Cleaning mildew from books and bookshelves

The best way to deal with mildew is by preventing it. Use improved ventilation and dehumidifiers to reduce the causes of mildew appearance. Usually mildew appears in bathrooms, kitchens and basements but they can also appear on books.

Tool and Materials Needed

  • Blotting paper or paper towels
  • Towels
  • Hair Dryer
  • Heavy items such as a brick
  • Old Cloth
  • Fine Brush
  • Hydrogen Peroxide or Denatured alcohol
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Peroxide Bleach or Lemon Juice
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Scrub


Before you store books or place them on bookshelves, be sure that they are fully dry. Place blotting paper or paper towels between each page. Then place the books on top of each other. They need to be pressed to eliminate every trace of moisture. Let the books stay like this for 30-40 minutes and then replace the blotting paper. Repeat the step 2 or 3 times to make sure that they are fully dried.

Another thing that you can do is place the book upright so that the pages can be separated. Then take a hairdryer and blow-dry the book. Keep the hairdryer at a distance of 6-8 inches from the book.

To prevent warping, the books need to be pressed with the help of another book or brick.

After the book has been dried, dust the excess mildew and dust.

Now it’s time to apply some hydrogen peroxide or denatured alcohol to the book. Use a lint-free cloth. After this use a paper towel to remove the excess liquid. Be sure to fully dry the book.

For mildew stains you can also use dilute peroxide bleach or lemon juice. Fully dry the book afterwards. If you have used lemon juice, you can dry the book in the sun.


Always use gloves and a protective mask to avoid respiratory problems that may be caused by cleaners and also by mildew. Use a mild alkali solution like washing soda or trisodium phosphate. You may also use disinfectants. Apply the solution and scrub the bookshelves. Use clean water to clean the wood and then use paper towels to fully dry them.


You can place a small box of baking soda between some of the books. This will absorb any moisture and prevent mildew from growing.

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