Today when we talk about keeping your books clean, we're not talking about accounting or finance. No, we are talking about keeping your books clean—meaning: no dust, no must, no stains from that chocolate bar you were salivating over while paging through Crime and Punishment. Yeah, that kind of clean.
Books are one of the worse offenders when it comes to attracting dust, mold, mildew, book lice, silverfish, and all manner of stains and dirt. While you can never return them to spanky brand new status (and who would want to...I mean, part of the charm of having old books is bragging rights that you've read them), you can still prevent them from becoming an allergist's nightmare or a breeding ground for paper-drunk bugs.
To stop the growth of mildew, place a piece of wax paper underneath the page and use a fresh or slightly damp cloth to wipe away spots. Soaking wet cloths will simply provide a breeding ground for fungi, and could do permanent damage to the paper or board cover itself. Denatured alcohol and hydrogen peroxide applied gingerly to the mold spots with Q-tips or paper towels will kill the spores. Then follow that with sealing the book in a container with a moisture-drawing substance like activated charcoal, making sure none gets onto the book. Always wear a mask because inhaling mold and mildew is very bad for your health.
Dirt can be sucked away by vacuuming the spine and sides of the pages with the book firmly shut. Then take an unused toothbrush or paintbrush to sweep away dust and crumbs on each individual page. If that seems like it's going to take forever, just listen to a Russian novel.
If greasy thumbprints are smudged all over your cookbooks as evidence for the scene of the fried chicken, distributing paper towels or sprinkling cornstarch between the pages and weighting an object over the closed book will help squeeze the grease out.
Rubber dirt erasers and dry vulcanized rubber sponges can help get rid of stains, stray pencil marks, some smudges as well as mildew spores.
If you find book vampires, otherwise known as silverfish, book lice, and various kinds of beetles, immediately go through your entire collection. It's rare to find silverfish who decide to devour Kitchen Confidential but discriminate against the romance novel next-door. Bagging and freezing the books will kill the bugs, but if you have tens or hundreds of books in your collection (guilty) and your refrigerator is packed to the gills (I swear it's not my food), then the final resort is to go through each book and kill them, or maybe rent a meat freezer (I'm not sure that's actually an option). Make sure you sponge your shelves and attack them with an organic pesticide to deter repopulation.
PopUP CleanUP is a commercial and event cleaning company serving the Greater Los Angeles Area. Check out the rest of our website to find out more about us and how we can best serve your needs.