Some of our books are being returned drenched in cigarette smoke.  I ended up spraying them with Febreeze.  Does anyone have a solution to this problem?

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I always find this painful because of a terrible allergy both my associate and I have to cigarette smoke. We discovered that if we placed the books in a zip lock bag with a cotton ball lightly sented that it would help. I have never been successful with all the over the market sprays designed to take care of this. I think the best I found was Fabrize. Paper is such an absorbant material one must be careful not to overide one odor with another. We experimented a lot and are now able to keep the odor from getting into the neighboring books on the shelves. Best thing of course is for our patrons/customers not to smoke. LOL.
I am glad this is a topic of discussion. Many a good books are not brought into circulation because of orders (cigarette smoke, pet urine, etc). Some years ago, my family and I started a community library. Often, the donated books were saturated with cigarette smoke. Most, we were not able to use. Others, we painstakingly put in boxes with baking soda and left them there for several weeks. It helped but didn't eliminate the order entirely. I'm anxious to hear what others have done. I've attached a URL link to a web discussion on such remedies.

You might try putting the book(s) in a plastic box with an opened box of baking soda.


Martha Jo Dendinger

First Baptist Atlanta

You might try putting the book in a large bag, standing up with pages fanned out, with crumpled newspaper in the bag for several days. Heloise (syndicated household hists advisor) says newpaper absorbs odor. She usually recommends this for smelly ice chests. Charcoal is also known for absorbing odor, but not sure how that would work with bookpages - might leave coal marks. Maybe try the charcoal wrapped loosly in the crumpled newspaper? After using it, you can still bar-b-que with the coals, so it's cost nothing.

I would also track down the particular patrons who are returning them in this condition, and let them know as nicely as possible that the books are coming back this way, and it's creating a problem for the library and the next patrons who borrow the books. The smoker probably does not realize how bad it is; they often have very dulled sense of smell from smoking. An option would be to include a ziplock bag with the books the person is borrowing, and ask them to keep the books (zipped) inside the back while they aren't reading them. That will at  least prevent the books from absorbing odor while they're in the bag. It might help some.

It is a problem for us at times, too.  However, our main culprit is no longer able to visit the church library and she really needs to be reading Christian Literature.  Thank you for these wonderful suggestions for eliminating the odor.

I did a google search on removing cigarette odor, and the use of ozone seemed to be the most effective method. The cost of a commercial ozone generator is probably out range for a library. Using Google I did a search for build 03 generator and found several interesting articles  for building a generator for $20-$30. There are some electrical and chemical health hazards in such a project, but you might know someone that likes to tinker. You would need a confined place to treat books. One suggested use for ozone was to remove odors from automobiles, and that might work for books too.


I realize that the use of ozone is probably not practical, but I had fun using Google. Have you tried calling the reference desk at your public library?. 



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