Can shoes get moldy? Absolutely, yes. Your favorite footwear is not immune to mold, a type of fungus that thrives in moist environments. Mold on shoes often happens quietly, catching many off guard. Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

  • Mold loves moisture: Wet conditions in closets or storage areas are a big invite.
  • Darkness is its friend: Dimly lit places like closets provide a perfect growing space.
  • Health risks: Mold can cause skin irritations, respiratory issues, and spoil your shoes.

Shoes are vital to our daily lives, offering protection, comfort, and style. However, they can unexpectedly become the breeding ground for mold. Whether tucked away in a dark closet or left damp after a rainy day, mold spores find a way to settle and grow. This not only damages your shoes but can also pose several health risks, from skin irritations to respiratory problems in more sensitive individuals.

Action is key. Addressing mold growth involves understanding its causes and recognizing the risks involved. Moist environments, poor ventilation, and darkness are mold’s best allies, making our shoes easy targets. Learn how to fight back with simple yet effective strategies, outlined in this guide.

Infographic showing the prevention of mold growth on shoes with four main points: 1. Keep shoes dry, 2. Store in well-ventilated areas, 3. Use silica gel packets for moisture absorption, 4. Regular cleaning and inspection. - can shoes get moldy infographic pillar-5-steps

Recognizing Mold on Shoes

Ever wondered, “Can shoes get moldy?” The answer is a resounding yes. Mold on shoes can be sneaky, but knowing what to look for can save your shoes and your health. Let’s break down the signs.


Mold isn’t picky about color. It can appear in shades of green, black, brown, and white. These colors usually show up in patches or spots, making your shoes look like they’ve been part of a science experiment gone wrong.


Mold on shoes can feel fuzzy or slimy. If you run your fingers over the surface and it feels anything other than smooth, you might have a mold problem. This texture is a dead giveaway that mold spores have made themselves at home.


Your nose knows. Mold has a distinct musty smell. If you pick up your shoes and they smell like a damp basement, it’s time to take action. This smell is not just unpleasant; it’s a sign that mold is present.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a sign that mold and fungus are too close for comfort. This condition causes itching, scaling, and redness, primarily between the toes. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, mold might be lurking in your shoes.

Trench Foot

Trench foot, another condition related to mold exposure, results from prolonged wet and unsanitary conditions. It’s a serious reminder of why keeping shoes dry and clean is critical.

Recognizing mold on shoes is the first step in addressing the problem. From the variety of colors to the unmistakable smell, these signs are your clues to take action. Keep an eye out for the textures and health symptoms like athlete’s foot and trench foot, which can also indicate mold presence.

In the next section, we’ll dive into how to clean moldy shoes, ensuring your footwear remains in top condition and your feet stay healthy. Stay tuned for simple and effective cleaning strategies that anyone can follow.

Step 1: Cleaning Moldy Shoes

Using the Right Cleaning Agents

When you find out can shoes get moldy, the answer is yes, and it’s crucial to tackle the issue head-on. Cleaning moldy shoes might seem daunting, but with the right approach, it’s quite simple. Let’s break down the steps and agents you’ll need to make your shoes mold-free and fresh again.

Outdoor Cleaning: Always start by taking your shoes outside. This prevents mold spores from spreading inside your home. A backyard or balcony is perfect for this task.

Cotton Cloth and Hot Water: Use a clean cotton cloth dampened with hot water to wipe down the shoes. This helps loosen the mold from the shoe surfaces.

Air Dry: After cleaning, let your shoes air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight that might damage the material, but make sure they’re completely dry before you use them again.

Face Mask: Safety first! Wear a disposable mask to avoid inhaling mold spores during the cleaning process. This is especially important if you’re sensitive to mold.

Now, let’s talk about the cleaning agents that can be your allies in this battle against mold:

Vinegar and Water: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Vinegar is a mild acid that can kill most mold types without damaging your shoes. Spray on, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wipe with a clean cloth.

Rubbing Alcohol: For tougher mold, a solution of one part water and one part rubbing alcohol can be effective. Apply it to the moldy areas with a cloth. Rubbing alcohol not only cleans but also disinfects.

Baking Soda: Great for absorbing moisture and odors. After cleaning your shoes, sprinkle baking soda inside and leave it overnight. Vacuum or brush it out the next day.

Lysol Disinfectant: If you’re looking for something stronger, Lysol can kill mold spores and disinfect the shoe surface. Just remember to test it on a small area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the material.

Cleaning Agents - can shoes get moldy

By following these steps and using the right cleaning agents, you can effectively remove mold from your shoes. The key to success is acting quickly and allowing your shoes to dry completely before storing or wearing them again.

In the next section, we’ll explore how to dry and sanitize your shoes properly, ensuring they’re not only clean but also safe to wear. Stay tuned for more tips on keeping your footwear in the best condition possible.

