How to Make Old Books Smell Good

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Things You'll Need

  • Plastic zip bag

  • Old newspaper

  • Baking soda

  • Cotton ball

  • Vanilla extract

Old books can become musty-smelling and absorb odors from their surroundings.

Paper is a highly absorbent material. Cookbooks left out in the open absorb food odors and books that are exposed to cigarette smoke pick up the stale smell. Old books have time to collect a variety of odors which may make them unappealing to read. While removing old stains from books can be difficult, odor-removal is more easily accomplished. Supplies readily found in the home make effective odor absorbers, saving you the cost of commercial fresheners.


Step 1

Place one book in a plastic zip bag large enough to accommodate the book, with extra space leftover. Open the book to the middle so the pages are exposed.

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Step 2

Newspaper absorbs odors.

Crumple up old newspaper and place it in the plastic zip bag with the smelly book. Seal the bag and let the newspaper absorb the smells overnight. The next day, remove the old paper and replace with fresh newspaper, allowing the book to sit for another 24 hours.

Step 3

Remove the newspaper from the plastic zip bag. If any offensive odor remains, sprinkle baking soda over the book's pages and seal the book in another plastic zip bag. Allow the baking soda to absorb the offensive smell overnight.

Step 4

Add a good smell to your old book with vanilla extract. Remove the book from the plastic zip bag and brush baking soda off, into the trash can. Place your book in another zip bag with a cotton ball that has two drops of vanilla extract on it.


Step 5

Vanilla is an odor remover and freshener.

Close the zip bag and let the vanilla get rid of any remaining odor and add a pleasant fragrance. Allow your book to absorb the vanilla scent for a few hours.


Substitute clay-based cat litter to absorb odors from old books.

Fresh air helps remove smells from books. Leave your book outside, in a place safe from weather conditions, and allow it to air out for a few hours.

Put a couple dryer sheets in a plastic bag with your book to make it smell good.


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