How to Get Cigarette & Smoke Smells Out of Leather

How to Get Cigarette & Smoke Smells Out of Leather: 10 Effective Methods

The smell of smoke is stubborn and can linger on your leather wallet, purse, or jacket when you are at a party or an event where people are smoking. Smoke may also get trapped on your leather articles when standing near smoke pits, grills, barbeques, and even exhausts.  

Getting smoke smells out of leather may sound like a daunting task, as it penetrates the pores of your leather articles. However, there are several ways you can remove them effectively.

The best way to remove cigarette or smoke smells from leather is to either use a leather cleaner, a vinegar solution, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, charcoal, desiccants, leather deodorizers, coffee grounds, a leather conditioner or properly ventilating your leather articles. 

Here’s a quick summary of the methods that we’ll cover:

What Type Of Smoke Smells Affect Leather

Since leather is a porous material, smoke easily gets trapped through its pores and can linger for days. If you vape or smoke a cigar, pipe, or a simple cigarette near your leather articles or items – including leather furniture – they are bound to absorb smoke and carry the smell for some time. 

Due to the porous nature of leather, all types of smoke smells can permeate leather. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what some of the most typical smoke types are:

  • Smoke from cigars
  • Smoke from cigarettes
  • Smoke from vapes
  • Smoke from pipes
  • Smoke from exhausts
  • Smoke from barbeques
  • Smoke from fires 
  • Smoke from fireplaces

Smoke can discolor leather over time, make it sticky, reduce its shine significantly, dry it out, and cause a highly unpleasant and lingering smell if left untreated.

Therefore, if you notice your leather jacket or leather sofa smelling like cigarette smoke or smoke from any other source, you should act quickly to remove the smell before it has the chance to fully penetrate your leather.

We’ve prepared a list of tried and tested methods that are designed to help you remove all types of smoke smells from your leather articles. Let’s explore them in more detail. 

Method 1: Leather Cleaner

A common and easy way to remove cigarette and smoke smells from your leather furniture or any other leather product is to use a leather cleaner. Leather cleaners are designed to penetrate leather pores to remove any type of impurities, including smoke.       

Therefore, it is highly effective in getting rid of cigarette smoke from leather. Whether you want to remove cigarette smoke from a leather bag or a leather couch, a leather-friendly cleaner will help you achieve this.

How to Use a Leather Cleaner to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Choose a high-quality leather cleaner and apply it to the entire surface of the leather article using a sponge or clean lint-free cloth. Be sure to apply an even and light coat of the leather cleaner on all areas, especially the nooks and crevices of the material.

You can wipe away the excess product using another clean cloth and buff it to a shine. We advise focusing on cleaning the larger areas of your leather article since they would be the most likely to trap smoke.

Method 2: White Vinegar & Water

A solution of white vinegar and water can do wonders for clearing away any smoke smell from your leather articles. Vinegar is an excellent disinfectant and deodorizer that can remove lingering smoke smells from leather by neutralizing them. 

This method works best for deodorizing larger leather articles such as sofas, jackets, coats, upholstery, and more. However, you should dilute the vinegar solution as per the instructions or it may damage the leather’s texture.

How to Use White Vinegar & Water to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Take one cup of vinegar and mix it with one cup of water. Take a sizable soft, lint-free fabric and lightly dampen it in the solution. Rub the water and vinegar mixture all over the surface of your leather article using a moist clean cloth. 

Ensure not to saturate the cloth with water, since that can significantly damage leather. After a single coat of application of the mixture, allow the leather article ample time to dry. After drying, you will notice the smoke smell from your leather article subsiding. 

After the drying process, we recommend using a leather conditioner for renourishment to ensure the leather doesn’t dry out or get damaged from the vinegar and water solution.

Method 3: Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the best deodorizers since it can easily absorb smoke and other unbearable stenches from leather articles. Using baking soda is one of the most preferred methods to remove smoke from smaller leather articles like bags, wallets, shoes, and key chains, among many others.

It also happens to be one of the most cost-effective smoke neutralizers available and can be applied easily to your leather items.

How to Use Baking Soda to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Take some baking soda from your kitchen and pour a handful of it into a Ziploc bag. Place this opened bag of baking soda in your purse or bag to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of it. 

Leave the Ziploc bag inside your purse or bag for about 1 to 2 days to completely absorb all odors. Ensure to never apply baking soda directly onto the surface of your leather article because it can change its pH level, which could lead to damage and discoloration.

For smaller leather articles, you can place them inside a paper bag, and an open Ziploc bag carrying baking soda and seal it from the top. Leave it to absorb all odors for a day and ensure the baking soda does not fall onto the leather surface.

Method 4: Rubbing Alcohol & Water Solution

Some people don’t like the smell of vinegar and want an alternative that will just neutralize the odor of smoke. If you’re looking for an alternative to using vinegar, you can also use a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. 

Rubbing alcohol may be a bit of a risky option if it’s incorrectly applied to the leather product. However, it’s an extremely effective way of getting smoke smells off your leather articles.

This method can work for various leather articles such as leather shoes, bags, wallets, sofas, and upholstery.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol & Water to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 1 part water in a bowl. Take a soft, clean, and lint-free cloth and slightly dampen it in the mixture. Apply the damp cloth all over the surface of the leather product, ensuring to target the larger and more exposed areas.

