Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Musty Bookplates

Last week I received a collection on approval and the paper smelled musty. I wanted to keep a few of the bookplates but not at the expense spreading the odor to other items in my collection.
Here is what I did. I put a tablespoon of Clorox in a quart of water and soaked the plates for an hour.Then I poured out the water and re soaked the plates in tap water several times.The plates were then dried between paper towels with a book on top of them to prevent curling. It worked reasonably well but I am sure there are better alternative methods. If you search Google you will find many Voodoo remedies from using Kitty Litter to anti -perspirants.

Here is a sampling of what I found. I am interested in hearing about remedies that you have tried, which worked for you.


"Have successfully removed very strong musty smell from a book by fanning pages & spraying with with a dry anti-perspirant deodorant spray. Needed repeating treatment after a few days, but is now completely pong-free. "

" To really get rid of the mold odor on books you have to get rid of the mold. Spraying any liquid on a book or paper is going to damage the surface. That is why you need to use a gas product. Unfortunately most of the gas products are very toxic, and corrosive.There is, however, a new product on the market that I have used that gets both mold and smoke odors out of books. Its called OdorXit CLO2 and it really works. The product is little packets with powder inside. When they are exposed to water vapor, they produce a gas called chlorine dioxide that actually kills the mold and the spores without harming the paper or leather cover.I stood the books with the pages fluffed in an old school locker with the vents covered and a 5 gram packet in the top on the shelf and a very small fan running on low. In 2 days, the mold odor was gone and it didn't come back. It really worked for me. "

"I would like to mention that some of these tips might work, but they will also damage the book. Newspaper is an acidic paper, and if it comes in contact with your book, it could speed up the deterioration process. I'm sure you've seen books that have very brittle/yellowish pages...this is because of the acid in the paper. Also, sunlight is very bad for books, since it activates the acid. Although many books are being published now on non-acidic paper, it is still necessary to be careful. :)I've found that the Kitty Litter technique works well, but make sure you use a smaller container inside a larger container, so that the kitty litter and the book do not touch.Basically, you don't want stuff touching your books...it can be very damaging to them. You may not notice right away, but there are many things like sunlight and acidic papers that can shorten the lifespan of a book.Hope this helps!"


"I often buy used paperbacks books at the library thrift store. To ensure that I don't pick up some unwanted contaminant, I microwave them. The government does this to foods imported to the US and kills living things including mold. "
( Remind me not to sell this guy a fire insurance policy)

" I was told to cut up a grapefruit and put the piece of fruit with the open book in a plastic bag. I never heard how long etc. but they swore that works. "

1/15/2009- This was sent to me by Richard Schimmelpfeng.
OK Lew, here is my response. After you soak the stuff in the clorox and resoak in water you should make a saturation of baking soda in water, say a quart of water add as much baking soda as the water will take without leaving residue in the bottom, and then soak the cleaned plates in this solution, which should neutralize the chlorine in the paper. Then you dry the plates. This is the important step, neutralizing the chlorine. Actually I use a teaspoon in a quart of water.



Sunday's posting will be about punning bookplates.

1 comment:

jgodsey said...

using chlorine on paper is a huge mistake. it injures the fibers and in a few years the paper will begin to breakdown abnormally.

You could have used many methods to deodorize paper which are NOT voodoo. and don't injure the fibres. applying any liquid is a mistake. Try an ultraviolet light. or putting the pages in an enclosed environment with fish tank charcoal or even buying Book Deodorizer which has a money back guarantee.

but NEVER used chlorine bleach.
Please search the archives of Conservation Online for the evidence of my concern.