Reclaiming Leather's Fragrance: Methods to Get Rid of Bad Smells

Methods to Get Rid of Bad Smells

Although leather is durable, attractive, and known for its musky smell. It can sometimes absorb less pleasant odors, the more it’s worn.

Use A Leather Cleaner

You will require a cloth or brush, sunlight, a leather cleaning product, newspaper, white vinegar, commercial odor remover, and time.

  1. Treat spills or grime including mold growth by brushing the fabric with a cloth or a soft clean brush.
  2. Air out small leather items, like boots and purses, in the sun.
  3. Use a cleaner or conditioner made specifically for leather to wipe the fabric clean, add protection against drying and cracking, and refresh the smell.
  4. Wrap the leather in a newspaper for several days.
  5. Dip a clean cloth into a mixture of equal parts distilled white vinegar and water, and gently wipe the surface of the leather with it.
  6. Mask the odor by evenly rubbing a leather-safe, scented oil or a general-purpose liquid odor remover onto the surface with a clean cloth.
  7. Give it time, if all other methods fail, to fully remove the offending odor.

Apply Leather Conditioner

In the case of mold and mildew, leather conditioners prevent odor. An example of an excellent conditioner to get the bad smell out would be Leather Honey Leather Conditioner which will stop it from returning in the future and also prevent discoloration and stains.

Cleaning and conditioning leather regularly will keep away certain smells and odors.

Hang It In The Fresh Air

A fresh breath of air is key and will prove to be lovely to get any bad odors that might get absorbed into your leather item. This could be while they were hanging in the store and having caught a slight whiff of your cooking from the kitchen. A steady breeze and open space could work wonders in ridding the smell of onions or garlic from your jacket. Place it on a clothesline and hang it for a bare minimum of 24 hours. However, check the daily weather report for rain or other harsh conditions that would be bad for your leather jacket.


A solution of equal parts vinegar and water applied on a microfiber cloth to wipe the leather is a quick fix. As your fabric picks up the scum from the leather, make sure to wring it or swap it.

Baking Soda

Another solution to this issue is to shake baking soda into the problem area softly. It will absorb the odor. Leaving it on the area for a couple of hours followed by gentle vacuuming and shaking it off will do the needful.

Silica Gel

Such desiccants possess the ability to remove bad smells from leather bags via physical absorption or chemical reaction. Ever wondered why your newly bought leather bags contain packets of silica gel? The contents of it eliminate any odor that could persist on the surface.

Dry Clean

When choosing to dry clean leather, you can go one of two routes. You can either steam clean or use solvent cleaners.

Steam cleaning is the use of hot water and a pressurized spray that loosens up dirt fragments and washes them away. This technique works best for large amounts of dirt or grease. It’s also helpful in removing stains but won’t help with permanent stains.

Solvent cleaning uses solvents like naphtha or trichloroethylene to break down the oils or fats that hold onto dirt. Naphtha is a petroleum distillate used as an industrial cleaner and degreaser. TCE is a toxic chemical that has been banned in many countries as it is one of the many causes of cancer.

Pack The Leather Item In the Newspaper

Both newspapers and packing papers will work to keep bad odors at bay. Once the leather item has been wiped down by a protectant and dried, cover it wholly in one of the two papers specified above. It will absorb any bad smells and prevent them from touching the surface of your leather item. This is a great tip for leather items in storage.


After a thorough cleaning of the leather to remove any odors, allow it to dry in a sunny space with adequate air circulation. Outdoors on a nice day when there are no chances of rain is the best option to get the original leather smell back. The sun and fresh air make for a great combination to help the leather dry quickly and eliminate any persistent smells.

You cannot afford to have your big ticket leather items smelling like anything less than good old genuine leather, so note if your leather smells like plastic it is anything but. Have your original leather smelling like a million bucks all over again just with the tips mentioned above!