How Do You Remove Mold Stains & Smell From Shoes?

Wet sneakers can mold if not properly dried.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

You thought mold only grew on cheese and bread, but much to your horror, powdery green spots have sprouted on your precious shoes. Mold enjoys growing in moist, dark places so placing your wet sneakers or dance-dampened pumps directly in the closet provides a ripe environment for the fungus. Not only does mold look gross germinating on your tennies, it smells funky too. Proper shoe maintenance will not only knock the moss off your sling backs, but keep stinky mold out of your closet for good.

Mold Stains on Cloth Shoes or Insoles


Brush loose mold from the shoes. Take the shoes outside and wipe the fungus off with an old rag. If you can't take the shoes outside, hold the shoes over an open trash bag and wipe the mold inside. Close the trash bag and place in an outside trash can.


Mix 2 tbsp. of lemon juice with enough salt to form a paste. Spread the paste over the mold stains on the shoes.


Place the shoes on an outside porch or table in direct sunlight. Let the sun bleach the mold stains for three to four hours.


Wipe the lemon and salt mixture from the shoes. Rub 1/4 tsp. of heavy-duty laundry detergent into the fabric of the shoes.


Scrub the stains with an old toothbrush. Wipe the soap from the shoes with a damp rag.


Spray the inside of the shoes with shoe re-freshening spray.

Leather Shoes


Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and water.


Wet a cloth with the rubbing alcohol mixture. Give the mold stains the old once-over with the cloth.


Place the shoes in front of a running fan and allow the shoes to dry completely.


Fill a sink with water and 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap, creating a large lather of suds. Skim the suds onto a clean cloth and wipe on any lingering mold stains on the shoes.


Dry the shoes with a soft cloth after removing the mold stains. Wipe the leather shoes with 1/2 tsp. of leather conditioner and a clean cloth. Buff the shoes until they shine.

Things You'll Need



3.Trash can


7.Old toothbrush

9.Rubbing alcohol

11.1 tsp. liquid dish soap

13.1/2 tsp. leather conditioner

2.Trash bag

4.2 tbsp. lemon juice

6.1/4 tsp. heavy duty laundry detergent

8.Shoe re-freshening spray




Tips & Tricks


Prevent mold by allowing wet shoes to dry before putting them away in the closet.

Dirt attracts mold, so don't put shoes away dirty.

Increase air circulation around your shoe collection by keeping the shoes on open racks rather than in vinyl pockets or shoe boxes, and by leaving the closet door ajar.

Save those mysterious little silica gel packets that came with your shoes and slip them back inside after wearing -- the material absorbs moisture.


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