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Mold on leather: causes & tips on how to get an infestation under control

Alte Ledertasche mit weißem Schimmel auf Regal neben Glasflasche und Nikelbrille in Lederetui

Mold on leather products is frustrating, but it can happen from time to time. It is well known that leather and moisture do not mix well and mold spores thrive in a damp environment.

But don't worry, we have the solution for you. In this article, we will examine the causes of mold on leather, show you how to remove it effectively and give you valuable tips on how to prevent mold from forming on leather in the future.

Black mold vs. white mold: what are the differences?

When it comes to mold, it's important to understand that not all mold is the same . There are two common types of mold that you can find on leather and surfaces. We're talking about white mold and black mold. Let's take a closer look at the differences:

White mold

White mold appears on surfaces in the form of light, fluffy spots or deposits and is relatively easy to spot due to its striking white color. If white mold has taken hold of your leather bag etc., you can breathe a sigh of relief. There's a good chance that you can get the mold under control again with the right approach and the right cleaner or household remedy . The prerequisite: you must not delay treatment, but act quickly !

Black mold

Black mold usually appears in the form of dark, irregularly shaped spots known as mildew . The disadvantage compared to white mold is that it penetrates deep into the material and is therefore difficult to detect . Removing black mold is therefore often a difficult task. To successfully remove it, we recommend that you seek the help of an expert .

Attention: Mold is not always obvious, but remains undetected for a long time due to various factors. This can be due to the following reasons:

  • Color camouflage: Some molds have a color that resembles the surrounding surface, making them difficult to distinguish. This is especially true for light molds on white surfaces or black mold on dark material.
  • Microscopic spores: Mold is made up of tiny spores that are not visible to the naked eye. These can be airborne and present even after visible mold has been removed.

Mould spores under microscope

Image source: Unsplash

  • Slow growth: Mold often grows slowly, so it may take a while before it is present in sufficient quantities to be visible to the eye, during which time it may have already penetrated the surface.

Invisible mold not only damages the material, but also our health. But why does leather get moldy and what factors indicate mold infestation?

Why does leather get moldy?

If you're wondering why your precious leather is infested with mold, you're not alone. But before we look at how to fix this problem, let's understand why it might happen in the first place.

Moisture as the main culprit

The main cause of mold on leather is moisture . When leather is left in a damp environment for a long time or comes into direct contact with water, it creates the ideal breeding ground for mold. Mold grows best in damp, dark and poorly ventilated areas.

Lack of air circulation and ventilation

Another factor that promotes the formation of mold is a lack of air circulation . If you store your leather product in a closed room that is also poorly ventilated, the humidity will increase, which promotes the formation of mold.

Incorrect storage

The way you store your leather goods can also play a role. Storing leather pieces in a dark, damp corner or leaving them directly on the floor also puts them at risk of mold growth.

Unprotected exposure to water

When your leather is exposed to moisture in the form of weather, spills or even sweat, the surface can soften and increase the likelihood of mold growth.

As already mentioned, mold infestation is not always obvious. However, there are various signs that reveal an infestation.

Detecting invisible mold on leather: tips and hints

Detecting invisible mold requires sensitivity to unusual odors, surface changes, and knowledge of the conditions under which mold thrives.

In addition , mold on leather is often not immediately visible to the naked eye . This is because it often begins to spread in the material and remains undetected for a long time. However, there are various signs that you should take seriously. The following hints and tips will help you to uncover invisible mold on leather:

  1. Odor: Mold on leather often gives off a musty or unpleasant odor , so if you notice a strange, musty scent, it could be an indication of invisible mold.
  1. Moisture: If the leather has been stored in a humid environment or you notice signs of moisture, there is a possibility that invisible mold is present.
  1. Discoloration: Sometimes invisible mold causes discoloration on the leather surface. These can be easily overlooked, especially if the leather is naturally patterned or colored.
  1. Feel: Gently run your fingers over the leather. If you feel any unusual bumps or soft spots, this could indicate mold affecting the material from the inside.

Emma Grün Tip: If you suspect that invisible mold has settled in your favorite leather items , a professional inspection can help. Experts have the knowledge and tools to detect hidden infestation.

Cleaning moldy leather: step-by-step instructions

Even if you have discovered mold on your favorite leather item, this does not mean that you have to part with it. Surface deposits of white mold can usually be removed with the right approach and the right products. However, you should not put off treatment ; you should act quickly. Because once the mold has spread , your chances of getting the mold problem under control again are slim . Here are a few steps on how to effectively remove mold:

Step 1: Detect mold infestation

First, you need to make sure that it is actually mold. If there are white or black spots on your leather, then this is usually the case.

