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The old books are wonderful treasures to discover, and some may even be worth a lot of money, but also often come with a musty odor. Although it may be difficult, you can eliminate or at least reduce this smell.

Method 1
1- Check for moisture.

A total wet book, wet or submerged book is the primary cause of mold or musty smell in a book, which offers an ideal way to mold, bacteria or fungi (which can all smell bad) culture. A spilled drink like coffee or a soft drink that was not cleaned carefully, you can paste the sheets together and promote mold growth. Dropping the book into the tub can cause total damage, whereas if you leave a book next to a damp wall can unknowingly cause gradually mold. Almost always storing the books can lead to mold odors. If you do not know if the book has been wet in the past, some telltale signs could be:

Sheets glued together, especially of the edges, but may be the entire sheet. Often many leaves are stick, leaving the other free movement.
Discoloration, such as brown or black mottled yellowish and the like.
This mold or mildew growing on the spine or cover of the book, especially if the book is old and the cover is made of something organic, such as leather or paper (not plastic).
Smells moldy or rancid (smell winery / wet basement).

2- Checks if damaged by cigarette smoke.

Another cause of a musty smell may be exposure to cigarette smoke. The books will be yellowish, may be stained (brown spots on the edges of the leaves and often within them, also known as “foxing”) and may have a stinky smell of smoke and musty, depending on how much time has passed since the book was exposed to smoke (which is so absorbent paper book can stink of cigarette smoke for years).

Method 2 
1- Look to take the book, you feel that is moist and damp or wet look grouped sheets, deal with this immediately. The longer you leave, the harder it is to fix it and probably will grow mold.

2- Place the book upright on a table. Damper blades carefully. If you can not separate the leaves with your fingers without breaking, use a letter opener and tweezers to separate more delicately.

3- Let it dry in a warm place free of moisture. Leave it for enough time to ensure that each blade is good and dry weather.

You could try the direct sunlight, if the book is not valuable, only useful. However, note that direct sunlight can discolor the book and could lead to disintegration, discoloration or perm leaves your old and valuable books. In most cases, heat but not direct sunlight is the best proposal.

Method 3

It is assumed that at this stage, you has already dried the book or just have a dry book and now you want to be free of odors that can be read again.

1- Try the cat litter.

It’ll need a large container such as a Rubbermaid bucket and a smaller container, and an absorbent, such as baking soda, cat litter, or coal.
Fill the largest halfway with kitty litter container.
Place the smelly books at the bottom of the smaller container. Place the container on the cat litter inside the larger container.
Leave the book lying on the absorber for a few days.
Check it out every few days. If the odor is gone, get the book or books and dust (a new brush would be ideal for dusting). If not, repeat until the book smells a lot better.
Store in a clean, dry place to prevent mold or become musty smell.
Charcoal briquettes or activated charcoal may be substituted for cat litter in the method described above. Just be careful not to put the book in direct contact with coal because it could stain black.

2- Try baking soda. place a cup of baking soda in a plastic box or container.

Place the book or books in (this method is ideal for more than one book) and seal tightly. Leave for 48 to 72 hours, then check. Repeat until the smell is gone.
Another suggestion if you live in a sunny and dry heat: Sprinkle baking soda between the pages, perhaps every 10 pages or less. Leave the book open in the sun for a few days in a row, turn pages frequently (get into it at night). Smell it to see if it has improved and continues until it smell better. This does not work with all the smells musty or moldy, may benefit only a few. (Be sure not to put the book exposed to rain or wind.) It is not recommended for valuable or rare books, or those which already have noticeably yellowed or brittle pages, because it can worsen the condition of the book.

3- Test paper between sheets.

Place a sheet of paper between every few pages of the book. Do not use old or valuable books, only the cheapest (the paper is acidic and can transfer the ink to the book).
Crease the paper balls and throw in a plastic covered container or a resealable bag.
Put the book and put the seal or cover.
Leave it for 3-5 days.
Delete whole newspaper. It is hoped that the book smells better. Do not let books wrapped in newspaper, as this may damage the book in the long term.


  • If the book is valuable, collectors, do not do anything before looking for a file or preservative restoration specialist books for professional advice or services.
  • Better safe than sorry! Local distribution of rare books are a good place to start.
  • Never put tape, glue, cleaning fluids or anything else that is not specifically recommended for the restoration of books, or might result in irreversible damage.
  • Avoid prolonged direct sunlight and other heat sources (radiators, metal storage sheds) and intense light sources (lamps for growing plants, halogen lights around bookshops). They can drastically accelerate the gradual damage to the acids themselves make the paper over time.
  • Heat and light colors also cause rubbing off the glue degrades, and other deterioration. A day or two will not cause any harm, but even a week at a table that receive direct sunlight most of the day is enough to significantly fade of many book covers, and intensify the smell of acidic moisture from an ancient book.
  • While excessive moisture can cause pollution problems, the leaves too dry of the oldest books can break more easily. Do not store the books in a dry environment too long. The freeze, which has a drying effect, is another enemy of books. If your books should be in a storage unit, make an interior temperature control of the base.
  • Bleach and most any type of domestic or industrial cleaners can damage and even destroy the books.
  • When using cat litter as an absorbent, do not fill the container too, since you do not want dust to seep into the back or binding of the book you’re trying. As a side note on the cat litter, keep sandboxes away from bookstores, as cats can drag the dirty sand on and in the nearby books, and the smell of dirty sand can seep into the role of your books over time and will be hard to dispel.

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