How to Get Rid of Leather Sofa Smell for Good?


How to Get Rid of Leather Sofa Smell for Good

So, your beloved leather sofa has developed an aroma.

Whether it’s trapped body odor, Pet Scent #5, or last year’s spilled beverage, bad smells can seriously harsh the mellow of your leather furniture. But don’t worry, couch potato – I’ve got your back!

With some elbow grease and odor-busting know-how, you can get that funky sofa smelling fresh again. Here’s everything you need to make your leather’s stench kick the bucket.

How to Get a Bad Smell Out of Leather in 5 Simple Steps

Understand What Type of Leather You’re Dealing With

Before you go full Mr. Clean, identify what leather you’ve got. Is it genuine cowhide or the faux/bonded stuff? In good shape or looking rough? This matters for knowing the safest odor-removal tactics.

See, genuine leather is super porous and absorbent, soaking up smells like a sponge. Faux and bonded leather resist odors better but require different care. And if your couch leather is cracked or peeling, that changes what cleaners are advisable.

So check the manufacturer care tag! This reveals the leather type and any special instructions. You don’t want to use the wrong cleaning approach and make matters worse.

Quick story: My buddy had an old leather couch that reeked something fierce. Turned out it was genuine, beat-up leather with a moldy underbelly. If he’d used a heavy-duty cleaner without that info, who knows what could’ve happened!

Clean the Leather with a Leather Cleaner

Speaking of cleaners, using a specialized leather cleaner is priority #1. Ditch the bathroom disinfectants and all-purpose sprays – those can seriously degrade and dry out leather.

Clean the Leather with a Leather Cleaner

Leather cleaners are formulated with the right pH balance and conditioning ingredients to remove grime without causing damage. But again, read labels! Some are meant for genuine leather only, while others work on faux/bonded leather too.

For example, Leather Honey Leather Cleaner is safe for all leather types and even rubber/plastic. Just avoid cleaners with heavy fragrances, as that can mix with the stink and make it worse.

Here’s how to apply:

  1. Do a spot test on a discreet area first
  2. Moisten a lint-free cloth with the cleaner
  3. Gently wipe down the leather, focusing on smelly areas
  4. Allow to fully dry before reassessing the odor

No harsh scrubbing needed! Leather cleaners do the hard work of releasing trapped smells from the surface. You may need to repeat cleaning for extra funky cases.

Using Leather Cleaner: The Pros Weigh In

“A good leather cleaner can be your best friend in removing trapped odors, oils, and grime that attract and hold onto stenches. The key is using the right formula for your leather type to avoid damage.”

Jessica Caplan, Upholstery Care Expert at The Foam Factory

Air it Out in the Fresh Air and Sunlight

Sometimes, all your stinky leather needs is some good ol’ Mother Nature. Getting your leather sofa or furniture some quality outdoor time can work wonders!

The fresh air, ventilation, and UV rays from sunlight help dry out moisture and kill odor-causing bacteria and mold spores. It’s like an all-natural refresh for musty, mildewy leathers.

If you can move the whole sofa outside on a sunny day, great! If not, set cushions and throw pillows in direct sunlight. The heat will evaporate trapped smells. For faux leathers with that dreaded “off-gassing” fishy stench, this airing-out method is exceptionally effective.

Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer thanks to its UV rays. Exposing leather products to gentle, indirect sunlight for several hours can help eliminate musty, mildew, and other stubborn odors.”

Sara San Millennio, Leather Cleaning Expert at Fiber Seal

Read this blog

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Try These Odor Eliminator Hacks if Needed

If some wicked scent lingers after cleaning and airing out, don’t fret! You’ve got an entire smell-busting artillery to try next:

Try These Odor Eliminator Hacks if Needed

Vinegar: The acidity in vinegar neutralizes odors rather than just masking them. For light leather, dilute white vinegar with water in a 1:4 ratio. For darker leathers, use apple cider vinegar instead.

Always spot test first! Then gently wipe or mist the solution onto the affected areas. The vinegar smell may hang around briefly but will dissipate, taking nastier odors with it.

Baking Soda: This powdery pantry staple is stellar at absorbing smells from all kinds of surfaces – leather included! Sprinkle a generous amount over smelly spots, brush it in lightly, and let it work its magic for several hours. Vacuum up completely when done.

