Easy Non-toxic Ways to Clean Board Books

Easy, Non-toxic Ways to Clean Board Books

I’m an amateur book-fixer and self-proclaimed expert book cleaner of my daughter’s growing collection of board books.

Clean board books,

Ones that don’t make me afraid to let kids touch them–

That’s my dream!

Plus, I just wanted to find a way to remove those labels, like price tags and book club addresses, off our board books, or any book for that matter.

I asked my friendly, neighborhood librarians. One said that scraping labels off with fingernails was the best bet for removing labels from books. Ugh. I looked at my stubby nails and I tried. I really did, but the labels stayed there stubbornly and sticky-like. The book and label both appeared worse, and everything ended up uglier rather than cleaner.

**Trumpet and Fanfare**

The Following are my Tried and True Methods

for Removing Labels, Ink and Other Dirt from Board Books!

Label On

The “fingernail method” gone wrong.

LABELS: A hairdryer at its lowest warm setting loosens the adhesive and makes the label stuck to a board book easier to peel. Direct the air of the blower at one of the corners of the pesky label. It may curl away from the book on its own, or at least become more fingernail-friendly. If you don’t see results, give the book label at least 30 seconds of the hairdryer and not much more.

Label Off of a Board Book

Even this hamster looks happier without the label. Ooops. Missed a spot. If the hairdryer doesn’t get this, a dab of Goo-Gone left on for a minute will do the trick. Then, I’ll wipe off the offensive solvent!

PEN MARKS: Let’s just say I have a budding artist for a young daughter. She loves to scribble–on anything. I’m way too permissive… Or did I need to unload the dishwasher and afterwards find she had created a masterpiece on a book’s formerly clean cover?

Pen Ink OnPen Ink OFF

The sooner, the better. Don’t give the pen ink on your board book a chance to dry completely. Wipe it off with a dry cloth with a bit of dampness, like a washcloth with a coin-sized amount of water. The friction you apply with your hand and the cloth onto the board book cover or pages will be just as helpful as the water.

DRY ERASE Books that Did NOT Erase:

Removing Marker from Dry Erase Books

These books are great, and I would have loved them as a kid. I find them at yard sales for a quarter or fifty cents…covered in the wrong marker. No Problem!

Okay, whether this is actually a non-toxic way to clean board books is for your interpretation. Nail polish remover. I have bought more than one board book at a yard sale that were COVERED in seemingly permanent marker. The trick is to not apply too much nail polish remover. Cotton swabs work well with a dry cloth to absorb the excess remover. If you think your child might eventually put the book in his or her mouth (YES!), it is important to wipe off the nail polish remover residue afterwards with a damp cloth.

Before: A Dry Erase Board Book covered in the wrong marker

Before: Dry Erase Book Covered with the Wrong Marker

For general dirt and smudges: Try a water-moistened clean cloth first. It’ll often do wonders at cleaning board books. Hey, that’s one of the reasons they are board books, right? They are supposed to be durable and easy to clean.

Disinfecting Board Books: A half gallon of warm water to a 1 1/2 tablespoons of Clorox (follow directions) is the disinfectant of choice for hundreds, if not thousands, of daycare providers. Just use a mister with this combination, and spray a very light mist on your target page(s). Let the mist dry, rather than wipe it off.

I remember my days as a substitute day care provider. We went through dozens of bleach-spray bottles.  Again, the trick becomes how to disinfect the board book without damaging the book itself. Less moisture is more effective. (Wipe off any dirt or offensive matter before you spray to disinfect.)

Caution: For any book, you will want to try any of these methods on a small area to make sure any method doesn’t ruin the surface. In my experiences, these methods, even Goo Gone  (see below), did NOT ruin any board books.

Did one of these methods not work? You can try something stronger to clean your child’s (or your!) favorite board books, albeit not necessarily non-toxic, like the product Goo-gone for labels. The trick to removing really stubborn labels from board books, ones that do not curl away with their adhesive–is that you want to let the solvent soak into the label for at least a minute, but not soak into the book itself. Then afterwards, like with nail polish remover, you will want to wipe the book cover or pages clean with a cloth and some water.

Here’s my question to YOU, and I really, really want to hear your answers.

Did you have a solution or problem board book not listed here?

Have you tried one of these solutions and not gotten the results you hoped?

PLEASE tell me your board book stories of hope and horror!

2 thoughts on “Easy Non-toxic Ways to Clean Board Books

  1. Pingback: What To Do With All Those Excess Children’s Books | Reverie of a Picture Book

  2. Pingback: Making Library Books Your Own–Or, How to Create Your Own Signature Library Sticker | Reverie of a Picture Book

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