What causes mold on shoes?
If you have noticed the growth of mold on your leather, suede, canvas or other shoes, it is not the end of life for your lovely kicks. But you need to know how to prevent the mold from recurring.
In another article, we looked at vital tips for how to remove mold from shoes. Here, we are going to look at the conditions that cause mold on your shoes. That way, you can prevent mold formation because prevention is better than cure.
As we seek to know the causes of mold on shoes, we shall also look at other important aspects of mold. For instance, can it make you sick? Can it damage your shoes? And many more.
Why you should prevent mold growth
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Mold is one of the sinister indoor allergens. Thus, if you let it grow unchecked on your shoes, once it matures, it starts producing mold spores that can spread to other parts of your home, through the air.
If you have someone who is a victim of asthma, mold spores could cause serious breathing problems by inflaming the airways.
Mold can also aggravate other respiratory issues. It is best to try as much as possible to prevent its growth on shoes, closet, basement, attic, kitchen, bathroom and other spaces in your home.
Why Does Mold Grow On Shoes?
There are a myriad of reasons for mold growing on work boots and shoes. We will outline some of them here:
Storing the shoes before they are completely dry
You can do a very good job of cleaning your shoes. However, if you store them before they are completely dry, they will grow mold.
While leather shoes retain their natural moisture that keeps them supple and flexible, this moisture is deep within the fibers. Besides, it is not necessarily water-moisture. It is the leather’s natural oil. After cleaning the boots, air-dry them for several days before you store them.
You can even dry them for a few days in the sunshine until they are completely moisture-free. During winter, you can use a boot dryer to dry the shoes.
This is appropriate because it warms the air around the shoes thus simulating the natural way they would dry up if you left them outdoors.
After the shoes are completely dry, you should apply a waterproof air conditioner on them. That way, even if there is moisture in the air, if it collects on the shoes, it beads up and rolls down.
Storing the shoes in a humid environment
Most of us store our shoes in the closet. However, we hardly remember this is an enclosed space. It does not receive as good airflow as most of the other rooms at home. Mold develops in dark, warm and humid spaces.
There are a few ways to know whether the closet has too high humidity. One, you can check the humidity level with a hygrometer.
This device measures the humidity level in the indoor air. If it shows the humidity level in the house to be above 50%, you need to bring it down.
Two, you can smell the air in the closet. If it smells stuffy, there is mold. Remember, even if you do not see mold, it does not mean that it is not present.
Three, mold grows in various forms. Some species are black, some greenish and some are white and gray (mildew). Thus, if you see the telltale signs of a different color on the shoes, you probably have mold. But remember that some shoes turn yellow if left too long in the closet, especially white shoes.
Now that you know how to establish the presence of mold in your closet, you need to know how to prevent it. You can use a small, portable dehumidifier for the closet. It can be a battery-operated one or a plug-in mini dehumidifier.
If you find one with an auto on/off feature, buy it. That way, when the tank is full, it stops drawing more moisture from the air.
Mold grows on shoes because it is present in other rooms
Mold will find its way onto your shoes from other parts of the house. If you keep your shoes on the floor, in a room that does not have enough light, mold spores from the kitchen and the bathroom can thrive on your shoes.
Thus, cleaning the shoes of mold is not enough. You also need to inspect the most likely sources of mold.
Check the areas under the kitchen counter and the sink. These spaces are always humid, warm and dark. They are perfect breeding grounds for mold.
Also check the bathroom. If you see dark spots on the wall, inside the cabinets and other spaces, you have a mold infestation.
Dark spots on the ceiling boards could also indicate the presence of mold. If unchecked, it spreads to other parts of the house, including the closet.
Is mold on shoes dangerous?
Yes, we could say it is because it does not come off even when you wipe it out. It roots deeply in the material. Thus, to clean it out, you should use vinegar to kill it completely. Mold is a living fungus, so if you do not kill it completely, it keeps coming back.
Another reason why mold is dangerous on shoes is that it can alter their color completely. Also, as we have said, it grows in humid spaces. Thus, it will even cause your shoes to start rotting because they will not dry up completely.
Mold also causes shoes to dry-rot inside the closet. From the outside, the shoes look quite okay. However, when you tug them a little, they start falling apart.
How to prevent mold on shoes in closet
There are three main ways to prevent mold on your shoes when they are in the closet:
Lower the humidity inside the closet
Some areas are generally humid. For instance, Florida is a humid place. If you live there, you have to lower the humidity in the closet actively, using a portable dehumidifier.
Increase airflow in the closet
If you leave air trapped in the closet for too long, mold will start to grow on your shoes and clothing. To increase airflow in the closet, you can add ventilation, use a fan or open the doors sometime in the day.
Releasing the trapped, stale air is also good for your clothes. It makes them smell nice.
Use a wire rack to store your shoes
Steel is resistant to mold, so is chrome and most other metals. Thus, if you have a wooden shelf to keep your shoes, it could be a big contributor to the mold. Try a wire rack. It will help.
Can you put moldy shoes in the washing machine?
First, you should remove the mold by brushing the shoes with a soft-bristled brush. You should then soak them in water-white vinegar solution.
You cannot clean leather, suede or nubuck leather shoes in a washing machine. Only clean the mesh, cloth and canvas shoes in the washing machine. Toss in a few towels to prevent the shoes from knocking too much around the machine.
How to remove mold from suede shoes
First, you will need to brush up the suede shoes with a suede brush. Secondly, you should dip a piece of cloth in a water-vinegar solution, squeeze it until it is damp and then dab the moldy places with it. The vinegar will kill the remaining mold completely.
After removing the mold and the accompanying stains, you should then clean the shoes in soap and water and dry them in the sun until they are completely dry.
Final Thoughts on What Causes Mold On Shoes
All the causes of mold on shoes boil down to one thing – humidity. If you can lower the humidity of your shoe storage space, you will control mold.
Also, wooden racks are more susceptible to mold than metallic ones. Try wire racks. They do a better job of preventing the development of mold and mildew.