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How to Remove Mold From Books

Books are an optimal place for mold growth as they can get damp easily, and then sit boxed for months at a time. Unfortunately though, because book pages are so thin and easily ruined, and because they can’t be put in the washing machine, it can be very difficult to get mold out of books.

Book Covers and Spines

If mold has grown on the spine of a book it may be much easier to salvage versus mold growth on the inside pages, etc. There are a few things you can do in this instance:

  • If the book is heavily molded,

1. Remove the book spine and outer covering so that only the pages remain. 2. Be sure to check and make sure there is no growth in the pages of the book as well. 3. Depending on how special the book is to you, make a paper bag outer covering or have it professionally re-spined and bound.

  • If the book is lightly molded,

1. Brush any topical mold off the spine or covering. 2. Dampen a sponge or washcloth with a detergent/bleach/water mixture and very lightly brush over the mold contaminated area. Be careful not to wet the book too much as this could cause worse mold growth in the future. 3. Set the book out in the sun to dry, as the sun can kill many types of mold spores. 4. Repeat the procedure as necessary.

Mold on the Pages of Books

What can you do about mold growth on the inside of a book? This is a more difficult task as the pages of books are so delicate. Follow the given steps below as a best effort to salvage your book:

  • Brush any topical mold off the pages.
  • Dampen a sponge or washcloth with a detergent/bleach/water mixture and very lightly brush over the mold contaminated areas. Be careful not to soak through the pages as they will dry and stick together permanently.
  • Open the books and set them in the sun to dry, as the sun can kill many types of mold spores. If the breeze is able to blow through the book it will help the pages to dry quicker as well.
  • Repeat the procedure as necessary.

Best Wishes as you battle the fight against mold and salvage your books!

Further Recommended Reading:

Joslyn from the MoldBlogger team

7 Responses to “How to Remove Mold From Books”

  1. There is new technology and products that will make mold removal even heavy mold removal from books very easy and effective.

    Recently a product has become available that produces chlorine dioxide gas in small controlled quantities. It kills mold and mold spores dead! And is available on the web at odorxit.com

  2. Direct Sunlight might take off the mold, but will definitely discolor the pages. The whites of the page will have a yellow tint to it. Sunlight also has an effect on the color of the pages

  3. This posting has a major error. Books should NOT be washed with water at all. Never add water to mold, or you will create more problems. Instead wash the cover and spine with ETHYL ALCOHOL, then put in a microwave oven for 20-30 seconds. Everyy mold spore, including the ones inside the pages, will be killed.

  4. How do I clean books that are being packed into boxes that will eventually go into a new place?

  5. theranova, can this be used on leather-bound books as well?

  6. I have 200-300 books that got varying degrees of wet in a storage location. They were stored for up to 3 years. Of course, some are a total loss. Many are damp and smell musty. Some are moldy on the edges but otherwise seem OK. I’m not very concerned about discoloration or stains on pages. These are not heirlooms or very valuable items but I’d hate to lose them all. Is there a way to mass-treat them to kill the mold and spores?

  7. Some notes from a book conservator, just hoping to avert any disasters.

    Bleach, while it kills mold, contains chlorine which forms an acid and will damage the paper. It will remain in the paper and continue to damage it over time. Conservators never use chlorine bleach on books. Sunlight is the best thing, even though it may cause some bleaching. If the paper turns dark in the sun, it’s probably because it contains acidic materials, stains, lignin … many times the paper or printing will fade. Test a relatively unimportant page to see before doing the whole book. Alcohol and water are very dangerous for leather and may cause it to blacken, so test in an inconspicuous place. And while some people have had success with microwaving books to kill mold, other have totally destroyed the books and even started fires. Depends on what the book is made of. I would only nuke a book if I was willing to throw it out otherwise.

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