How to Get Bad Smells Out of Leather

by Albert Varkki updated 08-03-2023

Table Of Contents

How To Easily Get Bad Smells Out Of Leather

Leather is natural material so it has a tendency to attract bacteria and develop pungent smells over time. Leather is popular for its durability and aesthetic quality, but can also seem far harder to clean than many synthetic fibers. You should never throw leather in the washing machine and having it cleaned by an expert can be quite expensive. In this article we are going to explain step by step how you can effectively remove odors from your favorite leather accessories. We’ve broken this down into two guides. One without using store bought remedies and one with.

How To Remove Leather Odors Without Store Bought Cleaners

  1. Remove Excess Dirt First

You need to get rid of any mold, dirt, or residue that is physically visible on the surface of the leather that is without doubt contributing to the smell. Do this with a damp cloth. Don't use alcohol based solutions on the leather because these can severely damage their integrity. Febreze isn't the worst thing in the world, but you should still avoid it and hopefully won't need it following these steps.

  1. Wrap The Item In Newspaper

Either newspapers or packing paper will work. Once the item is dry from your initial wiping, cover them completely in the paper you are using. This kind of paper is very good at absorbing bad smells, so covering your leather item with them will go a long way in deodorizing the leather. You’ll need to leave the item wrapped for a couple of days for maximum impact. This is more suitable for small items like leather briefcases or laptop bags, as opposed to much larger areas like car seats.

  1. Apply A Vinegar Solution

If you are still unhappy with the smell after the paper stage above, you can try rubbing a simple vinegar solution across the surface. You’ll need to mix equal quantities of distilled white vinegar with plain water. The acid content in this solution will fight the smell of any odors and effectively kill large amounts of bacteria. The strong vinegar smell will leave over time so don't worry about that! You should always apply solutions with a brand new clean cloth. Remember to rub gently and use the solution sparingly to avoid any further damage. If your leather bag is colored, you might want to apply a tiny spot test before going all out!

  1. Try Baking Soda Solution

This idea also involves placing your item in some kind of sealed case, so is not suitable if your sofa smells like dog, or if the item is any other leather furniture that is too big to wrap. Baking soda is well known for its odor absorbing qualities and doesn't cause any harm to leather. Place your item inside a bag or pillow case. Throw a light coat of baking soda over it as well as inside any cavities and leave the container sealed with the item and powder inside for 24 hours. After an entire day in the case, hoover up the power and see if the odor has been reduced.

Using Store Bought Solutions

It is possible to buy specifically designed leather cleaners that should be able to effectively eliminate your odor issues. These can be especially useful with larger surfaces like cars, sofas and large clothing items like if your jacket smells like chemicals. They will always come with clear directions for use but here are some notes you should consider before you buy:

  • Most of these products can be found at hardware stores, shoe cobblers or retailers that have a large leather range.

  • Many of these solutions will be designed for specific items, so it’s important to get the right one for your circumstances.

  • Conditioners are a separate solutions entirely. There are a lot of cleaners that claim to do both odor removal and conditioning. But often the best results are achieved by using a specialist cleaner to remove odors, then a separate leather cream to condition the item.

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Author: Albert Varkki

Albert Varkki is the co-founder of Von Baer. He understands leather products as a consumer, supplier, and a manufacturer, helping you with the inside knowledge you need, to choose the perfect leather product for you.

We always aim to have the highest editorial standards, and only publish accurate information on our website.

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