Step 2: Take protective measures

Before you start cleaning, remember to protect yourself from mold spores. Protective equipment includes gloves, safety glasses and a respirator .

Step 3: Dry brushing

Carefully brush the dry mold off the leather surface. Use a soft brush to do this. This will prevent the leather from being damaged.

Step 4: Prepare cleaning solution

Mix a solution of water and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. The vinegar solution will help you to efficiently kill the mold spores and remove them from the surface. To gently wipe the leather, it is best to use a soft sponge or cloth.

Step 5: Allow leather to dry thoroughly

Make sure the cleaned leather is completely dry. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources as this can damage the material.

Step 6: Leather care

After removing the mold, your leather needs a thorough treatment . It's up to you whether you choose a natural wax, an emulsion or a leather cream. However, make sure you choose a product that is free of aggressive ingredients.

With Emma Grün's leather care products you always make the right choice. Because they contain only natural ingredients that nourish your leather wonderfully without harming the environment .

Remove mold from leather: home remedies that help

In order to effectively tackle mold, you usually don't need chemicals . Household products can also help you get a mold infestation under control. The following options are available for gentle removal:

Vinegar-water solution

  1. Mix one part water with one part white vinegar.
  2. Now moisten a soft cloth or sponge with the solution.
  3. Gently wipe the moldy area.
  4. Allow the leather to air dry.

Alcohol-water solution

  1. Mix isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher) with water in a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Dab the moldy area with a cloth or sponge soaked in the solution. Then allow the leather to dry thoroughly.

baking powder

  1. Sprinkle the moldy area generously with baking soda.
  2. Leave it on overnight and remove the powder the next day with a soft brush.
  3. Then clean the leather with a natural leather cleaner and let it dry completely.

Tea tree oil

  1. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with water.
  2. Soak a rag in this mixture and wipe off the mold.

Emma Grün Tip: Before you start treatment, we recommend that you test the respective home remedy on an inconspicuous area . However, if the mold is already severely infested or has penetrated deeply into the leather, you should seek professional help.

How do you prevent leather from getting moldy?

Mold on leather can be prevented. The following tips will tell you how to do this:

  • Storage: Store your leather products in a dry place and never in a humid environment.
  • Ventilation: Make sure there is good air circulation. This is especially important if you store your leather pieces in cupboards or boxes.
  • Regular cleaning: Clean your leather goods at regular intervals. This will prevent moisture from forming under the dust deposits, which provokes the formation of mold.

If you follow the tips listed, you can prevent mold from forming on your valuable leather and, if it does happen, remove it effectively. We guarantee that your leather will look like new again and will remain beautiful for a long time.

What are the health effects of mold?

Mold is not only a visual blemish, but can also have serious effects on your health. Mold exposure can harm your body in the following ways:

  • Respiratory problems: Mold can release airborne spores that can enter the respiratory tract when inhaled. This can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing, and even asthma attacks.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people have allergic reactions to mold spores. Common symptoms include rashes, itching, watery eyes, and frequent sneezing.

Green mold on white water pipe

Image source: Unsplash

  • Health problems: Mold spores can cause serious infections . People with weakened immune systems, such as children, the elderly, or people with chronic diseases, are particularly susceptible to health problems caused by mold.
  • Toxin: Certain types of mold produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins, which can cause serious health problems if inhaled or ingested .

To protect your health, it is important to prevent mold growth and eliminate any infestation immediately. That is why we advise you to get to the bottom of the cause and react as quickly as possible if symptoms occur.

FAQ: Questions & Answers

Why does leather get moldy?

Leather usually becomes moldy due to moisture, lack of ventilation and darkness. These conditions create an ideal environment for mold growth.

How do I recognize mold on leather?

Mold on leather often appears in the form of small, black or white spots. Musty smells also indicate mold infestation.

How do I remove mold from leather?

To remove mold from leather, you can use a solution of water and vinegar (1:1 ratio). First, brush off the dry mold and then carefully wipe it with the mixture.

Can I prevent mold from growing on leather?

Yes, you can prevent mold growth on leather by making sure it is stored in a dry environment with adequate ventilation and light. Also avoid direct contact with water and keep the leather clean.

Is mold on leather harmful to health?

Yes, mold on leather can be harmful to health, especially for people with allergies or weakened immune systems. The spores can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions.


1. “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Mold and Your Health”,

2. "Environmental Protection Agency – Mold”,

3. "Federal Environment Agency – Mould in indoor spaces",

4. "Home remedies and tips",

5. "The Leather Encyclopedia: For the love of leather",