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Seasonal Cleaning

How to Care for Your Cookbooks

October is here and with it comes Halloween decorations, cooler weather and — for many people — the desire to spend more time in the kitchen cooking everything from hearty stews to pumpkin-flavored breads. Well, pull out your favorite recipe reads because October is National Cookbook Month! 

Whether you’re a skilled home chef or just want to bake sugar cookies that look like autumn leaves, you need to know how to clean a cookbook — and store it — so the cover and pages doesn’t get gross. (After all, some of those books aren’t cheap). Take a look at the following tips and learn the best ways to store your cookbooks and what to do if you spill something on them. 

How to Clean a Cookbook

Spilled vanilla on your cookbook while making snickerdoodles? Or maybe some coconut milk crash-landed on your favorite chickpea curry recipe? While you may not be able to make the pages look brand new, you can prevent obscuring the text or warping the paper if you act quickly.

You’ll need:
  • A spatula (if you spilled something viscous or solid)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking soda
  • A microfiber cloth
  • A fan (optional)
  1. If what you’re working with is thick or chunky — like pureed blueberries or diced tomatoes — use the spatula to gently lift or scrape away as much residue as possible.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper in between any pages that were affected by the spill. To help prevent liquids bleeding through, you may want to add a few extra sheets of parchment in between any pages surrounding the affected area.
  3. Carefully blot the spill using a clean and dry microfiber cloth. Take care not to scrub or rub the liquids, as you could end up just spreading the stain about or working it further into the fibers of the paper. Continue blotting each side of the affected pages until you’ve removed as much residue as possible.
  4. Next sprinkle a little baking soda on the area where the spill occurred. Let this sit for three to four hours, making sure you keep the pages open.
  5. Gently wipe away any baking soda from the cookbook’s pages.
  6. Leave the cookbook in an area without a lot of humidity until the pages dry out. You can help speed up the drying time by placing the book under the fan if you like.

Storing Cookbooks

The jury is split when it comes to the best place to store cookbooks. Some people like to display their favorites in their kitchen to add a little color and character. Unfortunately, that can result in your cookbook covers being splattered with grease or marinara sauce. (And that can attract unwelcome kitchen critters, which is probably the last thing you want to do.) Here are some cookbook storage ideas that can help you keep your epicurean instructions clean and organized.
  • Reserve a shelf in a kitchen cabinet
  • Store cookbooks in the pantry where they’ll be far away from meal prep residues.
  • Show off your best volumes with a floating shelf in a room just outside the kitchen, like a breakfast nook or dining area.
  • Dedicate a section of your living room bookshelf to your culinary bestsellers.
  • Place books in a vintage metal basket or wooden crate on your dining room or entryway sideboard.
  • Store a few of your go-tos in a large breadbox.
This year celebrate National Cookbook Month by treating your recipe books right! Knowing how to store and clean cookbooks can help keep your most-prized editions organized and can make them last a lot longer, too. Looking for more inspiration for a neat and tidy kitchen? Learn how to organize a small kitchen, then check out these hacks for upcycling mason jars.