1. Donna Pooley April 26, 2016 @ 7:59 am Reply

    I’ve found the best solution for removing ink from book pages is a Venus 605B Typ-E-Rase Eraser. It can still remove the print from the page if not careful, but it is great for erasing ink between the print and in the margins as it can be sharpened to a point. Unfortunately, this item is becoming difficult to find.

    • John Ison John Ison July 24, 2016 @ 8:24 am Reply


      Thanks for your suggestion. You are correct that these erasers are difficult to find though I did locate a limited number on Amazon.


  2. Ashley June 23, 2016 @ 2:17 pm Reply

    I have a grease stain on my hardback, how can I clean it off?

    • John Ison John Ison July 24, 2016 @ 7:52 am Reply

      That’s a tough one since there’s a very good chance that you will remove some of the color from the cover along with the grease. I would suggest that you place some paper towel on the stain and weight it down for a few days. That may draw some of the grease out. If the stain is still objectionable, you could try gently working some diluted dishwashing liquid into the stained area. Since that could remove some of the color from the cover you might just be trading one problem for another. You should test for colorfastness in an inconspicuous place first. Along the bottom edge or inside the book where a bit of cover cloth is exposed would be good.
      I checked on line and found other suggestions like rubbing alcohol and auto brake cleaner but I’ve never tried them and they sound risky to me as there seems to be a good chance of further marring the cover.


  3. ashley September 4, 2016 @ 12:56 am Reply

    my book was bent and it left a mark how can I fix it

    • John Ison John Ison September 8, 2016 @ 3:47 pm Reply

      Hi Ashley,
      Can you give me more information? Was this a paperback or hard cover book? Was only the cover bent or did the entire book somehow get bowed? Was the mark you mentioned a line from folding or something else.

      Please let me know and I’ll see if I can help.


  4. Donna Hiestand September 20, 2016 @ 2:22 pm Reply

    I have a book that has a few blood spots at the bottom of a couple of pages from a nose bleed. Could you please tell me if there is something I can use to remove the spots. It was a new book.

    • John Ison John Ison September 28, 2016 @ 3:35 pm Reply


      Removing dried blood can be tricky so I’ve cribbed some information from the WikiHow website and copied it below. Since hydrogen peroxide can be strongly acidic, I recommend that you apply a small amount of baking soda to both sides of the pages after the hydrogen peroxide dries to help prevent future staining from the acid.

      Hope this helps …

      Erasing Blood Stains
      Soak up as much blood as possible with a clean, dry cotton ball or a paper towel. If the stain is not your own blood, exercise caution and use gloves for this and all subsequent steps. Some bloodborne pathogens can remain infectious for days outside the body. Dispose of all soiled cleaning supplies with care.

      Moisten a cotton ball with cold water and carefully dab at the stain just enough to wet the area. If possible, chill the water in a bowl with ice cubes. Never use warm or hot water to clean blood! If you do, the heat may set the stain and make it permanent.

      Mop up the moistened stain with a dry cotton ball. Carefully dab the area until dry. Tamp gently up and down. Do not dab at a dry stain, as that may damage the paper.

      Repeat steps 2-3 until blood fails to come off the paper onto the cotton ball. This will likely need to be done a few times. If the stain was fresh, this may be all that’s necessary to remove the stain. If the stain persists, go on to the next step.

      Buy 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Repeat steps 2-3 using hydrogen peroxide instead of water. Repeat as necessary. Do not be tempted to use bleach on a blood stain! Bleach can break down the proteins found in blood, leaving behind an unsightly yellow mark.

  5. Kathy December 4, 2016 @ 1:46 pm Reply

    Hi John ,
    I was happy to find your link. Perhaps you have a solution for me. I have an older hardback book with some water stain. The binding is the web/cloth type. I am using it for a project. I am going to use fabric paint to renew the binding. I need to clean it first. Do you think alcohol, nail polish remover, peroxide or vinegar would be good to use? I read in my research that alcohol may work. Thank you in advance.

    • John Ison John Ison December 12, 2016 @ 11:05 am Reply


      I think your research is correct in that rubbing alcohol is the best as you are mainly interested in removing any oils that may cause your paint to not adhere well. Rubbing alcohol is only mildly acidic with a pH of 5.5. Both hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are much more acidic and could potentially cause long-term damage to the binding.

