how to get smell out of leather

How to Get Smell Out of Leather in Six Ways

What’s better than sinking into a feather-soft sofa that packs tons of comfort-inducing features? Nothing! But if all kinds of dead-mouse odors, body sweat smells, and cat pee smells keep wafting out from your $3, 000 leather sofa, enjoyment starts dwindling. And before long, sofa fun vanishes. But you never have to deal with a scenario like this if you know how to get bad smells out of leather.

In this how to get smell out of leather guide, I handhold you through every little trick I’ve learned along the way so you can keep your leather smelling and looking great.

The get-odors-out-of-leather tips below will help you enjoy your leather furniture, leather jackets, leather shoes, and leather purses more.

But first things first…

Make It hard for odors to Build Up in the First Place

They say prevention is better than cure. And that’s right. Likewise, when dealing with odors lurking in leather furniture, preventing the smells from happening is easier than getting them out once they’ve seeped in through the pores.

One way to prevent bad smells in your leather furniture and other items is to give them a quick wipe-down when they get wet or dirty.

Whether it’s your leather car seat, leather couch, purse, jacket, or shoes, use a clean soft piece of absorbent cloth to get them nice and dry if something spills on them.

In the case of leather furniture, your vacuum cleaner is a handy investment when it comes to sucking up wet and dry spills. You have to be careful though, not all vacuums are suitable sucking wet spills. Specifically, use a shop vacuum.

Does your dog like relaxing on your sofa reminiscing about all the fun-filled adventures you’ve enjoyed? That’s nice, but if they sometimes pee on the couch, you have to invest in sprays that keep dogs from peeing in the house.

Can you also have a little talk with Bailey and see if he can stop peeing on the couch? Maybe he should learn to wait until the evening walk.

But just in case the problem persists, you want to take care of pet urine and baby pee stains as soon as the accident happens. And there’s all kinds of cleaners and conditioners to aid the process.

Be Patient; Time Kills Furniture Odors

New furniture gives off odors. And that can make you feel like you spent an awful lot of money to buy trouble. But when it comes to brand-new furniture that releases tanned leather odors into your living spaces, waiting it out is sometimes the best thing to do.

The smell does go away after a reasonable amount of time. Unless you have allergic reactions to such odors, patience eventually solves the lingering smell.

Even if they’re old leather sofas that have absorbed quite a bit of cigarette smoke, wildfire smoke, and kitchen odors, the smells do dissipate over time. Masking the smells may work, but the fresh-air feel experienced after treating seats with scents is often short-lived.

Odor-masking products and perfumes don’t help leather that much. In fact, there’s a decent chance some of the harmful chemical substances in the scented product will seep into the pores and cause more problems.

Do you know what happens as leather items age? Aging naturally softens leather, which boosts its porosity. This means that odors that have been fermenting inside your couches and other items get released with greater ease.

Use Old Newspapers

old neespaper for removing odor from leather

No one reads physical newspapers anymore, right? Still, finding old, read newspapers shouldn’t be too hard.

If you have some old newspapers lying around, put them to some useful work. Use them to address odor issues in your lovely leather shoes, bags, and jackets.

The paper they use to print news is soft and considerably absorbent. All you need to do is crumple up enough of these newspapers and pack them into some box or something like that.

Then, put the problematic leather jacket, shoes, or leather bag into the box and seal everything up. Wait three to four days before opening the box to check if the items are odor-free.

Chances are that the odors will have disappeared into the micropores of the newspaper’s fibrous cellulose structure. If you notice that there’s less odor but are still not satisfied, toss out the saturated newspapers and feed fresh ones into the box.

To get the best results with this odor removal strategy, make sure to wipe every trace of moisture off the item. Also, clean the leather jacket or whatever it is before thinking of battling odors.

Use Baking Soda

Humble baking soda is one of the most useful household items around. It’s pretty inexpensive on top of being environmentally friendly.

One of the best-known uses for baking soda is odor removal. So…

Are there musty odors in the basement? Does your leather couch smell like a billion rats died in there? What about those smelly bike shoes you’ve not been wearing because they smell like a meth lab because your cute cat peed inside?

Don’t worry. Because baking soda got you covered. So, how do you use baking soda to remove smells from leather? Baking soda really shines when it comes to absorbing bad smells. And the best part? It’s completely safe to use on leather.

If the smell is shooting out from your sofa, sprinkle a reasonable amount of soad t on it. Leave it there overnight. As the night wears on, this simple substance will eat up the bad smells.

