How to Stop Leather Smelling of Fish

How to Stop Leather Smelling of Fish

Leather is a versatile and durable material that is commonly used for various products such as shoes, bags, and furniture. However, leather can sometimes develop an unpleasant fishy odor, which can be quite off-putting. If you are struggling with this issue, here are some tips to help you get rid of the fishy smell and restore the fresh scent of your leather products.

1. Identify the source: The first step in eliminating the fishy odor is to identify the source. Sometimes, the smell may be coming from a nearby source like a fish market or seafood restaurant. Ensure that there are no such sources around your leather items.

2. Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial in preventing and eliminating odors. If your leather items are stored in a closed space, such as a closet or a drawer, make sure to provide adequate air circulation. Open windows or use fans to promote airflow.

3. Sunlight exposure: Sunlight can help eliminate odors and freshen up leather. Place your leather items in direct sunlight for a few hours, making sure to turn them occasionally. However, be mindful not to expose them for too long, as excessive sunlight can damage the leather.

4. Baking soda: Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can be used to eliminate odors. Sprinkle some baking soda on the affected leather items and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Vacuum or wipe off the baking soda residue using a soft cloth.

5. Charcoal: Charcoal is another effective absorbent that can help remove odors from leather. Place a few pieces of activated charcoal in a breathable bag or container and put it alongside your leather items. Leave it for a few days to allow the charcoal to absorb the fishy smell.

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6. Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds are known for their ability to absorb odors. Fill a breathable bag or container with coffee grounds and place it near your leather products. Leave it for a couple of days, then remove and discard the coffee grounds.

7. Vinegar: Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that can help neutralize odors. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the affected leather items. Allow them to air dry completely. The vinegar smell will dissipate, taking the fishy odor with it.

8. Leather cleaner: Sometimes, the fishy smell may be caused by accumulated dirt and sweat. Use a leather cleaner specifically designed for your type of leather to remove any grime or residue. Follow the instructions on the cleaner and wipe off any excess product.

9. Leather conditioner: After cleaning your leather items, it is essential to moisturize and protect them with a leather conditioner. This will prevent the leather from drying out and developing odors. Apply the conditioner following the product’s instructions and buff the leather to a shine.

10. Avoid moisture: Moisture can contribute to the development of odors in leather. Keep your leather items away from damp areas and avoid exposing them to excessive humidity. If your leather gets wet, blot the excess moisture with a clean cloth and allow it to air dry naturally.

11. Store leather properly: Proper storage is crucial in preventing odors. Keep your leather items in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Avoid storing them in plastic bags or airtight containers, as this can trap moisture and lead to unpleasant smells.

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12. Professional help: If you have tried all the above methods and the fishy smell persists, it may be time to seek professional help. Leather experts or professional cleaners can assess the situation and provide specialized treatments to eliminate the odor from your leather items.


1. Can the fishy smell be permanently removed from leather?
While it is possible to eliminate the fishy odor, the longevity of the results will depend on various factors such as the cause of the smell and the condition of the leather.

2. Can I use scented sprays or air fresheners to mask the fishy smell?
It is not recommended to use scented sprays or air fresheners on leather, as they can potentially damage the material.

3. How often should I clean and condition my leather items?
The frequency of cleaning and conditioning leather items depends on usage. As a general guideline, it is recommended to clean and condition leather every six to twelve months.

4. Can I use baby powder to remove the fishy smell?
While baby powder can absorb odors, it may not be as effective as baking soda or charcoal. However, you can give it a try and see if it helps in your particular case.

5. Can I use essential oils on leather to eliminate odors?
It is generally not recommended to use essential oils directly on leather, as they can stain or damage the material. Stick to natural deodorizing methods mentioned above.

6. How long should I expose my leather items to sunlight?
Exposing your leather items to sunlight for a few hours is usually sufficient. However, avoid prolonged exposure to prevent damage.

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7. Is it safe to use vinegar on all types of leather?
Vinegar is generally safe to use on most types of leather. However, it is always advisable to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it does not cause any discoloration or damage.

8. Can I use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process?
Using a blow dryer on leather can cause the material to dry too quickly and potentially crack. It is best to allow the leather to air dry naturally.

9. Is it necessary to use a leather conditioner after cleaning?
Using a leather conditioner is highly recommended after cleaning, as it helps moisturize and protect the leather, preventing it from developing odors.

10. Why does leather sometimes smell like fish?
The fishy smell in leather can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to fish or seafood, improper storage, or accumulation of dirt and sweat.

11. Can I use the same methods to remove odors from faux leather?
Most of the methods mentioned above can be used on faux leather as well. However, always check the care instructions provided by the manufacturer before applying any cleaning or deodorizing solutions.

12. What if the fishy smell persists after trying all the methods?
If the fishy smell persists, it is advisable to seek professional help. Leather experts or professional cleaners can provide specialized treatments to eliminate the odor effectively.

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