      Just apply a bit of the alcohol to a clean cloth and gently rub the cover to remove any oils.


  6. Matt December 11, 2016 @ 2:49 pm Reply

    I spilled paint on my book. I don’t know what type it is, and it has dyed the page. Any advise?

  7. John Ison John Ison December 12, 2016 @ 11:15 am Reply


    I’m sorry to say that I think you’re out of luck if the paint has caused extensive damage to the book. If it was some type of watercolor paint you may be able to blot some off with a damp cloth so the print is visible but if it’s an opaque paint there’s nothing I can think of that would help. If the book is important to you consider checking around for a used copy as a replacement.

    Good luck,


  8. Claudia Person January 2, 2017 @ 12:02 am Reply

    Dear Mr. Ison,

    I hope you can help me. I bought a set of Lord Randolph Churchill, 1906, sight unseen and I am trying to find out the cause of the vertical edges having what appears to be little tears?? or cuts?? or?? No signs of insect or anything of that nature. The boards are fine, the last half of the pages of these books have uncut edges, I can send pictures if that is possible.

    Thank you,
    Claudia Person

    • John Ison John Ison January 10, 2017 @ 11:42 am Reply


      Thanks for sending the photos. They made it much easier to determine the cause of the edge damage to your books and I think we’re dealing with two related problems: acidic paper and loose bindings.

      A bit of background on acidic paper: Before the mid-19th century book paper was made from primarily cotton stock but manufacturers switched to wood-based stock because it was easier and cheaper to obtain. The manufacturing process allows acidic lignin from the wood to remain in the paper and books printed on that stock invariably become discolored and brittle as the acid destroys the paper. After pressure from librarians and others, manufactures began adding buffering agents to book paper in the early 1980s and life of books was greatly lengthened.

      The books you are dealing with were published around 1906 and the photos show edge damage caused by brittle paper being broken due to normal handling. As a reader would turn a page, the weakened paper would simply break due to lack of flexibility. There is nothing you can do to reverse the damage.

      I also suspect that the bindings on your books have become loose over time and that has allowed some sections of pages to protrude more than others which has resulted in some groups of pages showing much more damage than others.

      I’m sorry I don’t have better news about your books, but to extend their life as much as possible, you will need to limit handling and be as gentle as possible with them.


  9. Sheral February 16, 2017 @ 12:47 am Reply

    How to get rid of cooking oil from books

  10. John Ison John Ison February 16, 2017 @ 2:13 pm Reply

    Hi Sheral,

    Good question — but not one with a sure-fire answer. My best suggestion would be to follow a procedure similar to what is outlined in this post for removing crayon markings. That is, place paper towel on each side of the page with the oil and warm it a bit with an iron. It’s likely that the oil has moved into multiple pages so you’ll need to interleave the towel between all affected pages. You can probably safely warm several pages at once to speed things along a bit. Keep moving all sheets to fresh areas as each becomes soaked with the oil and eventually you should get all you can.

    The pages will still show the oil spots but at least you will have stopped further damage.

    Good luck,


  11. Steve Oliver March 27, 2017 @ 5:02 pm Reply

    Greetings John,

    I have a hardback book/manual that has a name printed in black marker on the inside pasted down portion of the front flyleaf. To add, the flyleaf is a yellow-orange in color. Is there any hope for removal?

    Steve O.

    • John Ison John Ison March 31, 2017 @ 7:28 am Reply


      Pelikan (pelikan.com) produces an ink eradicator that could possibly remove the marker. Without testing it’s not possible to say if that would also remove the color from the paper. If your objective is to remove the name without regard to whether or not the yellow-orange is changed you might give it a try.

      Other than that, I think removal is not possible and you might simply obliterate the name with a marker or cover it with an opaque tape.


  12. Jane May 8, 2017 @ 12:31 am Reply

    Hello I bought a used book that had pen markings on the bottom of the book. Not on the pages but if you close the book and stand it up there were lines drawn from front cover to back in ink. Would the nail polish work in this situation or maybe something else? Thank you for your help.