Your seat will be smelling fresh and clean by dawn. At this point, grab your handheld vacuum cleaner, attach the right tool, and clean up all that mess.

To get odors off leather shoes, jackets, and purses using this odor eater, toss the item in a zip-lock bag or pillowcase. Next, pour out a few handfuls of baking soda onto the affected items.

And to get that dreadful dead-mouse smell out of your shoes, sprinkle an ample amount of this deodorizer into the inside.

The next step is to seal the zip-lock bag nice and tight or zip up the pillowcase with the item(s) you’re treating still inside. Leave everything to sit overnight to allow the magic to happen.

If you need to allow the process a couple more hours for greater effectiveness, that’s OK. And if you need to repeat the procedure one more time perhaps because the smells were super strong, go ahead.

Finally, pick up the odor-saturated soda with a small handheld vacuum cleaner. No vac? No problem. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe off the soda. A small brush with soft bristles will also serve the same purpose without scratching the leather.

Use Dry Coffee Grounds

use coffee grounds to get smell out of leather

What smells better than that first morning cup of coffee that you always wake up jonesing for? It jolts your shut-down brain back into action, and all kinds of great ideas start streaming in.

There’s something about the aroma of decent homemade coffee that motivates you to get out of bed each morning.

But what do you do with the used coffee grounds? Throw them away? Don’t do that if there’s a leather jacket or shoes that need a little help to smell better.

Caffeine knows how to push people into wakefulness. But the much-craved caffeine can also help you deal with that rotten-egg smell wafting out from your leather belongings.

According to Siencedaily.com, caffeine packs tons nitrogen and other nutrients. And nitrogen improves the adsorptive capacity of carbon. Carbon? Yes, it turns out that coffee grounds contain tons of carbon. And carbon’s been proven to be great at removing odors.

So, put those used coffee grounds into an old panthose and tie off its end. Then, put the pantyhose + the coffee grounds inside the smelly leather shoes or handbag and leave it for 24 hours. Believe me, those items will smell nice and fresh when you wake up the next morning.

I haven’t tried this odor removal method on leather furniture, but it should work. But you’ll have to prepare several deodorizing units and place them at various points on the couch.

Put that High-quality Leather Cleaner to Work

Decent, leather-specific cleaners cost money, but so do the best leather sofas, jackets, handbags, and shoes. Investing a little more money in a high-quality leather conditioner isn’t a bad idea at all.

Leather cleansing agents are designed to provide protection to leather goods while also polishing them and reducing odors. Protection,  what protection? I’m talking about cracking here.

Using a proper cleaner on leather products helps keep cracks at bay. When leather cracks, it doesn’t look so nice. Plus, the cracked spots tend to wear out and tear somewhat faster.

Proper leather cleansers also help preserve the original color of the item. The product retains its initial sheen for longer while still looking great.

But how do leather cleansers help fight off odors? They do this by suppressing mold spores and other signs of mold and mildew.

Do you know what mold does when it builds up on a surface? It produces smells. Bad odor. Pungent odor. Musty smells such as those that make basements stuffy and inhabitable. Smells that trigger nasty reactions in folks with asthma and allergies.

Where to Buy Good Leather Cleaners

Where do I buy a leather-focused cleaner? I bet your local hardware store has it. Amazon is another place to buy this product. I have found that Carfidant Ultimate Leather Cleanerworks best for me. I hear they make this product in the US if this means anything to you.

I also love the leather conditioner that the company behind this cleaner offers leather lovers. Learn more about what this conditioner can do for you in terms of minimizing odors.

If you want real action, get an enzymatic cleaner. But while an enzymatic cleaner works like a charm as far as breaking down dirt, it’s not the most gentle option.

But how do you apply the cleaner to a smelly leather jacket or other item? Use a clean soft piece of cloth. Get some cleaner on the cloth and wipe down the item, covering every inch.

Condition Leather Items After Cleaning

You’ve given your leather items the cleansing care they needed. What’s next? Conditioning, that’s what.

So, go grab a leather conditioner from your local household store and give that shoe some good old TLC. I recommend the Carfidant Leather Conditioner and Restorer. Combined with the cleaner above, you’re looking at about $32. Hardly a substantial investment.

So, why do I need a $17 leather conditioner? Do I need it, or are you some shameless online marketer using sleazy tactics to get me to buy an expensive leather care product I don’t need?

