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How to Remove Mold From Leather in Simple Ways

Jennifer L. Betts
Man polishing leather shoes

You're pulling out your favorite spring jacket and see mold on the leather. Don't panic. All is not lost. It's just a matter of cleaning mold off the leather. Learn how to remove mold from your couch, shoes, jackets and car seats using materials that you might already have in your cupboards.

How to Remove Molds From Leather

Mold on your favorite leather handbag or your sleek suede shoes is never something you want to deal with. However, removing mold from leather isn't as hard as you think it will be. What's important is attacking it quickly and making sure it's all gone. Mold is a sneaky little bugger that can come back if you don't get all the spores.

Materials for Removing Mold From Leather

You can't attack mold without the right materials. That means that you need to have your cleaning toolbox ready before even getting started. For this how-to cleaning project, you'll need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Mild soap (baby soap) or leather cleaner
  • Soft nylon brush
  • Vacuum with a hose and soft bristle brush attachment
  • Saddle soap
  • Clean white clothes
  • Spray bottle
  • Suede brush
  • Leather conditioner

Now that you're armed, it's mold stomping time!

How to Clean Mold Off Finished Leather

Most of the time when you are looking at mold on your jacket or car seat, it's on finished leather. Finished leather has an extra layer of protection to preserve its color. It's also a bit shinier than other types of leather. For cleaning finished leather, you'll use these steps:

  1. Use the nylon brush to brush off any loose mold.
  2. Vacuum up the debris with the vacuum. You could also shake it outside or over a trash can.
  3. Add a dab or two of mild soap to a damp cloth.
  4. Gently rub the area using circular motions. (Test a discrete area first to ensure no discoloring happens.)
  5. Use a clean damp cloth to wipe away the suds.
  6. Mix equal parts of water and alcohol with a drop of detergent.
  7. Dampen a clean cloth and go over the area again.
  8. Allow the leather to dry completely.
  9. Add a leather conditioner.
Old shoemaker is polishing a shoe

Removing Mold From Unfinished Leather

When it comes to your unfinished leather couch or boots, you need to use care and a gentle touch to remove mold. For this method, you'll want to grab the saddle soap, nylon brush, vacuum and leather conditioner.

  1. Take the nylon brush, gently brush and vacuum off the mold.
  2. Grab a clean white cloth.
  3. Add a dab (about the size of a dime) of saddle soap to the cloth
  4. Using light circular motions, work it over the moldy areas.
  5. Use a damp clean cloth to wipe any soap and residue away.
  6. Allow the leather to dry.
  7. Add a leather conditioner.

Cleaning Mold From Leather: Suede

Thinner and weaker than traditional leather, suede leather has a soft, fuzzy surface because it is made from the underside of the animal skin. It's also susceptible to changing color, so it's important to tread carefully when it comes to mold and mildew removal. For suede, you'll want to grab the alcohol and clothes.

  1. In a small spray bottle, mix equal parts water and alcohol.
  2. Use a suede brush to break up and remove mold.
  3. Take the vacuum hose and remove as much mold as you can.
  4. For mold that remains, grab the cloth and wet a small area (damp, not saturated) with your alcohol mixture.
  5. On a discrete area of the mold, dab it to ensure that the color does not change.
  6. After testing, continue to dab at the mold.
  7. Keep working the mold with the alcohol mixture on different areas of the cloth until it's all gone.
  8. Allow the suede to fully dry.
  9. Brush with the suede brush.
Cleaning Leather Sofa with Vacuum Brush

Keeping Mold Off Leather

In addition to being toxic to humans, mold can cause discoloration in your favorite jacket or ruin your skirt. Therefore, when it comes to mold, prevention is half of the battle. To grow, mold needs the right temperature and humidity. To ensure mold doesn't get on your leather goods, you'll want to:

  • Clean your leather goods regularly.
  • Store them on dry areas or even airtight bags.
  • Space leather items out in your closet to provide airflow.
  • Regularly check leather goods for mildew and mold growth. Catching it early is half the battle.
  • Use conditioners or waxes to provide a thin layer of protection.

Removing Mold From Leather

Mold and your favorite leather don't mix. However, especially in your car where you have the perfect humidity and temperature, it's easy enough for mold spores to get between those leather seats and start flourishing. When it comes to cleaning mold off leather, it's all about the type of leather that you're dealing with. Because not all leathers are created equal. Now that you are armed with the knowledge, it's time to blast that mold out of the park.

How to Remove Mold From Leather in Simple Ways