Maybe you’re wondering why a personal finance blog is writing about how to clean mold from leather bags and shoes. If you have been reading my past blog posts, you’ll know that I’m an online seller who sells second-hand clothes, bags, and shoes.
I’ve talked extensively in my previous posts on how to start your own online thrift store business (if you’re interested in it) and part of this business is protecting your inventory.
My issue with molds is a bit seasonal. I’m from the Philippines and we basically have two seasons – wet and dry or summer and rainy season. It’s actually hot and humid all year round but the humidity gets worst during the typhoon season.
This year, I did not notice any molds on any leather items from January to September. I only started seeing them this month – October.
There have been some weeks this month when it rained non-stopped for almost every day and the humidity of course is off the charts. I started seeing specks of mold starting to appear on some leather items and I knew that I have to act fast to prevent it from spreading.
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that varies in color. They can be black, white, orange, green, or purple and live almost anywhere indoors and outside. They thrive on moisture and reproduce through spores that travel through the air.
Why do leather bags and shoes get moldy?
Leather bags and shoes get moldy when they are stored in dark and very humid areas in your house. If you’re storing your bags and shoes in dark corners of your room that don’t get enough ventilation and light then there’s a chance that they can be moldy especially during the wet season when the humidity is very high.
If you see molds on your leather bags and shoes, then don’t worry that much because it’s very easy to clean them off.
How to Clean Mold from Leather Bags and Shoes
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean mold from leather bags and shoes. Please note though that I only do this on dark-colored leather bags and shoes since I don’t have any white or light-colored leather items.
I also don’t have suede nor nubuck leather goods so exercise caution when cleaning these leather types and also light-colored leather goods. If you have the budget for it, seek the assistance of a professional leather cleaner.
- First, remove the contents of your bags.
- Prepare a cotton cloth, vinegar, and water solution (equal parts), another cotton cloth for wiping off the excess liquid on leather and leather conditioner.
- Dip the cotton cloth on the vinegar and water solution and squeeze off excess liquid. It should be damp and not wet.
- Using the damp cloth, wipe the leather bag affected with mold thoroughly to clean the leather surface. Make sure to wipe off all areas of the bag.
- Wipe the bag with the other dry cloth to make sure that any possible liquid gets wiped off the leather.
- Air-dry the leather bags and shoes or better yet, let it sit in an area with indirect sunlight for a few minutes. Sunlight kills mold.
- After a few minutes, apply the leather conditioner to the leather and let it air-dry again for a few minutes before putting them back in your storage cabinets.
- It would also help if you’re going to put them inside dust bags.
How to Remove Moldy Smell from your Leather Bags
The moldy smell or an unpleasant bag odor is usually caused by improper storage of your bag which possibly caused mold growth not only on the exterior but also in the interior of your bag.
Even if you don’t notice any molds on the interior, I suggest that you also clean it by following the steps above. Again, please consult a professional if in case you’ll be cleaning suede and other delicate leather types and light-colored bags and shoes as I don’t have much experience in those.
Once you’re done cleaning the interior, put silica gels inside to keep the interior dry. Silica gels are reusable thus making them one of the most cost-effective ways of keeping the interior of your leather bags dry.
How to Prevent your Leather Bags and Shoes from Molding
Mold thrives in humid and dark places. The optimal growth temperature range for molds is 77°F to 88°F (20°C to 30°C), though some growth may occur anywhere between 32°F to 95°F (0°C to 35°C).
The best thing to do to prevent mold from coming back to your leather bags and shoes is to control the moisture in the room where you store your bags. You can lower the humidity in your room by doing the following:
- Keep your Room Well-Ventilated and Well-lit: You can do this by keeping your windows open during the summer months to keep fresh air from flowing inside the room. You can also position your storage cabinets in a well-lit area that receives indirect sunlight to inhibit the growth of mold. Do not place your bag storage in an area that gets direct sunlight as it might damage the leather.
- Use Air-conditioner or Electric Dehumidifier: I just recently bought a dehumidifier from Shopee and I let it run for a few hours on a daily basis. I’m surprised at how much water it collects on a daily basis. I keep the windows and the door of my storage room closed during the wet season to prevent more moisture from coming in.
- Use Silica Gels: Put silica gels inside your leather bags and shoes to keep their interiors dry. They absorb as much as 40% of their own weight before losing their effectiveness. They are reusable though and they can be reactivated by heating them to remove the moisture they have absorbed. There are many Youtube tutorials on how to do it so check it out.
Leather goods most especially designer bags can be considered as investments nowadays. Regardless if you buy them in retail or second-hand, they can be very pricey (depending on condition) so it’s best to maximize the cost per wear by protecting them from molds.
Leather designer bags can also be resold, sometimes, even higher than their original price depending on how much they are in demand by the time you decide to sell them.
One of the determining factors in pricing preloved bags is the condition of the bag. Protecting them from various forms of damage including mold is something that all bag lovers out there should know.
By the way, if you’re going to clean a very expensive bag such as Hermes or Chanel or other designer handbags with delicate leathers (vachetta, nubuck, exotic skin, suede, light-colored leathers, etc) I highly suggest that you consult a professional leather cleaner first or better yet if you have the budget, let them clean the bag for you.How to Clean Mold from Leather Bags and Shoes Click To Tweet
Let me know if you have experienced cleaning your own bags and feel free to add tips and suggestions in the comment section below.