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How to Clean Mold off Leather [ The Most Effective and Safe Ways ]

Leather is a high-quality and luxurious looking material used to make useful items like bags, clothing and also furniture. Unfortunately, environmental exposure and constant use can lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

This article gives you more information on how to clean mold off leather including the steps required to do so.

What is Mold and What Causes Mold on Leather?


We often hear the term mold and mildew but not everyone knows exactly what it is and how it comes about. Unfortunately, mold is something that can appear on our leather products which is why they should be cleaned regularly and stored with care.

Mold is referred to as a fungal growth which spreads on different types of surfaces (usually decaying or damp). Mold is made of spores and causes disadvantages like odor, damage and discoloration. Leather mold grows on leather products like shoes, jackets and furniture.

At first, mold may look like a simple stain but the more it spreads, the more damaging it is. Although it causes serious health issues, alongside allergies, it can cause serious damage to the leather product.

The mix of darkness, moisture and warmth is what causes mold on leather and this is something to look out for. Placing your leather products in dark storage spaces like a closet or exposing them to wet weather can cause the growth of mold.

Also, for leather products like boots and shoes, mold can grow due to the microbes and moisture left by the feet. Leather jackets can also develop mold and this is caused by exposure to body oils. Once it has been exposed and is not used for a while, mold will grow.

Lastly, if you store your leather items (with no mold) with other leather items (with mold), it is likely for mold to grow on the leather items without mold. Other causes of mold on leather include:

  • Organic Matter: since leather is an organic material, it can attract mold. This is caused by the organic debris that settle on leather. They create a suitable environment for mold to develop.

  • Humidity: humidity is another cause of mold on leather. When there is high humidity, moisture will build up on leather items. This will create an ideal environment for mold to grow.

  • Poor Maintenance: not cleaning and conditioning your leather products often can cause mold to grow overtime. This is why it is essential to clean your leather goods as it lengthens their lifespan.

What’s the Difference between Mold and Mildew?


People tend to think that mold and mildew are the same but that is not the case. Mildew is one of the types of mold and a fungi that can also affect leather. Mold is also a fungi, as stated above, and they both thrive in places with lots of warmth and moisture.

Also, mold and mildew grow on leather and the best way to differentiate them is through color. Mold usually tends to appear in shades of green or black. Mildew, on the other hand, appears as a yellowish, white or gray substance on paper materials of fabric.

Both mold and mildew can lead to long-term health issues if they are not checked out quickly. So, once you come across them, it is advisable to take care of the situation immediately. One of the best ways to do so is by using a dehumidifier in places with heavy moisture.



Useful Tips to Know Before You Clean Moldy Leather

Before you get to cleaning the mold off your leather items, you should know some useful tips which will make your work easier. Now you know what mold is and the difference between mold and mildew, let us look at another useful tip.


What Cleaning Supplies Will I Need When Cleaning Mold from My Leather Items?

The first items you must ensure to have when cleaning mold from your leather item are masks and rubber gloves. These two things will help to ensure safety and contact between your body and the mold spores.

You will need a list of cleaning supplies and they are listed below.

  • Rubber gloves and a face mask.

  • Chlorine bleach.

  • A soft-bristled brush or nylon.

  • Cotton balls.

  • Clean cloth or soft sponge.

  • Leather conditioner.

  • Vacuum.

  • Buckets.

  • Tissue paper.

  • Rubbing alcohol.

  • Dry oxygen bleach.


If you have these materials and equipment, you're ready to go. No matter how soft your leather item is, these tools will do the job. Be sure to spread the leather item out in the sunlight, as this is a great way to get rid of mold.


How to Clean and Care for Moldy Leather Shoes and Clothes

How to Clean Stains on Moldy Leather Shoes and Clothes

If you are dealing with stains mold on your leather shoes and clothes, all you need to do is follow a few steps to get rid of it. Firstly, you need to check if your leather cloth has a removable fabric lining. If it does, you should clean it to get rid of obvious mildew stains.

1. Once the fabric lining is dry, clean the dark spots using a mixture of water and oxygen bleach. Put two tablespoons of oxygen bleach in a non-metallic container and add a cup of water. Apply the solution onto the stained areas and leave it for an hour or more.

2. Then, clean the area with a piece of clean cloth put in water and let the leather cloth air dry. While cleaning the cloth, ensure you do not pour the solution directly on the leather. This can damage the finish used.

3. Repeat the process until you have gotten rid of discoloration completely.

For Four Leather Shoes

For your leather shoes, once you notice mold stains on them, get rubbing alcohol and water. Mix rubbing alcohol and water together (equal portions) and clean the moldy area using a clean cloth.

Rub the cloth in a circular motion on the stained area. Then, use a damp cloth to rinse the area. Once you are done, let the leather shoe air dry completely. If you want to remove mold from sheepskin boots or suede, you can use a soft brush to do the trick.

