The signature smell of leather can be good or bad, depending on personal preferences. For some, it’s a luxurious scent. But for others, it can be an overpowering and unpleasant odor.
So, if you’re inquiring whether it loses its smell because you can wait to get rid of it or want to keep the smell around, I have the answer.
The short answer is leather will gradually lose its original smell over time to the smells in its environment, leather care products used on it, and the body oils or fragrances of the user. This happens mainly because of the porous nature of leather.
Stick around as I delve into the following topics around leather and its smell;
- Does real leather always smell?
- How does leather get its smell?
- What Causes The Smell of Leather To Change or Fade?
- How Long Does it Take For Leather To Lose Its Smell?
- How To Maintain The Original Smell of Leather
- How To Get Rid of Leather Smell
Let’s get into the details of each of these topics. Shall we?
Does Real Leather Always Smell?
The reality is almost everything, including water, has some type of smell. The same goes for leather.
Leather will always have some type of smell. As to whether the smell is pleasing or not is subjective.
As I mention before, there are a lot of people who will perceive the smell of natural leather as luxurious. On the other hand, others may find it to be too strong or unpleasant.
It really all comes down to personal preferences when it comes to the smell of leather. The good news is most product manufacturers take this into account.
As a result, many of them will use special techniques and finishes to help mask or reduce the natural smell of leather.
How Does Leather Get Its Smell?
To be able to understand if leather loses its smell will depend on how the leather got the smell in the first place. Leather gets its smell from a variety of places which include;
1. The Animal The Leather Came from
The first place leather gets its smell is from the animal it came from. Different animals will have different smells. For example, cows typically have a milder smell than pigs.
Bovine leather, which is made from cows, is the most common type of leather used in many products. As a result, it’s also the most popular scent when it comes to leather.
Other animals that are commonly used to make leather include pigs, sheep, goats, and buffalo. Each of these animals may have its own distinct smell.
So, if you’re wondering what kind of smell your leather product will have, it really all depends on the animal the leather came from.
Remember that some manufacturers may use a mixture of different animal skins to make their products. So, it’s also possible for a leather product to have more than one scent.
2. How The Hide Was Tanned And Processed Into Leather
Leather is made from the skin or hide of an animal. The process of turning rawhide into leather is called tanning.
During this process, the hide is treated with various chemicals and natural substances. This helps to preserve the hide and make it more durable and resistant to decay.
It’s also during this process that the hide will develop its signature smell. But this will depend on the tanning technique used.
For example, if the leather was tanned using chrome tanning, then the leather will have a slight chemical smell to it. This is because chrome tanning makes use of chemicals like chromium salts.
Also, vegetable-tanned leather will smell differently than chrome-tanned leather. This is because vegetable tanning uses plant materials like tree bark, roots, etc., to tan the hide.
As a result, vegetable-tanned leather will usually have a more earthy smell to it.
The plant extracts or chemicals used during the tanning process will affect how strong or faint the leather smell is.
3. The Product Manufacturing Process
After the hide has been tanned and turned into leather, it will then go through the process of being made into a finished product.
This is where things like glues, dyes, and other treatments are applied to the leather. These can also affect the smell of the leather.
For example, the dyes used to color the leather may add a faint chemical smell to it. While the glues and other adhesives used to put the product together may also add a slight smell.
In most cases, the smells from the tanning and manufacturing processes will be faint. This is because the hide has already been treated with various chemicals and substances.
4. The Finishes Applied To The Leather
Once the leather product has been made, it will then go through a finishing process.
This is where manufacturers will add the final touches to the product. This can include things like waxes, polishes, and applying a sealant or topcoat.
The finishes applied to the leather can also affect its smell. For example, if the wax is used, then the leather may have a slightly waxy smell to it.
5. Leather Care Products Used On The Leather
For leather to last long, it needs to be properly cared for. This includes things like cleaning, conditioning, and polishing the leather.
The products used to care for the leather can also affect its smell. For example, if you use a leather cleaner that has a strong citrus scent, then the leather may take on that scent.
The same goes for leather conditioners and polishes. If these products have a strong smell or fragrance, then the leather may absorb that smell.
6. The User of The Leather Product
The last thing I will mention is that the user of the leather product can also affect its smell.
This is because our bodies produce natural oils and sweat. These can transfer to the leather and cause it to smell.
For example, if you wear a leather jacket or gloves, then the leather may start to take on your body odor.
