How to kill mould on leather

Updated February 21, 2017

Mould will grow on any leather products kept in a damp and dark location. Leather couches, purses, coats and belts are all susceptible. Mouldy leather contains black spots or powdery green, grey or white deposits. The most effective treatment to kill mould on leather surfaces depends on the type and quality of the leather. Killing mould on soft or finer quality leather can stain, weaken or discolour your leather. To prevent damaging your leather, always test a treatment on a small, unnoticeable section of the leather to check for potential damage before you treat the entire surface.

Prevent the spread of mould by taking the leather item to be cleaned outside for treatment. Removing mould indoors spreads mould spores through the air, allowing them to spread to other surfaces. If the leather item cannot be moved, place a newspaper under the item to catch the mould spores. Remember to throw the newspaper away after cleaning to reduce the chance of spreading mould through your home.

Use a wet rag to remove as much mould as possible from the surface of the leather. Do not rinse and reuse the rag as this will only spread the mould spores back onto the surface of your leather. Throw the rags away immediately after cleaning.

Use a clean toothbrush to kill the mould in seams or cracks in your leather. Wet the toothbrush and gently brush mould off the areas you cannot reach with a towel. Wipe the mould off with a clean cloth. Throw away the toothbrush after use.

Purchase a mould removal solution specifically formulated for leather cleaning. If the mould is not completely killed off, its roots will remain in your leather, and the mould will reappear.

Shampoo your leather thoroughly with leather shampoo or cleaner to prepare the surface. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush for hard-to-clean areas.

Allow the leather to dry before proceeding. You can dry some leather by placing it outside directly in the sun; this will also kill mould spores. Direct sunlight, however, can cause your leather to fade and become unevenly coloured. Use caution if placing your leather item outside.

Spray the mould-killing product over the leather or wipe on with a clean sponge as directed. Allow the spray to dry; you don't need to remove it from the leather. Repeat this process as necessary until you have fully removed the mould from the leather.

Apply a leather conditioner to protect your leather product from further damage. This will return some of the natural moisture and prevent reappearance of any mould.

Store your leather items in a well-ventilated, dry area of your home. Damp, dark cupboards or mildew-infested basements are not the ideal place to store leather.


Try a drying product in the area where you store your leather. Products containing desiccant will lower the humidity levels in your storage areas, protecting your clothing and leather items.


Do not use bleach products, alcohol or vinegar. These products will weaken and damage your leather. Remove mould from leather when you discover it. If left untreated, the leather will become brittle and smell like mildew.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean rags
  • Soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Bucket of water
  • Newspaper
  • Leather mould repair kit
  • Rubber gloves
  • Leather shampoo
  • Leather conditioner
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About the Author

Deb Katula has written and researched for Societe Generale, FIMAT, Nikko Securities, Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Arthur Anderson. She holds an MBA in economics and finance from the University of Chicago; a Japanese language fellowship from Harvard; and a Bachelor of Arts in business/psychology/Asian studies from Augustana College.