    • John Ison John Ison June 27, 2017 @ 11:24 am Reply

      Hi Jane,

      First I must apologize for this response being so tardy. Somehow our system overlooked your question until now.

      Your best option for removing the ink marks is to use a fine sandpaper as mentioned in this blog post. Lay the book flat at the edge of a table so you can open both covers without damaging the book—the text block would be flat on the table. Wrap the sandpaper around a small wood block or similar item and firmly stroke along the edge of the text block. Unless the ink has penetrated deeply into the paper this will eliminate the marks.

      I don’t recommend using any sort of eradicator or nail polish remover as you risk either damaging the paper or moving the stain deeper into the pages.


  13. Vickie Estler June 9, 2017 @ 8:34 pm Reply

    I recently purchased an 1893 book in Nuremberg in its original box. Upon purchase and when showing the book to several friends arriving home in S. Fl, no residue came off. I just gave it to my son in Raleigh and when he took the book out of its box, his hands were covered in thick black residue. I took a paper towel and gently wiped over the outside cover and the paper towel was solid black! How can we treat the book or clean the cover to prevent this from happening? Thank you.

    • John Ison John Ison June 12, 2017 @ 11:08 am Reply

      No doubt the mold spores were present on the book cover when you bought it but the book had probably been stored in a dry environment. When you book was handled in the South Florida humidity and then re-sealed in the box those spores had the moisture they needed to start growing.

      Mold on books is a serious problem as it can easily spread to other organic surfaces as well as cause health issues so please leave it closed in the box until you are ready to treat it properly. I’m not expert in this area but have located some very helpful information from Cornel University at https://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/librarypreservation/mee/management/mold.html

      If you prefer not to deal with this on your own you can go to the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works at http://www.conservation-us.org where you will find a locator for book conservators in your area.

      You should deal with this as quickly as possible as the type of mold you describe can cause serious damage to the book cover.

      Thanks for contacting us,

  14. Kayla June 16, 2017 @ 11:37 am Reply

    My son spilled pediasure on a very important book of mine ? its a paper cover. Pediasure has a very thick consistency, as if a mix between milk and syrup. It smells very bad. Please help me!

  15. John Ison John Ison June 21, 2017 @ 6:14 am Reply


    PediaSure is a mix of milk, vegetable oils, soy, and nearly 50 more ingredients so cleaning and deodorizing your book may prove to be impossible. I’ve outlined some options you can try but in the end you may find that you have to replace the book.

    Since the next two options will damage the cover you might first try placing the book outside on some sunny days and see if the sunlight will dry the PediaSure to eliminate the stickiness and odor. The stain will remain but at least the book will be useable.

    If sunlight doesn’t work and the product is only on the cover and hasn’t stuck the pages together try spraying window cleaner on the cover and blotting or gently wiping after it has had time to soak. Be sure to place a piece of wax paper under the cover so moisture from the cleaner doesn’t penetrate into the contents of the book. Whether or not this is effective in removing the PediaSure you will need to dry the cover after you finish working on it. Place 2-3 layers of paper towel under the cover and on top of it to absorb the moisture and place the book under weight while it drys to help flatten the cover. Please be aware that the cleaner will likely damage the cover and stain from the PediaSure will remain but the objective is to remove the goo.

    If the odor remains, try placing the book in a paper bag with baking soda for several days. Gently shake the bag to be sure the soda is distributed over the book. Clean the soda off with a vacuum cleaner when you take the book out of the bag.

    Another approach would be to fully encase the cover with a wide clear tape such as Demco Economy Book Tape (http://www.demco.com/products/Library-Supplies/Tape/Transparent-Book-Tape/Demco-reg-Economy-Book-Tape/_/A-B00172807&ALL0000&es=20170621054838079315).

    Applying the tape to both sides of the cover will eliminate the stickiness and trap the odor. Just be sure the cover is completely dry before you apply the tape so mold doesn’t grow under the tape.

    I’m sorry not to have a sure-fire cure but let me know what you try and how it works out.