The same goes for leather furniture. If you sit on a leather couch or chair, the leather may absorb your body odor.
Another example is if you’re a smoker. The leather may start to absorb the smell of cigarette smoke.
All of these factors can contribute to how strong or faint the leather smell is and how long it will take for the smell to fade away.
Now that we know where the leather’s signature scent comes from let’s move on and answer the question on everyone’s mind–the reasons leather lose its smell.
Reason Why Leather Loses Its Smell
As I rightfully mentioned, leather will gradually lose its actual smell, and over here, I’m going to tell you why and how this happens.
As leather is being used, it will gradually start to absorb other smells from its environment. Meaning the original smell of the leather will eventually be lost.
For example, if you have a leather couch in your living room, it will gradually start to absorb the smells from your home. This can include things like cooking smells, pet odors, and even the scent of your perfume or cologne.
The same goes for leather clothing and accessories. If you wear a leather jacket or gloves, the leather will eventually start to absorb your body odor.
All of these factors can cause the leather to lose its original smell. You could say that the leather is like a sponge, and over time it will absorb the smells around it.
What’s interesting is that the leather can also absorb good smells. For example, if you put a leather conditioner or polish on the leather, it may take on the scent of that product.
This will happen over time with age and wear. The leather will start to absorb the smells around it and eventually lose its original smell.
How Long Does it Take For Leather To Lose Its Smell?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors;
- the type of leather,
- how the leather is used, and
- where the leather is kept.
Let’s start with the type of leather.
The Type Of Leather
Full-grain leather and top-grain leather are the two highest-quality types of leather. These types of leather are also porous, so they are likely to lose their smell faster.
On the other hand, corrected-grain leather and bonded leather are not as porous. This means that they won’t absorb smells as easily, and the smell will last longer.
Now let’s talk about how leather is used.
How The Leather Is Used
If the leather is used frequently, it will lose its smell quicker. This is because the leather will absorb the smells around it faster.
For example, if you wear a leather jacket every day, the leather will start to absorb your body odor. And if you have a leather couch in your living room, it will gradually start to absorb the smells from your home.
The same goes for using a leather conditioner or polish on the leather. The leather will eventually absorb the scent of that product.
How The Leather Is Stored
If the leather and other materials have a strong smell, the leather will absorb the smell.
For example, if you store your leather bags with laundry detergents or perfumes, the leather will absorb the smells.
On the other hand, if you store your leather products in a dry and cool place, the leather will retain its smell for longer.
To sum it up, the answer to how long leather takes to lose its smell is; it depends. It depends on the type of leather, how the leather is used, and where it is stored. But one thing is for sure; the leather will eventually lose its original smell.
How To Maintain The Original Smell of Leather
If you’re particularly interested in maintaining or retaining the original smell your leather comes with for as long as possible, here are a few things you can do;
Ensure Proper Storage:
As I mentioned earlier, where you store your leather products matters. If you want to maintain the original smell of leather for as long as possible, store your leather products in a dry and cool place.
Hold off Cleaning Your Leather Goods As Long As Possible:
If you can, keep cleaning your leather products for as long as possible. This is because cleaning leather goods can strip away the natural oils that give leather its smell.
Do Not Use Harsh Chemicals To Clean Your Leather:
If you must clean your leather goods, avoid using harsh chemicals. Instead, use a leather cleaner that is specifically designed for cleaning leather without stripping away the natural oils.
Use A Good Quality Leather Conditioner or Polish On Your Leather Goods:
Also, you do not want to use any leather care product with a strong smell. You want to use a leather conditioner that will mask the natural smell of the leather but rather elevate the smell.
The same goes for using a leather polish on your leather goods. You want to use a high-quality leather polish that will add shine to the leather without changing the smell.
By following these tips, you can help maintain or retain the original smell of your leather
How To Get Rid of Leather Smell
If you’re on the other side of the coin and want to get rid of the leather smell, here are a few things you can do;
- Use A Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
- Use Baking Soda Solution
- Use The Product
- Use White Vinegar Solution To Wipe The Leather
- Wrap The Leather With Brown Paper or Newsprint
All the above can help to remove the leather smell from your leather products. But it’s important to note that once the leather smell is gone, it’s very difficult to bring back.
To learn the details on how to remove the smell of leather, you can check out this comprehensive guide I wrote earlier.