How to Remove Mildew from Leather

dirty leather boots
  • 30 minutes
  • Beginner
  • 30
What You'll Need
Liquid soap
Small brush with nylon bristles
Soft clean cloth
Rubbing alcohol
Leather conditioner

Whether it’s a jacket, an expensive handbag, or a pair of shoes, leather is functional, stylish, premium material that makes a big statement. The only thing that may have a bigger impact than a well made leather item, is the presence of mold stains and mildew damage. Fortunately, several steps can be taken to minimize mildew on your leather products.


If you've seen mildew growing on your leather items, there are ways to clean it away.

Mild Mold

Use a dry, clean cloth to remove as much mildew as possible from your leather item. A sponge or small scrubbing brush with nylon bristles can also be used for getting mildew off of leather.

If you still see any mildew stains on your leather material, make a solution of soapy water and wipe the item completely clean using a cloth or sponge. Place the item in a location where it will remain undisturbed. Allow it to dry completely. It is best to place the item out of direct sunlight and away from heat.

If the product is made from real leather, you will need to follow up with a leather conditioner due to the added water. Apply the leather conditioner to the product following the instructions that are provided by the manufacturer. Typically, these instructions are located on the label of the product. Do this as soon as possible for the best results with your leather maintenance.

TIP: Take your moldy leather outside to clean it. This will prevent any loose, removed spores from spreading inside your home.

Tough Mildew

For removing heavy mildew from leather, make a solution using equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol. Using a clean sponge dipped in the solution, wipe the leather product clean. Use a fresh cloth or sponge dipped in clean water to wipe the product again.

Similar to water and soap, leather cleaned with a water and alcohol solution should be allowed to dry away from high heat or direct sunlight and then treated with a commercial leather conditioner.


Unfortunately, mildew prefers to grow on natural products such as leather, whereas synthetic materials and items have less of a risk. That being said, the best strategy to prevent mildew from forming on leather is to stop it from occurring in the first place. Mildew grows from mold. Molds typically like closed up areas that are damp, warm, and have poor lighting and air circulation. Avoid storing your leather items in these conditions to give them their best chances.