  16. Liz June 22, 2017 @ 3:38 pm Reply

    I have some bibles that were stored in a box and a Florida palmetto bug got stuck in the box and “sprayed or pooped” on the end of the pages. Is there anything that will remove this disgusting brown stain? The books are otherwise in great shape. I tried some fine sandpaper, but it is only working on the light stain. I appreciate your help. Thanks.

  17. John Ison John Ison June 27, 2017 @ 11:03 am Reply


    Using fine sandpaper is an effective way to clean surface stains from the page edges but can’t help with stains that have penetrated further into the paper. I know of nothing that will remove the stain if, when you open the book, you see that the stain has moved into the page so you can see it when you view the flat surface of the paper.

    I suggest that you sand the page edges to get rid of as much of the surface stain as possible and think of the deeper stain as a reminder to make sure stored books are well protected. Please do not try chemical stain removers such as bleach solutions as these are very likely to cause structural damage to the paper.


  18. Vickie Deal August 3, 2017 @ 9:40 am Reply

    I have a family Bible my mother received in 1972. It was a white cover (I don’t think true leather) but it has yellowed and darkened through the years. Is there anyway to remove the yellowing and restore the cover without damaging it?? Thank you for any suggestions you may have.

    • John Ison John Ison August 19, 2017 @ 4:40 pm Reply

      Without knowing for certain what the cover is made of I can’t hazard a guess as to what might restore the whiteness. You could try contacting the publisher to see if they can provide information regarding the cover material although it’s a long-shot on a book so old.

      Frankly though, regardless of whether it’s genuine leather, some sort of manufactured leather, or another material it’s unlikely that you can whiten it without risking damage. You might take it to a book restorer if you can locate one nearby so they can examine it to determine if restoration is possible.

      Otherwise look upon the yellowing as a sign of it gaining character with age.

      Sorry I don’t have an easy answer for you,

  19. Sunanda August 12, 2017 @ 8:41 pm Reply

    Hi sir just help me to remove correction pen whitening marks from paper.my son unknowingly applied on important paper.if the written farmet under whitener applied place vanishes also OK .we have to remove that whitner part from paper .without damage..help me with ur sugession

    • John Ison John Ison August 19, 2017 @ 5:20 pm Reply

      I have been researching your question for some time and have not found a certain solution. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone with this problem as many others are searching for a solution.

      Be aware that correction fluids from various manufacturers may behave differently. It would be best for you to check the website of the company that produced the specific product in question to see if suggestions are available there.

      If that doesn’t work out you may wish to try some of the remedies I located through my searches. I have tried none of these so can’t vouch for results. Since there does not seem to be one can’t-miss solution here are the most commonly suggested remedies I have found with those most frequently offered listed first:

      1. Gently bend the paper backwards–perhaps around your fingertip–and scrape the correction marks off with the edge of a coin.

      2. If #1 doesn’t work use the edge of a knife blade in place of the coin. Be very careful not to cut the paper–or your finger.

      3. Heat the stain with a hair dryer to soften the fluid and flake it off.

      4. Some people claim to have had success dampening the marks with rubbing alcohol and then flaking them off as in #1, above. Perhaps this loosens the chemicals in the fluid–I don’t know. Be very careful not to tear the dampened paper.

      5. While holding the paper bent backwards as in #1, use a very fine sandpaper to remove the marks. (I feel it’s likely this would also affect the print under the correction but you indicate that is acceptable.) Do not do this long enough to wear a hole in the paper.

      Perhaps other readers can offer additional suggestions.


  20. Sunanda August 20, 2017 @ 5:55 am Reply

    Thank u sir I applied mild acetone with ear buds and left it for a night.then slowly started rubbing on it. By using blunt end of spoon now I can able to see the writing partially .still the mist of correction pen remains….thanks for prompt response .hope so u will suggest right solution one day.thank u so much sir

  21. Fizza August 27, 2017 @ 2:16 am Reply

    Hi sir
    My book pages got bent. I pressed the book under a heavy object which made the pages fine but there are marks of bending on the pages.Also i have ball pen marks on the book how can i solve these problems?I cant buy the book again as it is very expensive and i have to use it for next three years

  22. John Ison John Ison August 30, 2017 @ 7:57 am Reply


    You have done all you can to correct the damage form the pages being bent. When paper is creased sharply the fibers in that paper are broken and will always show marks from the creasing. Be aware that the paper is now weakened along those marks and may easily tear if handled roughly. If tearing does occur you can refer to the June, 2015 blog post “Book Repair ASAP“.

