Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Deep Freeze

One of the unfortunate results of being allergic to most of the world, which I have written about before, is that my allergies also include old books.

I love books in all their forms, but new books command my attention mostly because they do not make me sneeze or wheeze.

Old records in courthouses and ancient libraries fascinate me, but I cannot spend much time viewing them. I have even abandoned a major writing project because the library at University of Virginia overwhelmed me with mold and dust.

A dusty book in my house generally goes to the library as a donation. That means my shelves routinely have varying titles. Unless a book has special significance or is something I might use for research, it doesn't hang around here long.

Library books that have been in the inventory for a long time also gather dust and mold.

My book club this month is reading The Women's Room by Marilyn French. I thought I had a copy of the book here but I couldn't find it. So I requested one from the library in inter library loan, since my local branch did not have the book.

The book came in so musty that I could hardly stand to look at it, much less read it. The helpful library assistant offered to order me another from a different place.

When it arrived, it too was musty, but not as bad as the original. I brought it home three weeks ago.

I have not read it because it has been in a zip locked bag in my freezer covered in baking soda.

At some point I discovered that this will kill mold, provided the book is not too far gone to begin with. The trick is to leave it in the freezer a very long time.

Today I pulled the book out and vacuumed off the baking soda. I smelled the book.

No smell!

Now I will leave it out overnight; if the smell returns by morning, then I know this cure will not work for this book. If there is no smell, then I am in for some reading!


  1. Wow, I forgot about that book. I read it, and others like it (what were they?), when I first got married and it was in style to be a bored housewife who suddenly realized she had rights to her feelings and she could have the big O just like any man! No wonder why it's moldy--we've come a long way baby! lol

  2. Never heard of this tip...I had forgotten about this book. I remember that I loved it.

  3. Oh I hope that works for you. I can't imagine having to get rid of my books - they're like my friends. Isn't that library inter-loan system wonderful? I was able to do so much research by using that service. It saved me so much time and gas driving to Richmond.

  4. I know that a bowl of baking soda in a room can help get rid of a musty smell. I'm glad to learn of the baking soda-baggie method for getting mold off a book.

    Thanks for the tip.


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