After applying the solution to all nooks and crevices, allow the leather product to dry and repeat the process if the smoke smell persists slightly. Remember to apply a layer of leather conditioner to the item in question once it is completely dry and odor-free. 

Method 5: Charcoal

Similar to baking soda, charcoal is another excellent deodorizer for leather articles. It can help to eliminate all types of odors from leather, especially cigarette smoke. 

It is a great way to get rid of the smoke smells particularly from smaller leather items such as leather bags, leather shoes, leather wallets, etc.

How to Use Charcoal to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

We advise setting a large bowl of charcoal next to your leather article for about 2 to 3 days. Over this period, the charcoal will absorb all smoke odors and leave your leather item smelling fresh and clean. 

We found this method extremely effective in getting the cigarette smell out of a leather car upholstery. Here’s another important tip! Leaving your leather items enclosed in a room with a bowl full of charcoal will increase its absorption effect. 

Method 6: Desiccants

Desiccants such as silica gels are highly effective in getting cigarette smells out of your leather articles. Silica gels are known to absorb bad smells and moisture from their surroundings, including smoke.

This method works best for leather bags, leather coats (with pockets), leather shoes, and leather wallets that suffer from persistent cigarette smells.

How to Use Desiccants to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Silica gels commonly come in small packets, which are placed in specific areas to avoid musty and bad odors. To use a desiccant like silica gel, simply place the packet or multiple packets (if the smell is slightly stronger or the leather article is larger) inside your leather coat pocket, leather bag, or leather shoe for 1 to 2 days. 

The biggest advantage of using silica gel packets is that you can use your coat and bag without emptying the contents or putting them aside for a couple of days. As desiccants can draw smoke smells and vital oils from your leather articles, you should consider conditioning them afterward. 

Method 7: Leather Deodorizer

One of the easiest ways of removing smoke smells from your leather clothing, bags, shoes, wallets, and car interior is to use a leather deodorizer. A leather deodorizer can help eliminate any unpleasant cigarette smoke from your leather items by neutralizing the smell.

How to Use a Leather Deodorizer to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

There are two common types of leather deodorizers: spray and stick deodorizers. If the cigarette smell is on the surface of your larger leather articles, we suggest using a spray leather deodorizer. 

Simply spray the deodorizer onto the leather article and wipe it clean using a cloth. We suggest using a stick deodorizer for leather shoes or bags to eliminate pungent cigarette odors.

Method 8: Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds have a distinct smell that easily masks smoke and cigarette smells. They work similarly to baking soda and can be used for smaller leather items such as leather bags, purses, wallets, keychains, and shoes.

How to Use Coffee Grounds to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Fill up a paper bag or an old stocking with coffee grounds. Place this bag or stocking near the leather article where the most intense cigarette smell is. Allow the ground to stay there for a minimum of one day to eliminate the smoke odor. 

The longer you leave the coffee grounds in or near your leather items, the more effective the smoke odor removal will be. Just ensure that you’re using enough coffee grounds when using this method.  

Method 9: Leather Conditioner

Typically, we recommend using a leather conditioner after applying any of the methods mentioned above. However, the cleaning and fragrance ingredients in a leather conditioner can also remove the smell of cigarette smoke from leather.

How to Use a Leather Conditioner to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

Using a clean, soft, and lint-free cloth, apply a light layer of leather conditioner to your leather article. Ensure to target the areas with heavy smoke smells and allow for ample drying time after application.

You’ll notice that the smoke smell will subside over time and that your leather articles are renourished and free of smoke. 

Method 10: Ventilation

If it has been only a brief time after your leather article has been exposed to cigarette smoke, ventilation is an excellent method to eliminate the odor. Ventilation works best for all types of leather products, whether large or small. 

We also recommend ventilating your leather products when using any of the methods that we listed above, for best results.

How to Remove Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather through Ventilation

Place your leather article in an open, breezy, and dry environment. For an increased effect, turn on a fan and direct it towards a window or door, with the leather article placed near the back of the fan. 

This will sweep stale and smoky air and bring fresh air from the windows. We recommend avoiding stale, damp, and excessively sunny areas for ventilation.

Method to Avoid for Removing Cigarette & Smoke Smells from Leather

While the above guide highlights the best ways to remove cigarette and smoke smells from leather, we also wanted to dedicate a section that indicates what type of smoke-removing methods you should avoid. 

Avoid Dish Soap

While dish soap helps to clean surfaces and remove smoke odors, it can damage leather. This is because leather is acidic, whereby most detergents are basic.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

While sunlight can help remove all types of smells, including smoke smells, leather that is directly exposed to sunlight may get damaged over time. Therefore, we recommend ventilating your leather articles away from direct sunlight.  

Avoid Laundry Detergent

Similar to dish soaps, laundry detergents can contain chemicals and ingredients that are harmful to leather. Therefore, opt for a leather-friendly or homemade cleaning solution which are compatible with leather.

Avoid Wet Wipes

Wet wipes contain various types of chemicals and alcohol that can damage your leather. Therefore, we don’t recommend using wet wipes to remove smoke smells from leather. Instead, you should consider many of the alternative options that we mention in this guide.

About Gerrit

Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!