Professional Odor Removers: If you’ve got a real stench situation, it may be time to call in the big guns. Specialized leather cleaning products, leather conditioners, and odor eliminators like silica gel packs target the gnarliest smells.

Always follow product instructions closely though. Using the wrong formula can dry out or damage leathers.

Product TypeOdor-Busting Benefits
Leather CleanerSafely lifts grime, bacteria, and trapped smells from leather
Leather ConditionerConditions and protects leather from future odors/stains
Silica Gel PacksAbsorb excess moisture that breeds mustiness and mildew

Drying It Out: Along those lines, drying out damp or humid leather is crucial for staving off recurring funky smells. You can set leather items in an sunny, indoor spot or use a blow dryer on low to eliminate moisture.

Fresh Air: For a gentle refresh, set your leather furniture in a well-ventilated room and let that breeze clear out lingering stinks. Open windows and use fans to get good airflow.

Newspaper: Turns out the humble newspaper is one of leather’s best odor-neutralizing pals. The paper fibers will absorb foul scents right out of smaller leather goods. Wrap items in a layer of newspaper and let it work for 24 hours.

Always Condition Genuine Leather Regularly

Don’t stop there! Once you’ve evicted those nasty odors, protect your leather from them returning with…conditioning!

Always Condition Genuine Leather Regularly

Regular conditioning is essential for healthy leathers, sealing out future spills, dirt, and smells from seeping in. Quality leather conditioners also prevent cracking, fading, and drying out.

I swear by Leather Honey’s Conditioner for its ability to moisturize and guard against mildew and staining. Safe for finished leathers of all types.

Conditioning every 6 months or so keeps leather supple, lustrous, and odor-free. It’s worth the small time investment to extend your furniture’s lifespan!

Bonus Tip: New Slipcovers for Worst-Case Scenarios

Alright, what if you’ve tried every trick in the book and your leather STILL reeks? It’s time to call in reinforcements:


A fresh slipcover can be a glorious reset button for an odorous old sofa, providing it’s still structurally sound underneath. New fabric, who dis smell?

Companies like Comfort Works specialize in tailored slipcovers to revive well-loved couches and chairs. They offer premium leather and performance fabric options to fit any style.

Don’t give up on your couch just yet! A leather slipcover can transform its look and smell. Slipcovers actually fit like a dream and eliminate any need for chemical sprays or heavy cleaners.

Marie Elliot, Design Expert at Comfort Works

While slipcovers are an investment, they’re a worthwhile “if all else fails” solution to rescue your furniture and your nostrils.

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Frequently asked questions

How do you deodorize a leather couch?

Clean with a leather cleaner, air it out in sunlight, and use odor eliminators like vinegar or baking soda.

Does leather smell ever go away?

Yes, with proper cleaning, airing out, and conditioning, leather smells can be eliminated over time.

Does vinegar damage leather?

When diluted properly and used sparingly, vinegar does not damage leather but always spot test first.

How do you freshen leather?

Clean with a specialized leather cleaner, air it out, and condition regularly to maintain freshness.

What is the best odor eliminator?

Leather cleaners, diluted vinegar, baking soda, and professional odor removers are effective for eliminating odors.

Will baking soda damage leather?

No, baking soda is safe for leather when used properly and vacuumed off completely after use.


There you have it – a comprehensive guide to getting rid of even the funkiest leather sofa smells! While it may take some trial-and-error, the right cleaning, airing out, and odor-eliminating tactics can work wonders.

The key things to remember:

  • Identify your leather type first and follow proper care instructions
  • Use a specialized leather cleaner made for your material
  • Don’t mask odors – neutralize them with vinegar, baking soda, etc.
  • Sunlight and fresh air are super effective for mustiness
  • Condition leather regularly to prevent future stench issues

With some elbow grease and my tips in your arsenal, you can blast through the gnarliest couch stinks. No need to suffer through eau de wet dog/hockey equipment/etc. any longer!

Did these smell-busting methods work for your funky leather situation? Do you have any other odor-eliminating hacks to share? Let me know in the comments! A stink-free leather life should be everyone’s reality.

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