Dust is one of book’s biggest enemies, but dusting and wiping is far from everything that you can do for your books. To be honest, no matter how hard you may care for your books stains can happen at any given time and mould will develop with time, because paper is a natural material, susceptible to rot and decomposition. Mould is just one of ways rot manifests itself.
The easiest to clean is the scuff or dirt marks, which have dried. Much like with pencil lead, the way to remove these is through a simple eraser, preferably a heavy duty white one, rather than coloured ones. Cleaners Fitzrovia advise that the strokes you should make start from the stain and point in the direction of the page’s edge. This way you will ensure that the paper won’t tear and at the same time no particles from the rubber get stuck between the pages.
Oil-based stains need to be squeezed out from the paper. Cleaners Fleet Street suggest the following method: place an absorbent paper pad between the stained pages and stack something heavy on top of the book, so that all the pages are pressed together tightly. The method will force the grease into the absorbent pad. What you need to consider is that nothing can be done for stains caused by any sort of liquid.
Now that we have treated your books for stains, let’s see whether I can’t do something about smells and mould that may have developed over time. It’s only natural that a slight musty smell will waft from any book’s pages but it’s treatable. Baking soda is the magic solution. Sprinkle some baking soda in a small plastic bag, which can be sealed, and place the book inside. Then comes a prolonged waiting process of about two weeks, which is quite necessary as every book is an amalgam of pages and the baking soda needs time to absorb all these pages.
Should there be a problem other than the ones I mentioned, consult with a book doctor.