How to Remove Mold from Books

There is hardly anything more terrifying and frustrating to those of us in love with books than to find them covered with mold or mildew. Mold spores feed on organic substances and paper is one substance they can really grow on with ease. The following tips will give you the tools you need to address the issue:

The first thing you will need to do is to assess the damage on the surface, such as the cover, edges and bindings and whether it has managed to through to the actual pages. If you only have mildew and mold on the exterior, you will have a chance to brush it off easily and end it right there, keeping it from reforming.

If mold has found its way into the book itself, then you will need to address the situation as soon as possible before the damage becomes too much. You can go about it in two ways, the first one being to place books in a bag and into the freezer for a single night. The extreme cold will kill most mold types and prevent them from spreading further. Once you removed the book you’ll be able to dust of the mildew. Wipe it down gently with a cloth and some rubbing alcohol or some sort of antiseptic that won’t damage the pages. Never use bleach or any other harsh chemicals unless you want to destroy it beyond repair.

Another method that may be used that poses a bigger risk however is to place it in the microwave for a few short seconds and no more than that. Microwaves may destroy the mold, but you should still follow the same procedures to clean the books as mentioned above.

In both cases you could be left with a musty smell left behind from the procedure. If you want to remove that persistent and annoying odor, then you will need to leave them outside for a while on a nice, hot sunny day. Make sure you never keep it out overnight, since condensation could jumpstart the growth of mildew. Sunlight can hinder and eliminate mold spores with ease, making it a very effective counter to their spread.

If you want to keep it away from your books, then you need to keep a few things in mind. Mildew thrives in natural fibers, binding glue and paper, so this makes books a good environment to thrive in under the right circumstances. It thrives under temperatures ranging between the 77-86°F, so you must make sure you keep them away from musty areas during the hot summer months. Always make sure they are exposed to fresh and and far away from moisture. High humidity is the number one reason for mold and mildew, so a dehumidifier can help alleviate the problem before its too late.

You can also inhibit mold and mildew by the use of desiccants, such as silica gel and alumina which work great at absorbing moisture. You can place them in a closet with your books and they will get the job done. Chromium chloride can also work well, so you can place some granules on a screen so they can catch the moisture.

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3 thoughts on “How to Remove Mold from Books

  1. Coming from the dry desert, I’m never had to deal with mold on books. It sounds like the worst. I’d hate to have my favorite books tainted by the stuff. I thought the tip of freezing the book was really good, I wouldn’t have thought of that. I would probably pick that way over the microwave way. Thanks for the info.

  2. Great Idea with putting the book in the freezer, but if you are dealing with a virulent mold, dry ice will kill the rest of the mold spectrum. It usually isn’t hard to find dry-ice. It works well and won’t hurt the book as long as you don’t have the dry-ice touch the pages, just have the books put in a cooler with the dry-ice next to it. I have done this before and I can tell you it works well.

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