    Regarding the ball point pen marks, it’s not likely that you can remove them. While there are ink eradicators available, they usually do not work well on ball point inks and, if the marks cover any print in the book, they may well remove that print also.

    Since you mention using this book for the next three years I assume that it belongs to you and the cosmetic damage you are concerned about shouldn’t affect your ability to use it so my advice is to just ignore the creases and marks.

    I’m sorry I can’t offer any magic cures here.


  23. esperanza September 14, 2017 @ 11:06 pm Reply

    i have a wall map 6ft by 6ft that is from 1930 that i stored in garage.it seems to have gotten moisture or possibly oil stain,cant really differentiate,as paper is a brownish color.its a map of San fFancisco,and i really want to recondition this map if possible.will using dish soap or whatever chemical you recommend ruin the ink on map/ ty esperanza

    • John Ison John Ison September 20, 2017 @ 5:04 pm Reply

      Please don’t use anything containing water on the map as that would most assuredly ruin the paper. There is nothing you can do that will remove the discoloration from the map.

      Since your map was printed in the 1930s it is very likely printed on paper with a high level of acids. Over time these acids will cause the fibers in the paper to break down and will react with oxygen and pollutants to turn the paper brown. While there is no way to reverse the damage and discoloration, products are available to neutralize acid remaining in the paper to prevent further deterioration. I am familiar with Bookkeeper Deacidification Spray which is available from Gaylord Archival (part of the Demco family of companies). This is a link to that product:

      You may wish to contact a customer service representative at Gaylord Archival to review instructions for this product and determine how much you might need for your map.

      If you continue to store your map please keep it rolled in a protective sleeve. Acid-damaged paper becomes brittle and will break along fold lines if folded repeatedly. If you wish to display the map you may be able to locate someone near you who can laminate or dry mount it to provide protection from further damage.

  24. Marsha September 21, 2017 @ 11:54 am Reply

    How can I clean the cover of a set of Encyclopedias that have a brown
    Stain from being exposed to cigarette smoke for years?

  25. John Ison John Ison September 25, 2017 @ 11:04 am Reply

    You didn’t mention what the covers are made out of so I’ll hit various possibilities here.

    If you are dealing with either cloth or paper covers the processes described in the last paragraph of this post are the best I know of. If the covers are leather your best approach is to use a quality leather cleaner and conditioner. An excellent product for this purpose is Triple Crown Leather Preservative which is available from Gaylord Archival (part of the Demco family of companies). This is a link to that product:

    The edges of the pages are probably also discolored by the smoke so please note the easy way to remedy that as also described in this post.

    Thanks for your interest,


  26. Wendy Major October 13, 2017 @ 2:50 pm Reply

    Our law library is getting a facelift and the book covers need to be cleaned. What is the best product to use?

    • John Ison John Ison October 22, 2017 @ 6:16 pm Reply

      Please refer to the section in this post headed “General Cleaning of Covers and Page Edges”. The information there is the best I have available but I would like to add that dry cleaning sponges are also effective on cloth covers and leave no residue.

      Please feel free to contact me again if the information in this post does not work well with your specific books.


  27. Leann Coffman October 17, 2017 @ 7:28 am Reply


    My daughter put nail polish on a paperback book set of mine. How can I safely remove the nail polish without ruining the cover?

    • John Ison John Ison October 22, 2017 @ 6:00 pm Reply


      I don’t think you can successfully remove nail polish from paper. Any type of remover will likely be even more effective on the ink than the nail polish so you will simply cause more damage to your books. Replacing the books or living with the damage are the only options I am aware of.



  28. Richard Frias October 17, 2017 @ 7:32 am Reply

    what is the use of vinegar solution in ink stain?

    • John Ison John Ison October 22, 2017 @ 6:06 pm Reply

      Many people say that an overnight soaking of cloth with ink stains in a mixture of two parts milk and one part vinegar will remove the stain. Obviously that option isn’t available if you are dealing with in stains on paper. I’m not aware of any method of removing ink from paper that uses vinegar.


