Quick guide to cleaning mildew off leather boots:

  1. Identify mildew – Look for white or grey powdery spots.
  2. Prepare cleaning solution – Mix equal parts water and white vinegar.
  3. Gently clean – Use a soft brush or cloth to apply the solution.
  4. Dry thoroughly – Let boots air dry away from direct heat.
  5. Condition leather – Apply a leather conditioner to preserve the boots.

Mildew is a common nemesis for leather goods, including boots. It thrives in environments that combine moisture, heat, and dust—conditions often found where we store our footwear. If left unchecked, mildew not only disfigures leather but can also cause permanent damage, leading to a loss in both the aesthetic and monetary value of your boots.

Understanding the enemy is half the battle won. Mildew on leather results from excessive moisture and poor storage conditions, including lack of ventilation and direct exposure to heat sources. This makes your beloved boots a prime target for these pesky fungi.

Keeping leather boots free from mildew isn’t just about cleanliness; it’s also about ensuring the longevity and durability of a much-loved wardrobe staple. The following infographic simplifies the cleaning process, ensuring you’re well-equipped to tackle mildew head-on and restore your boots to their former glory.

Step-by-step guide to removing mildew from leather boots: 1. Identify mildew areas. 2. Mix a vinegar-water solution. 3. Apply gently with a brush or cloth. 4. Air dry boots thoroughly. 5. Apply leather conditioner. - how to clean mildew off leather boots infographic step-infographic-4-steps

By addressing the problem quickly and following these straightforward steps, you can maintain the appearance and integrity of your leather boots, ensuring they’re ready and wearable for any occasion.

Identify and Assess the Mildew

Before you dive into cleaning, it’s crucial to know what you’re dealing with. Is it mold or mildew on your leather boots? Although they’re often mentioned together, there’s a difference.

Mold vs. Mildew: Mold tends to be green or black and can penetrate deep into the leather. Mildew, on the other hand, is usually white or gray and stays on the surface. Knowing which one has invaded your boots will guide your cleaning strategy.

Visual Inspection: Start by examining your boots closely. Look for any discoloration or fuzzy spots. Mildew usually appears as powdery or fluffy patches. It’s often found in damp areas of the leather, especially where air circulation is poor.

leather boots inspection - how to clean mildew off leather boots

Smell Test: Sometimes, what you see doesn’t tell the whole story. Give your boots a sniff. A musty, earthy odor is a telltale sign of mildew. This step is crucial because sometimes mildew isn’t visible to the naked eye but can still cause damage and unpleasant smells.

By conducting a thorough visual inspection and smell test, you can determine the extent of the mildew problem. Mildew thrives in moisture and warmth, so any signs of it indicate that your boots have been exposed to these conditions.

After identifying and assessing the mildew, you’re ready to move on to choosing the right cleaning solutions to tackle the problem head-on. The goal is not just to clean but to do so without damaging the delicate leather of your boots.

By understanding the nature of the mildew and how it interacts with leather, you’re equipped with the knowledge to restore your boots effectively. The next steps will guide you through the cleaning process, ensuring your boots are not only clean but also protected from future mildew growth.

Cleaning Solutions

When tackling the challenge of how to clean mildew off leather boots, choosing the right cleaning solution is crucial. Here, we’ll explore three effective solutions: Vinegar, Rubbing Alcohol, and Baking Soda. Each of these has its own strengths, and knowing when and how to use them can make a big difference in your cleaning efforts.


Vinegar is a powerful ally against mildew due to its acidic nature, which helps break down mold spores. To use vinegar effectively:

  • Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the solution lightly on the affected areas of your leather boots.
  • Let it sit for about 15 minutes before wiping it off with a clean, soft cloth.

Vinegar has a strong smell, but this will dissipate as it dries. It’s also wise to do a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t affect the leather’s color or finish.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another effective solution for cleaning mildew off leather boots. It not only cleans but also sanitizes, killing off any lingering spores. Here’s how to use it:

  • Create a mixture of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol.
  • Dip a soft cloth into the solution and gently wipe the mildew-affected areas.
  • Allow the boots to air dry completely.

Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, reducing the risk of moisture damage to your boots. Like with vinegar, a patch test is recommended.

Baking Soda

Baking soda isn’t just for baking; it’s also a fantastic cleaning agent, especially for removing odors and absorbing moisture. To use baking soda on your leather boots:

  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the mildew spots.
  • Leave it on overnight to absorb the mildew and any associated smells.
  • The next day, brush off the baking soda with a soft brush.

