How to Remove the Smell of a Leather Bag

How to Remove the Smell of a Leather Bag

Have you ever unzipped your favorite leather bag only to be hit by that distinctive, sometimes overpowering, smell? You’re not alone! Whether it’s the scent of new leather, leftover from the tanning process, or just the lingering result of daily use, many of us wonder how to remove the smell of a leather bag without harming the material we adore. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true methods to freshen it up. Let’s dive into a few simple, practical steps that can have your trusty bag smelling like new (or at least better) in no time!

[RELEVANT: Taking Care of Leather]

Understanding the Cause

Let’s face it, that strong smell coming from your leather bag didn’t appear out of nowhere. It’s usually a mix of the unique leather tanning process, natural oils in the hide, and, well, the usual wear and tear. Sometimes, moisture sneaks in, causing mustiness, or the bag just needs to breathe after being boxed up (during transportation for example). Whatever the reason might be, knowing where the odor comes from is key to figuring out how to get rid of it, so your bag will be pleasant again. However, we understand that it’s not always too clear what’s the root cause for it, and therefore you might need to try multiple methods for odor removal described below. So, continue reading.

[GOOD READ: How to Take Care of Leather Bags]


Before we dive into the actual smell-riddance tricks, let’s make sure we have all the right stuff prepared and ready to use. You don’t need a lot, but a few basic things will be needed. Grab some baking soda or white vinegar for their odor-neutralizing superpowers, a couple of soft cloths for wiping down, and maybe some activated charcoal if you’ve got it (charcoal isn’t just for grilling, after all!). Once you’ve got your gear ready to go, find a nice, shady spot to air out the bag, and you’re all set for the next steps. It’s a simple setup, but you’ll soon be well-prepared to tackle that funky smell head-on.

Methods for Odor Removal

Air Out the Bag

  • Find a Breezy Spot: Set your bag outside or near an open window for some fresh air. Make sure it’s in the shade to protect the leather from getting too much sun and potential losing some color.
  • Give It Time: Let the bag breathe for at least 24-48 hours, and maybe even longer if it’s particularly strong-smelling.

Most of the time smells acquired during the transportation will fade completely simply by using this first and the simplest method. If, however, after a 48-72 or so hour window the smell persists, move on to the next method.

Baking Soda Method

  • Bag It Up: Fill a small cloth pouch or sock with baking soda, then place it inside the leather bag.
  • Seal the Deal: Put the whole bag in a larger, sealed plastic bag or storage container.
  • Wait It Out: Leave it sealed up for 24-48 hours. Baking soda will work its magic to absorb odors!

Vinegar Solution

  • Mix It Up: Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • Dampen a Cloth: Lightly spray or dampen a soft cloth with the mixture.
  • Wipe It Down: Gently wipe down the inside of the bag. Let it air out until the vinegar smell fades, taking other odors with it.

Activated Charcoal

  • Grab a Few Bags: Find some activated charcoal bags (often used in refrigerators or shoes).
  • Pop Them In: Place one or two inside the leather bag and leave them for a couple of days.
  • Fresh Air Again: Give the bag a final airing after removing the charcoal to help clear any lingering scents.

These easy methods can and will help restore your leather bag to its odor-free glory! But please keep in mind that patience will be necessary, and multiple methods might need to be used to fully get rid of the bad smells.


Getting your beloved bag fresh again isn’t complicated if you know how to remove the smell of a leather bag using the right techniques. Whether you’re trying baking soda, a little vinegar, or just giving it a good airing out, patience is the key. Soon enough, your favorite bag will be back in action, smelling as good as it looks!

If you found these tips helpful, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more handy tricks and style advice. We’d love to keep in touch and help with all your leather care needs!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about how to Remove the Smell of a Leather Bag

Q: Is it normal for new leather bags to smell strongly?

  • A: Yes! That distinctive scent often comes from the tanning process and can linger until it’s aired out.

Q: Can I use scented sprays or air fresheners directly on my leather bag?

  • A: It’s better to avoid direct application since harsh chemicals can damage the leather. Choose natural methods instead mentioned in this article.

Q: How long will it take to remove the smell completely?

  • A: Depending on the odor’s intensity, it could take a few days to a couple of weeks with repeated treatments.

Q: Will the vinegar solution damage my leather bag?

  • A: If diluted properly and used sparingly with a damp cloth, the vinegar solution shouldn’t harm your leather.

Q: How often should I use these methods to keep my leather bag smelling fresh?

  • A: Once every few months or whenever you notice a persistent odor will generally do the trick.

Q: What if my leather bag still smells after trying these methods?

  • A: Persistent odors may need professional cleaning or consultation to identify the underlying cause.

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