Disinfecting Papers and Books 8/30/18


One question that always has me baffled is how to disinfect books. I've never had the problem of Collembola getting into my papers and books, but others have issues with organisms getting into their books and papers. I don't know whether the organism is Collembola, or infected psocids (book lice), or something else--no one has had them identified. Jo had them and this is what she did to get them out of mail, papers, and books. She believes the organisms were Collembola. Again, if it was, it was a different strain than I'm familiar with. She writes,

"To treat thick books like the thickest encyclopedias my husband wrapped them in 2 layers of tin foil and baked them at 350F for 1/2 hour to an hour. You have to open the book and check and see if it is starting to burn and if it is hot all the way through. The book has to be hot all the way through. Then turn off the oven and let it sit. You can do multiple books at a time. The residual heat will keep them hot and completely kill off all the Collembola and they are tough critters to kill. They live on any paper you touch so EVERYTHING has to be baked once touched.

Paper 2-3 minutes and it didn't need to be wrapped. Envelopes you get in the mail 5 minutes. Just make sure you check and once you get the feel for when something burns you know how to adjust. Sometimes my husband wrapped the mail in tin foil. The tin foil protects the books from burning since they are so thick.

This is why it was so good that my husband wasn't infected with the bugs, he could treat and not re-infect like I would have. He baked the photos with the backs together (the white side) and the photo side facing out wrapped in tin foil only 2 thick or they will stick and then bake for 5 minutes and then remove and leave in tin foil because the heat stays with it if you need to keep baking photos.

When something is treated put in a new ziploc bag and write the date it was treated. All store receipts are heat sensitive and turn black no matter what. If you don't have anyone who is not infected to help, you would have to wait until you FOR SURE have no more bugs on you and you are NOT A CARRIER and then you would have to fog the room you are doing this in really heavy with CedarCide cedar oil and have peppermint oil on you and clean rubber gloves to do the process and hope that you don't get yourself re-infected. With the CedarCide cedar oil fogged in the air the springtails can't jump or they will die in the fog."         


I thank Jo for taking the time to share her experience with disinfecting paper and books. Of course, you have to be careful of the fire hazard if your oven gets too hot. It makes sense to have a fire extinguisher handy.

I wonder if the same can be accomplished in a microwave. Other than for heating water, it might be the only other value of microwaves.

Again, contrary to her experience, I never had issues with Collembola on my hands--just about every other part of my body, but never my hands. She also shared a lot more regarding how to use Cedarcide PCO, which I'll share in another update.

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In response to the above technique shared by Jo to disinfect books and papers in the oven, Jane replied with her variation of how she does it.

I do the following: I seal a much as I can fit into an oven roasting bag, sorted into topics. With books I try to put them in with bottoms lined up evenly so they can stand upright after. I seal with aluminum duct tape which is metal and stays stuck in heat. Then I heat my oven to 210 F for three hours. I can usually get 4 stacks on the two oven racks. I pulled them out and let them cool. Then I put them in shelves in the clear oven bag and keep them sealed until I need them. That way they can’t get reinfected.

I thank Jane and Jo for sharing their techniques. Notice that the temperature of her oven is 210 degrees F compared to Jo's 250 degrees F. Using the roasting bags and sealing them with aluminum duct tape reduces the chance of fire, plus the temperature is 40 degrees F lower. In either case, I recommend having a fire extinguisher near by.

And, Jane stored the disinfected books in clear oven bags to keep them from being reinfected.