Baking soda is particularly useful for dealing with mildew inside the boots, where it’s harder to reach with liquid solutions.

By choosing the right cleaning solution and following these simple steps, you can effectively remove mildew from your leather boots, restoring their appearance and extending their lifespan. After cleaning, it’s important to let your boots air dry away from direct heat or sunlight to prevent damage.

The journey to rejuvenate your leather boots doesn’t stop here. After cleaning, conditioning, and restoration are key steps to ensure your boots remain in top condition. Let’s dive into how to nourish and protect your leather boots in the next section.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

After identifying and assessing the mildew on your leather boots, it’s time to move on to the cleaning process. This step is crucial in not only removing the mildew but also in preventing future growth. Follow this simple, step-by-step guide to clean mildew off leather boots effectively.


Start by gently wiping the leather surface with a dry, soft cloth. This initial step helps remove any loose mildew spores and dust. It’s important to be gentle to avoid scratching or damaging the leather.


Next, create a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar. The acidity in the vinegar helps kill the mildew without harming the leather. Dampen a soft cloth with this solution and gently rub it on the affected areas. For stubborn mildew spots, you may need to let the solution sit for a few minutes before wiping it away.


After cleaning the leather with the vinegar solution, it’s time to sanitize it. Dampen a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently apply it to the leather. Rubbing alcohol not only sanitizes the leather but also helps in the drying process by evaporating quickly. This step ensures that any remaining mildew spores are killed, preventing future growth.

Air Dry

Finally, let your boots air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct heat or sunlight. Direct heat can cause the leather to crack, while sunlight can fade its color. Proper air circulation ensures that the leather dries evenly and prevents moisture from being trapped, which could lead to more mildew growth.

By following these steps—wipe, clean, sanitize, and air dry—you can effectively remove mildew from your leather boots and prevent it from returning. The key to successful mildew removal lies in gentle handling and thorough drying.

The journey to rejuvenate your leather boots doesn’t stop here. After cleaning, conditioning, and restoration are key steps to ensure your boots remain in top condition. Let’s dive into how to nourish and protect your leather boots in the next section.

Conditioning and Restoration

After you’ve tackled the challenge of how to clean mildew off leather boots, it’s time to focus on bringing back the life and luster to your leather. Conditioning and restoration are not just about aesthetics; they’re crucial for maintaining the durability and comfort of your boots. Here’s how to do it right.

Leather Conditioner

Think of leather conditioner as a moisturizer for your boots. Just as your skin needs hydration to stay supple, so does leather. Apply a high-quality leather conditioner with a soft cloth, using gentle circular motions. This step is vital for preventing future cracks and keeping the leather soft. A little goes a long way.

Shoe Cream

Shoe cream goes a step further by adding color and sheen back to your boots. It’s especially useful for covering up any discoloration caused by mildew or the cleaning process. Choose a cream that closely matches your boots’ original color. Apply it sparingly and buff to a soft glow. This not only enhances the look but also provides a protective layer against moisture and dirt.

Shoe Wax

For those who want an extra layer of protection, shoe wax is your best friend. It acts as a waterproofing agent, repelling water and preventing mildew from making a comeback. Apply a thin layer of wax after the shoe cream has dried, and buff vigorously to achieve a high shine. This step is particularly recommended for those living in wet climates or for boots that frequently face the elements.

Color Polish

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, discolorations persist. That’s where color polish comes in handy. It’s designed to restore the original hue of your leather boots and should be used sparingly. Always test the polish on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it matches well. Apply it gently, let it dry, and then buff to the desired shine.

By following these steps, your leather boots will not only be free from mildew but also restored to their former glory. Regular conditioning and restoration are the keys to extending the life of your leather boots and keeping them looking their best. The effort you put into caring for your boots pays off by preserving their beauty and functionality for years to come.

In the next section, we’ll explore how to prevent future mildew growth, ensuring your leather boots stay in pristine condition.

Preventing Future Mildew Growth

After you’ve put in the effort to clean mildew off your leather boots, the last thing you want is for it to come back. Here are some straightforward steps to keep your boots mildew-free.

