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Topic: Mothballs

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Subject: Mothballs
Date Posted: 7/12/2011 5:27 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2008
Posts: 697
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Is there any way to get this smell out of books?

Thanks for any help you might be able to offer.


Date Posted: 7/12/2011 9:21 AM ET
Member Since: 10/1/2006
Posts: 846
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Hi Nancy,

You can probably use some of the same tricks that people recommend for books that smell like cigarette smoke. Some people swear by sealing the book in a ziploc with an open box of baking soda, one of those activated charcoal odor absorbers, cedar chips, kitty litter, the list goes on and on. If you Google "how to get the smoke smell out of books" you get a bunch of different ideas.

I think that airing out the smell works better. I stand the book on end, fan the pages apart and put the book in a dry place -- outside if possible, or near an open window. Sometimes it takes a week or more, but gradually the smell fades. 

Last Edited on: 7/12/11 9:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/12/2011 10:08 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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I agree with the airing out and also airing out in the sunshine works the best.

Date Posted: 7/12/2011 12:23 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Nancy, there are several older discussion threads with suggestions for removing odor from books.  Try a search using 'smoke' or 'odor'.

Date Posted: 7/12/2011 5:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 441
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Whatever you do, don't send it wrapped in a dryer sheet. I do have an RC about smoke or musty smells and the member I was dealing with was honest about her home having a smoker in it but said she very carefully airs them out and uses dryer sheets to help eliminate the odor so I did remove my RC and accepted her books. She had each book carefully wrapped with a dryer sheet and then in plastic. The dryer sheet left a gummy, grainy residue all over every book. I have to admit the smell was OK (although a bit strong as some dryer sheets are way over-perfumed) but I don't even like to hold the books to read them - even after trying to carefully wipe them down - they still feel grimy. I didn't say anything to the sender because she really was so nice about it all, but I would not recommend using that method to get rid of smells.

Date Posted: 7/12/2011 5:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,235
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I really am mystified about why people think that dryer sheets eliminate odor. Completely mystified. They add smell, not remove it.

Yes, please disregard anything that it might say in other forums about using dryer sheets to deodorize books.

I don't mind a smoky book myself, they will air out pretty decently, but dryer sheet ones go right in the trash, nothing will get rid of the dryer sheet odor (at least, that I've ever found).

Date Posted: 7/12/2011 10:59 PM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2008
Posts: 697
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Thanks Ladies for the suggestions.  I wasn't sure if mothballs and smoke would work the same way. We're expecting hot dry weather this week so I'll try airing them out.

Thanks again.


mistie -
Date Posted: 7/13/2011 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2007
Posts: 2,024
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Personally, I think that once something smells like mothballs - that's the end of it. I hate, just hate, that smell. To the OP, by all means, try the methods suggested here, but, be ruthless, and if they don't work, end that books miserable existence :-)

Last Edited on: 7/13/11 4:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/13/2011 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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I've received three books so far that smell like something--not smoke, not mothballs, not mold/mildew--I don't know what it is.  But I can't stand the smell of them.  I've tried airing them out for months and the smell remains.  I think I'm going to have to throw them away because I won't be able to read them.

Now, I've had very good luck with airing out books that smell like smoke.  Sometimes it takes a while, but if I leave them alone (usually set them someplace where I can fan out the pages) then come back to them in a month or two, I can't detect the smoke smell at all.

Nancy--good luck with your mothbally books!  And please post back if you have any success!