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How to Get Odor Out of Leather

Although leather is durable and attractive and known for its pleasant, musky smell, it can sometimes absorb less pleasant odors the more it's worn. Learn how to clean up and get the smell out without harming the fabric.


  • Step 1: Treat spills or mold Treat spills or grime, including mold growth, by brushing the fabric with a cloth or a soft, clean brush.
  • Step 2: Air it out Air out small leather items, like boots and purses, in the sun. Mold and mildew grow in moisture, and leather pores are less likely to harbor odors when they're dry.
  • Step 3: Wipe with leather conditioner Use a cleaner or conditioner made specifically for leather to wipe the fabric clean, add protection against drying and cracking, and to refresh the smell.
  • TIP: Choose a leather conditioner for the type of leather you have -- don't use a shoe balm on your car upholstery. For all leather types, avoid using saddle soap, which needs to be rinsed clean and may leave leather with a streaky look or sticky feel.
  • Step 4: Wrap it in newspaper Wrap the leather in newspaper for several days. The porous newspaper will draw odors and moisture out of the leather.
  • Step 5: Use a vinegar solution Dip a clean cloth into a mixture of equal parts distilled white vinegar and water, and gently wipe the surface of the leather with it.
  • Step 6: Hide the odor Mask the odor by evenly rubbing a leather-safe, scented oil or a general-purpose liquid odor remover onto the surface with a clean cloth.
  • Step 7: Give it time Give it time if all other methods fail to fully remove the offending odor -- smells tend to dissipate with age and use.
  • FACT: The leather baseball glove used by former President George Bush during his time at Yale is in his Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

You Will Need

  • Cloth or brush
  • Sunlight
  • Leather cleaner
  • Newspaper
  • White vinegar
  • Odor remover
  • Time

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