How to Eliminate Mold and Mildew from Books

keep your books free from mold and mildewMy home office also serves as my library. My older books are still hanging out at my mother’s house. I don’t really have a reason for not moving them here, other than there is no real room for them, but now that I no longer have to share the office I am all about trying to make it more like a ‘study’ rather than a home office. Just seems to have a nicer ‘college literature professor’ feel to it. Because we are hoping to be selling this house in 2015 and moving closer to the city and my husbands work, I don’t plan to put a lot of effort into this room other than paint the red walls. 

The red walls were not my idea. My husband has been into Captain America for 30 some years now. When I moved in, we shared the office up until last year when we had to demo our barns for a new one and he build a man cave out there. Thankful I now I have my own space (even though he still uses the closet and kiddo has her 3 storage totes of Lego’s in here) I am not thrilled by the red walls of screams. I say screams because that is how I feel every day when I have to spend time in here working.

I can’t wait to buy some paint and cover this mess up. Soon. And I can’t wait to share the makeover with you.

Right now I only have a few antique books hiding in those bookcases at my mother’s. Here at home I only have a handful and I store them in my China cabinet out of harms way. I recently acquired an 1914 book of Edgar Allan Poe works. While I’m thrilled, I had wondered how I was going to keep it safe and sound as I haven’t really taken into consideration how to properly take care of some of my older books other than using special gloves for older and much more valuable reads.

poe books nevermore lane

Many readers spend years filling their personal library. Dust, mold and mildew can easily destroy these wonderful possessions if not properly treated. By following these few simple steps you don’t have to worry about the risk of having to recycle your favorite book.

Some things you will need:  

  • Books
  • Lint free cloth
  • Flashlight
  • Cornstarch
  •  Chlorine bleach
  •  Old rag
  •  Bucket
  •  Spray bottle
  •  Hydrogen peroxide
  •  Warm water
  •  Vacuum cleaner
  •  Baking soda


1. Check the room for mold and mildew. Remove the books from the room and place them in a humidity controlled room making sure it is below 70%. For older books, those with leather covers, and those that are wet from the moisture, sprinkle cornstarch between the pages then wrap them in a lint free protective cloth available and fine bookstores. Once the room is clear of the books uses the flashlight to check all of the corners and shelves for signs of mold and mildew.

2. Patch the cracks and leaks. If mold or mildew has been discovered you will need to patch up sources of moisture. If the problem is poor ventilation, try using dehumidifiers or have an exhaust fan installed in the room.

3. Vacuum the area. Vacuum the mold on the affected area. If your vacuum has a cleaner brush attachment, use it. You can also use a soft scrub brush. Scrub the area to remove as much of the mold and mildew as possible. Vacuum these fragments.

4. Clean and sanitize the area. In a bucket mix ½ cup chlorine bleach with two gallons of water. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and spray on the affected area (not the book!)  Wipe with an old rag and rinse with fresh water. Allow to dry thoroughly.

5. Put the area back together. Once the affected area has finished drying, all books are clear of mildew and mold, the repairs made and humidity under control, it is time to bring the books back in. Those wrapped in protective cloths should stay that way to help eliminate mold and mildew in the future. You can brush out the cornstarch that was left between the pages.

For added benefit leave a box of baking soda or cornstarch open, but hidden to absorb moisture in the room.

Whats the oldest book in your collection?

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  1. I don’t really read and my husband mostly reads off of his Kindle these days, but he does have some old books down in the basement. I wonder if they are moldy. Hmmm….

  2. I have one or two very old books and I guess I better check them out-they have been in a bookcase for years now! I think my mom has a couple of expensive older books-I will tell her about this as well.

    1. I’ve had some great books get ruined by moisture damage. This was long before Pinterest. I would be upset if most of my older books got ruined but I could always re-purpose them into great crafts and such.

  3. I have a ton of old books that I’ve acquired at my job. I work in alumni relations. The oldest book I have is from 1912. These are GREAT tips!

  4. This is interesting as mold can truly be damaging to one’s health. You’ve made me think about our antique books in a very different light!

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