Remove bad smells from leather

How to Remove Bad Smells from Leather

Leather is a material made from tanned animal hide. It makes jackets, furniture, shoes, bags, belts, and many other products. Although leather is a very durable, it is more difficult to clean than natural or synthetic fabrics. The leather grain can absorb strong odors such as smoke, food odors, sweat, perfume, mold or the “new leather smell” from the tanning process. Getting these odors out of the leather may take trial and error, and if in doubt, you can always have the leather professionally cleaned to avoid damaging the item.

Use home remedies

Dry wet leather immediately.

If the leather is wet or appears covered with mold or mildew, you need to remove the wetness quickly. The moisture can permanently damage the leather and create an odor that is very difficult to eliminate. There are several easy ways to dry out the leather: Place the leather in an area in your home that gets indirect sunlight. Direct exposure to bright sunlight can cause the leather to crack, crack and fade. Choose a spot near a window that filters sunlight or has a privacy screen. Use a blow dryer on low heat. Don’t get the blow dryer too close to the leather, as this could cause the leather to crack or chip. Run the hair dryer over the leather from a distance to dry up the moisture and avoid large water stains on the leather. Use a clean and dry cloth to rub the leather. This is especially true if you’re trying to treat a pair of leather shoes, a leather jacket, or a leather bag. Avoid alcohol-based or odor-masking products like perfume, and use a clean, dry cloth to rub the leather well. The chemicals in such products can penetrate the pores of the leather and potentially damage the piece.

Wrap the leather part in newspaper or packing paper.

The porous nature of newsprint and wrapping paper means that both are excellent at absorbing bad odors from leather. Always ensure the leather piece is completely dry and that you use dry newspaper. The loose fibers in newsprint make it softer and more absorbent than other paper types, such as office paper. Crumple several sheets of newspaper in a box and place the leather piece inside. Close the box and keep it sealed for a day or two. Check the leather piece to see if the newspaper has removed the bad smell. You may have to leave the leather in the newspaper for another day.

Clean the leather with a vinegar solution.

The acid in vinegar helps fight bad odors, and the vinegar smell itself — which some people may also find objectionable — will dissipate into the leather along with the other smells. Before using an acidic cleaner on the leather, you should do a spot test to ensure it will not discolor the leather. Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Take a small area on the leather piece and dab the vinegar solution. If it doesn’t cause discoloration or cracks in the leather, you can clean the entire piece of leather with the vinegar solution. Use a clean cloth to rub the surface of the leather with the vinegar solution. You can also use a spray bottle to spray the leather with the vinegar solution and then rub it clean with a cloth. If the smell is bad, you can try soaking the leather item in the vinegar solution for 5 minutes. Make sure you dry the leather well after the vinegar soak, so it doesn’t get moldy or moldy.

Seal the leather in a baking soda solution.

Baking soda or sodium carbonate is great for absorbing bad odors and is safe to use on leather. You’ll need baking soda and a pillowcase or sealable freezer bag big enough for your leather part. Place the leather piece in the upholstery cover or freezer bag. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on the leather surface. You can also sprinkle the inside of the leather piece to remove any odors from the inside as well. Tie the end of the cushion cover together or seal the freezer bag. Let the baking soda sit overnight or for 24 hours. Remove the baking soda with a handheld vacuum or a clean cloth. Gently wipe off the baking soda to avoid scratching the leather. Repeat the baking soda treatment until the bad odor is gone.

Allow the leather to age to minimize odor over time.

The nature of leather that odors it picks up — whether it’s cigarette smoke or the “new smell” from tanning — will diminish over time. Instead of neutralizing the odor with perfume or other means (which only prolongs the odor’s duration), simply use your leather item often. If you can stand the bad smell, you should wear your leather jacket, leather shoes or leather bag daily so that the leather ages faster. The aging process also softens the leather because it opens the pores of the leather, allowing the bad smell out.

Use professional products

Buy a leather cleaning product.

You can find professional leather cleaners at equestrian shops, shoe stores, or even at shoemakers. Only ever use agents that are made specifically for leather. Use a dry cloth to rub the cleaning product into the leather. Most cleaning products will also help eliminate odors, protect the leather’s color and shine, and keep the leather from cracking.

Take care of the leather part.

You should always treat leather items with a conditioner after cleaning them. Conditioning the leather will help remove any odors and protect the leather’s color and shine. There are several ways to care for the leather: High-quality linseed oil. This is a very effective natural oil to condition your leather clothing and other leather items. Avoid using cheap flaxseed oil, as it doesn’t work as well. Use a cloth to massage the flaxseed oil into the leather so that the leather absorbs the oil. Shoe Polish: The oldest way to care for leather is also one of the best. Use a liquid shoe care product for leather shoes, leather jackets and leather bags. You can also use canned shoe polish for leather boots and shoes. When cleaning natural leather, you should purchase shoe polish containing carnauba wax and other natural ingredients. Professional Leather Care: You can purchase this product at your local home improvement store. Most leather care products come in spray form. You spray the care on the leather surface and the agent is absorbed into the pores of the leather. It then removes any odors and helps bring out the shine of the leather again. Avoid using saddle soap on your leather piece. These must be washed off very well and can cause the leather to become streaky or have a sticky surface.

Consider having your leather piece professionally cleaned and maintained.

If the odor persists despite home remedies or store-bought cleaning products, it may be time to take the piece to a cobbler for professional cleaning and maintenance. Depending on the type of leather and the intensity of the odor, you may be able to have the odor removed for a small fee.


About the Author

Helen Miller

Helen Miller is a freelance writer at CouponKirin. She covers personal finance topics in a syndicated column that appears in Financial Planning Magazine. Her work has been featured by Market Watch, Digital Journal, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Yahoo Finance. Helen has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles.