Squeaky

Starting Member
6
Today I happened to glance into my shoe before putting it on and, lo and behold, the floor of the toebox was covered with mold. It looks like the inside of my shoe is covered in sea-green velvet. Yuck. So now I have three questions.

1. What can I do?
I assume that the shoes are done for in the long run, but can I clean them out and continue to use them in the meantime? A previous post, in a similar context, suggested sloshing a mixture of baking soda and water around in the shoe. Or will keeping these shoes around endanger my other shoes with potentially free-roaming spores?

2. How did this happen?
I wear the shoes no more than twice a week, always with a day of rest between. My feet always seem hotter/sweatier in these shoes than in others, so perhaps it has something to do with the shoe's leather? My closet is actually a small room with a window, so lack of ventilation isn't an issue.

3. How can I prevent this from happening in the future?
Typically, I put my shoe trees in when I take the shoes off. Perhaps I should wait an hour to let my shoes air out?
 

medwards

Honored Professor | Moderator, All Forums
5,117
United States
DC
Washington
Today I happened to glance into my shoe before putting it on and, lo and behold, the floor of the toebox was covered with mold. It looks like the inside of my shoe is covered in sea-green velvet. Yuck. So now I have three questions.

1. What can I do?
I assume that the shoes are done for in the long run, but can I clean them out and continue to use them in the meantime? A previous post, in a similar context, suggested sloshing a mixture of baking soda and water around in the shoe. Or will keeping these shoes around endanger my other shoes with potentially free-roaming spores?
I always recommend taking shoes to knowledgable professionals for care. An experienced cobber is your best solution. That said, should you wish to pursue a home remedy you can try the following. First, gently brush or scrape away the surface mold. Then carefully apply a very diluted solution of distilled water and bleach (so diluted that you do not smell the bleach's aroma). Just softly wipe this solution onto the interior part of the shoe...do not get the shoes really wet and be careful to avoid touching the exterior leather. Then allow the shoes to dry in a well ventilated open area at normal room temperature.

2. How did this happen?
I wear the shoes no more than twice a week, always with a day of rest between. My feet always seem hotter/sweatier in these shoes than in others, so perhaps it has something to do with the shoe's leather? My closet is actually a small room with a window, so lack of ventilation isn't an issue.
The shoe leather and lining can certainly contribute to the situation (as can your hosiery). The mold results from dampness and warmth and if the shoe does not breathe properly that will exacerbate the problem. While the room may seem well-ventilated, it may be that air circulation is not reaching your footwear to assist in the drying process or that the shoes are too close to a heating duct or radiator. Consider another location in your room for storing these shoes after you wear them and consider evaluating the level of humidity in your closet.

3. How can I prevent this from happening in the future?
Typically, I put my shoe trees in when I take the shoes off. Perhaps I should wait an hour to let my shoes air out?
The issue of letting shoes air out before placing shoe trees in them has been debated on this Forum in the past. While that might not be necessary in normal circumstances, it may be prudent in your case. I would suggest gentling wiping the interior of your shoes with a dry clean cloth when you first take your shoes off to remove any apparent surface moisture, let them air out for a short while, and then place the trees in them for storage. There are some who believe certain woods are more likely to absorb moisture than others (cedar is often sited) but there is a lack of good data as to whether there is any real distinction.

I would also suggest that you assess your hosiery to make sure that the material and care of your socks are not contibuting factors to this problem.
 
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bigCat

Honors Member
3,266
United States
New Hampshire
Hampton
Medwards is right on, and I can just add that you should not give up on these shoes yet, even in the long run. Apply bleach, change location of storage, alter shoe tree usage, but don't give up - those mushrooms can be eradicated.
 

DocHolliday

Honors Member
4,113
I bought a huge lot of moldy deadstock shoes a couple of months ago. I carefully cleaned them all up, and so far I've had no problems. No hint of a recurrence. Just remove the mold outside, to avoid spreading spores, and give the shoes plenty of light and air once you're done. (I'll note that I've kept my shoes in isolation, just for good measure.)

Squeaky's initial post asked how the mold set up in the first place, and I think that's the real problem that needs addressed. Squeaky, are your trees wooden? Plastic or metal trees might be trapping moisture. Maybe you could give your shoes some sun and make sure they're fully dry before moving them to your closet?
 

Newton

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
162
Hello

Baking soda is a fantastic solution for mold.

It's actually fantastic for pretty much everything. Between baking soda and vinegar nearly all my household's cleaning is done.

Back to the shoes. Baking soda is fantastic for mold, kills it off beautifully. I have never tried it on a pair of shoes, having never experienced the same misfortune as you, but you can't go wrong. It isn't abrasive - one use for baking soda is as a fabric softener in your laundry.

Good luck, keep us posted.
 

JLibourel

Honors Member and King Fop
6,014
United States
California
Long Beach
I think many people in this forum have an unwarranted horror of mold. I found one pair of shoes that I hadn't worn for quite a while several years ago. They were almost solid green with mold. I cleaned them off, and they were and still are just fine. I live near the beach, and I think this aggravates the mold problem. In fact, just last week I needed a couple of holsters for a photo shoot. One very fine holster--a Mitch Rosen sharkskin--was covered in green mold. A few minutes with a terrycloth rag restored it to its pristine state. I really think that with most mold on leather can be removed with no more than that (elbow grease and a terrycloth rag) with routine cleaning and polishing thereafter.
 

Undertakered

New Member
80
I too have had a recent mold issue on leather garments (not shoes). I had a box of motorcycle gear packed away, and on opening it up there was this horrid green sea slowly creeping over everything (Yuck).

The cheap easily replaced items I chucked, everything else I carefully wiped down and left outside on the line to air dry and get plenty of sun. Still waiting to see if I get a reinfestation, hoepfully not.

Harley
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
31,214
Harmony, FL
United States
Florida
Harmony
Years ago I bought a boot dryer for my hunting boots, after a day in the field (I think it got left behind on one of our many moves, quite some time back). It consisted of a base, housing a motor that blew unheated air through two vertical pipes that you hung the shafts of the boots over...dried the boots, without damaging them, rather quickly. Perhaps a similiar device would provide the solution to prevent repitition of the problem under present discussion?