How to clean smelly leather

Written by amy davidson | 13/05/2017
How to clean smelly leather
Leather can soak up a variety of smells, such as smoke or even mildew. (Getty Creative)

Leather is a great medium to add a little luxury to any piece of furniture. One issue with leather, though, is that it can suck up odours well and hold onto them for quite a while. Luckily, removing the odours from smelly leather, be it a new piece of furniture you’ve acquired or an old family piece, can be done through the use of a few common household products.

Wipe down leather furniture with a clean damp rag to remove any dirt, dust or grime that may be on furniture.

Fill a plastic spray bottle with 480 ml (2 cups) of white vinegar and 240 ml (1 cup) of water. Shake bottle to mix up vinegar and water.

Spray down furniture and let solution sit on furniture for five to 10 minutes to allow it to suck up any smells. Wipe up solution with a clean rag or sponge.

Repeat the previous step for a few hours to continue soaking up any smell on furniture. Then let furniture dry completely.

Pour a light layer of baking soda onto furniture and let it sit for about eight hours. To save time, try pouring on a layer before bed and letting it sit overnight. Vacuum up baking soda.

Mix 18 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil with 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice. Apply this mixture to a clean cloth and wipe down the furniture, rubbing the oil into leather to help moisturise it. Let the oil mixture sit for a couple of hours and then wipe away any excess oil that didn't soak in.


For extra odour sucking power, sprinkle on a layer of baking soda and set a few bowls of white vinegar on the smelly leather for at least eight hours. These two components are very effective odour neutralisers that should help remove the smell from leather after a couple of treatments.


Before you use any sort of treatment on leather, you should try a spot test first in a small area that can’t be seen. Wait 24 hours to ensure that treatment won’t damage the leather.

Things you need

  • Clean rags
  • 480 ml (2 cups) white vinegar
  • 240 ml (1 cup) water
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • 18 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice

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