The Book Lover’s Guide to Cleaning with Care's featured image

It’s a dilemma all bibliophiles face when torn between preserving the sanctity of each page and banishing the inevitable signs of wear and time. How does one keep a book clean? Of course, the obvious answer is to dust it. Using a soft, dry cloth, carefully brush off accumulated particles being sure to keep the book closed to prevent any dust from infiltrating the delicate pages.

Stubborn Stains and Smudges

Books can accumulate unknown marks and blemishes the origin of which are a mystery. But unlike a popular whodunnit, the who, what, when and where are incidental. The answer to this riddle is a humble white eraser. With a few gentle strokes across the offending spots, an eraser will remove pencil marks and light stains without compromising the book’s integrity.

Notorious Fingerprints

Overzealous page-turners can leave behind unwanted reminders on the pages of your books. Fear not! A touch of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball serves as a magical elixir. For lovers of Harry Potter, this is a trick even us muggles can perform. Using a blotting motion helps to dissolve these enduring marks, ensuring the book retains its unblemished allure.

Of course, it’s impossible to completely protect your books as the years pass and some may require a more refined touch. There are not a great many bookbinders in Canada working full-time and earning their entire income from bookbinding, but there are some. If you are looking for professional help the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild may be able to help. Email, include where you live so they can recommend someone in your area.

Helpful Tip

Not surprisingly, the best way to protect literary treasures is to keep them in a clean, dry environment, away from direct sunlight. And if you have kids, you may want to lock up your collector’s items.


Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash