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Topic: Any tips for getting odors out of books??

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Subject: Any tips for getting odors out of books??
Date Posted: 4/18/2011 1:25 AM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2011
Posts: 5,142
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I received a book the other day that reeked of moth balls and that "musky" smell.  I don't have RC, so I'm not looking to complain, I just want some tried and true suggestions for possibly getting rid of that smell!!  My TG gave me a few suggestions, like putting it in the freezer, or in a container with kitty litter. I tried the freezer thing, and it did seem to help, but I was worried about damaging the book with moisture so I didn't leave it in very long. Plus, I wasn't sure if you put it in a bag or what. ( I did)

 I'd to hear from you all out there and see if anyone has found a solution to the problem.  What has worked for you??

Thanks!

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 2:44 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Here's a link to an older thread that includes techniques for getting rid of book odors: What to do about strong perfume scent.

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 2:48 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,384
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I put mine in dark plastic with some baking soda.  I'll put that in the sun.  And shift or replace the baking soda every few days.

Basically, the goal is to dry the book out with an odor and moisture absorbing material.  Kitty litter, charcoal, baking soda, zeolite, even newspaper.  (The freezer is a method to freeze dry a book.)

You do not want the book to get too hot as that can hurt the glue. 

That said, some books I have given up on.  I'll never be able to read them.  Such as books where folks used fabric softener sheets.  Yuck.  Major migraine.

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 3:15 AM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2011
Posts: 5,142
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Thanks Deb and Emilly! 

Deb, the link really helped, and Emily, I think I will try your suggestion first and see how it goes! 

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 6:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 174
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Airing the book out helps a lot. Since I don't trust the weather, I'll just put books in the backseat of my car for a few days. And yes-odor absorption is key, though I put my books in paper bags for better breathing instead of plastic. I usually do baking soda, I hate the smell of kitty litter. You can make sachets with pantyhose & baking soda to put in. Also I've stored books with fabric softener sheets, adds lots of fragrance from the sheet while taking away the original bad odor, and then the fabric softener smells wears away to nothing. The freezer method is supposed to be good-using a plastic bag would trap in the moisture though. And I wouldn't leave it in longer than overnight.

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 6:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2011
Posts: 2,388
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I don't think it's right to post or send a book that someone else would have to go to such trouble to "fix".

Would that be a RWAP if received, according to posting guidlines?

Why should we have to have an RC for moth ball odor?

i ask because I'm new to PBS and want to play fair.

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,662
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Lori,

PBS does have rules against mold or mildew on books .... but the rule is for visible mold or mildew .... not necessarily smell.

There are no PBS rules around "smell". Smell is subjective ... what bothers one person won't bother someone else, not to mention that one person can believe that a book has a very noticable odor, while another person might not smell anything on the same book. 

So, the solution is that people who are bothered by smells add a RC to their account requesting that books not smell of smoke, etc (or whatever smell bothers them). And senders can then accept or reject the RC based on whether or not they believe the book has a "smell".

I think all books smell, so depending on how a RC is worded, I may or may not accept it.
I know others will not accept RCs if they believe that it is subjective, or they may believe that their sense of smell is not good, so they may reject any RC related to smell.

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/22/2011
Posts: 2,388
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Thanks Sara,

You can't legislate common sense, I guess. Who would think moth ball odor is OK....

Lori

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,384
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Some folks can't smell.  We can get glasses to help our sight.  Nothing fixes the nose.

Subject: Fabric softener sheets - no, please
Date Posted: 4/18/2011 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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I'm with Emily - the smell of fabric softener sheets doesn't really 'fade away' for me, and it gives me a headache and makes me sneeze. Perhaps this isn't all kinds, but some are too heavily perfumed. As far as I know, I have no other odor sensitivities so I don't have an RC for this.
Date Posted: 4/18/2011 4:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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I've got a couple of books now that I'm trying to air out.  I'm not sure what they smell like--it's not smoke, not moth balls or mildew--just a very powerful odor.  They came together, wrapped in the same package and as soon as I opened the package I thought "Ewwww"!   I've been leaving them outside on sunny days and this has helped quite a bit, I can now stand to open the books!  But, the smell is still there, so they have a ways to go before the odor is completely gone.  I think maybe I'll try the baking soda idea and the freezer idea.

