How to Get Smell Out of Leather

Leather is one of the most durable natural fibers and is frequently used in outfitting clothing, footwear and furniture.  If leather had one challenge, it would be in cleaning the material and removing odorous build up.


Often you know leather is need of cleaning due to an unpleasant aroma that has developed with frequent use.  Unlike many other materials, it it does not do well with water-based detergent solutions and requires a different set of deodorizing solutions.  In this guide, you will be walked through a series of household strategies that can help in removing the odor plaguing your leather.


Deodorizing Smoke Odors

Accounting for the amount of time that people spend smoking on furniture, it should be no surprise that the cigarette odor can eventually find it’s with within the natural fiber. When it does, it can often present a challenge for those attempting to clean and freshen the leather.


1 Lemon Juice Spritz

The citric acid within lemon juice works to directly fight off the scent left behind from cigarette smoke.  Mix a solution of one part lemon juice to six parts warm water within a spray bottle.  Proceed to spray down the entire affected area of the leather.  Once the leather has been fully misted, begin wiping the citric acid compound into the surface fiber.  As the solution comes into contact with the smoke residue it will immediately neutralize it and quickly evaporate away.


2 Vodka Mist

Beyond making an excellent party drink, vodka has been used for decades as a deodorizer for smoke residues.  The alcohol within the drink works to cut through the odorous smoke residues and leave surface areas of leather and other materials smelling fresh.  Pour a small portion of vodka within a spray bottle and proceed to mist down the entire surface area of the leather.  Quickly follow this up by wiping this moisture in with a light paper towel.  Doing so will ensure that the alcohol will reach all affected surface areas and will prevent it from being lifted away by the towel.


3 Rubbing Alcohol Wipe

In a similar fashion to vodka, the alcohol compound within rubbing alcohol can be applied to eliminate the smell of cigarette smoke within leather.  Mix a solution of one part rubbing alcohol with ten parts water.  Dunk a light hand towel within the mixture and proceed to wipe down the exterior surface area of the leather.  Once completed, simply provide 5-60 minutes for the alcohol infused moisture to evaporate off from the freshened leather.


Deodorizing Urine & BO Odors


1 Murphy’s Oil Soap

The use of Murphy’s Oil Soap can be very effective in lifting difficult BO smells from leather. Pour this product solution to a cloth and apply in heavy quantities to the affected locations of the leather. Allow the solution to sit for 2-3 hours before wiping the remaining moisture from the leather’s surface.


2 Baking Soda Infusion

When an enzyme cleaner is not available, the use of baking soda can work wonders in combating that built up bodily odors found within leather.  Mix a solution of one part baking soda with seven part water and proceed to dunk a hand towel within the solution and wipe down the leather.  The baking soda within the solution will work to absorb the stench or urine or bodily odors and leave an odorless surface behind.

Deodorizing Musty Odors


1 Diluted White Vinegar

White vinegar is fantastic at eliminating the scent of mildew and mold to ensure that it never returns.  The mild household acid covers the stench and works to kill the microscopic mold spore within the material.  Mix a solution of one part white vinegar with seven parts warm water.  Proceed by dunking a hand towel within the solution and wiping down the leather leather surface.  Finally, provide 1-2 hours for the white vinegar work its magic and evaporate away.


2 Rays of Sunshine

Another deodorizer and combatant of mildew odor is direct ultraviolet rays from the sun.  Placing the leather outside within direct sunlight will allow the open space, fresh air and and UV rays to kill the mold spore and strip the odor off the leather’s surface. During application of the method, be sure to place leather item within a location where it will be able to receive a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight.


Published by

Joe Fresh

Joe is an odor combatant, chemistry extraordinaire and all around good guy. He has an over-productive olfactory system with absolutely zero tolerance for unpleasant aromas.

One thought on “How to Get Smell Out of Leather”

  1. Hi joe!
    I have 2 leather couches that were heavily used for 5 years. They smell of body odor and cigarette smoke, but there’s no other condition as they were bought 5 years ago.
    I tried the baking soda remedy and the smell vanished wonderfully, but came back a week later.
    I noticed there’s no time indication on the instructions, so I left the baking soda solution sit for about 10 minutes and wiped with water.

    Any ideas?

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