When a book develops brown or reddish spots on its pages, it is called foxing. These spots are typically the result of exposure to mold, mildew, insects, water, or chemicals. Foxing can affect a book’s cover and pages and may vary in severity.
The presence of foxing can impact the value of a book. Minor foxing that does not hinder readability may have minimal effect on value. However, severe foxing can render a book unsellable.
There are various methods available to remove foxing from books. Placing the book with a slice of bread in a plastic bag helps absorb moisture and fade the spots. Another technique involves using a solution composed of one part vinegar to three parts water to eliminate mold and mildew.
Cosmetic foxing poses no harm to books and can be easily cleaned off using a soft cloth. Structural foxing, however, penetrates the paper fibers and leads to brittleness and yellowing of pages. This damage is more challenging to address and may result in further deterioration.
Prevention is vital in avoiding foxing on books. Storing them in cool, dry environments reduces the risk of mold growth caused by excessive humidity or accumulation of dirt due to extreme dryness.
For cleaning purposes, it is recommended to use gentle cleaning solutions along with soft cloths. Water and soap should be avoided as they can cause additional damage. In cases where severe foxing persists, consulting a professional conservator might be necessary.