Mold spores are everywhere and they love to cling to porous surfaces like leather car seats. Not only do these spores damage the surface of our leather car seat but can give off toxic substances that may cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems when we or our pets inhale them.
If you have mold on your leather car seats, it needs to be cleaned before the problem gets worse. This blog post will teach you how.
So how do you clean leather car seats with mold? To answer the question briefly, the best way to clean mold from leather car seats is by first brushing off as much of the mold spores as possible use a nylon brush or an old toothbrush, and then using special leather cleaners and conditioners to treat the leather car seat.
One of the best home remedies for cleaning leather car seats with mold is by using undiluted mild dish soap to clean the mold and then use rubbing alcohol to sanitize the area.
To learn more details about how to clean leather car seats with mold, you can continue reading this article. Here’s what you’re going to learn;
- What mold is,
- How mold grow on your leather car seats,
- What mold does to your leather car seats if not treated,
- The complete details on how to clean leather car seats with mold,
- How often you should cleaner your leather car seats that have mold, and
- Important tips on how to prevent mold growth on your leather car seats.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that can be found both indoors and outdoors. It typically grows in dark, moist environments and releases microscopic spores into the air that can cling to any surface.
Mold is not only unsightly but also damages porous surfaces like leather car seats by eating away at the material. In addition, mold can release harmful toxins into the air that can cause respiratory problems and other health issues when we or our pets breathe them in.
As mentioned before, mold is a fungus that thrives not only in the dark but also in damp places with lots of moisture. It can grow anywhere from the ground to on living plants or even inside our homes and cars if they are not properly ventilated.
Mold is notorious for causing a variety of health problems in people and pets. Allergies are the most common side-effect since mold spores release microscopic particles into the air that can cause us to sneeze, wheeze or get itchy eyes when we inhale them.
Pets with allergies may develop skin rashes or ear infections if they come into contact with mold. In extreme cases, mold can cause respiratory problems in both people and pets or even death if ingested.
How Does Mold Grow On Leather Car Seats?
For mold to grow on your leather car seats, the seats must be porous and have a lot of moisture. The warm, dark, moist environment inside our cars is the perfect place for mold to thrive.
Leather car seats are not only porous and absorbent but also get wet very easily either from the rain, humidity, or even when we sweat in them.
Leather car seats are also susceptible to damage from mold since the leather fibers are very thin and easily eaten away by the fungus.
In addition, mold can quickly spread from one leather seat to another if not cleaned properly.
When at least, one or a combination of the conditions of moisture, heat or warmth, darkness, or humidity is present, mold can begin to grow on leather car seats.
When touched, mold gives off a damp, musty, earth-like odor that is difficult to get rid of. When it comes to how they look, mold on your leather car seats will have a black, green, or brownish color and will be sometimes powdery or moist to touch.
What Does Mold Do To Leather Car Seats?
There are a lot of damages that mold can do to not only leather car seats but to any other leather products. Here are a few of the most common ones;
Mold Discolors The Leather Car Seats
As a matter of fact, mold can change the color of any porous surface that it inhabits. This is because the spores give off a pigment that makes whatever they are growing on appear more darker or vibrant than before.
If your leather car seats get mold, you will often find that the area that is affected becomes a different color than the rest of the seat. The mold will also start to grow in patches and become more apparent over time.
Mold Will Cause Your Leather Car Seats To Smell Bad
Mold gives off a musty, earth-like smell that is difficult to get rid of. This smell will often linger in the car and can be very nauseating when you’re driving or for your passengers.
Not only does mold make your leather car seats smell bad but it can also affect the air quality inside your car.
As mentioned before, if there’s enough mold in your car, it can cause respiratory problems and other health issues for you and your passengers when we or our pets breathe them in.
Mold Damages The Leather Car Seats
As mentioned before, mold eats away at the leather fibers of the car seat. This not only causes the leather to become brittle but also makes it weak and susceptible to tearing.