But, I've gotta agree with Emily and Margaret--no fabric softener sheets!!  For some reason, I can't stand the scent of those!!  I don't even use them for laundry.   I'm pretty sensitive to any types of perfumey smells--always try to buy stuff like deordorant and laundry detergent in an unscented variety.  What is it with manufacturers that they always want to add some type of scent to everything they produce?!

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 5:25 PM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2011
Posts: 5,142
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I can tell you that the softener sheets are a bad idea............I tried it before potsing on here, because it was the only thing I could think of!  Trust me, it wasn't a good outcome!!  It didn't get rid of the smell, in fact, it just mingled with the other disgusting smells to make it worse!    : (   

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,249
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For my money, nothing beats plain old sunlight...let it sit where both sunlight and fresh air can get to it...it might take up to a week, but it will work! Just let it sit day after day in the sunlight (keep an eye on the weather) and it might might take a week but it will "deodorize:".

Date Posted: 4/18/2011 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
Posts: 1,996
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Deb linked to my question and this is what I ended up doing for the book in question:

I left the book outside over night (covered in plastic to protect against the dew) and the smell was gone the next day.  I would try leaving it outside until the smell goes away. 

Date Posted: 4/19/2011 1:37 AM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2011
Posts: 5,142
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Wow, thanks to everyone for all your suggestions! 

This has been my plan of attack so far:  I put some baking soda in a bag, crumpled a sheet of newspaper to lay the book on, and tied up the bag.  It does seem to be helping a little.  After reading more posts I took it a step further tonight....I put the bag outside on the deck!  I think tomorrow I will do what some of you suggested and just take the book out of the bag and put it outside for some nice fresh air! Try airing it out for awhile. Geez, do I sound desperate, or what? It's like Lori said, we shouldn't have to "fix" and go to so much trouble just to enjoy reading a book! 

 

Date Posted: 4/19/2011 6:30 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2008
Posts: 742
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I got a book once that smelled like cat urine and cat feces or an entire cat kennel. and when I opened the book it went straight in the garbage can OUTSIDE.Then months later I got one book that I had waited forever to get my hands on and it reeked of cigarette smoke. straight in the trash it went. I had used RC, but then after that no one would except my request and i ditched the RC's. If a book comes in with the musty smell from being at a flea market since the great depression I will put it in the freezer and sometimes the smell goes away and sometimes it doesn't. I have gone back to RC's now, but made it simple so maybe I could get my books accepted for request.again. If not then i'll get my book from Amazon or the PaperBackMarket. Its a shame when people will not accept a book due to RC's when the books shouldn't be mailed with stinch in the first place.  Thats just my opinon, but we know what they say about an opinon its like an ^%$&*(& everyone has one. 

Date Posted: 4/19/2011 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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"Then months later I got one book that I had waited forever to get my hands on and it reeked of cigarette smoke. straight in the trash it went."

Cyndi--

If you ever get a book that reeks of cigarette smoke again, I suggest letting it air out for quite a while rather than throwing it away.  I'm extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke, and have gotten a few books that really, really reeked of it.  I left them in a separate room for quite awhile (probably a month or more) away from all of my other books.  Every once in a while, when I happened to be walking by the smelly book, I'd fan the pages.  Finally, I couldn't detect any smoke odor any more.  I'm sure if I'd used some of the above suggestions it would have speeded up the process even more.  But I'm happy--and I have a huge TBR pile, so I could afford to be patient.

 

Date Posted: 4/19/2011 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2011
Posts: 5,142
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I would kind of like to do a RC for smoking because I am very sensitive and allergic, but I don't want to offend anyone.  I figure if maybe I can get one of these suggestions for odors to work, I could probably just deal with what (hopefully) few books might be a problem.  Plus, I don't want my requests declined like you all have talked about when ppl see a RC.  Hard to say what to do,

Cyndi, I was horrified by the condition of the book you described!  I mean, really, what could a person be thinking to actually mail out a book like that??  

Date Posted: 4/22/2011 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2011
Posts: 5,142
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Happy to report that the smell is almost completely gone away!!  Yay!  I guess with the combined efforts of the baking soda and airing it outside, it seems to have done the trick!  Thanks again everyone!