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Mar 16, 2007 02:47 PM

how to fix waterlogged cookbooks

sigh...lost an entire box of cookbooks to a basement soaking -- hardcover Gourmet, 2 softcover King Arthur, etc...what's the best way to save these now swollen books? I was thinking about cutting the pages out of the bind and either 3-hole punch or plastic sheet them...i use these cookbooks quite a bit so the replacement would have to be sturdy.
Thank you!

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  1. if they were in a box in the basement, how often do you really use them? honestly, i'd look on-line for used copies and start fresh. those soaked books will still smell even after they finally dry.

    1. I tend to agree with hotoynoodle but .....If you dry the pages you use a lot out of each book and then maybe page protectors and a binder. I think it woull be really time and space consuming do dry all of the pages well enough. They will want to mildew as they dry.
      You might just chuck them in 150- 200 degree oven and keep moving and watching.....

      1. If you have a dryer with a shoe rack attachment you can leave a book on the rack and dry on low.

        Yes, I've been there!

        1. Looks like freezing them might be an important part of the process--
          From the Library of Congress:

          the National Archives:

          and a kind of ugly site but what looks to be a credible source:

          You might also see if you can get in contact with an archivist at a college or university library, he or she would probably be able to give good advice. You do want to watch for any type of mold as it can spread to your undamaged books. Good luck!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mizinformation

            my mom had to freeze a bunch of rare horticulture books when her university library had a bad roof/leak. it works the best, but maybe for institutions, not people. if you are really trying to save the books you have, you must seperate the pages or they will stick together. seperate pages with paper towels and some salt or other absorbant stuff and put near a heat source or a fan. don't give mildew a leg up & maybe you can save them. sometimes you need to write it off like i did when my brother ruined my complete leatherbound 30 vol collected shakespere from 1879. no i'm not still bitter 17 years later, don't be ridiculous. . .

          2. My contractor flooded my cookbooks. Service Master put them on steel racks that were open grid, Then they put a dehumidifer and fans around them. They are dry and no smell. It took a week to dry things out.