Why Mold Grows on Books
The pages of a book can often be vulnerable to the growth of mold if the conditions are right. Mold can grow just about anywhere as long as it has enough moisture, humidity and organic matter to feed on.
Pages are made from wood pulp and this is sufficient organic matter for mold to feed on. If there is enough moisture then it not only grows but thrives.
If you have a large stack of books in your home and you may feel like your bookshelf has moisture around it, then mold on the books is extremely susceptible.
If that is the case here are some pointers for you.
Why Should You Be Worried
Mold and mildew growing on books can weaken their structure over time. Books are something that falls in the category of collectibles and one wouldn’t want them to be ruined.
Furthermore, a lot of people have huge book collections and needless to say, these collections go a long way.
If your books are affected by mold growth then over time it will weaken their structure. The leather on the covers, the thread that stitches the pages and the pages themselves, are all basically organic in nature and they lose their strength over time.
How to Identify Mold on Books
If you have a big bookshelf with lots of books, it can be increasing time-consuming to look at each book and turn the pages to see if any has been affected by mold. However, there are ways to do that in just a fraction of the time.
First off, mold imparts a characteristic old book smell when it affects books. This smell can be identified and can further be used as an indicator of mold growth.
You can sort out the books that give off more of that smell and you will narrow down your search.
Furthermore, you can look around a bookshelf to tell whether mold might have affected the books or not. If your books are stored in a poorly ventilated basement and it gets humid down there, then there is a high chance for mold to be growing.
Moreover, if your bookshelf is one next to a wall and the wall seeps or has seeped water at some point then there are chances of mold growth.
Removing the Mold after Identification
Once you have sorted out which books have mold growing and which do not, you are in the final step. This is the part where you remove the mold. Now books are delicate things and you be rough with them. Mold growth on bathroom tiles can simply be scrubbed off but that on books cannot. However, there are simple ways to go about it and they have been explained below.
Step 1 (Remove the Mold Damaged Books From Your Collection)
The first step is to remove the mold damaged books from your collection. This step is absolutely necessary because anything that has mold growing on it can cause the mold to spread.
Rule out all those books that have even a little amount of mold growth and keep them away from the other collection unless the mold is removed.
Step 2 (Use Methylated Spirit)
Methylated spirit Is Also known as denatured alcohol, is the best source to remove mold from the cover or hardbacks of the book. Denatured alcohol does not ruin the structure of the book but lets you kill the mold. However, be very careful to avoid rubbing too hard and ruining the texture of the book.
When using denatured alcohol, use a soft cloth and be very gentle in the process.
Step 3 (Use an Air Dehumidifier)
Maintain the environment where you keep your books. If your books are in an attic or a basement that is poorly ventilated or has lots of moisture then you are doing it wrong. If your books are also stacked on a shelf on an outside wall of the house, then you are again doing it wrong.
Keep your books in a well-ventilated area and use fans to maintain aeration if needed. You may also need to maintain the humidity level inside the room when needed.
Use an air dehumidifier to maintain humidity level around 60%. It is important that this is set to 60% especially if your collection is an old or expensive one.
This is because too much moisture can cause mold growth whereas too little moisture can cause the paper to lose its texture and crack. In order to get the optimum out of the life of a book, humidity and moisture levels on the paper make a huge difference.
Step 4 (Lavender Essential Oil)
Use lavender essential oil as it is anti-fungal. You can use it by applying it on a piece of absorbent cloth and applying directly on the bookshelf. Although lavender essential oil is highly effective in this regard, you may use any other agent that you believe is effective.
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