Also, it is advisable to air your leather clothes and shoes outside the minute you detect a mildew odor.



Instructions on How to Clean Mold from Leather Shoes and Clothes

1. Take Your Cleaning Outside

How to clean the room from mold

The first thing you need to do is to take the affected leather shoes and clothing outside for cleaning. This is to avoid the mold spores from spreading in your home. Once the items are outside, take the soft bristled brush and brush away the mold spores on them.

Then, you need to vacuum and thoroughly clean the area in which the affected leather items were stored. This includes wiping the floors and walls using a mixture of bleach and water. Once the area is dry, you can keep other items there.

You should also clean whatever you stored the affected leather items in. If it was a cardboard box, then it should be thrown out immediately. If it was a storage container, it should be cleaned thoroughly. The cleaning method depends on the type of container.

2. Focus on the Spores


1. Once you have taken the mildewed leather items outside, it is time to kill the spores.

2. You should do this with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.

3. Then, use a clean cloth (for clothes) and a cotton swab (for shoes) to wipe the leather.

4. The cotton swab will help you to easily reach the crevices. Once you are down, dip another clean cloth in water and wipe the leather.

5. Air-dry the cleaned items in an area with no direct sunlight or heat. For your shoes, it is advisable to stuff them with tissue paper.

6. This will help them to keep their shape. Note that you should only use plain white paper.


3. Clean the Surfaces

Once the leather is dry, get a clean container and mix warm water with mild detergent. Then use a sponge to wipe down the surface of the leather thoroughly. If you are dealing with leather shoes, do not forget to clean the insides.

Then, take a separate cloth and dip it into clean water to wipe away residue.


4. Air-Dry the Leather Items

The second to the last step is to air dry the leather items once you are done cleaning them. For clothes, you can hang them on a hanger to dry. For shoes, you can put them on a sturdy surface. You can turn on a circulating fan to help fasten the drying process.

Make sure you do not dry your leather items under direct sunlight or heat.


5. Condition the Leather Items

The last thing you need to do is condition the cleaned leather items once they are completely dry. This will help to strengthen the finish. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the conditioning product.


How Best to Store Your Leather Shoes and Clothes

One of the best ways to prevent mold on your leather items is by storing them properly. You need to make sure the airflow, humidity and temperature of the storage area is suitable. Also, the storage area must be completely clean.

Clean your leather shoes after wearing them before putting them back in the storage area. You should also use a dehumidifier and increase air circulation to reduce moisture.


Features of Mold Removal from Some Popular Items

Cleaning mold from some particular leather items is not a difficult task. All you need to do is follow a couple of tips and you will have your leather items looking as good as new.


How to Clean Mold off Leather Shoes (or Boots)

Ensure to always dry your shoes thoroughly after wearing them. You should also treat the insides of your shoes using antifungal methods to prevent mold growth.

How to Clean Mold off Leather Jackets

Once you notice mold stains on your leather jacket, you should treat them immediately. Use the jacket’s cuff or armpit to test the jacket’s colorfastness. Then, clean and condition the leather.


How to Clean Mold off Leather Couch

Mold on leather couch is caused by wetness, spills, pets and more. So, you can prevent this by ensuring your couch is a no pet and drink zone. Then, test for colorfastness using the cushions.


How to Clean Mold off Leather Furniture

For wooden furniture, mix warm water and vinegar and spray on moldy areas. Let it sit for about an hour then wipe down the affected area with a moist cloth. Dry it off using a dry towel.


How to Clean Mold off Leather Seats (or Car Seats)

Dry the areas affected with mold thoroughly. Then use a cleaning method to get rid of mold but make sure to test it first. Also, keep doors, windows and sunroof closed when not in use to prevent mold.



Can Moldy Leather be Saved?

Yes it can. There are certain products like rubbing alcohol that can be used to get rid of mold from leather.

What do Professionals Use to Clean Mold?

Professionals make use of mold killers (hydrogen peroxide based) to get rid of mold. Bleach is also an effective tool used in killing mold spores.

Will Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Mold on Leather?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide is effective for killing mold on leather. But, it is harsh and should be diluted with water.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?

Color is the best way to differentiate between mold and mildew. Mold is usually green or black. Mildew is usually yellow, gray or white.


Mold can be cleaned off leather by using certain materials and following particular steps and instructions. Although, it is much better to prevent mold so as to not deal with consequences later. Keep your storage areas clean and free from moisture. Also, ensure to clean your leather products often.

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  • I found this article. What do you think? Does is help? Carol and Richard

    Carol "Chippi" Stock

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1 comment

  • I found this article. What do you think? Does is help? Carol and Richard

    Carol "Chippi" Stock