How to Get Mold Out of Shoes | Jeremy Jenum

We've all experienced the horror of taking out a forgotten pair of shoes from storage only to be greeted by an overwhelming musty odor. Your initial reaction may be to discard them, but you shouldn't give up hope. It's still possible that your shoes can be salvaged.

All instances of mold and mildew can be traced back to humidity. Avoiding the issue altogether is as simple as donning a pair of watertight footwear, like these Vessi shoes. Nonetheless, if you're set on making do with the footwear you already own, you can always try one of these alternative strategies.

How to remove mold from shoes and bring them back to life.

Where Does the Mold Come From in Stale Shoes?

Mould, or fungus, is a rough, microscopic fungus that thrives and spreads on wet surfaces. Almost any surface, including walls, fabrics, and shoes, can become a breeding ground for this mold if given enough moisture. Temperature, humidity, airflow, and maintenance issues are the most common contributors to the growth of this annoying fungus.

Mold thrives in humid environments, making shoes a prime target. That musty, dark, and warm place is just what the fungus ordered. One reason is that the outer surface of the shoes is typically exposed to the elements, while the insoles are particularly vulnerable to moisture from perspiration. In other words, damp shoes are a breeding ground for mold.

Scattered Mold Spores

In addition, mold spores are present outdoors and can be accidentally brought inside. Mold spores, for instance, can accumulate on your shoes and clothing if you step on rotting wood. Because spores thrive in damp environments, that annoying sticky layer on your shoes will continue to form if there is any moisture in your shoes.

Clean Mold Off Shoes Step by Step

The following methods are typically effective in removing mold from shoes, though their efficacy will depend on how much mold there is.

  • A disinfectant, like white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, or tea tree oil

  • A device for cleaning up dirt and debris from shoes, ideally one designed for canvas

  • A brush

It's important to protect yourself before you begin the process of removing mold from your shoes. Wear a mask to prevent breathing in any mold spores that may be present. Coughing, allergies, wheezing, and asthma are just a few of the symptoms they can trigger. Wearing gloves will protect your hands from the chemicals in the materials you'll be working with.

Once you have everything you need, it's helpful to be familiar with different removal methods depending on the material of your shoes. Please find some examples of our work below:

Clean Mold Off Leather Shoes

Leather Shoes | Jia Ye

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Ingredients Necessary

  • The brush has soft bristles.

  • Detergent

  • Water

  • Alcohol for rubbing

  • Some sort of storage receptacle

  • Sponges and washcloths


First, remove the shoes and tools and place them outside (or in a well-ventilated area) to reduce exposure to spores.

To begin, remove any obvious spores from the shoes using a soft brush. If you don't have a brush, a dry, clean cloth will do the trick as well. For mold that has spread inside the shoes as well, a thinner brush will be needed to reach those tight spots. Take out the insoles and give them a good scrub whenever possible.

3. Fill the bucket with plain, cold water and add enough rubbing alcohol to make it about half full. If you add one cup of water, for instance, you'll also need to add one cup of alcohol.

Fourth, wet a cloth with the solution, and then carefully wipe the shoe down. You could use a cotton swab to get into tighter spots.

After that, take a fresh cloth and dampen it with water to clean the leather.

Make a solution of warm water and a mild detergent as the shoes dry (Step 6). If you have leather saddle soap, you can use that instead.

7. Wipe the shoe down with a cloth dampened in the solution.

The eighth step is to use a cloth dampened with plain water to remove any remaining soap residue, then to let the shoes dry naturally once more.

Once they're dry, use a leather conditioner to make them feel like new. 9. However, it is always a good idea to check the care instructions that came with your shoes to see if there is anything you can do instead of doing the things listed above.

A bonus hint: this YouTube video does a fantastic job of outlining the process in full.

Instructions for Removing Mold from Nubuck and Suede Shoes

Suede Shoes | David Lezcano

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Suede is a soft, napped leather that has a different feel than regular leather. In contrast, nubuck is made from top-grain leather that has been buffed on the grain side to create a velvety texture.

In a positive turn of events, mold can be cleaned off of both materials in the same way. How it works is as follows:

Materials Required

  • Injecting alcohol into a wound

  • The Use of Vaseline

  • Water

  • Cleaning materials like sponges and washcloths


First, smear some petroleum jelly on the moldy spots if the shoes are only slightly musty.

