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How to Prevent Termites From Eating Books? (4 Steps)

Termites love cellulose, warmth, and moisture, all things that can be found in your library at home.

The most important rule when keeping termites away from your library is ensuring they lack both resources.

Though your books are an excellent source of cellulose, eliminating them doesn’t make sense, hence the need for alternatives.

Keep the surrounding environment clean and moisture-free to prevent termites from eating your books. Organize your books on a shelf, not on the floor or headboard. Keep food away from your room and ensure humidity levels are low.

4 Steps to Keep your Books Safe From Termites

A pile of books on the table.

1. Organize Your Library

The first step to keeping termites away from your books is sorting them out. Books scattered on the floor are a great hiding place for termites and insects like bed bugs and cockroaches.

An organized shelf is still an excellent breeding area, but it’s away from your sleeping area. This is why storing books on headboards is never a good idea. The insects can easily access your bed and spread to other areas of your room.

If you can’t get a shelf or don’t have the space for one, keep the books on your study table. The elevation makes it slightly harder for termites to access them than if you keep them under your bed.

If you can get a shelf, keep it out of your bedroom. The termites will spread to other areas of your bedroom if you get an infestation, and knowing that you share your sleeping area with them is uncomfortable.

If you have to keep the shelf in your room, consider getting a steel or plastic one. It’s no secret that termites love wood, and a wooden shelf only doubles the cellulose they already get from your book pages.

It’s okay if you already own a wooden shelf and feel it isn’t economical to invest in a new one. Just know that you’ll need to inspect it more frequently than someone owning a plastic or metallic one.

2. Keep Moisture Out

Moisture is essential to the breeding process of most insects, including termites. Therefore, the best way to reduce the humidity levels in your room is by investing in a dehumidifier.

You can get a small dehumidifier relatively cheap and easy. Most go for around $50 on amazon. You can also get a fan or air conditioner, so the high temperatures in the summer months don’t raise the humidity in your room.

A cheaper way to keep your books away from moisture is by storing them in the house’s main rooms. Unfortunately, basements and attics are rarely moisture-free, and you risk hosting huge termite colonies.

If a book gets wet, clean it as soon as possible. Put it in a Ziploc bag and keep it in the freezer to prevent mold. If only a few pages are wet, keep the book a few feet away from a fan and turn it on.

Don’t expose it directly to the air or you risk tearing up the pages. Note that drywood termites can survive without dampness, so don’t rely on a moisture-free environment as your only means to keep all termites away.

3. Regular Cleaning

Regular cleaning doesn’t remove the cellulose in these items but reduces a termite’s access to them. Unfortunately, termites can invade your library even if you’re the cleanest person in your neighborhood.

Their main reason for visiting is cellulose, which is present in various items like clothes and your books.

Clutter gives termites a place to hide as they find a way to your books.

Food crumbs give them an additional source of cellulose, so they won’t even need your books for a good while.

Also, a damp book develops mold, making the book tastier and easier to bite for termites. 

Ensuring none of these situations exists gives you a better chance of avoiding an infestation. Start by regularly dusting your bookshelf so termites and insects don’t make their nests on it.

Avoid snacking while reading or keep the food in airtight bags to prevent spillage. If greasy foods spill on your book, don’t let them form stains. Instead, put a paper towel between the pages and place a heavy item on the book for a few hours. The paper towel will suck out most of the grease from the book.

Take out slimy substances by sticking the book in the freezer for a few hours and then scraping off the grime. Next, extend the cleaning to the rest of the house so an infestation in one room doesn’t spread to your library.

4. Regular Inspections

Occasional inspections ensure a growing termite infestation doesn’t catch you unawares. 

Common signs include discarded wings around your books, yellowish pages, droppings that look like wood shavings, and pinholes inside your pages. 

Call an exterminator if you see any of these signs throughout your house. They will examine your home and determine if you have an infestation on your hands and how to handle it.

Managing a Termite Infestation

If you become an unfortunate victim of an infestation (even after being as clean as you’ve ever been), your entire house is likely infested.

The best solution is to call a professional, as the termites can still migrate after cleaning your bookshelf. However, there are various ways to protect your books from an infestation if you can’t wait for the exterminator.

The first and most important is cleaning your bookshelf. Take out your books and vacuum the shelf from top to bottom.

Follow up by spraying it with termite spray. For example, if the shelf lies against a wall, pull it away, so the termite spray covers all areas.

While removing it from the wall, check whether the insects created holes to access it. If so, invest in a sealant and seal cracks. Your books were likely not their only source.

Speaking of books, lay them on your lawn in direct sunlight for at least two hours to remove the termites. Termites hate the heat, and overexposure sends them packing if it doesn’t kill them.

If the sun isn’t shining, take the opposite route and place the books inside the freezer. I still recommend calling a professional after implementing these control methods. You likely have a bigger problem, and the best solution is to tackle the root source.

The exterminator will know where to look and take the necessary steps to ensure the infestation isn’t recurring.


In summary, the best ways to prevent termites from eating books are;

  • Organized storage
  • Ensuring low moisture levels
  • Regular cleaning
  • Regular inspections

These steps are even more vital if you’ve already experienced an infestation.

Professional extermination keeps you termite-free for longer, and doing your part ensures it. Consider getting annual inspections if you live in areas susceptible to termite infestations.

The likelihood of a recurring infestation in such areas is low after taking the necessary precautions, but it’s never zero.

You’ll have more peace of mind and save more money than the occasional extermination.