Discovering mold on your sneakers can be both alarming and disappointing. Whether caused by damp environments or simply forgetting to air them out, mold can pose serious health risks and degrade the quality of your favorite pair of kicks. Fear not! Cleaning moldy sneakers is simpler than you might think.

  • Identify the mold: Look for discolored patches or a musty smell.
  • Preparation: Brush off loose mold outdoors wearing protective gloves and a mask.
  • Cleaning solution: Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar.
  • Wipe down: Gently apply the solution with a soft cloth, focusing on moldy areas.
  • Dry thoroughly: Let your sneakers dry in the sun to prevent mold from returning.

Mold thrives in humid climates, transforming your closet into a playground for these unwelcome guests. These microorganisms can not only damage the material of your footwear but also cause unpleasant odors and, more seriously, lead to health problems such as allergic reactions or respiratory issues.

This quick guide will not only help you restore your sneakers but also highlight the importance of preventive measures to keep them mold-free. The key to fighting mold is ensuring your shoes are completely dry before storing them and maintaining low humidity levels around your footwear. Now, let’s dive into how you can bid farewell to mold and hello to fresh, clean sneakers.

Step-by-step infographic on cleaning moldy sneakers with vinegar and water solution, highlighting the preparation, cleaning, and drying phases, with additional tips for prevention such as using moisture absorbers and keeping sneakers in well-ventilated areas. - how to clean moldy sneakers infographic roadmap-5-steps

Identifying Mold on Your Sneakers

Before you can tackle the issue of how to clean moldy sneakers, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Mold on sneakers can be sneaky. It doesn’t always look the same and can sometimes be mistaken for regular dirt or wear. But don’t worry, identifying mold is simpler than you might think.

Visible Mold

First, let’s talk about visible mold. This is the most obvious sign. You might see spots or patches on your sneakers that weren’t there before. These can be various colors – not just the green or black you might expect. Mold comes in a rainbow of colors, including white, orange, and even pink. It often looks fuzzy or slimy.

Musty Odor

Next, there’s the smell. Mold has a musty odor that’s hard to miss. If your sneakers smell sour or old, even when they’re clean, you might be dealing with mold. This odor is a clear giveaway that mold spores are present and thriving in your shoes.

Color Variations

Mold on sneakers can show up in a variety of colors. While dark green or brown are common, don’t be fooled if you see white or orange patches. These are not less serious; they’re just different types of mold. Each color can indicate a different species of mold, but all should be treated with the same urgency.

Understanding these signs is crucial in the battle against moldy sneakers. Now that you know what to look for, you’re ready to move on to the next step: preparing your sneakers for a thorough cleaning. The goal is not just to remove the mold but to ensure it doesn’t come back. Keep an eye out for these signs, and you’ll be one step ahead in keeping your sneakers clean and mold-free.

In the next section, we’ll cover Preparing Your Sneakers for Cleaning, including the tools you’ll need and how to safely remove mold without spreading spores. Stay tuned to transform your sneakers back to their former glory.

Preparing Your Sneakers for Cleaning

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to clean moldy sneakers, it’s crucial to prepare properly. This not only ensures a more effective cleaning process but also keeps you safe from mold spores. Let’s break down the preparation into three simple steps: brushing off mold, wearing protective gear, and choosing an outdoor cleaning area.

Brush Off Mold

First things first, you’ll want to remove as much of the loose mold as possible. For this, you’ll need a firm bristled brush. Gently but firmly brush the moldy areas of your sneakers. This step is best done outdoors to avoid spreading mold spores inside your home.

Pro Tip: If your sneakers are particularly moldy, consider wearing a disposable mask to avoid inhaling spores.

Protective Gear

Safety should always come first. Mold spores can be harmful, especially if inhaled or if they come into contact with your skin. So, gear up with:

  • Gloves: To protect your hands from both mold and the cleaning solution.
  • Disposable mask: To prevent inhaling spores.
  • Safety goggles (optional): If you’re particularly sensitive or if there’s a lot of mold.

Outdoor Cleaning

Always opt for outdoor cleaning when dealing with mold. This prevents spores from settling in your home, which could lead to more mold issues down the line. Find a well-ventilated area, preferably with direct sunlight. Sunlight not only helps in the drying process but also works as a natural disinfectant.

Remember: If you absolutely must clean your sneakers indoors, ensure the room is well-ventilated. Open windows and doors, and consider using a fan to help circulate the air.

By following these preparation steps, you’re setting yourself up for a successful and safe cleaning session. Next, we’ll dive into the step-by-step cleaning process to get those sneakers looking and smelling fresh again.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Cleaning moldy sneakers doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following these simple steps, you can restore your sneakers to their former glory.

