How to Remove Sickening Odors From Leather

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Brand new leather smells amazing. Fast forward a few years, however, and you may find the smell emanating from your leather couch much less appealing. As you live with leather over time, it can soak up sweat, pet odors, cigarette smoke, and other unpleasant smells. There are several ways to fix the problem, and the most effective method may vary based on the particular smell you're dealing with.


Use the Sun

Sunlight is a natural bacteria killer and can help kill any stinky bacteria or mold spores lurking in your couch. Ideally, it's best to carry your couch outside and sit it in direct sunlight for several hours. If the couch is too heavy or hard to manipulate through your door frames, the next best thing is to open your blinds and curtains as wide as you can and let the sun shine in on your couch.


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Sometimes a little sunlight is all it takes to solve odor problems in leather. This is especially true if dampness is the cause of the smell.

Try Some Newspaper

If you suspect the couch somehow got wet and is now emanating a moldy smell, grab some old newspapers. Wrapping leather shoes, handbags, and other leather items in newspaper draws out moisture along with musty smells. Obviously you can't wrap your entire couch in newspaper, but that doesn't mean you can't use it at all.


Lay pieces of newspaper flat underneath your couch cushions. You can also lay the paper on top of the cushions, over the armrests, and along the back of the couch. Let the paper sit for a few days, giving it time to do its work.

Soap and Water

A smelly leather couch is also a dirty leather couch. A quick cleaning with a little soapy water may clean things up and eliminate the smell. Add a few drops of mild soap like dishwashing liquid or baby shampoo to a bowl of warm water. Dampen a clean cloth in the soapy water and wipe down the couch.


It's okay to get the couch damp, but not wet. Make sure you don't saturate it. Use a damp rag without soap to rinse away any soap residue and then dry the couch with another clean rag.

Good Ol' Vinegar

Take a tour of housecleaning sites on the internet and you'll soon be convinced that vinegar can do just about anything. One of its many fine attributes is its ability to neutralize unpleasant smells. To use it on your couch, mix a 50/50 water and vinegar solution in a spray bottle and spray it on your couch.


As is true of the soapy water, you want to dampen but not saturate the couch. Spray the vinegar, let it sit for a minute, and then wipe it away with a dry cloth. Of course, it's a good idea to test the vinegar spray on an inconspicuous area before spraying down your entire couch.


Sprinkle Some Baking Soda

If you're nervous about putting any liquids on your leather, or if you're working with suede, use baking soda to eliminate odors. Sprinkle some baking soda on your couch and then leave it to sit for at least 15 minutes. You can leave it longer if the smell is particularly potent. Then you can just vacuum up the baking soda.


Ongoing Protection Options

Now that your leather couch is odor-free, there are a few simple things you can do to help keep it that way. One way is to double up a pair of old nylons, fill them with baking soda, and tuck the satchel under or behind a couch cushion. You can also tuck a few dryer sheets under the cushions.


If you have a dog that loves to nap on the couch, lay a blanket where they sleep. It's much easier to throw the blanket in the wash when it starts to smell like a dog than it is to clean the couch.



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