How to clean a book, soiled with fruit flesh (peach)?
August 7, 2012 3:56 AM   Subscribe

How can I clean this soiled book? The mess was caused by a ripe peach being mushed against the book.

This happened yesterday (~30hrs ago), and I didn't notice the mess until it had dried.

What you're looking at in the pictures is the dried juice/skin/flesh of a peach that got pressed/rubbed against my (new!) book.

No juice has spread 'into' the pages and the soiling is contained to the outer edge of the pages (the 'textblock'?). There is some very slight cockling/rippling of the pages on the affected area.

How can I clean this book to bring it back to its prior glory? Can I get rid of the cockling?

(I've looked at the Dartmouth Book Repair Manual, but am a total newbie and don't know which sections I should be looking at… or in what order.)
posted by fakelvis to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used to repair books. If the damage is just on the edge of the book, I would just take it to Kinko's and ask them to use their stack paper cutter to shave about 1/8" off the edge of the book to just remove the damage, as long as that doesn't cut into the print on the inside. But, such a small amount shouldn't.

To get rid of the rippling of the pages, you can try to just press it with a book press, if you have access to one. If not, just stack a bunch of heavy books, or even bricks, on top of it for a few days to see if that smooths it out a bit. You could also try ironing the affected pages on low heat, but I would try weighing it down first.
posted by foxinthesnow at 4:13 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas, foxinthesnow. Getting rid of the rippling seems easy… thanks.

Unfortunately I don't live anywhere near a Kinko's or similar… no stack paper cutter in sight. I'm currently in a small town in the Netherlands, so only household DIY items are at my disposal.

Would it be possible to remove the affected area using some light sandpaper (very carefully!), or is that an absurdly ridiculous suggestion?
posted by fakelvis at 4:59 AM on August 7, 2012

I have no idea if this would work but there is a Mr. Clean magic eraser that is a sponge but also a magically fine abrasive foam. I think it's like a really fine sandpaper. Try that!
posted by orangemacky at 6:29 AM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: fakelvis, the sandpaper is not a ridiculous idea at all, actually. The only hazard you run is making dips in the book edge. To prevent this, glue your sandpaper to a flat surface (like a piece of wood) to create a sanding block. Make sure you can clamp the book tightly so the edge of the book is as much like a solid piece as possible, using pieces of wood or cardboard around the book so you don't damage the covers with the clamps.

Use some fine sandpaper, and take frequent breaks so the pages don't heat up too much and melt together. If you have doubts about whether it's too hot, feel it with your finger. Be careful during the process and you should have few issues.
posted by clockbound at 6:53 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with clockbound that using sandpaper would work. Definitely not as fast, but you have to work with what you have!

If you have any printshops or book binderies near you, they would probably have a stack paper cutter and be able to help you out. A lot of museums and large libraries and universities have binderies on the premises, so if you have one of those institutions nearby, you might want to call. It would really only take them 30 seconds to make that cut, and I know that when I worked in a bindery, we were always happy to have visitors!
posted by foxinthesnow at 4:35 PM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all.

I've cleaned the gunky sides of the book using sandpaper: it was my only option, took a bit longer than expected, but worked well.

The book is now being pressed to (hopefully) remove the rippling.
posted by fakelvis at 11:19 PM on August 7, 2012

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