Imagine this: You’re running late for work, your favorite pair of boots are at the local cobbler left to be fixed, and you’re rummaging through your closet in search of that one pair you suddenly remember you still have. Only to find out there’s mold on your shoes – yup, those shoes you planned on wearing.
Yikes! I’m guessing this worst-case scenario is on no one’s agenda. And no, I don’t mean No One from Game of Thrones.
Any time you store your shoes, clothes, or accessories, you expect them to stay the same once you decide to retrieve them. However, if they’re not stored properly, mold is simply (and unfortunately) inevitable.
But no worries! In this article, you’ll find out what causes mold on shoes, how you can remove it, and – most importantly – how you can prevent it from growing in future. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Why do shoes grow mold?
When we take everything into consideration, at the end of the day, there are only two major reasons for mold on shoes.
The first, and most probable one, is that your shoes were wet when you stored them in your closet. If they got rained on or if you sweated too much in them, that moisture inside can be the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow.
Your shoes might appear completely dry at a quick glance, but most of the time they’re not. They’re only dry on the outside, while their insoles remain moist for hours.
The second common cause is that your closet was moldy, to begin with.
Most closets are usually dark and poorly ventilated, and when you regularly put wet shoes inside, the closet shelves become an ideal place for mold growth. This usually happens with wooden shoe closets as they are mold magnets.
5 easy steps to remove mold on shoes
1. First, make sure it’s actually mold you’re dealing with
First things first, you have to determine whether that stuff on your shoes is actually mold or not.
Generally speaking, mold on shoes appears in small circular patches, and it can come in many different colors – white, green, black, brown, and sometimes even orange.
It doesn’t always look like the one on bread. So, make sure you inspect everything before you proceed with cleaning.
2. Brush your shoes off
Next, you’ll want to wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself and go somewhere outside, so the mold spores don’t spread and contaminate the rest of your home.
Then, take any firm-bristled brush and gently go over any visible mold on your shoes. Make sure to remove as much as you can, so the next step is easier.
3. Wipe them with a mixture of white vinegar and water
Once you have brushed off everything thoroughly, it’s time to make the powerful vinegar-water concoction.
In a bucket, mix one part white vinegar with one part room-temperature water. Generally, half a cup should be enough, but if you need more, just add more, as long as you ensure an even ratio.
Then, take a clean, soft cloth, dip it in the vinegar-water solution, and start gently wiping your shoes. Do this for a couple of minutes, or until the mold is no longer visible. And make sure to wipe both the inside and outside, and use Q-tips for all the nooks and crannies you cannot reach with the cloth.
When you’re confident you are done, leave your shoes to completely dry. If you notice this method wasn’t as successful as you hoped it would be, and that there’s still some mold on, you can always repeat this process one more time.
Disclaimer: This method will not be effective on shoes made out of suede.
4. Clean them with some soap and water
If you don’t mind the vinegary smell, you can definitely skip this step. But for all of us who do not particularly enjoy it, here’s how you can get rid of it.
Wait until your shoes are completely dry. Then, pour some water into a bucket and add a couple of drops of liquid detergent or any soap of your choice. Stir well until you get a soapy solution.
Take your cloth or a soft-bristled brush and go over your shoes, just like you usually do when cleaning them. Then rinse them off and you’re done.
5. Let them dry
Once everything is done and well cleaned, all that’s left to do is leave your shoes somewhere, out of direct sunlight, to completely air dry. And that’s it!
Are there any other useful methods to remove mold from shoes?
Apart from white vinegar, which is an excellent mold-fighter, there are other equally effective agents that you can try in the fight against mold on shoes.
First of all, there’s baking soda. This highly versatile ingredient is excellent at removing mold and preventing it from coming back.
All you need to do is make a thick paste of baking soda and water, apply it to moldy areas on your shoes, and scrub everything with a toothbrush or any similar brush you have at home.
Once you’re done brushing, let it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse your shoes with clean water and let them air dry.
For all-white shoes, you can also try trusty bleach. You’ll need to mix in an old spray bottle one part bleach with three parts water and shake the bottle well in order to combine everything. Then, spray your shoes generously and let them rest for around 15 minutes.
After the wait, take a toothbrush or any similar brush and gently (but thoroughly!) scrub your shoes, paying special attention to mold-affected areas. When you’re done scrubbing, rinse your shoes off and leave them to air dry.
And the third method involves using tea tree oil. In a spray bottle, add around 30 drops of tea tree oil to one cup of water. After you shake the bottle to mix, the rest of the method is the same as with bleach – spray, scrub, rinse, and air dry.
Bear in mind that each of these methods will be most effective after you dry brush the mold on your shoes in advance.
How to remove mold from the inside of leather shoes?
Well, I suggest you first make sure your favorite pair of leather shoes are properly cleaned.
Then, to remove mold from their insides, all you’ll need is some rubbing alcohol or medical-grade isopropyl.
Mix equal parts of either rubbing alcohol or medical-grade isopropyl and water, and with a clean cloth wipe everything down. After you’re done, use another clean cloth dipped in clear water and wipe away any residue. And that’s it!
How to prevent mold on shoes
Successfully removing mold from shoes is good and useful. But it’s a way better option to prevent it from growing in the first place.
So, if you have made an effort to clean your shoes, you should definitely make sure to also take the following precautionary measures:
1. Correctly store your shoes
The way you store your shoes in your closet is extremely important. You need to make sure your shoes are properly clean and dry before you shove them into your closet. It’s also advisable to invest in boot shapers and have a good sorting system, so you can have everything neatly stored.
The closet or the spot where you usually place your shoes can’t be musty and damp. It has to be humidity and mold-free, to begin with, so make sure to take care of that as well. If it’s possible, store your shoes on a metal rack, as mold tends to grow better on wood.
And to be one hundred percent sure you won’t get mold on shoes, place silica gel packets inside them, which will successfully absorb humidity and moisture from both your shoes and your closet.
2. Always wait until they’re completely dry before putting them in the closet
As mentioned in the beginning, wet shoes are usually the main culprits for mold. So, any time you go jumping in rain puddles, or you come back from an extremely intensive gym session, make sure to leave your shoes outside your closet, preferably somewhere well-ventilated, so they can properly dry.
This next step is optional, but once they’re completely dry, you can spray them with a mixture of water and vinegar, as a preventative measure. If you do so, again, let them dry before storing them in the closet.
3. Alternate between shoes
And lastly, make sure you don’t wear the same pair of shoes all day every day.
Listen, I know what a favorite pair of shoes can mean to a human being, but it’s important to alternate between your shoes to give enough time for each pair to completely dry.
You can also take an additional pair of socks with you if you know you’re going to spend the majority of your day wearing the same pair of shoes.