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Topic: Book smells like mildew - Can I get the smell out?

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Subject: Book smells like mildew - Can I get the smell out?
Date Posted: 3/12/2009 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2009
Posts: 53
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I received a book that smells very heavily of mildew. (book had several problems that violated the PBS standards)  The sender refused to return my credit so I am stuck with this book.  My question - Is there anyway I can get the mildew smell out so I can read it?  Right now I have it in a ziploc bag which I am sure will not help get the smell out but I am  at a loss as to how to get the smell out.  Even if I get the smell out it is not repostable so I am hoping to get some use out of it before tossing it.

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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Being in the bag by itself won't help.    You might try some activated charcoal or some cat litter in the bag with the book.   I've had good success with getting smoke out using crumpled newspapers in a bag with a book.  Good luck

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 5:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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I don't think that you can get the smell out without using something that might cause a bigger odor problem.  Some people recommend putting the book in a ziplock with a dryer sheet but I think that just makes the problem worse.

As you say, I hope you are at least able to read it before getting rid of it!

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2009
Posts: 53
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I will try the newspaper trick and see if that works.  Thanks for the suggestion.

I dont think the dryer sheet would work for me as I am extremely sensitve to perfumes.

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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I would also recommend that you keep the book in the bag and away from other books (preferably outside during "treatment").  My botanist hubby says that if the book smells like mildew, it has mold in it, and spores could spread from the book to ... all sorts of places you don't want it.

Some folks, in addition to kitty litter (the old, cheap clay kind, not the clumping kind) or activated carbon like Cozi suggests, have also sprinkled baking soda between the pages and sealed it, then brushed the powder out.  I've not tried any of the above; just what I've read.

If you have significant allergies, it might be more trouble than it is worth -- you might want to just toss the book outside in the trash, rather than risk a respiratory problem.

Also, be sure and go back and mark that transaction accordingly -- either that it wasn't resolved by the sender or the sender didn't respond, whatever is appropriate.



Date Posted: 3/12/2009 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 6,394
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I have a number of books in a ziploc bag with one of those baking soda boxes that you use in the fridge after peeling off the cardboard sides for air flow through.  I haven't tested yet to see if the books are better - they have been in there for a week - but I figured it works for the fridge and avoids the mess.

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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I have had good success with getting the smoke smell out of books by tearing up newsprint and sticking the pieces into the book in several places and leaving it there for a day or so. I even kept reading the book while I had newsprint sticking out of it in 30 or so places.

I don't know if that would work on mildew or not - if it is just the smell (and not actually mildew) it might, but I don't think it will remove mildew.

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 11:24 PM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2008
Posts: 110
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You can try putting the book in a frost free freezer for a few of days.  It won't kill the mold spores, but it should get rid of the smell long enough for you to read the book.

Last Edited on: 3/12/09 11:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 3/13/2009 3:53 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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Moisture will make the smell and the mold worse.  Newspaper, baking soda, charcoal, and the freezer are all ways to make the book drier.  But the mildew will still be there.  Just not able to reproduce.