Home Care

DIY: Save Your Damaged Books

Maximize old books with the help of these tips


Books are often used as decor pieces at home. If you have tons of old copies lying around the house, you can either donate them or turn them into accents. Learn how to dry wet books, remove musty odor, and remove mildew with the help of these handy hints.

Keep these tricks in mind:

Drying wet books

  • Interleave the pages with paper towels and leave in until it’s dry. Do this as soon as possible as wet pages can cause molds.
  • Blot the pages with tissue paper and avoid rubbing.
  • Use a hair dryer to speed up the process. Place the book four inches away from the dryer.
  • After drying, the pages might be wrinkled. Place your book in between two wood boards or 5 heavy hardbound books. After a week or so, your pages will more or less return to its original state.

RL Tip: If the book is totally soaked, do not attempt to open it! Instead, place absorbent paper on the leaves and wait for it to dry.

Eradicating mildew

What is mildew? Mildew is a fungal growth that usually grows on organic materials such as paper and leather. Mold or mildew usually forms in areas that do not have much sunlight and ventilation.  

  • If you notice molds, transfer them to a drier area for proper ventilation. Make sure you wait for your books to dry before cleaning it to prevent smears.  
  • Use a soft-bristle paint brush or vacuum to remove the stains.

RL Tip: If you notice brown spots on the paper, the book is probably in the state of decay which is no longer repairable.

Removing odor

Do your books smell musty? Remove the odor by simply airing it out.

  • Place your open book in a sunny area with good air circulation.
  • Stand the book upright and fan out the pages, then leave it for a few hours. This process may take a couple of weeks before the odor is totally removed.

RL Tip: Interleave the pages with archival paper to absorb the bad odors.

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