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How to Clean Mold From Leather

How to Clean Mold From Leather

Posted by Daniel Sutton on Apr 24th 2014

Don’t you just hate it when you’re having a perfectly lovely day – sun shining brightly and the smell of freshly baked cinnamon roll breakfast on the air, friendly winds waving through your open window, birds chirping with the hustling, bustling harmony of clattering pavement as people dance and twirl about the streets to a melodic tune in your head like some shameless Disney flick – then you open your closet door, and there it is, some manner of fuzzy green monster oozed over your darling leather pet and sucking its brains out. It’s in your stomach now, squeezing tight and you feel like you’re going to convulse. It’s hideous. It’s a harbinger. It’s mold.

There goes your breakfast.

That’s how most of us feel when we find that unwelcome alien munching on our precious leather friend. It’s not a pretty sight, and it can harm your leather if you decide to just close the door and take care of it another day. Mold should always be attended to with haste, and not just because it’s a hazard to the leather itself. It’s a hazard to you as well. Check out Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about how mold can affect you.

Don’t Sniff It

So, for the grueling task of fungi extermination, here are a few things to keep in mind. Mold can release fumes and spores that are bad for you. It might be a good idea to wear gloves and a mask when dealing with this bugger, minimizing your exposure as the fungi disperses. Second, you may want to start finding another place to store your leather. Dark places, high humidity, warm temperatures and bad ventilation are ideal conditions for inviting the retching parasite. Instead, try to keep your leather somewhere cool and indoors. A little light, dryer air, and a little (breathable) protection, such as a dust bag, is preferable. Of course, giving your bag a chance to breathe is also crucial to maintaining it. What we mean by breathing is allowing your leather to absorb the moisture around it, a natural lubricant that helps keep it supple and healthy. Without being able to release and absorb right amounts of moisture, your leather can either rot or dry out, depending on how much moisture it’s getting. Take your leather for a ride outside every now and then! Nature is beautiful!

Now that’s all good and well for preventing mold growth, but what if I actually have it? First, our condolences. Walking outside with a gas mask and surgeon gloves like some kind of second-rate horror movie villain to clean mold from leather is probably not very high on your bucket list (or maybe it is - more power to you). Second, we’d recommend you give it that aforementioned time outside. Let it dry in the fresh air for a bit before hitting things off. Mold is kind of like an isolating troll child. It doesn’t like showing its face outdoors, and some time out of the house will do a lot for its attitude. Namely, killing it.

Do It Like Mario

Once your leather has thoroughly dried, it’s time to put your crazy magic to work. You’re not only going to need to clean mold from leather, you’re going to need to clean the leather itself.

1. Stay outdoors

First things first, you need to get rid of the mold. You want to be outdoors while doing this in order to avoid breathing in too many toxic fumes and/or spreading the mold spores around your house. The spores spread quickly and will multiply before you know it and chances are you do not want to encourage further mold growth.

2. Gently brush

Using a soft bristled brush, gently brush away the mold, taking care to brush away from your body, and also preferably other peoples’ bodies. Again, good idea to wear a mask. Also make sure you brush gently, as, depending on your brush’s make, brushing with too much force can scratch your leather. I know this is probably the least of your worries right now, but try to think ahead.

3. Time to wash

Once you have removed as much mold as you can, it is important to wash your leather. This leather care step takes careful consideration as you can’t wash leather like you do other apparel. You’ll need the right leather cleaner. To find the right leather cleaner, you need to know your leather. You’ll need to know “How to Identify Types of Leather.” Click that.
For cleaning leather, use a recipe specifically designed for leather items. Assuming your leather is finished, you should have an easier time finding a good one, but you will still want to test it first. Gently apply the leather cleaner with a white cloth or applicator pad in a hidden, discreet area of your bag, and let it dry completely. If there is no discoloration in your leather and little to no color displacement on your applicator (or any other side effects), it’s good to go. Chamberlain's Straight Cleaner No. 2 is an ideal leather cleaner for most types of leather. Try it!
Wipe your leather cleaner in circular motions across the surface of your leather evenly and in thin layers. Afterwards, wipe off any excess fluid with a soft cloth. You can bring it indoors to dry, in a cool place away from sunlight and direct heat. Heat is bad.

4. Conditioning is vital

Once the mold is completely removed and you've finished the whole "clean mold from leather" jig, take the time to condition it with a natural leather conditioner, such as Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment No. 1 to prevent unnecessary drying and cracking and to replenish the leather's natural oils that were also stripped from the leather along with the mold by the leather cleaner. Use the same process as above. Test the leather conditioner, then gently wipe it in with circular motions, even across the surface, and let it dry. Buff it off afterwards, and enjoy the glow.
Afterwards, it may be a good idea to protect your leather from further disagreements with excess water by using Chamberlain's Water Protectant No. 3. This recipe is specifically designed to shield your leather from harsh elements using an all natural blend of oils and waxes that condition as well as protect leather. Note that this recipe will likely darken lighter leathers and is not recommended for suede, so test before using. You know the drill.

Don't Eat Green Food

Speaking for your leather, I hope we have all learned a valuable lesson today - and not merely about how to clean mold from leather. Just because leather is no longer alive, that's no reason to believe it’s not alive! Give the poor pet some time to breathe, and it’ll promise not to do that whole mold phase thing again. Honestly, leather these days. Long story short, if your leather keeps too long in humid, dark closets, it’s going to develop a complex. A pretty dark, brooding, complicated complex, one lightning bolt scar shy of a delusional, stick waving lunatic. Get it out of the house more, or at least away from musty air and damp surfaces, and it’ll soon be the model muggle child you’ve always dreamed of having.

Stephanie Clarke
Daniel Sutton
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