How to Clean and Prevent Moldy Tack

Contributed by: Valerie Mellema

I grew up in Northeast Oklahoma, lived in West Texas for about 10 years, but it wasn’t until I moved to East Texas that I encountered the issue of moldy tack. I board my horses, so my trailer is my tack room. Unfortunately there appears to be some sort of leak that is allowing quite a bit of moisture in and it doesn’t take long for that green fuzz to develop on unused girths, side reins, stirrup leathers or bridles.

Here’s the problem with mold and mildew. It has spores. You wipe off those spores and they can fall onto your other tack. It’s a never ending mold growing and tack cleaning cycle. This is especially true as of late with our 40 inches of rain this spring and the constant humidity.  Here are a few tips and tricks to help fight the battle.


Sunlight and Vinegar Kills the Spores

If you can set your moldy tack out in the sun for a few hours, it will kill the spores. Next, use plain white vinegar to finish the job. You might have to get down and dirty here and scrub with a brush or toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. Because vinegar can dry out leather, follow up with your regular tack cleaning routine and give your tack a good conditioning treatment with neatsfoot oil. However, clean the tack outdoors! This will allow any leftover living spores to spread outside and not inside your tack room, barn or house. This helps to break that mold cycle.



If you’re having an all around tack room mold battle, it may be a good idea to put a dehumidifier in your tack room to help bring the moisture level down as a whole.


Moisture Packets

You know those little moisture packets that say “Do Not Ingest” on them. Those are dessicant packs. They often come in buckets of horse supplements and a variety of other products you buy. Save them and toss them into bridle bags, totes or other areas where you frequently store your tack. They help pull the moisture away from the leather that causes the mold.


Clean Your Tack Room

If you have an actual tack room, a good and thorough cleaning of the entire room will help prevent mold as well. Dark, damp, humid and poorly ventilated areas are the ideal breeding conditions of mold and mildew. Clean the walls, ceilings and floors with a bleach solution. 1:3 bleach to water is good for concrete and unpainted wood. Rinse when done and bring your clean tack back in.



Overall ventilation is important as well. A window and even a fan can go a long way into preventing mold. Turn the fan on when it’s humid and it can help prevent mold from growing, plus it will feel good after a hot ride!

Hopefully these tips will help you throughout the summer. It’s supposed to be a warm and rainy one!

If you have any more ideas or suggestions for preventing or restoring moldy tack, share them with us in the comments!


Valerie Mellema is the Author of Gray Horse Publishing and she has written books on equine topics including buying, selling, and caring for your horse. You can shop her books and read her blog at