How to Clean Dusty Books Easy Tips

feather dusting being used to dust a set of books

Do you have shelves full of dusty old books that you don’t know what to do with? They’ve been sitting neglected in your attic or on bookshelves for years, and now they’re covered in dust!

Cleaning dusty books is easy, provided you follow some basic rules. Follow these simple steps and your old books will look refreshed and dust-free in no time!

Bringing old, dusty books back to life can be easy and rewarding. However, if you are unsure about how to clean an antique book, especially if it is valuable, it is always wise to consult an expert in book preservation.

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You can bring those old, dusty books back to life by cleaning them properly! Here’s how.

How Often Should I Clean My Books?

how often should you dust books

How often you clean your books depends on the amount of dust you see building up on the outside edges of books. Some geographical locations are just more dusty than others. For example, hot, desert environments are dustier compared to areas with high rainfall. Also, if you have HEPA filters in your air conditioning or heating systems, they will significantly reduce the amount of dust floating around your home.

I would recommend a light dusting once a week, followed by a thorough dusting every 3–6 months. By thorough, I mean taking out all your books and cleaning each one individually, before replacing them back onto a cleaned shelf.

Related: Ways to Control Dust in Your Home.

What Equipment Do I Need to Clean Books?

It is unlikely you will need to buy specialized equipment to dust your books. Just look around your home before you commit to buying specialized products.

However, you do need to make sure that whatever equipment you do use will not damage your books.

Mask

If you are dealing with very dusty books, I would recommend you wear a suitable dust mask, that is rated for dust protection, for example, an N95 mask.

Absorene Book Cleaner

Absorene Book and Document Cleaner

This product is appropriate for books that are heavily soiled. A thick layer of dust, for example, may be found on books kept in an attic or garage for years. Trying to rub thick dust off with a duster will just make the situation worse.

Absorene book cleaner is a putty-like substance used to clean dust from books. It is made of clay and comes in a bar or cake form. It is non-toxic and can be used on all paper surfaces.

To remove dust, apply the putty in one direction carefully, without rubbing. The dust will be gently removed as it is absorbed by the putty.

Microfibre Feather Duster

Microfiber Feather Duster, Microfiber Hand Duster Washable Microfibre Cleaning Tool Extendable Dusters for Cleaning Office, Car, Computer, Air Condition, Washable Duster

This is one of the most popular types of dusters for cleaning books and other surfaces. The filaments are very fine and will not damage your books.

The microfiber cloth will capture dusty particles using electrostatic forces, preventing dust from being shifted around your home and settling elsewhere.

Traditional Feather Duster

picture of a feather duster that is suitable for dusting book

A traditional real feather duster is not as good as a microfibre feather duster, but can still be used to clean books, providing you are gentle and do not press too hard. As a result, they are ideal for weekly light dusting.

Lambswool Duster

A soft and gentle lambswool duster is perfect for weekly dusting. Just run the dry lambswool duster gently over the edges of your books.

Soft Brush Makeup or Paint Brush

soft makeup brush being used to dust the outer edge of a book

A soft brush gently swept along the spine and pages of a book can be very effective in removing dust. A very clean and dry makeup brush or a soft paintbrush is ideal for this.

Small Vacuum Cleaners or Attachments

Brigii Mini Vacuum, Air Duster and Hand Pump 3 in 1, Small Cordless Handheld Vacuum, USB Rechargeable, Easy to Clean Desktop, Keyboard, Drawer, Car Interior and Other Crevices, Small Spaces -Y120 Pro

If you have a high-quality HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner with dusting tools, it will effectively remove any dust that has settled on your books.

It is recommended, however, that you use the soft brush attachment on your cleaner, especially if it has powerful suction, which may damage the pages of your book.

soft brusher vacuum cleaner attachement

Run the vacuum cleaner brush tool along the outside edges of the books, letting only the brush part of the attachment touch the books, not the plastic end of the nozzle.

You can buy small vacuum cleaners that are ideal for dusting around the home. Again, just make sure the vacuum cleaner head is soft so it won’t damage your books.

Weekly Dusting Schedule

As a general rule, lightly dust along the top edges of your books, and the shelves they are sitting on. I would use a good quality clean feather duster for this or a microfiber duster for delicate items like this one from amazon.com.

Don’t be tempted to run a damp cloth or other types of duster over the tops of your books. This will just cause the dust to be rubbed into the edges of the paper pages, leaving permanent marks.

Conclusion

If you have shelves full of dusty old books that you don’t know what to do with? They’ve been sitting neglected in your attic or on bookshelves for years, and now they’re covered in dust. This is a great way to preserve your memories while also keeping your old books in good condition! With the right tools and a little bit of patience, you can have your old books looking like new in no time.

FAQ

Q: Can I use a vacuum cleaner to clean my books?

A: It is recommended that you use a soft brush attachment on any hoover, especially if it has powerful suction, which may damage the pages of your book.

You can buy smaller vacuums that are ideal for dusting around the home. Again, just make sure the vacuum head is soft so it won’t damage your books.

Q: What’s the best way to remove dust from between the pages of a book?

A: I recommend trying Absorene book cleaner, which is a non-toxic, safe, and gentle dust remover. Just gently rub over the affected areas where it will lift off the dust on the paper surface.

Q: I don’t have time to dust my books every week. What should I do?

A: If you can’t dust your books every week, try to at least dust them once a month. This will help to keep them in good condition and prevent any permanent damage from being done.

Q: Can I use compressed gas to dust books?

A: No, this is not recommended because compressed air can cause damage. Also, the dust is just blown away to settle elsewhere in your home.

Further Reading

How to clean dusty books