Mold is ugly, a nasty allergen, and stinks!
It’s hard to keep any fabric type luggage looking good. Leather is susceptible to mold and mildew due to its nature of being an animal hide.
Don’t toss out your leather items such as luggage, shoes, boots, purses, clothes, jackets, coats, leather vehicle seats, leather furniture, and other items. They can be cleaned.
I once had a few pairs of strappy flat leather sandals that grew gray mold on the insides where my feet would go from sweat from my feet! I saved them by using the methods below. Never store leather in plastic bags; condensation will increase mold growth.
Mold and mildew grows anywhere there is or has been moisture and especially in humid climates. Even fabric type luggage can have spills that if not cleaned immediately will have mold grow. The mold spores are in the air!
Various items you can use are:
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Liquid Dish Detergent
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Baking Soda
- Clear Distilled Vinegar
- Baby Shampoo
- Tea Tree Oil
1. Removing Fabric Mold
Using vim and vigor and being gentle, mold can be totally removed.
Start off by brushing off the loose mold. You might want to wear a dust mask so that you don’t get any of the dusty spores into your lungs or sinuses. It’s best to do this outdoors so that the spores will not spread inside your house.
You can vacuum the inside and outside; however, you will need to dump the vacuum cleaner’s bag immediately so not to have inside your house spreading the spores. I skip the vacuuming process.
Do not use the method below on leather that should never be wet.
Mix water and dish detergent in your sink. Using a wet sponge, take the soap suds only and put on the area that has mold.
Then wipe the suds off with a damp white cotton cloth not paper towels because the paper will shred on your fabric. I use a white cloth to see clearly what’s being removed.
Small fabric bags can be put into the clothes washer on the gentle cycle and air dried in the sun.
Keep your luggage away from humidity to avoid growing mold since it loves moisture and humidity making it very likely to grow very quickly. Store your luggage in dry areas with good ventilation. You might want to use a small dehumidifier for under $40 dedicated for your storage room or closet. It will help remove those musty smells as well and should be used in humid climates anyway.
2. Removing Leather Mold
Without causing damage to your expensive leather luggage or brief case, use baking soda that’s the ideal product to kill mold and mildew. It will work on white since it does not discolor anything.
Sprinkle baking soda over the leather surface of any item and let it set about 20-minutes, then vacuum or brush the soda off.
You can also mix baking soda, a few drops of clear distilled vinegar, a few drops of liquid dish detergent and enough water to spot clean with a damp cotton cloth then rinse well with cool water and towel dry.
Most of us put a new box of baking soda in the refrigerator to rid it of odors. You can do the same with musty musky smells in your luggage. Put a box of baking soda in your luggage, close it up and let it sit for a week or so to absorb the bad smells.
You can also clean leather using baby shampoo. Put a few drops on the mold spots, rub gently, rinse with cool water until all soap is gone, and towel or air dry.
3. Removing Leather Mold on Unfinished Leather
Unfinished leather is a dyed leather without a protective coating. The analine dye that is used for unfinished leather permeates the cellular structure of the leather from front to back. Analine dye is used for leather and for its ability to show the grain of the product being dyed.
It’s best to use saddle soap for unfinished leather products when they have mold or mildew. It will clean your leather without drying it out. Simply apply a dime-size amount of it to your leather luggage or leather garments with a damp cotton cloth or sponge and gently rub it in until there is a slight lather using little pressure.
Wipe the spot clean with a different damp cloth after the spot has disappeared. Let your leather item air dry keeping it away from high heat and direct sun to prevent fading.
After cleaning any leather product, finish off with a leather conditioner that will deeply penetrate the pores of new leather and rejuvenate old leather, soften, and moisturize for flexibility and beauty.
4. Tea Tree Essential Oil for Mold
Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is great for clear skin, controlling infection, and eliminating mold and mildew.
Make a spray at home by putting 2 cups of distilled or purified water into a spray bottle with 2 teaspoons of Tea Tree oil.
Shake the bottle well and spray the liquid on the areas with mold and mildew.
It must sit to get rid of the mold so don’t wipe it.
Check it out after 24-hours.
One of the above methods should work for mold on leather and other fabrics for luggage.
How to Remove Mold from Leather video.