How to Get a Moldy Smell Out of a Leather Jacket

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring cup

  • Bowl

  • Water

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • 3 Lint-free cloths

  • Soft bristle brush

  • Antibacterial soap

  • Leather conditioner


Place an open container of baking soda in the closet or purchase a canister of moisture-lock powder. Portable dehumidifiers can also be used to reduce humidity and moisture.

If the odor persists, mold may have grown on the area between the liner and the underside of the leather. Many leather jackets have removable liners. Simply unzip the liner from the leather "shell." Otherwise, you'll need to use a seam ripper to separate the liner from the leather and treat the underside of the leather by repeating Steps 1 through 7. It's likely the liner will need to be replaced. Take the old liner and the jacket to a tailor for repairs. The tailor will use the original liner as a pattern for the new one or, if it can be salvaged, the liner will be dry cleaned and replaced inside the jacket.


Always wipe down and dry your leather jacket if you're caught in the rain or snow. Never put leather in the washing machine or clothes dryer.

Remove that musty smell from a leather jacket using diluted rubbing alcohol.

Leather garments may smell musty and moldy when exposed to moisture and a dark atmosphere such as a closet. The odor is the result of mold and mildew growth on the leather's surface. The exterior is most often affected, but in some cases, the lining may need to be removed and replaced if it gets wet and mold develops between the leather and the lining. Prolonged exposure to damp conditions and mold may permanently damage the leather jacket, so in addition to eliminating the musty smell, take precautions to avoid similar problems in the future.


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Step 1

Pour 1 cup of water into a bowl.

Step 2

Pour 1 cup of rubbing alcohol into the bowl of water.

Step 3

Dampen a lint-free cloth in the water and alcohol mixture and wring it out to remove excess.


Step 4

Wipe down the leather with the damp cloth. Look for any areas of mold or mildew in the process. The mold may appear fuzzy and white, greenish-blue or it may have the appearance of black splotches.

Step 5

Dampen a soft bristle brush with the water and alcohol solution and gently scrub any areas of mold or mildew. Use a circular motion. Wipe the area with the damp cloth once scrubbing is complete.


Step 6

Allow the jacket to air dry and air out for 48 hours.

Step 7

Fill a bowl with warm soap and add a few drops of antibacterial soap if the odor persists.

Step 8

Dampen a cloth with the soapy solution and rub down the leather, using a circular motion.


Step 9

Wipe the leather jacket with a dry cloth.

Step 10

Apply leather conditioner to a lint-free cloth and rub it into the leather using a circular motion.