being in a damp place. I have a tote with a snap on lid, and I put unscented clay kitty litter in the bottom then a couple of sheets of archival (non-acidic) white tissue paper. I lay the book open on top of the tissue paper. If the smell is really potent I place another couple of sheets of tissue paper on top and add a couple of sections of a newspaper (about ten pages). My mother loves Febreeze, and I loathe the smell of it, so anytime I bring books down from her house I use this method to get the aroma out. It is true about coffee grounds. This summer my kitchen garbage was being very problematic odor-wise, and I couldn't figure it out. I saw an article about using coffee grounds in the fridge to absorb odors, and realized my problem was from giving my mother our coffee grounds for her garden, instead of dumpimg them in the garbage. 🙂

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