I ordered a paperback book from Amazon and the laundry detergent smell is potent. I suspect it must’ve been stored right next to the detergents or other cleaning agents? There’s even a small blue stain on top of the book.

The smell seems to emanate from the cover. Normally, I don’t mind small cosmetic damages but this smell coming from a book is pretty distracting and since scents are often so tied to memories, I don’t want my memory of reading Anna Karenina haunted by the ghost of a laundry detergent.

I’ve tried wiping it with lemon juice to some small degree of success: the back and the spine no longer smells like detergent. But the smell from the front cover remains. I’ve been tackling it with fresh air (for several hours) and a vinegar solution of 2:1 water and (rice) vinegar. Still unsuccessful, although I’d say the smell has gotten slightly less potent.

  • Send it back. Amazon policy & EU law will cover you, US has a lemon law similar… & apparently it smells of lemon, so that's OK ;))
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 27, 2021 at 19:19
  • googled my question about a book smelling like fabric softener from amazon and found this; I bought 'Handstyle Lettering' from amazon that smelled like it was drenched in fabric softener
    – user38740
    Sep 22, 2022 at 22:39

2 Answers 2


If you can, package the book and return it to Amazon. Then purchase the same book from a local seller. A few dollars more, but worth it, I'm sure. Otherwise, you could gift this copy to someone and purchase a fresh (pun intended) copy.

  • Gift it if you don't like the person. Trash it - phthalate polution means forever. Shop locally is good advice +1, John. Jeff Bezos doesn't need your patronage, AFAIK.
    – Stan
    Dec 16, 2021 at 18:11

Place somewhere hot, but not too hot. In some countries inside a greenhouse or car window will work.

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