Storage Tips

  • Keep it Cool and Dry: Store your boots in a cool, dry place. Avoid damp basements or humid attics.
  • Breathable Bags: If you’re storing boots for a long time, use breathable fabric bags instead of plastic ones. Plastic can trap moisture, creating a perfect environment for mildew.
  • Don’t Crowd Your Boots: Give them some space. Crowded closets can restrict airflow, raising humidity levels.

Silica Gel

  • Use Silica Gel Packs: These little packets are champions at absorbing moisture. Tuck a few inside each boot and some in the storage area. They’re inexpensive and replaceable, making them a perfect ally against moisture.


  • Invest in a Dehumidifier: If you live in a humid climate, a dehumidifier can be a game-changer. It reduces the moisture in the air, making it harder for mildew to grow. Place it in your storage area to protect your boots and other leather goods.

Air Circulation

  • Let Them Breathe: Whenever possible, store boots in a well-ventilated area. If you’ve been out in the rain or your boots got wet, let them dry completely in an airy spot before storing them. A fan can help speed up the drying process without causing damage.

By following these steps, you’re not just preventing mildew; you’re also extending the life of your leather boots. Prevention is always easier than the cure. A little attention to how and where you store your boots can save you a lot of effort in the long run.

In the next section, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about mildew on leather boots, including whether vinegar kills mold, the potential harm of mold on leather, and tips for preventing mold in humid climates. Stay tuned to ensure your leather boots remain in top-notch condition.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mildew on Leather Boots

After learning how to clean mildew off leather boots, you might have a few questions. Let’s dive into some common queries.

Does vinegar kill mold on leather shoes?

Yes, vinegar can kill mold on leather shoes. It’s a simple yet effective solution. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Lightly spray the mixture on the affected areas and gently scrub with a soft brush. Vinegar is a mild acid, which helps to kill the mold spores without damaging the leather. Remember to let the boots air dry completely before the next step.

Is mold on leather harmful?

Mold on leather can be harmful, not just to the boots but to your health as well. Mold spores can cause allergies, respiratory problems, and other health issues if not handled properly. Plus, mold can degrade the leather over time, causing it to break down and lose its integrity. It’s important to clean mold off leather boots as soon as you notice it to prevent further damage and health risks.

Can I prevent mold on leather boots in a humid climate?

Yes, you can prevent mold on leather boots in a humid climate. Here are a few tips:
Use a dehumidifier in your home to reduce moisture in the air.
Store your boots with silica gel packets inside them to absorb excess moisture.
Maintain good air circulation where you store your boots. Don’t pack them away in tight boxes without ventilation.
Apply a leather protector to create a barrier against moisture.
Regularly clean and condition your boots to keep the leather healthy and more resistant to mold.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of mold growth on your leather boots, even in the most humid conditions.

In the next section, we’ll wrap up our guide on how to keep your leather boots free from mildew and mold, ensuring they last longer and stay in pristine condition. Stay with us as we conclude with some final thoughts on the importance of caring for your leather footwear.


At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we understand that your leather boots are more than just footwear; they’re an investment in your style, comfort, and protection. That’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping you maintain them in the best condition possible. Our guide on how to clean mildew off leather boots is designed to empower you with the knowledge and tools you need to tackle this common issue head-on.

Mildew and mold can significantly shorten the lifespan of your leather boots, not to mention the unpleasant odor and appearance they bring. But with the right approach, you can effectively remove these unwelcome guests and prevent their return. From identifying the early signs of mildew to using simple yet effective cleaning solutions like vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda, we’ve covered everything you need to know to keep your boots looking and smelling fresh.

Prevention is always better than cure. By following our tips on storage, using silica gel, investing in a dehumidifier, and ensuring proper air circulation, you can create an environment that discourages mold and mildew growth. This proactive approach will save you time and effort in the long run and keep your leather boots in top-notch condition for years to come.

We hope this guide has been valuable in your quest to maintain pristine leather boots. At NuShoe Inspect & Correct, we’re committed to providing you with expert solutions for all your footwear needs. Whether you’re dealing with shoe mold or looking for ways to restore your favorite pair to its former glory, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in keeping your leather boots mildew-free and ready for any adventure.

Thank you for trusting us with the care of your leather footwear. With the right care and attention, your boots can take you on countless journeys without falling prey to the damaging effects of mold and mildew. Keep stepping confidently, knowing that NuShoe Inspect & Correct is always here to support you in keeping your leather boots in perfect condition.