7 Ways Smoke Affects Leather (How To Remove & Prevent It)

does smoke affect leather

Do you enjoy your cigarettes but love your leather upholstery and wondering if the smoke can affect it? You are not alone. Many people enjoy smoking but do not want their leather furniture to suffer the consequences. So in today’s article, we are going to explore the effects of smoking on leather.

To answer our question of the day briefly, Leather is a natural material that is porous. This means that it can absorb liquids and smells easily and smoke is no exception.

Smoke affects your leather by softening it and turning it dark. Over time of smoking in a car or home with leather furniture will cause irreversible damage to the color and texture of the leather material.

Stick around if you would want to learn the details on how smoke affects leather items. I will also share some tips on how to protect your leather items from smoke and how to remove smoke smells from your leather goods. Finally, I will answer some related questions as far as smoke and leather are concerned.

Details On How Smoke Affects Leather

The answer to this question is a little complicated, as there are many factors that come into play. So now let’s take a detailed look at how leather is affected by smoke.

1. Constant Smoke Can Darken Leather Over Time

The smoke from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes can cause your leather furniture to become darker over time. The longer they are exposed to smoke, the darker they will get.

The is because smoke contains soot that can attach to the leather and make it look dirty and darker than its original color.

When this happens, your once beautiful leather sofa, chair, or seat cover will look darker and dirtier than it was before the smoke contact.

You can avoid this from happening by using a few simple steps that I will discuss in the next section.

2. Smoke Can Discolor Leather

Not only does smoke darken leather, as discussed earlier but it can also change the color of the leather.

The way this happens is that the nicotine in the smoke will cause the leather to become brittle over time and it will also turn it into a yellowish-brown color.

I bet you might have noticed this before on smokers’ furniture. The yellowish-brown hue is a common side effect of smoking and it can also happen to your leather items over time if you are not careful.

The good news is that this discoloration is usually only surface level, so if you catch it early, then you might be able to restore the color of the leather with a leather cleaning product.

3. Smoke Can Make Leather Smell Bad And Affect Your Health

In addition to the discoloration, your leather items can also start smelling bad because of smoke.

Smoke smell will stick on the surface of your upholstery and increase over time if not treated immediately.

If you have ever walked into a smoker’s house or car then this will not surprise you at all.

This is one of the reasons why most people do not like smoking in their homes or cars because of the pervasive smell that it leaves behind porous surfaces like leather.

The smoke will make your leather items smell bad and this is not only unappealing but can also be dangerous to your health or that of a loved one.

This is especially true if you, your kids, or anyone close by is allergic to smoke.

So it is a good idea to look into getting products that can combat smoke smells from your leather items as soon as possible before the smell worsens and becomes permanent.

In addition, you should also avoid smoking in cars or homes with leather furniture because this exacerbates the problem by making the bad smell stronger over time.

4. Soot In Smoke Can Cause Leather To Lose Its Shine

The soot in smoke is not just responsible for making your furniture darker or discolored. Smoke can also affect the beautiful shine on your leather goods.

The particles in the smoke will attach to the leather and over time it will start to lose its natural shine.

This is because the soot coats the surface of the leather and prevents light from reflecting off of it in a pleasing way.

So not only does your furniture become darker but it also becomes less shiny over time because of contact with the cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke.

5. Smoke Can Also Make Leather Sticky

Not only does smoke change the color and shine of your leather items but it can also make them sticky.

The soot in smoke will adhere to the surface of your leather furniture and makes it feel grimey and dirty because this is basically what soot is – dirt that causes discoloration on your leather.

It is especially important that you avoid smoking in your car because the soot will get on all of the surfaces and this can then cause sticky build-up over time if not properly cleaned.

This includes leather, plastic, metal parts, etc of the leather item whether it is a car seat, couch, jacket, or bag… So it is really best to keep smoke away from anything leather unless, of course, you would want to give your leather items some character.

