How to Remove Odor from Genuine Leather

Yesterday I told you about my preparations for my trip to Dominican Republic and that I bought an awesome camera bag large enough to fit my DSLR and my purse items. Well….I finally received my bag in the mail and although it’s definitely genuine leather, the smell coming from it reminds me of my time on the Oklahoma Plains, cleaning out horse stables! YIKES!!

Seriously, this bag smells like the manufacturer used the old-fashioned way of treating animal hides… If you don’t know what that is, look it up…but beware if you have a weak stomach, it’s not pretty! Needless to say, there’s no way I can board a plane with this bag in tow.  I can guarantee nobody would appreciate this smell lingering in the cabin for 5 hours.

Luckily, you’re looking at a real, bonafide Okie and if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to clean leather!


Items You’ll Need

  • distilled white vinegar
  • water
  • 2 clean washcloths
  • newspaper
  • box large enough to fit your item
  • packing tape

Step 1: Mix the vinegar solution
You will mix the solution in equal parts vinegar and water. I’ll be using ½ c. vinegar and ½ c. of water. This acidic solution will be strong enough to counteract the odors coming from the leather.

Step 2: Spot test
Make sure you spot test a small portion of your leather. Some leather is more supple than others and it could react negatively to the solution and become discolored.

Step 3: Wipe the leather with solution
If there’s no discoloration, use one of the clean washcloths to wipe down the entire surface of the leather. Make sure you saturate the leather then wipe it clean with the dry washcloth. Make sure you let the leather completely dry. You can let it sit for about an hour or use a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting. Make sure to keep the blow dryer at least 6 inches away.

Step 4: Wrap the leather in newspaper
Take your dried leather item and wrap the whole thing in newspaper. Newspaper is extremely porous and will absorb any lingering odors. If your item is a bag (like mine) or shoes, make sure you stuff newspaper into the empty spaces as well.

Step 5: Place newspaper wrapped item in box and seal with tape
Take your nicely wrapped leather item and put it in a box that’s big enough to fit it without squishing and seal it with packing tape. Sealing the box gives the odor no choice but to get absorbed by the newspaper.


In about 2 days you’ll have leather that won’t assault peoples’ nostrils!

On a side note: If you’re wondering, yes I live in Southern California but I’m a 5 year transplant. I spent the majority of my childhood in a small town in Oklahoma so I’m an Okie-at-heart. No, I don’t have an accent….

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