how to remove mold from shoes

Have you ever noticed a musty smell from your closet and found your beautiful leather shoes to be the source?

I know how miserable one may feel at that moment. You’ve put the shoes aside for special occasions, and now, you’re greeted with footwear that’s no longer usable.

If you identify the problem soon enough, there’s still a chance to save your shoes. Here’s how to remove mold from shoes.

Here’s what you can use to remove mold from shoes:

  • You can remove mold using a disinfectant, such as alcohol, vinegar, baking soda or tea tree oil.
  • Use a brush to remove mold from your shoes.
  • A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove mold from canvas shoes.
  • Always protect yourself by wearing a mask to prevent mold spores from entering your mouth and nose.

How to Remove Mold from Shoes

What Causes Mold on Shoes?

Mold is a type of microscopic fungus that grows on damp surfaces. It has a fur-like texture and usually appears in green, black, white, or yellow films on your shoes.

About 88 percent of this dampness occurs because of condensation, but it can have other causes, such as high air humidity, hot climate, poor ventilation, and improper maintenance.

If you wash your shoes and don’t let them dry before you put them in your wardrobe, they can develop mold and mildew. Similarly, if you put on unbreathable socks and fail to stop sweating feet, the chance of getting moldy shoes will increase.

When people face these fuzzy patches, the first solution that pops into their heads is to throw them right out the window, but with the following techniques, you can clean and treat your moldy shoes.

How To Remove Mold From Shoes?

Depending on the shoe fabric and density of the mold patches, there are different methods to remove the molds from your footwear. Before you learn how to remove mold from shoes, you should prepare the required gear.

Also, put on a mask to ensure the mold spores don’t find their way into your lungs. They can cause several health risks, such as allergies, asthma, coughs, wheezing, and other respiratory problems. And have a pair of gloves to protect your hands before performing any of the following practices.

How To Remove Mold From Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes can become thoroughly spoilt, discolored, and unusable when contaminated with mold and mildew. You should find a way to treat them as soon as possible. Alcohol is the best solution to kill these destructive factors. Do the following steps:

  1. Use a dust-broom, toothbrush, or any other kind of brush to scrub the loose layers of mold away from the surface. But avoid doing it inside the house because mold can rebuild on your rugs, walls, and other areas.
  2. Then use a vacuum cleaner to absorb the remaining buildup from the fabric. Make sure you vacuum every single edge of your shoes, including the inner soles.
  3. Mix one cup of water with one cup of rubbing alcohol in a bucket.
  4. Pick a piece of sponge or washcloth, dampen it in the solution, and wipe all the remaining mold away.
  5. Once you eliminate all the signs of fungus, put the shoes in the fresh air and let them dry under sunlight.

How To Remove Mold From Leather Shoes

Due to a couple of reasons, leather shoes are very vulnerable to mold exposure. For one thing, leather lacks any perforations, so you’re more likely to sweat in leather shoes. It takes more time to dry the insoles of an unbreathable pair of shoes.

Whatever the reason, if you face signs of mold growth on your leather shoes, you can remove them using the following steps:

  • Like the previous method, bring the shoes outside and use a dry brush to scrape all the mold remnants.
  • Make soapy water, dip a rag in it, and apply it all over the inner and outer surfaces.
  • If it doesn’t seem to do the job, pick another container with a new rag.
  • Add one part of warm water to the bowl and mix it with another part of rubbing alcohol. Continue scrubbing the leather with this solution until all the mold residue comes off.
  • To minimize damage to the shoe’s texture, rub it with a leather conditioner. It helps restore natural shine and prevents unwanted cracks.

Note: Based on the severity of the case, you can also replace rubbing alcohol with Isopropyl alcohol; this kind of alcohol effectively destroys molds. However, as strong as it is for mold and mildew, it may dissolve your leather dyes and harm its texture. So, before you apply it all over the outer surface, make sure you test it on a hidden part of your shoes.

How To Remove Mold From Suede Shoes

Suede is a sensitive type of leather; it may get damaged if you use harsh substances such as rubbing alcohol on them. So, it’s not only a matter of how to remove mold from shoes; you should also be aware of what is best to remove molds from shoes.

To clean mold from your suede shoes, prepare a mixture of water and dish soap. Then, use a plastic scrubber or preferably, a suede brush to wipe out all the mold and mildew formed on your shoes.

If you still observe any stains or marks of mold, buy a suede cleaner, and follow the package’s instruction. Remember that any further efforts can cause scuffs and scratches on your suede shoes.

Does Vinegar Kill Molds?

With 4-7 percent of acidity, white vinegar works as a cleaning agent that can wipe germs, bacteria, and fungus off surfaces. According to studies, this substance is capable of killing 82 percent of mold species and is also useful in preventing mold growth in the future.

