I buy a lot of my books at second-hand stores and charity fund-raisers and am also given many through friends and family. Every now and then my husband will buy a book or magazine, usually something to do with computers (he’s an Apple nut) or CB radios. Recently he got a very well-preserved 1978 hardcover catalog from  Radio Shack. It’s rare as the hardcovers were for use in stores only.







It’s in great shape, has great pictures, and the colors inside are still crisp. There are no tears or rips.




There is however a problem. It smells. Bad. Really Bad!




I’ve come across several smelly books before. Some are just smelly but some (like this one) is damp as well.  A few years ago I found a few different things that worked for me for eliminating smells and or dampness.




This is for damp, smelly books:  Get 2 plastic containers (1 large, the other small enough to fit inside the large one with at least 1 inch of air between the 2), the smaller container need to be big enough to hold the book with a little air around the edges of the book. You don’t need a lid for the smaller container. The second container needs to be bigger and have an airtight lid. Place a thin layer (one to 2 inches) of kitty litter on the bottom of the larger container. Place the book inside the smaller container, and then place them on top of the kitty litter. Put the air tight lid on the big container and leave for at least a week. The kitty litter will remove the moisture and it will also absorb the smell. I’m told rice works as well, but doesn’t do as well with the odor. You can sprinkle baking soda on the pages and leave it sitting in the sun, this will eliminate dampness and does help with the smell as well.




If the pages aren’t damp there are several ways you can remove odors. Use unscented dryer sheets, cut into strips, and place strips every 20 pages or so, put into a plastic bin or bag and let sit for 3 days minimum. No dryer sheets? You can use a thin layer of cornstarch lightly brushed on each separate page, let sit for 24 hours and brush it off. It works really well, but is very time-consuming.




If the odor is particularly bad you can use a product called Book Deodorizer, it’s used the same as kitty litter, can be used up to 6 months (depending on how many books you need to deodorize, and then can be composted as its biodegradable.




No matter what we do to protect our books, things sometimes happen anyway.  If you have solution for eliminating dampness or odors in books please share.