Over time, if the mold is not cleaned properly, it can cause permanent damage to your leather car seats.
So it is clear that not only does mold creates an unsightly look, but also mold eats away at the leather fibers of our car seats and causes them to weaken. This weakening can cause rips or tears in the material that will lead to further damage, such as cracks.
Details On How To Clean Leather Car Seats With Mold
Now to the meat of our topic today, how do you clean leather car seats with mold?
First of all, if your car is equipped with a fabric or removable seat cover that can be easily removed by lifting it up and out through an access point in the seatback, take this off before cleaning the affected area. This will save you time later when you have to put it back on.
Here are some of the most effective tried and tested methods I use to clean my leather car seats when they somehow get mold.
1. Using Mild Dish Soap To Clean Leather Car Seats With Mold
One of the most effective ways to clean mold off leather car seats is by using mild dish soap.
Mild dish soap contains ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate that are very effective at removing dirt, dust, and grease.
In addition, it is also a non-toxic and biodegradable liquid that is safe to use around your home and on your skin.
Although the best soap for cleaning leather materials is saddle soap or any other dedicated leather cleaner, mild dish soap can also be used to clean leather car seats with mold, and here’s how you go about it;
- Mild Dish Soap Or Saddle Soap
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Microfiber Cloth
- Clean Soft-Bristled Brush
- Distilled Water
- Leather Conditioner
- Move your car to an open and well-ventilated area.
- I will not encourage you clean leather car seats with mold in an enclosed area.
- This will prevent the mold from spreading to other surfaces.
- If possible, move the car to the driveway where you would have a lot of light.
- Put on a pair of gloves, nose, and mouth mask.
- Leather car seats with mold can be hazardous to your health, so it is important that you protect yourself before starting the cleaning process.
- Start by using a dry clean cloth or a soft-bristled brush to remove loose mold spores, excess dirt, or debris from the affected area.
- Make sure to brush hard-to-reach areas and in between the cracks.
- You can also use a vacuum cleaner to easily remove mold spores from wrinkles, and hard-to-reach parts of the leather car seats.
- If your leather car seat has a seat cover, make sure to remove them and clean them as well.
- Dampen your microfiber cloth with some distilled water.
- Make sure not to get the microfiber cloth soaking wet.
- Pour some dish soap onto the damp microfiber cloth and use it to clean the affected area.
- Make sure the soap is thick and thud. Meaning you do not have to dilute the mild dish soap.
- Start by cleaning the surface of the leather and then work your way into the cracks using circular motions.
- Make sure to pay attention to any areas that are affected and mold is growing.
- Once you have finished cleaning the area with the mild dish soap, use a clean damp microfiber cloth to wipe the soap residue off the surface of your leather car seat.
- Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts distilled water.
- Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the rubbing alcohol solution and use it to gently wipe the surface of the leather car seat.
- Make sure to wipe the surface of the entire area you cleaned, as well as any other parts of your leather car seats.
- Once you’re done, allow the leather car seats to air dry.
- Finally, apply your leather conditioner to the entire surface of your leather car seats.
- Leave the leather car seats to air dry.
2. Using Vinegar To Clean Leather Car Seats With Mold
Vinegar is another effective solution that can be used to clean leather car seats with mold. It is a natural and non-toxic cleaner that can be found in most households.
When it comes to mold removal, vinegar contains acetic acid that is effective at killing the mold and preventing it from growing back.
Vinegar also contains cleaning agents that can also help to remove any stains that the mold would have left on your leather car seats.
Here’s how you can use vinegar to clean leather car seats with mold;
- Distilled Water (Optional)
- Microfiber Cloth Or Sponge
- Nylon Brush
- Move your car to an open and well-ventilated area.
- Put on the protective glove, nose, and mouth mask.
- Use your nylon brush to gently brush off as much of the mold spores on the affected area of your leather car seats.
- Make sure to remove as much of the mold as possible from the leather car seat.
- Make sure to brush any areas that have mold spores growing on them, as well as in between the cracks and wrinkles.
