Leather goods are prone to mold and mildew, which can be unsightly and damaging. If you’re unable to access professional leather cleaning services, follow these steps to clean your leather items at home:

Gather the following tools: tissue paper, a bowl of filtered water, a soft brush, a soft cloth, and a steam iron. For heavily moldy items, you may also need vinegar or 90-degree alcohol. Additionally, have some leather conditioner and leather polish on hand.

Illustration: L.G

Step 1: Clean the leather surface

Start by dampening a tissue with water and gently wiping down the leather surface. Be thorough and go over the creases and wrinkles multiple times to remove any dirt or grime.

For heavily soiled items, create a solution of vinegar or 90-degree alcohol diluted with warm water in a 1:5 ratio. Dip a soft cloth into this solution and carefully wipe down the moldy areas. You may need to repeat this process 2-3 times to ensure all traces of mold are gone.

Important: Avoid using undiluted alcohol, vinegar, soap, or citrus juice as these can dry out and discolor the leather over time. Do not use alcohol on suede.

Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub away any remaining mold and dirt from the crevices and stitching. Follow up by wiping the entire surface with a damp cloth.

Step 2: Steam the leather

Use your steam iron on the leather surface and, if possible, on the lining as well. The heat will kill any remaining mold spores.

Step 3: Condition the leather

Apply a leather conditioner to the surface of the item. This will help restore the leather’s softness and elasticity. Leave the conditioner on for 10-20 minutes to allow it to penetrate the material.

Step 4: Polish your leather goods

Finish the process by polishing your leather items to a shine.

Leather Care Tips

To maintain your leather goods and prevent mold, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. You can also place them in an airtight container with an absorbent packet or a bag containing lime powder or dried tea leaves to help keep them dry.

Avoid placing leather items directly on the floor or against walls. Always allow leather to air dry completely before storing, and avoid direct sunlight as it can cause the leather to crack.

For leather bags and shoes that are not in frequent use, stuff them with newspaper to help maintain their shape and absorb moisture.


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Frequently asked questions

To clean mold off leather, create a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Use a soft cloth to apply the solution to the moldy areas, wiping gently until the mold is gone. You can also use a leather cleaner or a mild soap and water solution. After cleaning, condition the leather to restore its natural oils and protect it from future mold growth.

Mold can cause permanent damage to leather if left untreated, and the cold, damp conditions of winter can promote mold growth. By cleaning and conditioning your leather before winter sets in, you can prevent mold from taking hold and keep your leather items looking their best.

To prevent mold on leather, store your items in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Avoid exposing leather to direct sunlight or heat sources, as this can dry out the leather and make it more susceptible to mold. Regularly clean and condition your leather to keep it in good condition and to create a barrier against mold.

To clean mold off leather car seats, vacuum the seats first to remove any loose mold spores. Then, use a leather cleaner or a mild soap and water solution to clean the affected areas. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the mold away. After cleaning, condition the leather to protect it and restore its natural suppleness.

Some natural ways to remove mold from leather include using vinegar, lemon juice, or baking soda. Create a solution of equal parts water and vinegar, lemon juice, or baking soda, and apply it to the moldy areas with a soft cloth. Gently wipe until the mold is gone, then condition the leather to restore its natural oils.