Ask LH: How to Clean Mould off Leather

Ask LH: How to Clean Mould off Leather
Image: iStock

If you live somewhere, anywhere, along the East Coast of Australia right now, there’s a high chance that you’re running into a mould problem. Maybe it’s only minor and you’ve noticed a few spots on the walls and ceiling or maybe the mould has become a new unwanted housemate and covering everything you see. Either way, something rather unusual that’s happening is people have noticed mould growing on their leather products, including lounges, bags and shoes. But how can you clean mould off leather?

It’s a bit rude, if you ask me, that mould even grows in our homes in the first place – but to grow on leather? That’s just crossing the line. Especially seeing as leather comes with its own set of delicate cleaning instructions, so trying to figure out how to clean mould off it is a whole ordeal.

But never fear because, as usual, we’ve got you covered.

This week’s Ask Lifehacker is going to teach you how you can clean mould off leather.

How does mould form?

Let’s start off with a basic science lesson, shall we?

Even though I’m repeatedly hearing about mould, I still am baffled as to how it finds its way onto everything. 

Basically, mould will grow anywhere you find moist surfaces without proper ventilation or sunlight. In order to reproduce, mould creates tiny particles called spores.

As these spores are so small and airborne, they can quickly find their way onto any surface where the conditions allow for growth, including on your leather goods.

The spores then feed off the material that’s on your leather and start their rapid growth. But how can we clean mould off leather?

Ask LH: How to Clean Mould off Leather
It can be difficult to know how to clean mould off leather. Image: iStock

You should clean mould off as soon as you see it grow

If you’re like me, you’d see something like mould growing on something and think “Hm, that’s interesting. I’ll deal with that later.”

Well, I’m begging you not to do that. Mould is the last thing you want to leave alone to let fester, so it’s important you clean it off leather straight away.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, mould and mildew are not good for you to be breathing in and living amongst.

According to NSW Health, the health effects of mould exposure include:

  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Irritation of the eyes and skin
  • Wheezing
  • Mould can induce asthma attacks
  • Mould infection in the lungs (in serious, rare cases)

It’s important to note that if you come into contact with mould, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any health problems. But it does have the potential to destroy your goods, including your beloved leather items.

How do you clean mould off leather?

Enough about what mould can do, let’s talk about how you can clean it off leather.

The good people over at Fantastic Cleaners have put together a step-by-step guide on how to clean mould off leather.

It’s important that you do the cleaning outdoors when possible, otherwise, the spores will be released in your home and find their way onto others things. If you can’t take the leather item (say, a lounge) outside, then make sure you’ve opened all the windows.

  1. Wear a face mask and gloves. You don’t want to be touching or breathing in any mould spores.
  2. Brush the mould off carefully from the leather. A soft brush will do the trick.
  3. Dip a cloth in the cleaning solution (preferably antibacterial) of your choice. Diluted vinegar is a handy alternative.
  4. Do a spot test on a small area to see if it works. You don’t want to find out that you’ve gone to all that effort and it did nothing, or that the soap has bleached your leather. If the spot test works then go ahead and apply the solution over the affected area.
  5. Repeat if necessary.
  6. Dry well with a clean soft cloth.
  7. Condition your leather product with a leather rejuvenating product
Ask LH: How to Clean Mould off Leather
How to clean mould off leather jackets. Image: iStock

How to prevent mould from growing on leather

If you don’t want the mould coming back to haunt you in the future, here are some handy tips to keep your leather safe.

  • Maintain proper ventilation in storage areas
  • Use dehumidifiers where needed
  • Try to limit condensation in rooms
  • Use mould captures or damp removers in rooms where your leather is stored
  • Avoid leaving your leather product away from wet clothing
  • Don’t leave your leather products lying around on the floor. Carefully pack them away when you aren’t using them
  • If you have a leather lounge, chairs or furniture, don’t leave things on them

There you have it, your complete guide on how to clean mould off leather.

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