De-smell my book?
February 3, 2010 7:01 PM   Subscribe

I got this book from the library that I have been waiting months to read. Problem is that it reeks of cigarettes with every page turn. I can barely keep it within five feet of me. Which makes reading near impossible. Any way I can destinkify it so I can enjoy it?
posted by beautifulcheese to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
 
Leave it open in the night for a while. Preferably if it's windy outside.
Whatever you do, don't put more scents on it. I've learned my lesson.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:07 PM on February 3, 2010


Leave it in a small area near a bowl of white vinegar overnight.
posted by Aquaman at 7:10 PM on February 3, 2010


Febreze. And then put it in front of a low fan overnight.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:15 PM on February 3, 2010


I have a librarian in my family that works at Rice U, and she restores books. She tells me that any librarian worth their weight in salt knows how to do basic book maintenance. This might be one of those questions that you should call down to your local library to ask. HOPEFULLY they help you.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:17 PM on February 3, 2010


Put in a air-tight container with kitty litter or baking soda.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:19 PM on February 3, 2010


We had a very similar question posted recently.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 7:20 PM on February 3, 2010


Ask the library to fix it.
posted by thylacine at 7:26 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: PLEASE TELL THE LIBRARIAN! There's a good chance the book doesn't get opened during check in and check out so they probably didn't notice. And they need to know! Take it in and chat to them about it before DIY - not only do libraries prefer patrons not start their own fixit jobs but they need to know the extent of it so they can chat to the patron responsible. If they don't care, DIY is the way to go, but chat to them first.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:35 PM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've had something similar happen with popular DVDs that I've had on hold for months—the DVD finally coming in, but the disc being scratched to hell and unplayable. When that's happened, I've taken it right back, explained the problem and the librarians were happy to put me back on the hold-list but bump me to the front of the line (so I'd get the next playable copy that came in, since the disc I received being scratched was hardly my fault).

I can't stand that foul "soaked-in" reek of cigarette smoke* and would consider such a book, if not "unreadable", certainly unenjoyable. Take it back and ask if, instead, you can get the next clean copy that comes in.

*(a smell that would greet you with each turn of the page, would stink up your hands—and bedclothes if you read in bed)
posted by blueberry at 7:35 PM on February 3, 2010


seconding airtight tub of kitty litter and baking soda
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:36 PM on February 3, 2010


When that's happened, I've taken it right back, explained the problem and the librarians were happy to put me back on the hold-list but bump me to the front of the line (so I'd get the next playable copy that came in, since the disc I received being scratched was hardly my fault)

please do this & don't fool around with the book with household chemicals, IMHO. Let the library fix it.

Would you try to descratch a DVD from Blockbuster or Netflix?
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:43 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Please don't spray it with anything chemically. The librarians will very likely put you on the top of the hold list of you return the book, but yes, the other thread has advice on destinkifying books. If it's not horrible, just leave the pages fanned and let the book air out [not outside please] otherwise you can try the kitty litter approach but please be aware that if you bring a book back that smells like smoke and kitty litter/Febreze, you may be in for an explanation at the library. I'm sorry about your book. I do suggest you mention this to the library, I'm sure you're not the only patron who can't bear a stinky book.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Just take it back and tell them it stinks and you don't like it. Unless it's super-rare you could likely get an inter-library transfer of a less stinky copy.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:16 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Airtight container with baking soda seems like a fairly benign idea, but kitty litter? I'm not sure that returning a book that reeks of Tidy Cat is going to be appreciated by the next patron, any more than you appreciate it reeking of Marlboros. (Some people are outright allergic to perfumy stuff like that, too.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:17 PM on February 3, 2010


Response by poster: I guess I will take it back tomorrow and let them know. I just didn't want to bother anyone if I could make my way through it but it has given me a bad headache and I know kitty litter or any thing like febreeze would just make it worse.
posted by beautifulcheese at 8:38 PM on February 3, 2010


It's still somewhat debated, but I have to go with the scientific perspective that baking soda isn't very good at absorbing odours. Activated charcoal is good at this, and won't leave any other smells on the book.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:56 PM on February 3, 2010


Agree that you should involve a librarian in this case. But in a case where the book is yours, I had fantastic luck enclosing the book in a ziplock bag (or box) with a fabric softener sheet. We inherited my husband's grandma's extensive librar. She smoked for decades, and we successfully destinkified dozens of her smoky and otherwise old and musty books.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:12 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


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