During storage, books can become exposed to mouse droppings. However, there are several methods to safely make them clean again. Cleaning the books may slightly alter the book’s appearance. While it should not ruin the book, if it is exceptionally old or valuable, consider your options carefully. In the case of valuable books, it may be worth the additional expense to have them professionally cared for.
That said, this article explains how to clean books with mouse droppings on your own without exposing yourself to airborne diseases like Hantavirus possibly present in the droppings.
How to clean books with mouse droppings
Follow the steps outlined in this guide to clean books with mouse droppings:
1. Gather your cleaning materials
First, find a cleaner and well-ventilated area in the bookstore to work in. You’ll need a disposable tablecloth or a plastic sheet for surface protection. Wear gloves gloves and a mask to protect yourself from touching or inhaling potential contaminants and allergens possibly present in the mouse droppings.
Meanwhile, CDC recommends wearing “either a half-mask air-purifying (or negative-pressure) respirator or a powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with N-100 filters”.
You will need cleaning supplies including:
- soft brush
- vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
- paper towels
- mild disinfectant spray and
- garbage bag
2. Begin the preliminary cleaning
You need to ventilate the books by taking them outdoors or to another room. If the book pages are exposed to the droppings, flick them to remove loose droppings. Take care not to damage the pages or spine.
You’ll need to prepare a cleaning solution by mixing one part bleach with five parts water in a small dish or bucket.
3. Clean the books
Use a soft brush like a clean paintbrush and gently brush the pages to clean books with mouse droppings. Try to brush in the direction of the book’s spine carefully.
If there are visible stains, you need to dampen a paper towel with a mild disinfectant spray. You can also use a soft cloth and dampen it with the diluted bleach solution, making sure that the cloth is only slightly damp by squeezing out any excess liquid.
While keeping the book closed, gently wipe the edges of the pages. By holding the book closed you’ll have a stable surface for wiping. The bleach solution will help eliminate germs and bacteria, but it may not completely remove stains caused by droppings. Don’t use vinegar as a disinfectant; it’s not effective.
Again, make sure that the pages of the book do not become excessively wet as it can cause additional issues.
4. Air dry the books after cleaning
Allow the books to thoroughly air dry before placing them back into storage.
Be sure to place them on surfaces that won’t transfer any contaminants or moisture back onto the books.
Exposure to UV from sunlight can be a good disinfectant, killing viruses and bacteria. However, if you are worried about fading and damage to the pages, don’t expose the books to direct sunlight.
Keeping mice out of your book storage
Mice droppings can leave permanent stains on books and papers. Since these stains may be difficult to remove, you have to take measures to prevent mice from further infesting your books and papers.
1. Set mouse traps
If you are uncertain whether you have a mice issue, you can set traps near the suspected area. Regularly check the trap every few days to determine if any mouse has been captured. Based on the results, take appropriate measures to address the situation accordingly. If you have pets around, here is the best mouse trap to use.
2. Store books in sealed bookshelves
After you clean books with mouse droppings, prevent further infestations by storing the books in sealed containers or bookshelves. That shouldn’t stop you from regularly inspecting your bookshelves and surrounding areas for signs of mice or droppings.
3. Trim nearby vegetation
Is your book storage area near outdoor spaces, trees, shrubs, and vegetation? Have them well-trimmed and maintained because overgrown vegetation provides hiding spots for mice.
4. Deter mice presence
Deterrents can stop mice entry in the first place. You can use natural deterrents to keep mice from your bookshelves.
Mice dislike strong scents from peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, or cloves. Use this deterrent by soaking cotton balls in these essential oils and placing them near your bookshelves or areas of mice activity.
Mothballs or sachets of strong-smelling herbs like rosemary or lavender are known to keep mice from bookshelves.
5. Mouse-proof your library
Inspect the areas around your bookshelves for tiny holes and seal them. Mice can enter a small, 6-7 mm hole (about the diameter of a normal-sized pen), so be sure to seal these. You should find gaps or cracks in walls, windows, doors, and floors. Caulk them with sealants after you clean books with mouse droppings.
If the mouse problem is persistent or your preventive measures haven’t been effective, I recommend consulting with professional pest control services. They can properly assess your situation and implement appropriate measures to get rid of mice, as well as prevent future infestations.