Step 1: Dry Brushing

What You Need: Firm bristled brush

Begin by using a firm bristled brush to dust away all the visible mold from your sneakers. This step is crucial as it removes the loose mold spores on the surface, making the cleaning process more effective. Ensure you do this outside to prevent spreading mold spores in your home.

Step 2: Vinegar and Water Solution

What You Need: White vinegar, Water

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bucket. White vinegar is a powerful disinfectant that can kill most mold species. Its acidic nature helps break down the mold structure, making it easier to remove.

Step 3: Applying the Solution

What You Need: Soft cloth

Dip a soft cloth into the vinegar and water solution you just prepared. Gently wipe the mold-affected areas of your sneakers with the cloth. The vinegar solution acts as a natural disinfectant, helping to kill the mold spores without damaging your shoes.

Step 4: Drying and Deodorizing

What You Need: Sunshine, Essential oils, Tea tree/water mix

After cleaning, dry your sneakers thoroughly. The best way to do this is by leaving them out in the sunshine, as UV rays have natural mold-killing properties. Once dry, if you’re concerned about any lingering vinegar smell, you can deodorize your sneakers using a mix of water and a few drops of essential oils or tea tree oil. This not only leaves your sneakers smelling fresh but also adds an extra layer of mold prevention.

Step 5: Preventive Measures

What You Need: Proper storage, Silica gel packs, Moisture-wicking socks

To prevent mold growth in the future, store your sneakers in a cool, dry place. Avoid plastic bags or containers, which can trap moisture. Instead, consider using silica gel packs in your storage area to absorb any excess moisture. Additionally, wearing moisture-wicking socks can help keep your feet dry, reducing the risk of mold growth in your sneakers.

By following these steps, you can effectively clean and protect your sneakers from mold. The key to mold prevention is keeping your shoes dry and well-ventilated. For more detailed care, especially for specific materials like suede or leather, consulting professional services like NuShoe Inspect & Correct can ensure your sneakers receive the best care possible.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cleaning Moldy Sneakers

When it comes to how to clean moldy sneakers, you might have a few questions. Let’s dive into some of the most common queries.

Can I wash moldy sneakers in the washing machine?

Yes and no. It depends on what your sneakers are made of and what the care labels say. If the label says it’s okay, using hot water can help kill mold spores. However, be cautious. Hot water can also damage certain materials or cause sneakers to lose their shape. Always check the care label first.

Is mold on sneakers dangerous?

Mold can be more than just an eyesore; it can pose health risks, especially for people with allergies, asthma, or weakened immune systems. Additionally, moldy sneakers can lead to foot infections if you have any cuts or scrapes on your feet. It’s best to clean mold off as soon as you spot it.

Can all types of sneakers be cleaned using this method?

Not exactly. The vinegar and water solution method works well for many materials, but suede sneakers have limitations. Suede is a delicate material that can be damaged by water and vinegar. For suede, it’s better to gently brush off the mold and consult a professional for deep cleaning.

When it comes to leather sneakers, they can handle the vinegar solution, but they need extra care afterward. Leather conditioner is a must to keep them from drying out and cracking after cleaning.

In summary, cleaning moldy sneakers often depends on the material. While some can be tossed in the wash, others need a gentle hand or professional care. Always check the care labels and when in doubt, consult a professional like NuShoe Inspect & Correct. The best defense against mold is prevention: keep your sneakers dry, use moisture-wicking socks, and store them properly.


We’ve walked through the steps on how to clean moldy sneakers, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, sneakers need more than just a DIY cleaning. That’s where NuShoe Inspect & Correct comes in. With their expertise in shoe mold removal, you can rest assured that your sneakers are in good hands.

Long-term care for your sneakers isn’t just about dealing with problems as they arise; it’s about preventing those problems from happening in the first place. Beyond cleaning, NuShoe offers services that can help extend the life of your sneakers, keeping them looking and smelling fresh for longer.

However, there are times when professional services are not just a luxury but a necessity. Whether it’s a cherished pair of sneakers that you can’t bear to part with or an expensive pair that you see as an investment, professional cleaning can make all the difference. NuShoe Inspect & Correct doesn’t just remove mold; they give your sneakers a new lease on life, ensuring that you can enjoy them for many more years to come.

In conclusion, while there’s a lot we can do on our own to keep our sneakers clean and mold-free, some situations call for the expertise of professionals. Whether you’re dealing with a stubborn mold issue, need help with a special pair of sneakers, or simply want to ensure the best care for your footwear, NuShoe Inspect & Correct is here to help. Taking care of your sneakers is not just about dealing with issues as they arise but preventing them in the first place. With the right care and the help of professionals when needed, your sneakers can stay in top condition for years to come.