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How To Get Smell Out Of Leather Jacket? Musty Leather Smell

how to get smell out of leather jackets

Real leather is an organic material and it will pick up smells as you wear it around. Some of these odors will just fade away, while others require you to learn how to get smell out of leather jackets.

If it’s a fabric, you can just toss it in the washer with a good detergent and the smell goes away. Unfortunately, washing a leather jacket is just looking for disaster, since it will utterly ruin the jacket.

So, how can you deodorize leather? Well, the most common smells a leather jacket picks up are from:

  • Mildew/Mold
  • Smoking
  • Other smoke, such as from cars
  • Body odor

Luckily, there are several methods to remove these smells from leather without causing any damage. Let’s analyze these smells one by one and explore which methods work best for them.

How To Get Mildew Smell Out of Leather

Here’s the situation. You went out without checking the weather report for the day and got caught in rain with your leather jacket. As soon as you returned home, you wiped the jacket with a dry cloth and stored it.

The issue is, now your jacket has a musty mildew smell that won’t go away, no matter how much you aerate the jacket.

Similar smell can also occur due to storing the leather jacket in a damp area, or not drying it properly after cleaning it with a wet cloth. So, how to get smell out of leather jacket?

With Baking Soda

Baking soda is well-known for its ability to remove unpleasant odors from clothing. It is also used to remove the smell from leather shoes, especially the ones used for sports/exercise.

Using baking soda is also one of the easiest ways to remove odor from leather. Here’s how to clean leather jacket with baking soda:

  • Lay your jacket down on a cold and dry surface, away from the sunlight
  • Look for any spots with obvious mildew concentration
  • Sprinkle baking soda on these spots by hand
  • Leave the jacket like this for at least three hours
  • Once the time is up, remove the baking soda with a brush or dry cloth

There is a good chance that this simple process will be effective at getting the smell out of leather.

Using Vinegar

If the baking soda method didn’t work or the smell is a bit strong, using vinegar might be the way to go.

Vinegar is also a natural odor absorber thanks to the acetic acid in its composition. It should be able to remove the mildew smell from most types of leather. Here’s to use it:

  • Mix equal amounts of water and vinegar in a clean bowl
  • Dip a cloth into this solution and wring it until it is damp but not dripping
  • Rub the wet cloth on the area with mildew
  • Follow a circular rubbing motion
  • Rub until the affected area is completely coated in the water and vinegar solution,
  • Let the solution stay on the jacket for 5 minutes
  • Wipe it off with a clean cloth

Getting smell out of leather might require multiple repetitions of this process.

How To Get Cigarette Smell Out of Leather Jacket

Leather is quick to pick up the smell of smoke from cigarettes or other sources like cars. Even campfire smoke can seep into your leather jacket and stay there for a while.

Thankfully, you can get rid of this smell, no matter how strong it gets. The most effective methods of how to clean leather jacket from cigarette and smoke smells are:

Drying Sheets

Drying Sheets

Drying sheets are polyester or cellulose fiber pieces imbued with fabric softeners, lubricants, and fragrances. These are primarily used in the dryer to give your clothes a lovely fresh aroma after a wash.

  • The steps to remove the smoky leather smell with drying sheets are:
  • Locate a large plastic bag that is completely airtight (like zipper bags)
  • Put your jacket inside this bag alongside a couple of drying sheets
  • Close the bag completely and place it in a cold and dry place
  • Leave the bag for a few days while changing the sheets every day

Not only is this an effective method of how to clean a leather jacket that smells, but it also leaves a delightful fragrance behind.

Alcohol Spray

Alcohol Spray

Alcohol can be used to clean almost anything and a smelly leather jacket is no different. Here’s how to clean leather jacket smell with alcohol spray:

  • Find an empty and small spray bottle that can be refilled
  • Fill the bottle with alcohol and spray it on your jacket
  • Make sure to cover the inside and out thoroughly without getting the jacket wet
  • Once done with spraying, leave the jacket hanging in a cold and dry place

The cigarette smell should be gone after a few hours of this process. You can repeat the same steps if there is still some lingering odor.

Applying a leather conditioner coat after this process will also keep your jacket’s leather patina and soft texture safe.

How To Get Body Odor Smell Out of Leather

Does leather absorb odors? The answer is yes and the BO absorbed by leather jackets is proof of that.

This is likely the most common type of smell absorbed by leather jackets since you can avoid moisture and smoke, but not your natural BO.

The lining of your leather jacket is often what absorbs BO, even if it is a breathable fabric like nylon.

(You can learn more about breathable fabrics from our blog answering the question “Is nylon breathable?”)

So, how to get smell out of leather jacket completely? Is it even possible to combat body odor? Fortunately, it is and here are the two most effective methods.

Using Detergent

Using Detergent

Using detergent on a leather jacket might sound sacrilegious, especially considering how easy it is to ruin a leather-dyed jacket with the wrong chemicals. But you’ll only clean the lining with detergent, not the leather on the outside.

  • The step-by-step process of using detergent to remove BO from a leather jacket is:
  • Create a water and detergent solution with four cups of water and one teaspoon of detergent
  • Make sure this ratio is correct and mix it thoroughly
  • Dip a clean sponge into this solution and wring it to remove any excess water
  • Open up your jacket and rub it with this sponge
  • Focus on main BO collecting areas like the armpits
  • Repeat until you’re satisfied
  • Now rinse the sponge thoroughly under running water
  • Use the wet sponge to absorb and wash away the detergent solution
  • Lastly, leave the jacket to dry in a cold and dry place

If you get any detergent solution on the leather during this process, wipe it immediately to avoid staining the leather.

Baking Soda with Water

Baking Soda with Water

We’ve already established how baking soda is a good answer to the question of how to remove smell from leather. But did you know that you can make it even more effective by adding water?

  • Here’s how to remove the BO smell from leather jackets with baking soda and water.
  • Open the jacket and lay it on a dry surface and fill a small spray bottle with water
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the BO-collecting spots like armpits
  • Once you’re done with the baking soda, spray those areas with small a little water
  • Avoid making the lining wet by keeping the spray as light as possible
  • Let the jacket sit undisturbed for half an hour
  • Remove the baking soda by wiping it with a damp cloth
  • Let the jacket dry by hanging it in a well-ventilated spot

Just make sure to remove the baking soda completely to avoid ruining your clothes later.


Does the Leather Jacket Smell Go Away?

Yes, the natural leather jacket smell will go away in 3-4 weeks after purchase.

How Do You Get the Air Smell Out of Leather?

Depending on the type of smell, you can use several methods such as vinegar, baking soda, and alcohol spray.

Why Does My Leather Coat Smell?

Some of the most common reasons for a leather coat smell are mold/mildew, smoke, and body odor.

How Long Does It Take for Leather To Stop Smelling?

This depends on the type of smell. BO smell can be removed in 30 minutes while cigarette smell will require multiple days.

Is Febreze Good for Leather?

It works to some extent, but you should avoid using it on your jacket just to minimize the risk of any damage.

Final Words

You can follow the ultimate leather jacket buying guide and buy the most durable and highest-quality leather jacket on the market. But you might still have issues with leather jacket smell.

This can be particularly noticeable if you opt for a custom leather jacket, as the special treatments and materials used can sometimes retain a stronger scent that requires specific care and attention.

Even something like the moisture levels in your closet can induce noticeably mildew smells in your beloved jacket.

Thankfully, that smell is not permanent. Just follow the methods listed in this guide on how to get smell out of leather jacket, and your outerwear will smell fresh in no time.

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