Mould is known to thrive in wet, humid, and damp conditions. When it grows on your jacket, it eats away at it and entirely destroys the textile. Because one spore is all it takes to spread further, it’s essential to remove mould from your jacket as soon as you notice it.
If you don’t treat the problem right away, mould growth will damage your leather item permanently, spread quickly and discolour white leather. As such, read on for our top tips on how to clean a mouldy leather jacket with cleaning products you probably already have at home.
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Mould vs mildew
While mould and mildew typically go hand in hand, they are two very distinct monsters when it comes to cleaning. Both are fungi that grow on leather goods and thrive in damp climates with plenty of warmth.
The difference between the two is mainly their colour. Mould grows in shades of black or green, while mildew appears as a white, grey, or yellowish substance on fabrics and paper products.
Is mould toxic?
Mould can grow on your leather items in a variety of ways. Leather jackets are particularly susceptible to the Aspergillus Mould.
Organic material is the food source for this species of mould. It sticks to leather clothing quickly, especially in humid environments. It could also be a factor in the musty smell of old jackets.
Some mould species are toxigenic, pathogenic, and toxic to people and capable of causing sickness. If you come across this type of mould, the best thing you can do is have it removed as soon as possible.
“Aflatoxin” is a common name for one of the mycotoxins produced by this species of mould and is considered highly toxic.
When is the right time to clean?
Remove your jacket from storage twice a year (like when you change your clothes for the season) and inspect it closely for signs of mould growth in a well-lit place.
If you spot any, you will need to remove mildew and mould right away and clean the entire storage room.
How to clean a mouldy leather jacket
Step 1: Take your jacket outside before you start cleaning
To avoid spreading the spores in your home, take your moulded jacket outside for an initial cleaning. Brush the spores off your leather with a soft-bristled brush or a dry clean towel.
If your jacket was stored in cardboard boxes, get rid of them as soon as possible. If kept in fabric storage containers, wash them in hot water and dry them to eliminate mould spores. If you have plastic storage boxes, you can clean them with a mixture of 1 cup of chlorine bleach and 2 cups of water.
The closet or location where the jacket was stored should also be vacuumed entirely and cleared of all contents. Wipe off the walls with the bleach and water solution you just made and allow for complete drying before reusing the area.
Step 2: Eliminate the spores
Combine equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol in a clean container. Wipe down the leather with a clean damp cloth immersed in the mixture.
Step 3: Wipe down the leather surface with a mild detergent
Combine mild soap or leather saddle soap with warm water in a small plastic bottle or bucket and use it to wipe down all leather surfaces with a soft cloth or sponge. Then, remove any soapy residue with a separate clean cloth damped in water.
Step 4: Air-dry
Hang it on a firm hanger or set it on a flat surface to dry your jacket. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, which may cause the leather to change colour. You can also use a fan to circulate air and speed up the drying process or a dehumidifier for drying clothes.
Step 5: Recondition the leather
Leather is a natural product that contains oils that must be kept in check, or the surface may split. Use a leather conditioner to restore the supple finish after your jacket has dried completely. Just make sure to follow the care label when using the product.
How to spot clean your jacket with vinegar
White vinegar is one of the most effective ways to eliminate mould from leather. It is a powerful disinfectant and cleaner that can kill many fungi, including black mould from almost all surfaces and materials. Use vinegar to clean your suede leather gloves and your suede leather handbag, or to get mould out of clothes. While the scent of this cleaner may not be pleasant at first, it will eliminate the musty odour linked with mould:
- Combine vinegar and water in a small spray bottle.
- Do not spray directly on the leather. Instead, dampen a cloth with the cleaning solution and gently dab at the mould until it disappears.
- Absorb the cleaner with a dry towel before letting it air dry.
- Always test a tiny bit of fabric first to ensure that the vinegar does not discolour or harm your jacket.
How to spot clean a mouldy jacket with rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol, another potent disinfectant, is ideal for most leather products, including suede leather furniture (as well as sofas), purses, handbags and leather shoes. Because alcohol may bleach part of the leather, spot test a small area first on your leather garment to see how it works. If all goes well, follow these steps:
- Dilute the alcohol in warm water before washing your jacket.
- Apply a tiny amount of the alcohol solution to a cotton ball.
- Blot the mouldy area gently with the cotton ball, but be careful not to wet the whole jacket.
- Allow it to air dry completely.
- Repeat as needed if you still spot any mouldy spores.
What to avoid
There are several dos and don’ts to remember when it comes to cleaning leather. Keep these things in mind if you want to maintain your jacket properly:
- Leather is a delicate material. Commercial dish soaps and cleaners can leave a residue on the leather that can cause it to deteriorate over time.
- Leather should never be submerged in water or put in a sink. Its natural oils might be sucked out, making it brittle.
- Leather is not designed to be dried in a dryer. If you do, your jacket will dry out and crack due to the extreme heat and so always hang it to dry.
- When dealing with stubborn stains, use a commercial leather cleaner. Alcohol, vinegar, and baking soda can also be used. Just make sure to condition it after you’ve cleaned it.
- Automobile leather is made with a popular substance called Lexol. Your jacket can also benefit from this product. It serves to loosen the leather while also conditioning it.
- Your jacket should always be hung on a wooden or padded hanger. Using a wire hanger or a thin plastic hanger on leather might leave indentations or damage it.
- When you fold the jacket, you risk creating creases in the leather. Hang your jacket in the bathroom and take a hot shower if it has creases from being folded. The creases will relax thanks to the hot shower steam.
- Leather should never be washed in a washing machine, and stay away from dry cleaners as they can be quite toxic to the natural leather textile.
- When using a leather cleaning product, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
How to prevent mould growth
Here’s how to keep leather mould at bay:
1. Wet leather should be dried as soon as possible
If you keep your jacket damp, it will simply serve as a breeding ground for mould.
2. Keep the leather clean
Mould can feed on body oils, perfumes or colognes, lotions, hair products, deodorant, food spills, grease/oil, and other substances. If any of that stays on your jacket for long, you will be providing enough food for mould to start growing. That is why it is important to keep your jacket clean on a regular basis.
3. Never leave your jacket on the floor
They won’t receive any airflow, and mould will quickly form if something damp falls on top of them. Furthermore, if the leather is placed directly on concrete surfaces, it will absorb the moisture that the concrete naturally releases.
Keep your jacket at room temperature with low humidity. Leather should never be stored in a basement or attic. If you really need to, then you better have a dehumidifier in place.
If you wish to store your jacket for an extended period of time, make sure it is wrapped in acid-free paper. There are several advantages to using acid-free paper, one of which is that it acts as a barrier against moisture, dust, grime, and insects.
Alternatively, you can store your jacket in a ventilated bag or container. You can use a special storage bag or poke holes in it to make your own “breathable bag.” Either way, you should always make sure to have adequate air circulation.
Leather jackets are a timeless and classic kind of clothing that can always make you look fashionable and stylish. We hope these cleaning tips and methods have provided you with all the answers you need. Most importantly of all, no need to panic once you have mould on your jacket. Follow the steps above, and you will be in safe hands!