You can clean mold off of shoes by combining equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water and applying the solution with a cloth or sponge.

Apply petroleum jelly or alcohol to the shoes, and then use a damp cloth or sponge to rub it in circular motions.

Put the shoes in a cool, dry place out of the sun and heat to dry out.

5. Once they are dry, brush them gently with a suede or nubuck brush to help restore the soft texture.


If you want to try something new on your suede or nubuck shoes, always start with a small test area first. Some cleaning products have been known to cause a color change in these shoes.

Preventing and Removing Mold from Canvas Shoes

Canvas shoes can easily become discolored or unusable due to mould and mildew. Mold can grow on canvas shoes, but they can be easily cleaned.

Prerequisites and Equipment

  • Soft brush

  • Carpet sweeper

  • Denatured alcohol for rubdowns

  • Water

  • Bucket

  • Sponge or cloth


First, brush the surface of your shoes with a soft bristled brush to remove any loosened mold.

To remove any lingering mould growth from the fabric, step two is to use a vacuum cleaner. Every crevice, including the soles, must be thoroughly vacuumed.

3. Fill a bucket with water and rubbing alcohol, and mix the two together.

Next, wet a cloth or sponge with the solution and use it to wipe down the remaining mold.

5. Once the fungus has been completely removed, let the shoes dry in the sun.

Tips for Treating Shoe Mold

Shoes harboring fungus are a common cause of foot fungus infections and unpleasant odors. How to keep it under control:

  • If you wear the same shoes every day, it's especially important to change your socks frequently to prevent the buildup of moisture.

  • One option is to use a spray made specifically for disinfecting shoes in order to eliminate any fungi that may have settled in.

  • Insoles can be sprayed with a solution of vinegar and baking soda. To do this, you can use a spray bottle.

  • The sun can do wonders for your shoes if you leave them out occasionally. Light with a UV component is very effective against mold spores. Some materials, like leather, are especially sensitive to sunlight and require special care.

Keeping Shoes Free from Mold While They're in Storage

Clean Mold | Marc A. Sporys

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High humidity and a lack of light make closets ideal environments for mold growth. Still, you can keep your closet mould-free by following these guidelines.

If you return home with wet footwear, give them plenty of time to dry out before putting them away. Don't hang up your laundry in the closet while it's still wet.

Mold thrives in dirty, unsanitary environments. Make sure everything you're storing in a closet is spotless. Put closet cleaning on your monthly schedule as well. Some have suggested spraying a mixture of baking soda and vinegar on a regular basis to eliminate any existing spores and stop their reproduction.

Mold thrives in the damp conditions that are encouraged by plastic's ability to retain moisture.

Keep the closet doors closed as much as possible to reduce the amount of moisture in the air in your home. Soggy air is kept out. The closet light could be left on for long periods of time as well. The dryness in the area can be maintained by the bulb's heat.

  • Toss in some silica gel packs

Silica gel packs can be left in a closet in place of a dehumidifier if you don't have one. These aid in preventing condensation and keeping things at a comfortable temperature inside. You should replace the packs every month (or every other month, if you live in a particularly humid climate).

Questions Often Asked About Sneaker Mold

Is it dangerous to have moldy shoes?

Yes Moldy shoes not only smell bad, but the spores can cause serious health problems if breathed in. People with preexisting conditions face greater dangers. Second, fungal nail infections can be brought on by wearing shoes that have mold. You can prevent mold from growing in your shoes if you keep them dry and clean.

How effective is sunlight in preventing mold growth?

Mold can be killed in two ways by direct sunlight. It's important to note that ultraviolet light (UV) is very effective at killing mold. Second, heat is crucial for getting rid of mildew and drying things out. Still, remember that prolonged exposure to sunlight can degrade your footwear's construction.

Is it true that vinegar is effective against mold?

Yes The acidity of vinegar is measured at a pH 2. 5 Since it's so acidic, it can kill mold.

Fourthly, what does a musty odor indicate?

Smelling musty is often a sign of fungal, moldy, or mildew growth. If you can smell mold, there is likely a substantial amount of mold growth present. Mold should be removed effectively by airing out the space, controlling the environment, and cleaning thoroughly.

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