- Mix equal parts of distilled water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
- Spritz the vinegar mixture onto your microfiber cloth to dampen it.
- Make sure not to get the cloth soaking wet.
- Do a spot test by wiping the damp microfiber cloth on a small inconspicuous part of the leather car seat.
- If there is no change or adverse effect, you can continue with your cleaning process.
- Start by wiping the affected area with the microfiber cloth that has been dampened using your vinegar solution.
- Make sure to wipe in circular motions, working yourself into the cracks and crevices of your leather car seats.
- Do not rub too hard as it can cause damage to the surface of your leather car seats.
- Do not get the leather car seat surface too wet as this can also lead to future mold growth.
- After cleaning the leather car seat surface thoroughly and there is no mold left, wipe the entire surface using a clean microfiber cloth that has been dampened with distilled water.
- Allow your leather car seats to air dry.
- Apply a leather conditioner to the entire surface of your leather car seats.
- Leave the leather car seats to air.
3. Using Baby Shampoo To Clean Leather Car Seats With Mold
Baby shampoo is another non-toxic cleaner that can be used to clean leather car seats with mold.
It is a gentle detergent that is safe to use on leather car seats and can help remove mold, mold smell, and stains.
Since most baby shampoos are free from harsh chemicals, they also won’t damage the surface of your leather car seats.
Here’s how you can use baby shampoo to clean leather car seats with mold;
- Baby Shampoo
- Microfiber Cloth
- As usual, wear your protective gear and move your car to an open and well-ventilated area.
- Use a microfiber cloth or brush to remove as much of the mold spores from the affected area of your leather car seats as possible.
- Mix one part of baby shampoo to one part of distilled water in a spray bottle or bowl.
- Spray the baby shampoo mixture onto your microfiber cloth to dampen it and use it to wipe the surface of the leather car seat.
- Make sure to wipe in circular motions and work yourself into the cracks and crevices of your leather car seats.
- After you have removed all the mold from the leather car seat with the baby shampoo mixture, use a clean microfiber cloth that has been dampened with distilled water to wipe the entire surface.
- Allow your leather car seat to air dry and apply a leather conditioner.
4. Using Baking Soda To Clean Leather Car Seats With Mold
This method involves using a mixture of baking soda, white vinegar, and dish soap.
This is effective because it will not only kill the mold spores but will also treat stain spots and remove the musty smells that are often associated with mold.
If you have all the materials needed, the following is how you can use it to clean leather car seats with mold;
- Baking Soda
- White Vinegar
- Dish Soap
- Distilled Water (Optional)
- Microfiber Cloth Or Sponge
- Nylon Brush
- Wipe off as much of the mold spores as possible using your nylon brush.
- Make a paste by mixing baking soda and white vinegar together until it forms a thick consistency.
- Apply the paste to the affected area of your leather car seats using a cloth or sponge.
- Leave the application for about 5-10 minutes, then wipe off the application with a damp cloth.
- Continue doing this until all the mold spores are removed.
- Once the mold spores are gone, use a damp clean cloth to wipe the entire surface of your leather car seats.
- Make sure to remove all the baking soda and vinegar mixture or residue from the leather car seat.
- Now use a dry clean cloth to wipe any excesses moisture from the leather car seat.
- Now apply a leather conditioner to the entire surface of your leather car seats.
- Leave the leather car seat to air dry.
5. Using Special Leather Cleaners To Clean Leather Car Seats With Mold
If you have some money to invest in your leather car seats, you can always use special cleaners and conditioners that are designed specifically for cleaning your leather car seats.
There are a lot of leather cleaners on the market for this purpose but my go-to cleaners for removing mold, mildew, and other contaminants from leather are Leather Honey Leather Cleaner & Conditioner and Lexol Leather Conditioner.
Leather Honey is a non-toxic, all-natural cleaner that is made in the USA. It is safe for you and your leather car seats as it does not contain any harsh chemicals or solvents.
