Sitting down on a leather sofa should be a great way to relax and unwind after a hard day at work. That’s why finding patches of mold growing all over your favorite item of furniture can really spoil your day.
So, why has your leather sofa grown mold in the first place? Is it dangerous and how can you stop it from happening again in the future?
The good news is, in this article I will be answering all these questions and even more, so if you want to know everything about mold growth on leather couches, keep reading.
To remove mold from a leather couch, make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply to paste to the affected area and leave until dry, then remove with a clean cloth. Baking soda kills the mold and removes stains without chemicals (such as vinegar or bleach) damaging the leather it was placed on.
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What causes mold on a leather couch?
Mold grows on leather couches for exactly the same reasons it grows on all manner of other items, the circumstances for it were correct. And what are those circumstances?
- A source of moisture
- A source of nutrients
- An ambient temperate
- A lack of natural sunlight
Take a look at your couch’s current location, you may be surprised to find that you are currently giving mold exactly what it needs to thrive.
Moisture – Mold needs moisture to live, but this doesn’t have to come in the form of spilled water or leaks. As long as the ambient humidity remains greater than 55% for a prolonged period, mold will have all the moisture it needs.
Of course, this humidity could come about because of leaks within a property, but it could also be from being located near high moisture areas of the home, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Nutrients – There are obvious sources of nutrients that mold can use that could be found on a leather couch, such as spilled food and drinks that weren’t cleaned up quickly or fell down the sides of cushions, but there are also other options such as dust.
Dust is made up mainly of dead skin cells, mold can use this as a source of nutrients along with other microscopic particles of organic materials.
Ambient temperatures – Mold has a preference in terms of the temperature it grows in. The optimal temperature for its growth is between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The unfortunate thing is, the average American thermostat is set to between 60 and 70 degrees and between 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, giving mold its perfect environment for growth.
A lack of sunlight – Depending on where your leather sofa is situated, it may well be out of the way from direct sources of sunlight for comfort.
This makes sense, as you would not want sunlight in your eyes whilst watching tv or directly in your face whilst you were trying to relax.
Another reason to keep a leather sofa out of direct sunlight is to stop the sun from bleaching the leather. Over time it will also deteriorate the leather and cause cracks, spoiling a perfectly good sofa in as little as six months of natural sunlight exposure.
So, by locating your leather couch away from natural sunlight, you may be protecting it from sunlight damage, but you are also making it a refuge for mold to grow on, as mold is deterred from growing by the sun’s UV rays, so tends to prefer darker locations.
Can a moldy leather couch be saved?
The good news is, that if mold is found growing on a sofa and is quickly dealt with, in many cases, the damage it causes can be limited and the couch can indeed be saved.
The problem comes when dealing with well-established mold that has been allowed to sit on the fabric for several months or even years.
By this point, near irreversible damage will have been caused to the leather and it is unlikely that it can be saved. This is a result of the metabolic processes mold uses whilst it is digesting foods. The chemicals produced are acidic and slowly eat away at the leather, discoloring and breaking it down.
What types of mold grow on leather couches?
Due to its ph level being between 4.5 and 5.5, leather is considered “acidic”, and puts it well within the minimum to maximum ph levels for several strains of mold.
These molds include:
- Aspergillus niger
- Aspergillus flavus
- Cladosporium herbarum
- Rhizopus stolonifer
Some of these molds are more commonly found within properties than others, but there is a good chance that any one of these strains could be growing on your couch.
As you may well be using sight alone, it is incredibly difficult to determine which strain of mold you are dealing with without having it tested. Testing of the mold is also important to determine whether the strain you are dealing with has the potential to be hazardous to your health.
What does mold on a leather couch look like?
The strains listed above can come in many color variations, including black, white, blue, green, grey, orange, and even red. With the textures are often described as appearing, powdery, velvety, and slimy in some circumstances.
You often notice that in the first few days of the mold beginning to grow, you will see small patches of circular or spiderweb patterns appearing within the color ranges listed above.
