How to Get Musty Smells Out of a Leather Jacket

Posted: 16th November 2020 in ,

We’re often asked how to get rid of musty smells in leather jackets. Given the frequent wear you can get out of a well-loved leather jacket, it’s no surprise that it might catch a whiff of a few second-hand bad smells from the places you have been or walked past. With a few simple steps, you can get musty smells out of leather jackets without ruining the fabric.

In this guide, we cover the easy steps to removing any of the below types of bad smells from leather jackets:

  • Mildew smells
  • Cigarette smoke smells
  • Other smoke smells
  • BO smells

Choosing to take the simple steps to take care of your leather jacket as opposed to buying fast fashion that you throw away once it smells bad is one of the few things you can do to reduce your waste and landfill impact.

Why should you trust our guide over the others? As specialists in quality leather jackets, we know a thing or two about keeping them in best condition. We think that leather jackets should be an investment piece that last you a lifetime.

Read on for the simple steps on how to remove musty mildew, cigarette smoke, general smoke and BO smells from leather jackets.

How to Remove Mildew Smell From Leather Jacket

If you wore yours in the rain, you might wonder how to get mildew smells out of a leather jacket. That oddly specific musty smell is also a common issue with vintage or second hand leather jackets. The best (and easiest) way to remove mildew smells from leather jackets is to spritz it with white vinegar or vodka.

Follow these simple steps to remove mildew smells from leather jackets:

  1. Fill a small spray bottle with white vinegar or cheap vodka (don’t waste the expensive stuff here)
  2. Lightly spritz your leather jacket on the inside and outside
  3. Do not drench the leather jacket, only a light mist
  4. Hang the item outside (weather permitting) or near an open window to dry
  5. Follow up with a leather conditioner to keep the leather jacket supple and avoid cracking

Spraying your prized leather jacket with vinegar might sound strange. But the acid in the vinegar will level out the pH and counter any mildew or musty odours. The vinegary smell will also evaporate once the jacket is dry, so do not worry about smelling like a vinaigrette. 

If you do not want to risk the potential smell of vinegar, vodka can also help remove mildew smells out of leather jackets. Save any expensive vodka for drinking. This is a trick that is often used by wardrobe staff for theatre and filming purposes to keep costumes smelling fresh!

How to Remove Cigarette Smell From Leather Jacket

Did you go out last night and are you now wondering how to get cigarette smells out of your leather jacket? Or perhaps you have received a second-hand leather jacket from a previous smoker.

Regardless of where the odours have comes from, you can follow these simple steps to remove cigarette smell from leather jackets:

Dryer Sheets

Follow the below steps to get cigarette smells out of leather jackets using dryer sheets:

  1. Find an airtight large plastic bag (such as a zipper seal bag) to fit your leather jacket in
  2. Place your leather jacket in the bag with one or more dryer sheets
  3. Insert extra dryer sheets inside the leather jackets and any pockets
  4. Leave the bag for a few days, replacing the dryer sheets if needed

The ideal factor about using the dryer sheets method is that it will not damage the leather jacket and requires minimal effort. It does take longer than most methods.

Vinegar or Alcohol Spritz

A similar method to removing mildew smells from leather jackets can be used to get cigarette smells out of leather jackets too:

  1. Fill a small spray bottle with diluted white vinegar or cheap alcohol
  2. Lightly mist your leather jacket on the inside and outside (do not drench)
  3. Hang the item outside (weather permitting) or near an open window to dry
  4. Finish with a coat of leather conditioner to maintain the softness of the leather jacket

How to Get Rid of BO Smell in Leather Jacket

If you want to know how to get rid of BO smells in leather jackets, it’s important to clean it from the inside out. Any previous body odours that are clinging to your leather jacket will need to be deodorised from the inner liners.

The below methods involve using water and/or mild laundry detergent. Please check that your leather jacket liner can be washed before trying these methods.

Wash with mild detergent

Before committing to this method to remove BO smells from leather jackets, it is important to do a test patch first to ensure the jacket liner isn’t colour-fast:

  1. Mix four cups of water with one tablespoon of mild liquid or powder laundry detergent in a bowl
  2. If using mild laundry powder, mix the solution until the powder is fully dissolved
  3. Dip a clean, soft sponge (no abrasives) into your mixed solution and squeeze out any excess
  4. Turn your leather jacket inside out
  5. Wash the lining with the damp sponge, paying attention to areas like the armpits that collect the most BO (body odour)
  6. If you get any solution on the leather, wipe before it dries and stains
  7. Once satisfied that you have cleaned most of the odours, clean the sponge and bowl out of any solution
  8. Fill the bowl with clean water
  9. Dip the now clean sponge in the water and use this to rinse the laundry detergent solution from the leather jacket lining
  10. Hang the jacket to dry, ideally outside and avoiding any direct heat sources

 Baking soda and water

Mixing water with baking soda helps kick up its deodorizing properties up a notch. Follow the below method if you do not want to use mild laundry detergent to remove BO smells from leather jackets:

  1. Turn your leather jacket inside out and lay it out a clean, dry surface
  2. Sprinkle baking soda on your leather jacket lining, paying attention to areas like the armpits that collect body odour (like armpits)
  3. Fill a small spray bottle with warm water and lightly mist over the baking soda
  4. Be careful not to drench the jacket lining
  5. Allow the baking soda to sit for 15-20 minutes
  6. Once dry, you can wipe the baking soda off with a clean, lightly damp cloth
  7. Hang the jacket to dry, avoiding any heat sources (such as radiators) and ideally outside

When you find a leather jacket that suits you and your lifestyle, it becomes a staple piece of clothing that you want to wear every time you go outside. That’s the beauty of investing in a quality leather jacket! They’re so versatile and can be worn practically anywhere; from nights out to barbeques to work.

Better yet, taking care to remove smells from your leather jacket and not buying fast fashion jackets that you throw away once it smells bad will help reduce the amount of waste that you send to landfills. With care and easy maintenance, you can easily remove musty smells from your leather jacket so it can last through the years.

Shop our range of men’s and women’s leather jackets today for an investment piece that will last you a lifetime.