6. Smoke Can Soften Your Leather

Another way smoke affects leather is that it can also soften the leather of your furniture or other accessories.

This is because leather items that have had constant smoke exposure on them will start to lose their firmness over time.

The leather will become softer and this can be problematic because it decreases the lifespan of your item, especially if you are using them on a daily basis like with car seats or furniture in homes that are used every day by different people.

This softening effect makes these items less durable which is why it is important to take care of leather items that have been exposed to smoke.

This is especially true on items like jackets and coats because they are close to the skin and it will make them more prone to wear and tear.

7. Smoke Can Cause Leather to Dry And Crack

Finally, smoke can also cause leather to dry and crack. The chemicals in a cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke will start to break down the natural fibers in leather over time.

This will cause the leather to become brittle and it will eventually dry out and crack as a result.

The cracks can then harbor bacteria such as mold and mildew and this can lead to even more damage to your leather items.

It is important to keep an eye on leather furniture, car seats, and other leather accessories that have been exposed to smoke because if they start to show any of the signs of damage mentioned in this article, then you will need to take action and get them repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Why Does Smoke Affect Leather?

One of the main reasons why smoke is able to affect leather in such a big way is because of how leather is porous and the way it is able to absorb anything it comes into contact with.

This means that the leather is more susceptible to absorbing different chemicals and toxins, including smoke particles from cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke.

Smoke has a lot of chemicals and carcinogens in it that are responsible for the bad smells, discoloration, changes to shine, stickiness, softening properties, and damage from breaking down natural fibers.

This is because these harmful substances start off as gasses but then they become particles once they come into contact with the oxygen in the air and this is what causes them to be so easy to attach onto surfaces like leather and affect them in a pretty big way.

These particles cause a reaction with your leather items because they have a similar molecular structure as other organic materials like wood, metal, or plastic that is also commonly found on leather furniture or car seats for example.

This means that it’s not just the smoke itself that is harmful to leather, but all of the chemicals that are in the smoke as well.

So it is best to avoid smoking around anything leather if you want to keep them looking and feeling their best for as long as possible.

How to Protect Your Leather From Smoke Damage

Now that you know all of the ways that smoke can affect your leather, it is time to learn how to protect them from these dangers.

Avoid Smoke Near Leather Items

The best way to protect your leather furniture and other accessories from smoke damage is to simply avoid smoking near them.

This means keeping cigarettes, cigars, and pipes away from these leather items and not allowing anyone to smoke in the same room as your leather furniture or car seats for example.

If you are a smoker, then it is best to smoke in an area that has plenty of ventilation like outside or next to a window.

If you are having visitors who need somewhere to smoke, then provide them with their own designated smoking room where they can avoid damaging your leather items while still enjoying themselves.

Clean And Conditioner Your Leather Frequently

Another way to protect your leather from smoke damage is to make sure it gets cleaned and conditioned as often as possible.

It is important that you use a professional cleaning service or products on your leather items because these professionals know how to clean and condition them without damaging the surface of the material like other household cleaners can do if they are not used properly or in the wrong way.

Leather conditioners are also a good way to protect your leather from smoke damage as they will help to replace any of the natural oils that have been lost over time and this will keep the leather soft, hydrated, and looking its best.

Cleaning and conditioning your leather surface timely also helps to prevent soot buildup on your leather, which can be a real pain to remove if it is not taken care of right away.

How To Remove Smoke From Leather Items

As far as removing smoke smell from leather is concerned, there are several ways that you can go about doing this.

Some of them are better than others and some people recommend one method over the other, but what is most important is that you find a method that works for you and stick with it.

Here are some of the most effective ways to remove smoke odors from leather items:

Steam Cleaner

This is one of the most effective methods for removing the smoke smell and any associated stains or damage from leather.

All it uses is a little bit of water and it can be used on all types of leather, from furniture to car seats.

