Every reader likes the smell and feel of a new book. Everything is great until you notice a pesky sticker on the book cover or accidentally get a stain on a page. The satisfying newness is lost, and it sadly becomes dusty from sitting on a bookshelf. As readers and book lovers, we need to do better by our books. Whether you plan to recycle or maintain your collection, readers should keep books in good condition to Let the Stories Live On.

Photo by vaibhav vivian on Unsplash
Removing Stickers and Residue

Hair Dryer Method:

Start peeling the sticker’s edge off while aiming your hair-dryer at the label. The heat softens the adhesive in the sticker making it easier to remove. Once it is warm, gently peel while maintaining the temperature. Of course, use caution not to burn your hand. The goal is to try to get it to come off in one piece. Go slow and be patient. If any residue remains, you can try Goo Gone to remove.

Rubbing Alcohol/ Nail Polish Remover/Goo Gone:

The cover’s material will need particular caution for this method. If the cover is matte, velvety, or soft touch, you may not get all of the stickiness removed. If it is a paper cover, don’t overuse liquids. Remove as much of the sticker as possible with the above treatment. Dip a cotton swab in either the Goo Gone, rubbing alcohol, or nail polish remover and rub the sticker away.

Removing Stains

When it comes to removing stains, speed is the name of the game. Stains can set in, making them difficult to remove if not tended to right away. No guarantees are made when using these techniques, but they are the best options. Use this guide to determine if the stains are water-based or an oil stain, which will guide the treatment.

Water-based stains include coffee, soda, juice, and tea stains. If allowed to dry, these beverages tend to dye the pages leaving a permanent tint. Bloodstains are water-based also, but need a slightly different process.

Oil or grease stains are generally more difficult to remove than water-based stains, as grease leaves behind bright oily spots in paper. It takes special care to prevent a permanent yellow stain on the page.

Water-Based Stains:

Since speed is essential, quickly get a towel or paper towel sponge up as much of the liquid as possible. Do not wipe but dab the liquid to avoid spreading it. Place a clean barrier between the soiled pages and the rest of the book. Spread the pages open, use a clean, slightly damp towel or cloth, and dab the stain. You’ll keep changing cloths and patting until no more color appears on the cloth. The final step involves using a mix of white vinegar and water, half a cup of each. Test on a small bit of text to make sure it doesn’t distort the text. Once you are sure it is safe, use a cotton ball or swab to dab it on the stain. Pat dry.

Cleaning Oil Stains:

Quickly blot the spill with paper towels. Oil spreads quickly, so work as fast as you can. (Wash your hands before moving to the next step.) Use folded paper towels, which are at least two sheets thick and broader than the actual stain. Lay the book (careful not to damage the spine) so only the corrupted page is open. Then place a paper towel on the top and underneath the page and stain. Carefully place a heavy object like another book on top of the paper towels.

Leave this sit a few days. If there is still oily residue, sprinkle baking soda over the stain and leave it 24 hours. Repeat these steps until you are satisfied with the results. If the book is an heirloom, you may want to seek professional help.

Cleaning Blood Stains:

Assuming the blood is yours (if it isn’t, use gloves to protect yourself), use dry cotton balls or pads to soak up as much blood as possible. Use iced cold water on a cotton ball to carefully dab the stain. Do not use warm water and only use enough water to dampen the area lightly. Keep mopping up the stain and adding just enough cold water until no more blood appears on the cotton. If the stain is persistent after repeating these steps several times, you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide to blot it. Just test on some text to determine it won’t damage the ink. Just don’t use bleach. It will cause a yellow mark.

As always, DiscoverBooks.com has a book for this issue. *Use caution when using any of these techniques. Not all stickers or stains will be removed, but we hope this article helps save your precious books from permanent damage. Stay tuned for more book care solutions soon.

2 comments on “Caring for Books | Stickers and Stains

  • Discover Books

    Alan,
    Thank you for letting us know your frustration with our stickers. We understand this concern and have worked hard to find stickers that will not leave a residue or damage the book. Unfortunately, with our older inventory, the more difficult stickers were used. Please reach out to customer service if you are not satisfied with the book you received. They can work with you to resolve the issue. Please let them know you wrote to us on our blog, so they can reference this conversation if needed. (855) 702-6657 or customer_service@discoverbooks.com or you can message us on Facebook.
    Thank you

  • Alan Ricks

    I buy from every online bookseller. You literally have the worst stickers. Your stickers do not peel off easily, especially on vintage paperbacks. You also delight in plastering the sticker across the center of attention on the front cover, like a person’s face. Seriously, your stickers are the worst.

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