The best part is, each application can last up to six months, so you will only need to apply it once a year.
Lexol is another popular leather cleaner and conditioner that has been used by professionals for over 30 years. It is also non-toxic and biodegradable.
I like using Lexol because it comes in a spray bottle which makes it easier to apply on your leather car seats.
You can also use it as a general-purpose cleaner for the other parts of your vehicle like door panels, dashboards, and even motorcycle interiors.
All you need is one or two spritzes per section (the front passenger seat, backseat, etc.).
Spread the product evenly around with a microfiber cloth and let it sit for a minute or two. Wipe off any excess with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
After cleaning the leather car seat surface thoroughly and there is no mold left, wipe the entire surface using a clean microfiber cloth that has been dampened with distilled water.
Allow your leather car seats to air dry. Apply a leather conditioner to the entire surface of your leather car seats. Leave the leather car seats to air.
How Often Should You Clean Moldy Leather Car Seats?
It depends on how much mold is growing in your car. If you have a small patch of mold that only covers about an inch or two, clean the mold immediately and maintain a routine of cleaning your leather car seats once or twice every 3 months should be enough to keep it clean and prevent further growth.
If there’s already quite a lot of the stuff growing on your leather car seats, then you are going to have to clean the affected area more frequently.
This is especially true if it’s also starting to spread further across your car seats as well, which would require professional assistance or thorough cleaning service at least once or twice every month till all traces of mold are removed.
After removing any visible stains from our leather car seats, we then need to apply a conditioner to the seats.
This will help keep the leather hydrated and prevent any further staining or damage from occurring in the future.
However, if your car sits in the garage every day, then it is best to move your car out of the storage space once every month into a brightly lit space and do a close inspection to so see if there is evidence of mold.
You can as well do a quick wipe down of your leather car seats once a month if your car is going to be sitting in the garage for a long time.
For cars you regularly drive, a twice-a-week regimen should be sufficient.
The moment you see any mold sprouting up on our leather car seats, you would want to clean it immediately using any of the methods discussed above.
Mold can grow fast inside closed spaces like cars because of how warm and moist it is, so don’t wait until the problem gets worse.
Cleaning leather car seats with mold can be a daunting task but if you’re careful and use the right methods, then it’s not too difficult.
Just make sure that you clean them on a regular basis to prevent any long-term damage from occurring.
Tips For Preventing Future Mold Buildup On Your Leather Car Seats
One of the fundamental ways to get mold off your leather car seats is having a good prevention strategy. Here are a few preventive practices you can employ to keep your leather car seats free of mold for as long as possible.
- Keep the interior temperature at a reasonable level by using an AC in the summer and heating in the winter. This will help to discourage mold growth.
- Make sure your car is well ventilated by opening windows and sunroofs whenever possible and not parking in a sunny area.
- Clean your upholstery at least once every three months with the methods discussed above.
- Apply leather conditioner to your seats every three to six months or so if you want them looking brand new for as long as possible.
- Regularly clean the floor mats and upholstery as well.
- Avoid overstuffing your car with junk or other unnecessary items that might become a breeding ground for mold.
- If you have pets, make sure to clean your car seats and floor mats often as their fur can also be an excellent breeding ground for mold.
- Don’t leave your car’s windows open in wet weather as this can lead to moisture buildup inside the car.
- If you do store your car in the garage, make sure to move it out into a well-ventilated area at least once or twice a month to check for any signs of mold.
- If you do see any evidence of mold, clean it immediately using the methods discussed above.
- Keep you car interior as clean as possible at all times.
- You can purchase silica gel packs to help absorb moisture and keep your car mold-free.
Mold can be a real pain to deal with, especially if it’s growing on your leather car seats.
However, it’s nothing too difficult to fix if you know how to clean leather car seats with mold.
Just make sure that you are thorough when cleaning your upholstery and always follow proper safety precautions as well.
You should find yourself enjoying a pristine-looking interior in no time!