6 Common Problems With Faux Leather Fishy Smell (Plus Fix)

Have you ever bought a faux leather item and thought to yourself, what is the horrible stink it is producing? Faux leather has different reasons as to why it smells like fish, so we will be answering all of that in this article.

Here Is Why Faux Leather Smells Like Fish:

Faux leather has 6 main reasons why it smells and this includes the original packaging it is sent in, different dyes used in manufacturing, glue used, preservatives and the outer layer of the faux leather.

We will be describing the reasons for the fish smell here, and finally three great methods to remove the smell so you never have to experience it again. Thanks for reading.

6 Main Problems With The Fishy Smell Of Faux Leather

Original Packaging:

When you receive a faux leather item e.g a bag, wallet, belt etc these items are normally packaged in plastic, and this is to keep the item new.

The problem with this is that during the manufacturing process different faux leather glues and dyes are used that cause a smell, and when you combine this with the plastic covering this makes it much worse. The plastic locks in the original smells and this will make it linger longer when you open the packet, and then a strong fish smell occurs.

Dyes Used To Add Colour:

The most common reason for a fishy smell is the dying process of the faux leather. During the dying process, chemicals are absorbed into the piece and will leave a chemical residue when the leather is exposed to air. These solvents includes finishing agents, fatliquors, and flame retardants.

The exposure to air can happen when manufacturing, or after your item has been delivered to you. If the faux leather has been kept in poor storage e.g high heated room or with little ventilation, this will also make the smell worse.

Glue Used:

The production of faux leather includes using glue in the making of bags, belts, wallets. This particular glue is used to piece the product together, usually the panels of the product made.

Unfortunately the glue has a specific smell and some people liken it to fish. One of the main brands used to bind faux leather products together are E6000 Multi-Purpose Glue, and it can be noted that this smell can linger up to 72 hours after opening the packet.

Protective Outer Coating:

Faux leather has five protective layers which is what makes this a vegan leather. When the top layer is produced it is made with ingredients including petroleum, which is crude oil.

Petroleum (crude oil) carries a smell and this can linger within the outside coating of the faux leather, which may be the fishy smell you are smelling within your new product.

This smell can be easily fixed with the baking soda method, see this below in this part of the article.


Many manufactures that product FU Leather use a chemical called formaldehyde in the making of the product which is a preservative.

This chemical is colourless, and is flammable and lastly it can produce a nasty odour. The smell can become worse when a larger amount of formaldehyde is used in the manufacturing process, which could make the smell last longer within your home.


Faux Leather sometimes is stored for long periods of time by the manufacturer. When you receive this item the chemicals can be released from the Faux leather causing a chemical smell when a item is then in a space without air circulation (being no fan or air conditioner). This smell is likened to fish.

Ways To Get Rid Of The Faux Fishy Smell From Your Item

Method 1 – Leave It To Air Freshen

The most natural way to rid of fish smell is by air freshening the Faux Leather. You need to leave the item in a well circulated room (free from any heat or humidity).

It is best to leave the leather in a room that has an air conditioner, fan or out in the outside air for the faux leather to breathe.

It is best to leave the faux leather in this air environment for 24 hours and the smell will start to leave on its own. You do not want to leave the faux leather in any heated room as this can increase the chances of smelling worse.

Method 2- Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a fantastic way to eliminate smells from anything. So this is a natural method that anyone can use.

Squeeze some lemon juice onto a damp cloth and rub onto the surface of the Faux leather, leave for 30 minutes, and then wipe away with a damp cloth to remove any excess from the PU Leather. Lemon should be able to remove any chemical smells that are protruding from the product.

Method 3- Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural cleaning product, used in all household cleaning to remove stains and odours out of furniture, kitchen and appliances. So it makes sense that using baking soda to remove nasty fishy smells is the all go to.

The best way to use Baking soda over your faux leather is to sprinkle it on top of it, leave it for 1 hour and then use a vacum cleaner to remove it from the leather.

Method 4- Soap and Water Method

Cleaning your faux leather with warm water and soap in another method you could use to regularly get the stench out of the leather. It is best to use a sponge and gently wipe with soapy water, then remove with just warm water.

(Do not over scrub as this may wreck the leather, you want to use gentle circular movements to remove the smell).

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