Bringing home your new sofa and discovering that it smells worse than the old sofa can be hard on both your frustration level and your wallet. When your new leather sofa has a bad chemical smell, you are unlikely to want to sit on it or spend much time breathing in the fumes it is producing. Fortunately, most bad smells on new furniture are not permanent.
Leather does have a natural smell to it and tends to be a bit smellier than other fabrics when brand new. On the other hand, a natural leather smell should be fairly subtle after the first couple of weeks in the home and should not be offensive or extremely noticeable when you walk into the room. In most cases, a normal leather sofa smell will not cause the person smelling it to experience any kind of sinus trouble or irritation of the nose or throat, as a chemical-type smell often will. Poor quality or cheap leather is more likely to smell bad than good quality leather from a reputable manufacturer.
Chemical Scents on Leather
Leather starts out as animal hide, and it is then treated and tanned until it becomes the soft, smooth material that is used to create your sofa. Different companies use different chemicals and processes to treat and tan leather materials and it is possible that one of those chemicals is creating the strong smell. Another possible cause for the smell is that the couch was given an additional stain-resistance treatment immediately before it was brought to your home. Stain protectant products can generate very strong chemical smells on leather furniture.
Time will take care of most strong smells on new leather, but to hurry the process along and reduce your exposure to the smell, air your sofa out either by placing it outside on a protected (covered) porch or by opening all of your windows to allow good airflow. Place several fans in the room with the sofa to generate additional airflow if desired. You can also try cleaning the sofa with a good quality leather cleaner and then conditioning it.
Severe Smell Issues
If the bad chemical smell does not dissipate after several weeks or if you or one of your family members is having health problems (especially breathing problems) due to the smell of the sofa, you may need to take additional measures. Contact the retailer that sold you the sofa as well as the manufacturer who produced it and discuss the smell with them. Have a quality control inspector come to your home and inspect the sofa. You may be able to get a different sofa or return the sofa for a refund if the smell is found to be due to a defect. If the sofa smell is severe enough to cause health problems, you should remove it from your home and put it in a clean, dry storage location until the problem can be handled.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.