Does All Leather Smell? (All Answers Plus Helpful Tips)

Does All Leather Smell?

There’s nothing quite like the smell of leather and while some people love it, others absolutely hate it. But does all leather smell?

The simple answer is yes, all natural leather, regardless of which animal they are sourced from will have a certain smell. However, this doesn’t mean that all leather products will smell the same – it just means that the material itself has a natural scent.

Continue reading this article to find out more.

The Reasons Why All Leather Smell

The reason why all natural leather has their unique smell or smell the way they do is due to a few things. Here are some of the most common reasons why all leather smells.

1. Leather Is Sourced From Animals

The most obvious reason why leather has a natural smell is that it’s sourced from animals. This is probably one of the first reasons why all leather smells.

All leather, whether it’s cowhide, sheepskin, or pigskin will have a certain smell because of where it comes from.

Leather is made from the skin of an animal and as a result, each type of leather will have its own unique smell. The most common types of leather that are used for products such as furniture, shoes, handbags, and belts come from cows, pigs, goats, and sheep.

Cows are the most common source of leather and their skin is used to make a variety of products. The hide from a cow is thick, making it ideal for use in furniture and car upholstery.

Pigs are also popular sources for leather and their skins are used to make wallets, shoes, handbags, and other small accessories. Pigs have thin skin which makes them unsuitable for up to heavy-duty items such as furniture.

Sheepskin is also a popular source of leather and is often used in the production of gloves, slippers, and hats. Sheepskin is durable, has a good insulation quality, and also absorbs moisture well.

Goatskin is another type of leather that is often used in the manufacture of gloves, shoes, and other accessories. Goatskin is strong and has a good resistance to wear and tear.

Leather from all of these animals will have its own unique smell because of where it comes from.

2. The Tanning Process

Another reason why all leather smell is because of the tanning process. The process of turning raw animal skins into a material that will not decompose or degrade over time is what we call tanning.

The two most common tanning processes are chrome tanning and vegetable tanning. Chrome Tanning uses chromium sulfate to convert the proteins in the leather into chrome-tanned insoluble pigments.

The end result is a very durable and light-colored leather that doesn’t generally have a strong smell.

Vegetable Tanning, on the other hand, uses natural ingredients such as tannins from trees and plants to convert the proteins into a stable material.

This process usually takes longer, but it results in darker, more fragrant leather. So what’s clear is no matter how the leather was tanned, it will still result in a certain smell.

3. The Dyeing Process

All leather also inherit some sort of smell from the dyeing process. The dyes used in the leather industry are usually acid dyes or chemical dyes.

Acid dyes are the most common type of dye used in the leather industry and they’re made up of aniline, acid, and azo compounds.

These types of dyes can be used on both natural and synthetic fibers and they usually have a strong smell.

Chemical dyes, while not as common as acid dyes, are used to dye leather in a variety of colors.

They’re made up of organic and inorganic compounds and they also have a strong smell.

So it’s clear that not only does the leather itself have a natural smell, but the dyes used on them can also add to the overall scent.

Things That Add To The Smell Of Leather

Apart from the above “natural” factors, there are also other factors that can contribute to the unique smell of leather.


If leather isn’t stored in the right environment, it can start to smell. Leather needs to be kept in a cool, dry place otherwise its smell will intensify, and in most cases, that’s one-way leather gets bad smells

Manufacturing Processes

The manufacturing process the leather goes through also adds another layer of smell to it. For example, in the case of leather that’s used for furniture, a lot of times there is a flame retardant added to it and that can result in an unwanted smell.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which the leather is used can also contribute to its smell. For example, if you have a car that has leather seats and you live in a hot climate, the seats will generally have a stronger smell after a while.

The Age Of The Leather

The older the leather, the more it will have a unique smell than when it was new. This is because leather is porous and as time goes on, the leather will start to adapt to different smells based on what it is constantly exposed to.

What Is The Smell Of Leather Called?

