7 Ways Leather Can Stink Like Poo (Plus Remove It)

Leather is an animal hide prepared for use by tanning or a similar process to make it flexible, reduce its tendency to decompose, and improve its mechanical strength and resistance to soiling and staining.

Here are Seven Ways Leather Can Smell Like Poo:

Leather can stink and it usually is from human body oils connecting with the leather to negative chemical cleaners used. Other factors to consider is mold and mildew in your house which is normally caused from dampness or water.

The other two reasons for bad smells are dyed or burnt leather.

If your leather product does have a unpleasant smell, we are discussing the seven ways below, and some natural ways to remove the odour. Thank you for reading.

Different Ways That Leather Smells Like Poo

Body Oils

Body oils, skin cells, and sweat can make their way into the leather over time. This is especially true with vintage pieces that have had the opportunity to soak up skin’s natural sheen and oil.

When you purchase a new pair of leather pants, you get a product void of a lot of this natural human scent. However, if you aren’t washing your leather clothes, they will become dirty over time and start to have that distinct “human” smell.

A great way to avoid this is to clean them periodically. This will remove the dirt and grime from the surface of the leather and allow it to breathe, thus reducing foul odours.

Another thing to note is that synthetic materials can also absorb smells from our bodies. If you are worried about the odour of your leather clothing or furniture, it may be best to avoid wearing strong perfumes or scented lotions while wearing or sitting on these items to reduce the chance of foul smells.

Chemical Cleaners

Chrome tanned leathers have a distinctive odour commonly described as “horse blanket” but rarely described as “manure.” What is unique about the smell is that it has a slight hint of ammonia. This is because chrome tanning uses chromium sulfate, which is also used for tanning hides into suede.

Aldehydes are the chemicals that make new cars smell like heaven and old vehicles smell like hell. They’re also used to simulate the aroma of leather and generally don’t occur in authentic leathers.

It would be difficult to describe the odour of vegetable tanned leathers since around 100 different chemicals can be used for this purpose, including some nearly identical to those in chrome tanning. Some are pretty safe and pleasant; others are hazardous waste.

Chemical cleaners often contain solvents such as acetone or alcohols, which evaporate quickly, leaving behind their characteristic odours (which can be unpleasant). Here are some of the chemical cleaners.

Solvent-based cleaners: These products use chemicals such as acetone, xylene, and isopropyl alcohol to get rid of dirt, grease, and grime. Solvents are typically used for cleaning large areas and can also be used to remove old polishes from leather.
Water-based cleaners: Water-based cleaners use mild soaps or detergents to wash leather. These are the most common cleaner and the safest for any leather item. They’re typically used in a diluted form with water, but they can be applied full strength on minor stains or in tight areas, such as the stitching on a bag.
Ammonia: The cleaner used to clean the leather has chemicals that stink, usually ammonia benzene, carbon, or tetrachloride.

Mold Or Mildew

A musty, wet-dog scent means that your leather furniture has been growing mold. Mold is a fungus that grows in dark, damp environments. Leather is porous and not water-resistant. The liquid can seep through the leather, causing mold to grow underneath the leather.

This mold can be black, green, or white, depending on the type of mold and what it feeds on. It will appear as spots on the surface of the leather and maybe fuzzy or fuzzy-looking with a cottony texture.

Mold is a health hazard that can cause breathing difficulties. In addition to its unpleasant smell, it can also harm your leather and make it look dirty and dingy. If you catch it early enough and clean it thoroughly, you may be able to save your furniture from permanent damage.

If you have mold growing on your leather furniture, remove the cushions from the couch or chairs and bring them outside for cleaning. Please don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia to clean them, as these chemicals may damage the leather even more than the mold does.


Part of the reason why leather smells the way it does is the bacteria that grow on it. Bacteria cause the leather to smell like poo. They have a unique smell, and when you put leather in place with bacteria, the smell gets trapped in the material and is released later.

The type of leather you have will determine how long it takes to start smelling like poo. Some types of leather are more porous than others, allowing them to absorb more smells than other types of leather.

If these furs and hides are stored in a humid and warm environment after processing, they will continue to provide an excellent place for bacteria to thrive and produce foul-smelling waste products.