  29. Harry October 19, 2017 @ 3:44 pm Reply

    Hi John,
    I’ve received an art book with nice glossy pages except for two which were stuck together somehow. I’ve managed to peel them apart carefully but there are tiny specs of glue on the two pages which give the pages a varnish feel. Do have any advice for getting the adhesive off without further damaging the pages.
    Thank you for your time.

    • John Ison John Ison October 22, 2017 @ 6:27 pm Reply

      Since only two pages were stuck together it seems likely that something was spilled on one of them and then the book was closed. What you are feeling is either residue from the spill or some of the coating that was used to gloss the pages. If you can live with this I think it’s best not to attempt to remove the specs.

      If, however, you do want to try to remove the specs you could insert a sheet of paper towel that is only slightly dampened between the pages. Slip a sheet of waxed paper on the opposite side of both pages so no moisture can migrate to adjoining pages or you’ll wind up with more stuck together. Close the book for several minutes so the damp towel can soften the specks and you might be able to brush them off. Be sure to leave the book open until the pages dry completely. It’s possible they will wrinkle slightly so you may need to iron them.

      I can’t guarantee this procedure will work for you so, again, your best option may be to just do nothing.


  30. David October 23, 2017 @ 10:49 am Reply

    I just received a paperback book from Amazon that has a gross, rubbery feeling texture on the cover. Aside from the unpleasant tactile experience, it seems to collect microscopic grit. I’ve tried scrubbing a spot on the back with a few different substances such as alcohol. So far, nothing works. Any suggestions? I could put a paper cover on the book, but I really enjoy the graphics on the cover, and I dislike paper covers. Is there anything you know of that will eliminate that weird feel? Anything I could spray on it that wouldn’t crack or peel? Any way to neutralize it? I know this all may sound like much ado about nothing, but reading an actual book that one holds in one’s hand is a great pleasure and the rubbery feel puts a huge dent in my enjoyment.

    • John Ison John Ison October 29, 2017 @ 9:47 am Reply


      Since we have no idea what is on the cover my first thought is to return it to Amazon and hope a replacement copy arrives without the same rubbery feel on the cover.

      If you don’t want to go to the trouble of returning the book I can’t say whether cleaning it with a book cleaner as described at the end of this post would help but you might consider applying a clear laminate over the cover. There are many types of laminates available as described in the following blog post:


      Rather than order a pack of covers since you’re dealing with only one book you might visit your public library to see if they would sell (or give) you a suitable laminate.


  31. Aja November 15, 2017 @ 7:51 pm Reply

    Hello, mineral spirit was waisted on my Bible what method can I use to remove it and the smell? Thank you

    • John Ison John Ison December 30, 2017 @ 1:36 pm Reply

      I’m truly sorry about the lengthy delay in responding. Demco has been making some upgrades to the information system and the blog was off line for an extended time.

      I’m afraid there is little you can do to remedy the situation as I know of nothing that would remove the mineral spirits since the oils have no doubt permeated the paper. You might have some success in decreasing the odor if you place the bible in a sealed container with activated charcoal. The charcoal should, over time, absorb some of the odor. Try placing the charcoal in a cloth bag that will let air pass but will contain the charcoal particles. You don’t want to get the charcoal on the bible!

      Good luck,


  32. Kaiden November 23, 2017 @ 1:51 am Reply

    Hello, I had gum in the bottom of my bag and my book was in there too. The book scraped against the gum and the colors from the wrapper made marks on the bottom of the book that I don’t know how to get off. Is there anything that I can do to get it off or make it less noticeable? If it helps, the colors are pink and blue.

    • John Ison John Ison December 30, 2017 @ 1:53 pm Reply


      I’m truly sorry about the lengthy delay in responding. Demco has been making some upgrades to the information system and the blog was off line for an extended time.

      If the marks are on the edges of the pages you can use a piece of fine sandpaper to remove them. (See the description in the General Cleaning section of this blog.)

      If the marks are on the edges of the cover try using a small amount of dishwashing detergent in water on a cloth to scrub the area but be sure not to get the cover very wet. If that doesn’t work Demco Book Cleaner (product number WS16789100) probably will. Again, see the last section of this blog post for more information.