You need it. Some functions a conditioner performs overlap with those of a cleanser. Still, a conditioner isn’t a cleaner. But I believe you need it. 

Leather conditioners for the most part come in spray form. Spray a reasonable amount of the substance onto the leather…and wait. Wait long enough for the conditioner to percolate into the pores of the leather and obliterate the odor.

Conditioners give the item in question an ever-evolving gloss as it ages. Aside from this, these leather care products also help control odors while helping the shoes, jacket, or purse stay nice and sheeny.

Spray White Vinegar/Water Mixture onto the Couch

Vinegar, like baking soda, is inexpensive and effective. It’s a tested and proven odor remover that many people use to make their indoor spaces smell nicer and fresher.

Mix white vinegar and distilled water in the ratio 1:1. Then, spray this mixture onto the affected spots and wait for the concoction to seep into the leather to tackle the odors. Vinegar contains a certain quantity of acid. And acids are good at battling bad smells.

Note: There’s a chance that the acid in the vinegar might discolor the leather or cause it to crack. Make sure to test this procedure on a small portion of the furniture, bag, shoes, jacket, or couch. It should be a hidden spot so that if something goes wrong, you won’t end up damaging the item.

Avoid oversaturating leather with moisture, though.

Use Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are another effective way of deodorizing leather products. So, obtain a few dryer sheets and put them where you need fresh air and a nice scent.

Place these sheets inside smelly shoes, underneath couch cushions, and wherever else you might need them.

Move the Smelly Sofa Outside If You Can

Sometimes, the simplest, easiest, cheapest solution is the best one. If you can move that smelly sofa outside for a couple of hours or days (if the weather allows), the stink inside will definitely diffuse into space.

One of the best ways to get bad smells out of leather and other materials is to air them out. Whether it’s faux leather, real leather, or any other material, airing it out helps solve the problem fast and inexpensively.

But there’s one little problem: Leather can crack and discolor when exposed to direct sunlight. It’s best to place the item you’re deodorizing near a window, especially one with a screen.

And if all else fails…

Hire a Professional to Help Address Leather Odors

Maybe you’re a bean counter, a trainer, an engineer, or just a homebody who loves relaxing on the finest leather furniture. I suggest that you focus on what you do best and leave deodorizing smelly leather goods to experts.

Your local cobbler should be able to fix the odor issue on your shoes or purse without the service costing a small fortune.

These leather care technicians know what they need to do to get the item smelling fresh and looking sheeny again in no time. Also, they know which cleaning supplies work best. 

Getting Odors Out of Leather FAQs

How Do I Get Cigarette Smell Out of Leather Furniture?

Use dryer sheets, baking powder, or distilled water/white vinegar solution on leather furniture to defeat lingering smells. Smoking outside most of the time also helps as does airing out the affected piece of furniture.

How Do I Get That “Dead Mouse” Smell Out of Leather Shoes?

The best way to make smelly leather shoes smell nice again is to put used coffee grounds or baking soda inside the shoes. Alternatively, use a spray bottle to get a 1:1 water/vinegar mixture into the shoes.

How Do I Get Sweat Smell Out a Leather Couch?

Using a proper leather cleaner and a conditioner afterward is perhaps the best way to keep sweaty smells out of a leather couch. These products cost dollars, but the best ones are worth it.

How Do I Get Cat Pee Smell and Dog Smell Out of Leather?

The most effective way to get cat pee or dog pee out of leather is to handle the wet mess from these pets as soon as it happens. Clean up the mess with water and dish soap and dry off the leather surface with dry paper towels. Afterward, apply a cleaner and conditioner.

What’s the Right Water/White Vinegar Ratio When Deodorizing Leather?

The correct way to mix white vinegar and water is 50%:50%

How Do You Get Bad Smells Out of Faux Leather?

To get odors out of faux leather, use baking soda, water/vinegar mix, or treat the item with a faux-leather cleaner and an appropriate fake leather conditioner. Airing out faux leather products for some time also helps.

Final Word on How to Deodorize Leather

There’s quite a few ways to get odor-packed leather smelling clean and fresh again. Before you use any product or method on your leather item, read the instructions label if available to learn if the method would be safe on leather.

Cleaners and conditioners cost a little money, but they work. Airing out the item or deodorizing it with baking soda, water/white vinegar, or coffee grounds are relatively cheap methods that you can try out.

Let’s know if any of the suggestions above worked for you. And if there’s any useful idea we left out, please tell us about it in the comments section below.

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