The smell of leather is often referred to as “leathery.” It’s a unique smell that not everyone will like, but it’s definitely distinct. The smell of leather is also often referred to as natural or skin smell.

The smell of leather is something that’s hard to describe, but once you know what it is, you’ll definitely recognize it.

It is often very hard to replicate the smell of leather and although some synthetic materials may come close, nothing beats the real thing.

And while there are many reasons why leather has this specific smell, the bottom line is it’s just part of the material.

Do All Leather Smell The Same?

While all leather does have a smell, the smell of leather can vary depending on a variety of factors such as how it was tanned, what type of dye was used, and environmental factors as mentioned before.

The same factors that give leather its natural smell is what would also contribute to the smell of leather being different from one product to another.

So while there may be some similarities in the smell of different types of leather, they will never be identical. And that’s part of what makes leather so unique.

Leather is a unique material that has been used for centuries and while it may have a distinct smell, it’s also something that a lot of people find appealing.

So if you’re someone who’s looking for something with a unique scent, then leather might just be the right material for you.

Does The Smell Of Leather Fade or Stop?

The natural smell of leather is something that’s hard to get rid of. The natural smell of leather will generally fade over time but will take on different smells or odors. This is because leather is a porous material and the more you use the leather item, the more the leather adapts to the smells around it.

This is particularly awesome because it is possible your leather item will completely take on your smell to reflect the kind of person you are.

For example, leather will begin to smell like the person who wears it and this is often a desirable trait for those who appreciate leather.

Leather also has the ability to “heal” itself over time, so if it does get a bad smell, it’s not permanent.

While leather will generally lose its initial natural smell over time, there are some things you can do to help preserve it if you’re into it. More on this later.

However, if you’re not a fan of the smell of leather, there are ways to get rid of it. I will also talk about this next.

How To Reduce The Natural Smell Of Leather

It is understandable why you may want to get rid of the leathery smell of leather. I have actually met people who find the natural smell of leather to be nauseating and too overwhelming.

If you’re not a fan of the smell of leather, there are ways to get rid of it so that you can enjoy your leather items.

  • Air Out The Leather Item Before Use

One of the best ways to reduce the smell of leather is by airing it out before you use it. This means leaving it in an open area where fresh air can circulate for a few hours or days before using it.

This will help get rid of any strong smells that may be present and will also help the leather item “breath.”

  • Clean The Leather

An effective way to reduce the smell of leather is to clean it. You can use a leather cleaner to do this by following the application instructions.

You can also use a damp cloth and some mild soap to clean the surface of the leather.

You can even put a few drops of your favorite essential oil into the soap solution and use it to clean the leather.

This will help to not only reduce the smell of leather, but it will also help to condition and protect it from becoming dry or brittle.

Make sure to dry it off afterward with a towel or air drying it will work as well. This may not completely get rid of the smell, but it will help reduce it.

  • Apply Leather Conditioner

You can either make your own leather conditioner or purchase one from a store. Applying a leather conditioner will help soften the leather and as a result, may reduce the smell.

Most leather conditioners contain odor neutralizing agents that help to make leather smell fresh and clean.

Be sure to read the instructions on how to use the conditioner before applying it. Some conditioners require you to apply them every few months while others only need to be applied once or twice a year.

  • Vinegar

If you cannot stand the natural smell of leather but can make do with vinegar, one popular way is to use vinegar and water mixture which you can spray onto the leather.

Leave it for about 15 minutes and then wipe it off with a dry cloth. Doing this will help get rid of any smell as well as any dirt or grime that may be present on the leather.

However, I do not recommend doing this often as vinegar can actually damage leather over time. Use sparingly and only when needed.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, all leather has a certain smell to it. The smell of leather will usually come from the fact that leather is a by-product from the meat industry, the tanning process used, dyes, etc.

While it may be different for everyone, the leather will eventually adapt to the smells around it. The more you use a leather item, the more the leather adapts to the smells around it.

So while all leather will start out having somewhat similar smells, it will eventually adapt to the smell of its user.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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