Is the mold that grows on a leather couch dangerous?
Yes, the mold strains that can be found growing on leather items including couches do have the potential to be hazardous to both humans and animals.
This is down to some of the strains being able to produce mycotoxins, a harmful metabolite that is created as a form of self-defense whenever mold feels threatened.
If these mycotoxins are inhaled (via the mold’s spores), or accidentally injected, they have the potential to cause a large array of health complaints, including:
- Digestive issues
- Fatigue (in rare cases)
- Runny nose
- Skin irritation
In extreme cases, if the mycotoxin exposure is over a long time or in very high doses, serious health complaints such as cancers, asthma, and liver damage have been reported.
How to remove mold from a leather couch
As previously stated, some molds have the potential to be hazardous to your health. Therefore, before you begin to remove it yourself, you should make sure you are wearing a breathing mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection to prevent coming into contact with the mold or its spores.
Newly established mold (growing for less than one week), can be easily removed from a leather couch with a mixture of warm water and detergent. Dip a clean cloth into the detergent mix and gently wipe at the affected area. The mold should come off easily without leaving a stain. Dry the cleaned area thoroughly with a dry cloth after cleaning.
For older mold, a different approach may be required. To remove established mold from a leather sofa, use the following steps:
Step 1. Vacuum off the mold
Before you begin to tackle the mold, use a vacuum to remove the majority of the growth. The reason for doing this is that by using a vacuum, you can gently remove a great deal of the mold, whilst sucking up its spores. This prevents mold spores from being spread throughout the rest of your property and setting up new colonies.
Step 2. Create a baking soda paste
Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of water, and keep adding water until you have a thick consistency. It should be loose enough that it is spreadable but dry enough that it sticks to the leather. A good reference is that it should be similar in thickness to peanut butter.
Using a spoon, spread the baking soda paste over the area you have vacuumed. Ensure there is plenty covering the area so that it can effectively kill the mold.
Leave the paste on the mold patch for a minimum of ten minutes to both kill the mold and lift any stains caused.
Step 3. Wipe away the paste
Wait until the paste has fully dried. The amount of time this take can vary depending on the heat of the room but usually takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Once the paste has dried, you should be able to easily wipe it away. Water is not always required to remove the dried paste, and if required, you can use a vacuum to pick up any small chunks of paste.
Wiping or vacuuming the dried paste away will remove both the powder residue and any mold and its stains with it.
The paste is able to work deeply into the fabric and pull the roots of the mold away when it is lifted off the surface, meaning no second round of treatments should be required.
You may have seen white vinegar being suggested as a good way to kill mold on leather couches. This is not advised by Moldtutor.com, as the high acidity levels can damage the leather, causing cracking and premature aging of the material.
This also applies to bleach, as despite it being a fantastic way to kill mold, it can damage and stain the leather.
How to prevent mold from growing on a leather couch
The best way to prevent mold from growing on a sofa is to make sure it is kept clean and dry.
Clean the cushions with antibacterial products such as wipes at least once every month, and make sure they are fully dry before placing them back.
Use a vacuum to clean any hard-to-reach areas and under the cushions to remove any debris.
Clean up any spills as soon as they occur, and try to lower the overall humidity in the room the couch is being stored in to lower than 50%, this will severely limit mold’s ability to flourish.
To make it easier to keep track of the humidity, you can place a hygrometer somewhere in the room. These units are no larger than a digital alarm clock and can accurately display the overall moisture levels, as soon as the percentage reaches greater than 55%, it’s time to start opening windows, and doors and increasing airflow.
To make life easier, I’ve placed a few links to Amazon where you can pick up these units easily. They come highly rated and are very affordable. Clicking on the links will take you directly to the store.
Mold can quickly ruin an expensive sofa if not quickly removed, it also has the potential to be hazardous to the health of humans and animals.
Removing mold can be simple using the above-mentioned methods, however, if the mold is allowed to grow for too long and becomes too well established, the couch can become unsalvageable.