If a hide sits in a pile wet for too long after slaughter or is not washed correctly during processing, then there can be a fair amount of organic matter left on the hide. This organic matter can be an ideal fuel for bacteria to grow and produce these foul-smelling chemical compounds.

The bacteria you have will also determine how long it takes for the smell to start coming out of the leather. If you have a lot of bacteria in your home, then it will take longer for your leather to start smelling like poo since there are more bacteria in your home that can release their scent into your air and onto your furniture.

Burnt Leather

When burnt, leather smells dry and like something you don’t want to be smelling. It is one of the worst smells you can come across. The smell that comes with burning leather is not very pleasant. It is a dry and unpleasant scent.

If you were to burn hides in a fire, this is how they would smell. Also, if your leather has been left in the sun for too long on a hot day, the scent that comes off it will be similar to burnt leather.

Burnt leather smells like poo because it takes on the scent of a substance that has started to rot when it burns. It will give off a foul odour and smell like poo when anything starts to deteriorate. This is why burnt leather also smells like poo because when it burns, it takes on the same sort of new scent as something rotting away would have done.

Dyed Leather

The tanning process of leather is generally very similar, no matter the type of leather. After the cowhide has gone through the initial treatment processes, where it’s cured and dried, it’s then dyed.

The dye used can be a variety of substances, some more environmentally friendly than others. Chemicals like chromium are commonly used as dyes for the leather and can have a distinctive odor. A tannery that uses chromium or other chemicals in their dying process may have a bit of a “fart” smell about it.

While you might not notice this smell in your leather jacket or boots, if you ever see the cowskin after it’s been dyed, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

There is an alternative to using chemical dyes in the tanning process (aside from vegetable-tanned leather), aniline-dyed leather. Aniline dyes are more expensive but don’t require any chemicals to produce and create incredibly soft leather that allows the grain and imperfections of the hide to show through.

Wet Leather

Water and leather do not mix. When you get your leather wet, the water can soak into the material and lead to the production of mold or mildew. This can cause your leather to smell like poo, and the leather releases the scent of the animal from which it came. Here are many ways that leather can smell like poo when it gets wet.

Dries out slowly: when it gets wet, and then dries out slowly. This often happens to leather on the inside of shoes or boots, which can be placed in the washing machine along with their cotton lining. When you take them out, they are not only wet, but they have absorbed smells from the washing powder.
Dries out too quickly: when it gets wet and then dries out too quickly. If you leave your leather in the sun to dry out too quickly, it will start to turn black, which creates an unpleasant odor associated with poo.
Shoe sweat: people experience something called ‘shoe sweat.’ This is where your feet get very hot and sweaty inside your shoes or boots during physical exercise. This can happen even when you are not wearing socks because the moisture from your feet penetrates through the leather itself.

Ways To Remove The Smell Of Poo From Your Leather

If you wish to do so, you can use an over-the-counter leather cleaner instead of detergent. It is always recommended to test any solution on an inconspicuous area of leather before applying it to a stain, as you may end up damaging the leather by using the wrong cleaning solutions or methods.

Baking Soda Method

If the smell is coming from your leather seats, you can help mask the odor by using baking soda. Here is how to remove odor and smell:

• Mix some baking soda with water to create a paste, and spread this over the leather. Leave it for an hour or so before wiping it off with a damp cloth.
• Use an upholstery cleaner on the stain. Always read the instructions to ensure that this is suitable for use on leather products, and test any product on a discrete spot first in case of discoloration.
• Wipe the area down with a cloth dipped in distilled water if you don’t want to use any chemicals on your bag, then dry it out by dabbing it with paper towels or a cotton cloth.

Vinegar Method

Vinegar is a mild acid that removes many types of stains and odors. To remove the smell of urine from leather, try using plain white vinegar. Here is how to remove odor and stains:

• Mix equal parts vinegar and water. If you need to clean a large area, use 1 cup (240 mL) of each liquid.
• Dampen a clean cloth with the mixture and use it to wipe down your leather furniture. Please do not soak the piece or allow the liquid to remain on it for more than a few seconds.
• Use a dry, clean cloth to wipe away moisture from the leather surface. This step is crucial! If you do not dry the leather after cleaning, it can begin to rot or grow mildew in spots that are difficult to see or reach.

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