It is also a good way to sanitize your leather items as it kills any bacteria or fungus that may be present on the surface.

The only downside to using a steam cleaner is that it can be a little bit harsh on leather and can cause some slight damage or discoloration if it is not used correctly.

If you do decide to go with this method, then make sure to test it out on a small, inconspicuous area of your leather item first to ensure that there is no adverse reaction.

Baking Soda

Fill a jar or container with baking soda and place your leather item inside of it – for smaller leather items.

Then, seal the container tightly by placing its lid on top and let this sit for about 24 hours to absorb all of the smoke smell from within them.

Once this time has passed, remove your leather items from the jar/container and vacuum away all of the baking soda.

If you have larger leather items to cleanse, you can sprinkle baking soda over the surface of them and let this sit for 24 hours before vacuuming it up.

White Vinegar

Another way to remove smoke smell from leather is by using white vinegar. Pour some white vinegar into a spray bottle and then spritz it onto the surface of the leather item.

Let this sit for about 15-20 minutes and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.

The vinegar smell will dissipate once it has dried and your leather item will be free from any smoke smells.

Rubbing Alcohol

If you have a small leather item that needs to be cleaned and rid of smoke smell, you can use a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to do this.

Mix the two together in equal parts and then spray it onto the surface of the leather.

Make sure to test this solution out on a small area first as some types of leather may react negatively to the alcohol.

Once it has been applied, let it sit for about 15-20 minutes and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Make sure to condition your leather immediately after using this method to prevent the leather from drying out and further damage.

Dish Soap And Warm Water

One of the easiest and simplest ways to remove smoke smell from leather items is by using dish soap and warm water.

Just mix these two together in a bowl, apply them with a damp cloth, allow it to sit for about 3-5 minutes, and then wipe away any excess moisture.

It is also important to condition your leather items following this method to prevent them from drying out.

Activated Charcoal

If you’re looking for a more natural way to remove smoke smell from leather, activated charcoal may be the answer.

Just place some activated charcoal (you can purchase this from most pet stores) into a container and then place it near your leather items.

After about 24 hours have passed, the activated charcoal will have absorbed all of the smoke smell and you can vacuum it away.

Make sure to keep an eye on your activated charcoal as it may need to be replaced every few days if there is a lot of smoke smell present.

The challenge with this method is that it can take a long time before the smoke smell is fully absorbed.

Coffee Grounds or Kitty Litter

Similar to using activated charcoal, coffee grounds can also help to absorb the smoke smell from leather items.

Just place some freshly ground coffee in a bowl and leave it near your leather and allow it to sit for 24 hours.

The coffee grounds will work to neutralize the smoke smell and after this time has passed, you can vacuum them up.

Just like with activated charcoal, it is important to keep an eye on the coffee grounds as they may need to be replaced every few days.

Leather Cleaner And Conditioner

Personally, I prefer to use a leather cleaner and conditioner to remove any type of smell and dirt from my leather items.

If you’re looking for a more all-inclusive way to remove smoke smell from leather, using a leather cleaner and conditioner is your best bet.

This will not only cleanse the surface of any dirt or smoke residue but will also condition the leather to prevent it from drying out and cracking.

Make sure that you look for a cleaner and conditioner that is specifically designed for your type of leather as some cleaners may actually strip away its natural oils, causing further damage over time.

Make sure to also follow the application instructions on the leather cleaner and conditioner that you purchase to ensure that it works best for your leather items.

Final Thoughts

Smoking has a detrimental effect on anything it comes into contact with especially when it is in direct contact.

Smoke is bad for leather because of many different reasons but mainly because smoke darkens, discolor, makes items sticky, and loses their texture over time.

If you are a smoker, it is important to take steps to protect your leather furniture and items from smoke.

This can be done by using a commercial product or homemade remedy like white vinegar. In addition, try to avoid smoking in areas where there are leather items present as this will only make the problem worse over time.


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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