How to Remove Mildew Odor From Paper

Store books and paper in a well-ventilated, dry area.
Store books and paper in a well-ventilated, dry area. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A damp, musty odor usually indicates mildew, which grows on any organic material, such as wood, fabric or paper. Before you attempt to remove the odor, remove the source of the mildew by sealing all leaks. Reduce the humidity in your home by running fans or use a dehumidifier. When mildew infests books and paper, it is often difficult to remove entirely because you can't safely wash most books or paper. Discard severely damaged materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Carpet freshener or baking soda
  • Deactivated charcoal
  • Cookie sheet

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Take mildew-infested books and papers outside and shake them to remove mold spores. Run the nozzle attachment of the vacuum lightly over them to remove mildew.

Sprinkle baking soda or carpet freshener on the papers and lay them out to dry. Leave them for at least 24 hours.

Fill a cookie sheet with deactivated charcoal, found at hardware and appliance stores, if the odor remains. Place the paper on the deactivated charcoal. Wait at least three days for the charcoal to absorb any lingering odors.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store paper and books in a dry, ventilated location or in sealed boxes.


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