How to Clean Hardback Books

Before cleaning a much-loved book, decide if it truly needs cleaning. A book should only experience the cleaning process if you are offering it a future by using the most effective, safest method possible. Cleaning could damage fragile bindings and paper, depending on the age of the book. Proper storage is important to reduce dirt and dust accumulation. If a hardback book seems too fragile for cleaning, it probably is. You decide a book's prognosis and treat the symptoms accordingly. Don't try to remove all surface dirt to make a book appear new. Various methods will help tackle book dirt.

Step 1

Wipe down the book with a lint-free tea towel, cut-up T-shirt or electrostatic cloth. These cloth types help you to remove lint and debris from the book, leaving the surface prepared for further cleaning. Refrain from using cloths containing cleaning substances, as these could harm hardback books.

Step 2

Brush the spine, edges and any stamping and embossing on the cover with gentle strokes from a small toothbrush to remove dirt and debris. Avoid using a used toothbrush for cleaning books and use only those with soft bristles.

Step 3

Rub an artgum eraser on smudges, pencil marks, crayon marks or other areas of dirt that can be gently rubbed away. Wear disposable gloves while using erasers. Blow or brush the eraser shavings out of the book with a small, soft toothbrush.

Step 4

Rub dirtier areas with the dry-cleaning soot sponge. The sponge is intended to use dry, as it wipes away markings on paper, some rings on book covers, soot, mold and pet hairs. Perfect for smoke-filled books, soot sponges are nongreasy and work well for delicate fabric book covers and paper.

Step 5

Dab a cloth into a book-cleaning gel and lightly work it over the area you intend to clean. Petroleum-based gels work best to reveal areas hidden by grime, dirt and film. Use book-cleaning gels on either paper or the hardback cover according to instructions on the jar.

Things You'll Need

  • Light-colored tea towels, cut-up T-shirts or electrostatic cloths
  • Small, soft toothbrush
  • Artgum eraser
  • Disposable gloves
  • Dry-cleaning soot sponge
  • Book-cleaning gel