October 31, 2014

Preserving leather shoes in the tropics or wet weather

After attending a wedding, we returned to our tropical paradise and ye gods, there was mould on everything! Every horizontal surface had a film of mould and all leather was covered in it. I was pretty devastated as all my local friends just shrugged and said, ‘That’s why we all wear plastic and rubber shoes!’. Actually, even my Rivers fake Crocs had shrunken in the heat!

Several days later, we had cleaned every cupboard, every surface and, as I had some posh shoes bought for the wedding, I was puzzling over the prevention of further mould infestations. So here is what we did:

Cleaned the shoes and polished them thoroughly with a good, nourishing saddle soap and neutral cleaner or black nugget where appropriate.

Made some Silica Gel sachets. I made them from some scrap fabric, but any porous material will do well. You can speed up the process considerably by ‘chain sewing’ ie. cut out a long strip of fabric, sew it into a very long tube of around 3 inches wide and then cross sew it with 2 seams, dividing it into little bags of 2 inches long but leave a gap for turning inside out and for inserting a funnel through which you will pour the silica gel. A bottle will be around $15 and will make about 40 little bags I think.

Then put a pair of shoes in a strong ziplock bag, suck out the air and pop a gel bag in each. Men’s shoes may need a bag & sachet per shoe.

I also put bags of silica gel in with my coats and with my son’s guitar.

Buy the silica gel from a boating or engineering store.

With large suitcases, make sure you air them well and leather coats need to be treated like the shoes.

I have also painted the interiors of my closets with a Dutch Boy brand of paint that contains bicarb-soda and removes odours, PLUS I have put a lightly fragranced Glade deodorizer in there. (Prepped the closets with a wash of bleach/water solution, dried well, coated with Bond-crete or other sealer, some walls needed a bit of concrete sealant which is impermeable marble crush mix with silicone in it, then finally painted.) It was a bout an 8 stage process after the scraping of any mould and efflorescence.

Living in the tropics has the thrill of exotic flowers, animals, birds etc. but I have a mould allergy and this has been an arduous process (oh, I am also allergic to bleach!). I will not be 100% confident that I have beaten the mould till next summer when the rains come but hope that by then we will have dealt with every leak and problem in the house properly!

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Comments

  1. Oh, I am so with you being over the mould and I’m only in the subtropics of the Sunshine Coast about an hour north of Brisbane. I swear it grows before your very eyes. But compared with what so many have been dealing with this summer I cannot seriously complain. Silica gel sachets and vacuum bags is my approach too, and I’m using a few drops of clove oil in a bowl of soapy water to wash things down like doors and window frames. The clove oil acts as a mould inhibitor and at least smells better than bleach.

    • I have only lived in Queensland for a few months at a time and I have been told to keep the circulating fans on all the time to avoid mould in your furniture.
      I don’t think a few months was good enough to assess whether this worked on not though! this isn’t very eco-friendly though to run the power all the time (and probably not very good on your pocket either!!)

      Do vacuum bags actually work well? I do have problems with silverfish and am considering using the vacuum bags on some precious items to avoid them getting eaten!

      • Clove oil is a great idea. And yes, I have had success with the combination of the vaccuum bags and silica gel. But as they can stretch and leak air, check them occasionally and re-suck the air out.

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