Step 2: Drying and Sanitizing

After tackling the mold head-on, your next mission is to make sure your shoes are completely dry and sanitized. This step is crucial because even a tiny bit of moisture can invite mold to start a party in your shoes again. Let’s dive into how to do this effectively without causing damage to your favorite kicks.

Preventing Water Marks

Air Drying: The simplest way to dry your shoes is to just let them air out. Place them in a well-ventilated area, but not directly under the sun as this can cause some materials to fade or crack. If you’re drying leather shoes, stuff them with newspaper to help them keep their shape and soak up moisture from the inside out.

Sunlight: A little bit of sunlight can go a long way in fighting off mold. If your shoes are made of a material that won’t be damaged by sunlight, letting them bask in the sun for a short period can help kill remaining mold spores. Just remember, direct sunlight can be harsh, so keep an eye on them.

White Vinegar: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the inside of your shoes. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and can help kill mold spores. Just make sure to let your shoes dry completely after this treatment.

Lemon Juice: Similar to vinegar, lemon juice can help disinfect your shoes and leave them smelling fresh. Mix it with water, apply it to your shoes, and then let them dry. It’s especially good for light-colored shoes since it doesn’t risk staining.

Rubbing Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol: These are great options for sanitizing. Apply a small amount to a clean cloth and wipe down the inside of your shoes. Alcohol evaporates quickly, making it a good choice for a quick sanitize.

Even Dampness: If your shoes got wet, dry them evenly to avoid water marks. Don’t apply direct heat, as this can damage the shoe materials. Instead, let them dry slowly in an area with good airflow.

Conditioning: After your shoes are dry, they might need a bit of TLC to get back into top shape. For leather shoes, apply a leather conditioner to keep them supple.

Leather Lotion: A lighter option than conditioner, leather lotion can help restore the natural shine and feel of your shoes without weighing them down.

Shoe Cream: If cleaning has faded the color of your shoes, a shoe cream can help. It conditions while also adding color back into the leather. Choose a shade that matches your shoes for the best results.

Shoe Wax: For an extra layer of protection, especially for leather shoes, consider applying a thin layer of shoe wax. It can help waterproof your shoes and prevent future mold growth.

By following these steps, you’re not just drying your shoes; you’re also sanitizing them and helping prevent future mold issues. The key to keeping your shoes mold-free is to keep them dry, clean, and well-maintained. In our next section, we’ll dive into how to keep your shoes in tip-top shape through regular maintenance and care.

Step 3: Preventative Measures in Storage

Preventing mold on shoes is crucial to ensuring they stay in good condition for as long as possible. Let’s look at effective ways to keep your shoes mold-free, focusing on storage solutions and alternatives to silica gel.

Silica Gel Packs

These tiny packets are powerful moisture absorbers. Placing them in your shoe storage area or directly in your shoes can help keep the environment dry, making it less inviting for mold.


A dehumidifier reduces the humidity level in your home, creating an environment where mold struggles to grow. This is particularly useful in damp and humid climates.

Well-Ventilated Area

Storing shoes in a well-ventilated area ensures air circulation, which helps keep moisture levels down. Avoid storing shoes in closed, damp spaces where air doesn’t flow freely.

Metal Racks

Instead of piling shoes on the floor or in a box, use metal racks for storage. Metal racks allow air to circulate around the shoes, reducing the risk of mold growth.

Avoid Plastic Bags

Never store shoes in plastic bags. Plastic traps moisture, creating a perfect breeding ground for mold. Instead, opt for breathable storage solutions like fabric shoe bags or boxes with air holes.

Alternatives to Silica Gel

  • Dry Tea Bags: Just like silica gel packs, dry tea bags can absorb moisture. Place a few in each shoe or in your shoe storage area.
  • Changing Socks: If you’re active or live in a humid area, changing your socks can help keep your feet and shoes dry, reducing the chance of mold.
  • Extra Pair for Gym: Having a separate pair of shoes for the gym or for outdoor activities allows your main pair to rest and dry out completely, preventing mold.

By incorporating these preventative measures into your shoe storage routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of mold growth. The key to mold prevention is keeping your shoes dry and well-ventilated. Regularly check your storage area for signs of dampness or mold, and take immediate action if you notice any issues. With the right care and attention, you can keep your shoes in excellent condition, free from mold and other damaging elements.

Next up, we’ll explore regular maintenance and care tips to keep your shoes looking and feeling their best. Stay tuned for practical advice on how to extend the life of your footwear through simple, everyday practices.

Step 4: Regular Maintenance and Care

Now that we’ve tackled the storage aspect, let’s dive into the everyday practices that can keep your shoes in top shape and mold at bay. Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to the question: can shoes get moldy? Yes, they can, but with these steps, you significantly reduce that risk.

Cleaning Routine

Make it a habit: Just like brushing your teeth, cleaning your shoes regularly should become second nature. It doesn’t have to be a deep clean every time. A quick wipe to remove dirt and moisture after each wear can make a big difference.

