Damp Books… Help!

I have something of an urgent call for help for all of you book lovers out there, so do please read on and recommend away as you know how much it means especially in a state of a small but worrying bookish emergency.

As you may know I have moved to a temporary residence oop north whilst I see what’s going on with my health and find a flat in the centre of town that’s ‘just right’, which could of course be looking for the impossible but never mind that for now, I digressed and there are much more important things need addressing on the blog today.  So while I am in temporary residence some of my stuff is in the house and my acre sized bedroom and some of it is in the garage. Like most of you every now and again you sort out a TBR for the bedside table of books which have been floating in your subconscious ‘must be read soon’ and I was sorting that very thing out and realised some of the books were in the garage, and so off I went.

What greeted me left me with a slight chill and dampened brow as it seems that the lovely boxes which I thought looked ever so nice to hide the hundreds of books in Mount TBR aren’t fairing so well in the garage. This of course is understandable as I have had them nigh on three years and they aren’t plastic or wood (some kind of thick cardboard with a nice pattern as you can see from the picture to your left) and they have also done a rather vigorous move a fair few hundred miles, in fact one went missing but we don’t like to talk about that. Sadly in the garage they aren’t doing a very good job of protecting and my lovely beautiful books are getting slightly damp with some covers curling and some pages getting that rather wavey look.   

So in order to stop the palpitations and vexation that I am currently going through, and that horrid feeling where you get busy forget about it and then suddenly remember again, I wondered if you could help.

What I would like to know first is if these books will need drying out or if because they aren’t soggy they will dry ok? Second I wondered what you all use to store your books safe and sound if they cant be on shelves or by the bedside? Third where did you get your storage from, where can you recommend? Thanks in advance.


Filed under Book Thoughts

12 responses to “Damp Books… Help!

  1. I recommend putting some cat litter on trays in the the boxes – it helps absorb any damp and keeps my books nice and dry when stored in my garage.

  2. kimbofo

    Oh no, Simon!! Nothing worse than damp books.

    I have mine stored in big plastic boxes — you can get them at Homebase for about £10. They are stackable and keep everything nice and dry. Plus you can simply look through the box to see what’s inside rather than opening everything up.


    We have a storage room associated with our flat, and it is piled high with DOZENS of these boxes, keeping everything from computer equipment to clothes in them and we’ve never had a problem with the damp geting in. The storage room (and our flat for that matter) is very damp, so I would highly recommend this type of box.

  3. Jackie got in there first with the cat litter recommendation. It is first in the bookseller’s armory for fending off damp and also neutalises musty smells though you need to immerse the books in cat litter for that.

    Switch to plastic boxes as suggested by kimbofo. Dry the books thoroughly before putting them into the plastic boxes (airing cupboard?) and add a bit of the cat litter.

    Books don’t do well stacked on their sides though (they can end up with their spines cocked) so box storage is always last resort – only do it if you are desperate to keep the books and really have nowhere else.

  4. Oh Simon! This happened to me when I was storing books at my mum’s. Whatever you do, don’t dry them on the radiator – bad move. What worked for me was waiting until the books were completely dry, then stacking them all on the floor with a heavy weight on top for a week or so to flatten out the wrinkled pages. Now I store all my books in those clicky topped plastic boxes that Kim recommended and they’re safe and sound in my mum’s attic. It is AWFUL when that happens though – mine got all damp when a pipe leaked and I was so upset because I thought they were ruined! But they’re fine now.

  5. Bet

    I recommend plastic boxes, too. My oldest dd and her husband live in a tiny house with a slightly damp basement. She has to store some of her books in plastic boxes and so far, so good.

  6. A de-humdifier! Don’t know if they’re called the same there, but it’s basically a machine that pulls water out of the air. You just have to empty the container once in a while.

    In addition to the other things mentioned, I’d highly recommend you use a de-humdifier in any room with books. I use one in my basement, because I have the same issue with covers curling. It helps quite a lot.


  7. Carol Wong

    I once dropped a book that I loved in a full bathtub! My books that cannot be stored in my small book cases are now all in a walkin closet. The plastic box sound fine. That is what my son has his stored in.

    Carol Wong

  8. Ti

    I store mine in plastic, tub like boxes that seal. I know that some people use silica gel dessicant, which you can usually buy easily. It’s a substance that absorbs moisture, sort of like the cat litter would. You know how those tiny little packets are often in shoe boxes, etc? This is just on a larger scale.

  9. novelinsights

    Oh no! Is this the reason for your Ikea trip? I don’t think I can add much to the useful tips here, but I would definitely invest in plastic boxes – they’re usually a little bit pricy but you can use them over and over and at least it’s peace of mind. I have the same thing as you know with half my stuff distributed around various places including an attic and a shed. THe very same boxes as you have recently fell apart in the attic and I went a bit frantic. Now my precious things are sealed up in plastic safe and sound.

  10. Plastic boxes I had to throw a load that got damp at my last house so learnt lesson

  11. I’d second all the comments recommending laying them out (after they dry) with a weight on top to flatten the pages, and also storing them in a plastic tub. I did read somewhere that you can buy those little silicon packets (you know, the “DO NOT EAT THIS” packets that come in shoeboxes and the like?), and the article recommended putting them behind books on shelves to prevent damp books. I bet it would work in plastic bins, too. Good luck!

  12. Giulio catinella

    Ordinary cardboard wine cartons have been my saviour for safe storage of books just rember to seal top efficiently

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