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How To Clean A Dirty Dust Jacket



HOW TO CLEAN A DIRTY DUST JACKET


While looking at books, I sometimes see soiling on the Dust Jacket.  Some years ago I had a really dirty DJ and cleaned it with alcohol on a tissue. Now I do it all the time. I am amazed that more book dealers and collectors are unaware that DJs get dirtier as the years go by, books too, and that there are simple ways to clean them.


Each method can do damage of course, but used carefully they can do wonders. And they also work on old Brodarts which in doing their job also get dirty, in fact I replace many old Brodarts, or improvised DJ covers like plastic bags or saran wrap.  Start your cleaning experiments on cheap books!


Of course, valuable dust jackets should be protected in plastic covers, called Brodarts.



First method to clean a dust jacket, or a Brodart cover, is to use alcohol on a soft tissue although in many cases paper towels or soft rags can work too.



Rubbing alcohol is a universal cleaner, for Dust Jackets, Computer and Smart Phone Screens, the inside of Car Windows, even your skin. When traveling I make my own hand wipes by rolling a white wash cloth and placing it in a zip-lock bag.  Pour in some alcohol, and the cloth will stay wet a long time. Turn it over when it gets dirty.


The second method is to use clean water (I have a filter on tap water in my house because we are on a well which runs brown in the spring.) Distilled is only a buck a gallon.  Water is able to do more damage than alcohol, as it often removes the color on cloth boards. Today I had a Smythe Kamet 1st edition, the one that is black cloth. It had obvious drip stains from something that left white drip marks. Milk, plaster, dirt, I don't know. Using water on a tissue turned a VG book into a Fine book. It did remove some dye, but it doesn't show on the book, just on the tissue.


Sometimes paint or plaster drips can be chipped off with a knife. I prefer a pocket or steak knife with a rounded blade.


Distilled Water is good for cleaning dirt off things, with a soft tissue, Q-Tip or rag.

The third method is the magic Magic Rub eraser. They work on uncoated paper better than the above solvents. I spent an hour cleaning a Ruttledge Everest 1936 DJ that was intact but being white paper, showed a lot of dirt. It came out sparkling. I used to get these erasers at art supply stores or Walmart. Now I buy boxes of a dozen on Amazon. Wear one down so you have a 1' x 1' surface to rub with (see photo below.)




Get extra Magic Rub erasers to have one everywhere you handle books.



Above: Magic Rub Eraser worn down to make a larger and softer erasing surface.