  33. Rita Hester February 21, 2018 @ 1:48 pm Reply

    For removing oil stains from cloth or paper, I have used some sort of powder (talc, baking soda, baking powder, corn starch, very fine flour, etc.). Place it on the item and rub in lightly. Allow it to sit for a while to soak up the oil. Occasionally stir the powder and rub in again to refresh dry powder to the area involved. It should have soaked all it can within 12-24 hours. Then brush off the powder into the trash. Sometimes a second treatment can be tried, but most of what will come out does so with the first treatment.

  34. Sheila May 24, 2018 @ 8:33 am Reply

    Hi John,
    Newer, glossy books and pages: Where does that odor come from?
    The odor drives me a little batty not knowing what is making it. Is it the gloss on the paper, or the ink, or something else? There is no sign of mold or mildew, and I usually find the scent coming from children’s science books, hardcover and paperback, from our local libraries. The current books in question were published/printed in the early 1990s. Any ideas of chemical names?
    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    • John Ison John Ison May 30, 2018 @ 6:52 am Reply


      Book paper is treated with a large number of chemicals in the manufacturing process. More chemicals are added when books are printed and bound. All of these chemicals combine to give books their distinctive odor and as those chemicals break down that odor can change. Traditionally, a white clay called kaolin has been used to gloss paper but numerous other substances can also be used. Such coatings must be bound to the paper using any one of a number of binders such as latex or starch based chemicals. Each of those will add to the cocktail of odors coming from any given book.

      It is impossible to say what is causing the odor you ask about but since it seems to be limited to glossy pages from 20-30 years ago it is likely that you are sensitive to some chemical being released from either the glossing agent or the binder as it ages.


  35. Alivia May 30, 2018 @ 4:24 pm Reply

    Red Oil Pastels melted in my bookbag and got all over my Civics textbook. It’s all over the bottom of each page edge crease at the bottom of the book. Please help! What do I do? please is there away to get this out or at least some out without damaging the book any further?

    • John Ison John Ison June 10, 2018 @ 11:57 am Reply


      If the color is only on the bottom edges of the pages you should be able to remove it using a fine sandpaper. Open the covers so the sandpaper doesn’t damage their edges and gently use the sandpaper along the bottom edge of the text block until the color is gone. If the oil has soaked into the paper away from the edges there is probably nothing you can do to remove it, though.

      If there is also color on the bottom edges of the covers, try using a little rubbing alcohol on a cloth to remove that.


  36. Emily May 30, 2018 @ 7:52 pm Reply

    Hi, I bought a used math book and the prior owner put in plastic paper clips along the long edge. The pages are creased. I have the book under heavy weight right now to see if that reduces the creasing. Any other ideas? Thanks!

  37. John Ison John Ison June 10, 2018 @ 12:07 pm Reply


    The weight may have helped but if the creasing is still objectionable you might try using a warm iron to remove them. You will need to treat each creased page individually. Place the creased edge on a piece of clean white paper on a solid surface. Put another piece of paper on top of the page and press that with a warm iron. If the creases are still objectionable to you try using a TINY bit of steam from the iron. Do that on one page only and check that the moisture hasn’t caused the paper to crinkle. If it has, don’t use the steam on the remaining pages.


  38. Everett T. August 6, 2018 @ 8:24 am Reply

    Just curious if anyone knows how to repair cleaning agent damage of books. I have an extremely rare book. That took some damage during move. I had it stored in a tote with a jug of green soap. The soap was closed tightly, but managed to get a hole and leaked. The soap is now on the bottom of the pages of the book. All pages are soaked at bottom. They are wavy. If anyone knows how to repair this, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie August 9, 2018 @ 8:52 am Reply

      Here’s what John had to say:

      I have searched for methods to remove soap or detergent from book paper but am unable to find anything that might help with your problem. Extensive rinsing with clear water could conceivably remove the soap, but you would be left with a soggy book to deal with. Most likely the book is ruined, and any monetary value, if it was truly a rare book, is gone.

      Sorry not to have better news, but perhaps someone reading this post will offer a solution.


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