You can use the following steps to remove mold and mildew with vinegar.

  1. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and squirt the content directly onto the moldy surface (for mild issues, you can dilute it by adding some water.)
  2. Leave it there for one hour so that the fabric completely soaks it up.
  3. Depending on the mold thickness and the fabric’s vulnerability, wipe the area with a pad, rag, or scrubbing brush.
  4. Then, rinse the shoes with warm water and let them dry.

Note: Vinegar is very abrasive. So, this method doesn’t apply to delicate materials, such as suede or nubuck. Instead, use it for leather shoes, fabric shoes, and nylon shoes.

It has a strong smell that might be annoying to some people. Although it will fade after a couple of days, you can accelerate the process by spraying some tea tree oil. It will not only dissolve the bad smell of vinegar but will also contribute to killing the remaining molds.


Does Baking Soda Kill Molds?

Some studies have proved the antifungal properties of baking soda. However, they’ve indicated it’s not a complete mold disinfectant, and it works best when combined with other detergents. For that reason, you should usually combine this method with the vinegar method above to achieve the best results.

After or before you spray the shoes with a vinegar solution, repeat the process with baking soda. But this time, add only one teaspoon of baking soda into two cups of water. Pour the combination into a spray bottle and shake until the baking soda completely disappears.

Spray it onto the shoes, and repeat steps 3 and 4 of the above method.

How Do I Keep Shoes From Getting Mold in My Closet?

The following tips help you prevent molds and stop them from regrowing.

  • Between every use, put a small packet of silica gel in your shoes so that it absorbs the moisture. You can also do this by pouring some baking soda or salt into your shoes.
  • Clean your shoes every so often and make sure there are no greasy or muddy particles on it because fungus can feed on these substances.
  • Buy a non-electric dehumidifier for your closet. You can also make a home-made moisture-remover with charcoal briquettes.
  • Insulate any openings you find in the back of the closet wall, because if cold air penetrates the closet, it chills the shoe surfaces and contributes to condensation.
  • Check if there are any leaking pipes behind the back wall of your shoe cabinet.
  • Open the closet door from time to time to provide some ventilation. (avoid this if the level of humidity is high in your home.)
  • If you have hyper sweating feet, put your shoes in fresh air after each use.
  • Don’t place your shoe rack in a very hot place.
  • Don’t use a single pair for your everyday activities. Instead, switch between shoes, so the used one gets a chance to dry; this also brings other pairs out of the closet, away from mold exposure.
  • Install a mold tracker in your room so that you can detect them on time.
  • Don’t wrap any kind of plastic bag around your shoes because it traps moisture.
  • Install a light bulb in your closet. Artificial lights produce some amount of heat, helping with mold removal.
  • If possible, use shoe rackets or metal cabinets to store your shoes. Wooden shelves are more susceptible to mold growth.

Mildew in harness boots.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get Mold Out of Shoes?

You can get mold out of shoes by applying a range of home-made, factory-made, and natural disinfectants. Depending on the fabric, you can use soap, hydrogen peroxide, borax, tea tree oil, or rubbing alcohol to remove mold stains off your shoes.

Is Vinegar Better than Bleach?

No. Bleach is better than vinegar when it comes to mold disinfection. In an interview with TheZoereport, Dr. Adil Bhaloda said vinegar is 80 percent capable of killing mold and mildew, while the efficiency of bleach reaches up to 99.9 percent. However, we don’t recommend using it as an anti-mold solution on your shoes, given its whitening properties.

Why Does Vinegar Kill Molds?

With a PH of 2.5, vinegar is an acidic formation, and acids are proven to inhibit mold growth.

Does Sunlight Kill Molds?

Sunlight kills mold for two reasons. First, it’s a great source of ultraviolet radiation (UV), and UV is super capable of removing mold. Second, it’s a great heat source that plays a significant role in removing mold and mildew.

However, you should be careful when putting your shoes under sunlight for long hours. UV has a kind of discoloring effect that can blemish your leather shoes.

Does Salt Kill Molds?

Salt doesn’t kill mold on its own, but if you mix it with acidic solutions such as white vinegar and lemon juice, it can turn into a powerful anti-mold detergent.

Will Fresh Air Kill Molds?

Fresh air helps prevent mold growth through ventilation, but it doesn’t kill it. Besides, air samples show that some mold and mildew species can better survive in outdoor conditions.

Wrap Up

Mold can grow on your shoes for one reason or another. Once this happens, it will wreak havoc on their appearance, take a toll on their texture, and rot the whole material. This article shows you how to remove mold from shoes and how to prevent it from coming back again.


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