Alternative Ways to Clean Up Smelly Books

By Joe Waynick
July 20, 2013

In the previous article I discussed why baking soda was my favorite way to remove odors from inventory I purchase. It's one sure way to increase the value of old books when you accidentally find yourself with a problem.

There are a number of useful and somewhat unusual ways to tackle the problem. In this article, I'm going to share two additional techniques that may be more to your liking.

At the end you'll have three very useful techniques for removing undesirable odors from your books. Anyone of these techniques should serve you well.

Solid Air Fresheners

If for some reason you don't want to use baking soda as your active agent to remove that old book smell, try using one or two solid air fresheners.

You can usually find them on sale for a dollar or so at one of the big box stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or even Home Depot.

Removing offensive odors from books doesn't have to be difficult or messy.

Just as I explained before, you'll need a tall container like one of those over sized detergent buckets you buy at Costco. You still need a raised base so there's at least ½ inch of space between the bottom of the container and the base.

Just sit the air fresheners on the raised surface along with your book. The book should be standing upright the covers open and the pages fanned to allow maximum penetration of the scent from the freshener.

And make sure you select a natural or neutral scent or you'll only substitute on artificial odor for another that may be just as offensive to some people as cigarette smoke.

Kitty Litter

Still not happy? Then here's an unconventional technique; use kitty litter. I've never used it but other booksellers I know swear by it.

Cover the bottom of the container the same as you would if you were using baking soda.

With kitty litter, It's important that you make sure that none of the active agents used come into physical contact with the book. Different types of paper may react with the agent and may cause damage.

That's why it's critically important that the raised support platform has sufficient clearance between the bottom of the container, the top layer of chemical substance, and the bottom of the raised surface.

There should also be at least one quarter inch of space between the top layer of the chemical substance in the bottom of the raised surface as well.

The Smell of Books

Few serious bibliophiles dispute that the aroma of newly printed paper and ink found in a crisp new book greatly enhance the enjoyment of their reading.

Once that fresh new book smell wears off books should smell neutral.

Book odors that give off anything but the scent of printers ink and newly milled paper destroy the customer experience.

You can help readers capture some of that ambience even in used books by providing your customers with odor free products.

These are simple techniques you can use to neutralize the smell of old books in a manner that's not offensive to all but the most sensitive noses. Give one or more of them a try and let me know how well it works for you.

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Original Comment: August 4, 2013 Try Odor-B-Gone for BOOKS. It removes musty odors for booksellers & collectors. If your books have odors …

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