  • Tools you’ll need: A soft brush or cloth, mild detergent, and water are all you need for basic cleaning.
  • Frequency: Aim for a quick clean once a week and a more thorough clean once a month.

Changing Insoles

Insoles absorb a lot of sweat and can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, leading to odors and potential health risks.

  • Swap them out: Consider having a few pairs of insoles to rotate between, giving each pair a chance to dry out fully.
  • Cleaning: Wash your insoles regularly. Most can be gently washed with soap and water and air-dried.

Alternate Wearing

Shoes need time to air out between wears. Wearing the same pair day after day doesn’t give them enough time to dry out, increasing the risk of mold.

  • Rotation: Try to rotate between at least two pairs of shoes. This not only prevents mold but also prolongs the life of your shoes.
  • Special occasions: Have a pair specifically for the gym or heavy activity to avoid soaking your everyday shoes in sweat.

Humidity Control

As we’ve established, moisture is the main culprit for mold growth. Controlling the humidity around your shoes is crucial.

  • Use desiccants: Silica gel packets aren’t just for storage. Tuck them into your shoes after each wear to help absorb moisture.
  • Dehumidify: If you live in a particularly humid area, consider using a dehumidifier in your home or at least in the room where you store your shoes.

By integrating these steps into your daily and weekly routines, you’ll not only prevent mold but also extend the lifespan and wearability of your shoes. It’s about creating habits that keep your footwear in prime condition, ensuring they’re ready and safe to wear whenever you need them.

In the next section, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about mold on shoes, including whether moldy shoes can be saved and the dangers mold on shoes might pose. Stay tuned for these insights and more practical advice.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mold on Shoes

When it comes to keeping your shoes in top shape, understanding how to tackle mold is key. Let’s dive into some of the most common questions we hear about mold on shoes.

Can moldy shoes be saved?

Yes, in many cases, moldy shoes can be saved. The success of the rescue mission depends on the material of the shoes and the extent of the mold growth. For leather and canvas shoes, a thorough cleaning with a mixture of water and vinegar or rubbing alcohol can do the trick. It’s important to let them dry completely in a well-ventilated area or under the sun after cleaning. However, if the mold has deeply penetrated the material, it might be time to say goodbye.

What causes mold on shoes in the closet?

The main culprit behind mold growth on shoes in the closet is moisture. Whether it’s from storing damp shoes, high humidity levels, or lack of air circulation, mold thrives in moist environments. Closets, especially those that are dark and rarely opened, create the perfect breeding ground for mold spores to settle and grow. Using silica gel packs and ensuring your shoes are dry before storing them can help prevent mold from taking hold.

How dangerous is mold on shoes?

Mold on shoes can be more than just an unsightly nuisance; it can pose health risks, especially to individuals with allergies, asthma, or weakened immune systems. Mold spores can easily become airborne and inhaled, potentially leading to respiratory issues. Additionally, certain molds can cause skin irritations or infections like athlete’s foot. It’s not just about keeping your shoes clean; it’s about maintaining a healthy environment for you and your loved ones.

By tackling mold head-on and integrating preventive measures into your daily and weekly routines, you’ll not only prevent mold but also extend the lifespan and wearability of your shoes. It’s about creating habits that keep your footwear in prime condition, ensuring they’re ready and safe to wear whenever you need them.

In the next section, we’ll share more tips on how to keep your shoes and closet mold-free with regular care and maintenance from NuShoe Inspect & Correct. Stay tuned for these insights and more practical advice.


Preventing mold on shoes doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right approach, you can keep your favorite pairs in excellent condition for years to come. Let’s recap our journey from identifying mold to effectively banishing it from our shoes.

Prevention Tips:
– Always dry your shoes thoroughly before storing them.
– Use silica gel packs in your shoe storage area to absorb excess moisture.
– Store shoes in a well-ventilated area, preferably on wire shelving to allow air circulation.
– Avoid plastic bags for storage; opt for breathable fabric bags instead.

Regular Care:
– Incorporate a routine cleaning schedule for your shoes, especially after they’ve been exposed to moisture or dirt.
– Alternate wearing your shoes to give them time to air out between uses.
– Consider using a dehumidifier in areas where you store your shoes to maintain a low-humidity environment.

At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we understand that sometimes, despite our best efforts, mold can still find its way onto our shoes. That’s where we come in. Our shoe mold removal services are designed to not only remove mold but also to restore your shoes to their former glory.

Our team uses a combination of expert techniques and high-quality products to ensure that your shoes are returned to you mold-free and in better condition. We believe in the value of your shoes and strive to extend their lifespan through our professional services.

Can shoes get moldy? Yes, they can, but with the right care and preventive measures, you can protect your footwear and enjoy them for many more steps to come. And if you ever face a mold issue that seems too challenging, NuShoe Inspect & Correct is here to help.

Keep your shoes dry, clean, and well-maintained, and you’ll significantly reduce the risk of mold growth. And for those times when you need a professional touch, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can keep your shoes looking and feeling great.