Why Does Leather Sometimes Smell Like Poop? (6 Ways & Fix)

Why Does Leather Smell Like Poop

Do you sometimes have a poop smell on your leather items and wondered if it’s just in your head and only to have the smell over and over again? In today’s article, I’m going to share with you the reasons why leather sometimes smells like poop and how to remove the smell.

Leather, especially, full-grained vegetable tanned leather will smell like poop when it’s mildewed, poorly dyed, or got wet and was not properly dried. In other instances, leather would smell like poop if the leather has come into contact with extreme heat or burned.

I hope this makes you feel better knowing that it is not actual poop causing the smell. As you can see there are many reasons why your leather may smell like poop.

So in the rest of this article, I’m going to share with you a couple more reasons why leather could smell like poop and how to get rid of the awful smell.

1. Damp Leather Will Smell Like Poop

One of the main reasons why leather will smell like poop is because it’s damp. As I mentioned above, when you get a piece of wet leather and don’t dry it properly then your leather goods can develop that familiar poopy odor.

Leather is a porous material that can easily absorb moisture which can damage your leather. Also, leather is made up of natural fibers that trap moisture which can create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus-smelling mildew.

What happens is these microorganisms will feast on the moisture and release an awful smell that is similar to poop. And without proper care, your damp leather goods may smell like poop.

If you’re trying to identify if your leather has a moisture problem, there are a few things you can look for;

  • If the leather is sticky to the touch
  • The leather feels cold and clammy
  • There are water droplets on the surface of the leather
  • The leather is growing mold

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to take some action and fix the moisture issue.


Fortunately, fixing this poop smell resulting from the leather being damp or wet can be done relatively easily. Here are some things you can do to solve this issue:

  • Let it air-dry in a cool dark place if the leather was wet.
  • Make sure not to dry the leather in direct sunlight.
  • Also, do not use a hair-dryer, radiator, or any other type of heat source to dry your leather.
  • You can try using a special spray called Leather CPR which is specifically made to rejuvenate leather.
  • Also, you can re-hydrate your leather by applying a small amount of Neatsfoot Oil or Mink Oil on the surface.

2. Leather That Got Burned Can Smell Like Poop

Do you have a leather bag that got burned in an accident? Or maybe your child decided to play fireman by spraying his or her new lighter at the side of their favorite leather jacket.

You can do a very simple experiment on your skin. Rub your palm against your arm and then smell it. The friction you generate with your palm over your arm will release unpleasant smells like poop.

Since leather is just like our skin, the least amount of heat, burn, or scorch can cause your leather to smell like poop.

This can be from unnecessarily ironing your leather, leather that has been decorated using pyrography, leather that has been dried using a hairdryer, or if you have a leather item that was too close to an open flame, etc.

If your leather has been burned, there are some things you can do to try and remove the smell. But, if the leather is severely damaged then you may need to discard it.


If your leather item got burned or scorched, you can try the following remedies to help get rid of the resulting poop smell:

  • Spray it with a leather cleaner or conditioner.
  • You can also try using a vinegar and water solution (50/50 mix). Soak a cloth in the mixture and apply it to the leather.
  • Another remedy is to use a baking soda and water solution (50/50 mix). Soak a cloth in the mixture and apply it to the leather.
  • One solution that I see particularly helpful in this kind of instance is to put the leather item to heavy use. Wear or use the leather item as frequently as possible and the burned smell will eventually fade away.

3. Accumulated Body Oils Can Cause Poop Smell On Leather

If you don’t clean your leather on a regular basis, it can accumulate body oils and sweat. And over time, this will create an unpleasant smell that is similar to poop.

Just like our skin, the pores of the leather will absorb the sweat and oil and it will start to decompose. This process will release a smelly gas that will make your leather smell like poop.

We all know how sweats can smell, so if you don’t clean your leather on a regular basis then the smell will only get worse over time.

Not to mention, it’s not healthy for your leather to be constantly exposed to sweat and oils.

To clean the leather, you can use a damp cloth to wipe down the surface. If there is any build-up of oils or sweat, you can also use a mild soap or detergent to help remove it.

Be sure to rinse off the soap and dry the leather completely before using it again. Also, make sure to clean your leather well once a month to avoid this issue.


  • As stated earlier, if you suspect the poop smell on your leather is from sweat and having body oil buildup, then you would want to clean your leather.
  • First, you will want to wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt that may be on it.
  • You can also use a mild soap if there is a heavy build-up of oils and sweat. Once clean, dry off the leather completely before using it again.

4. Using Too Many Chemical Cleaners Causes Leather To Smell Like Poop

If you’re trying to clean your leather with too many chemical cleaners, then this can also cause it to smell like poop.

Some chemical cleaners are too strong for leather and will eat away at the fibers which can cause them to eventually fall apart.

Cleaners with high pH levels or very low pH levels that are also used too frequently can also damage the fibers of your leather and cause it to smell like poop.

If you’re trying to clean your leather with a chemical cleaner, make sure that they are specifically designed for cleaning leather or is pH neutral so it won’t damage the fibers.

Remember, you don’t need a special cleaner every time you want to wipe down your leather items.

Mild dish soap and clean or distilled water would work great especially if you clean, rinse, dry, and conditioner properly.


  • Do not overthink the process of selecting leather car products.
  • A simple, effective way to clean and prevent odor build-up on leather is to mix one part white vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle.
  • Shake before use and mist the area lightly. Wipe off with a soft cloth and let it air dry.
  • If you have some cash to spare and you’re are looking for an all-natural alternative, saddle soap is a great investment for your leather goods. It is also used on boots, shoes, and other leather items.
  • All you do is apply the soap with a damp cloth in a circular motion until the suds disappear. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and let it air dry.

5. Leather With Mildew, Mold, Or Bacteria Will Smell Like Poop

When leather gets wet, it will retain that moisture and not dry out. And if the leather is unable to breathe from being covered in dirt or debris then mildew, mold, bacteria can start to grow on the surface of your leather.

This buildup of microbes within the pores of your leather can cause your leather items to sometimes smell like poop. Apart from the foul smell, excessive moisture can also cause the leather to rot and fall apart.

In addition to that, mold and mildew can seriously damage the leather surface and create an environment where bacteria can thrive.

If you’re noticing that your leather smells like poop, it’s possible that it has mildew, mold, or bacteria on the surface.

To get rid of this smell, you will need to clean and dry the leather properly. Be sure to remove all traces of mildew, mold, and bacteria and allow them to properly dry.

You can check out an article I wrote earlier on how to clean and remove mildew, mold, and bacteria from leather.

6. Poorly Dyed Leather Could Leave A Pretty Bad Poop Smell

Last but definitely not least, dyes can be one of the major causes behind your leather smelling like poop.

If the dye was not properly formulated or mixed, it can cause a chemical reaction and produce some rather unpleasant smells.

Colors may also bleed onto each other which will leave spots that look dirty or rusted looking in appearance.

In addition to this, poorly dyed leather has been known to smell almost exactly like poop.

If you’re experiencing a horrific smell of poop emanating from your leather, it’s possible that the dye is to blame.

Homemade dyes consisting of natural ingredients are more likely to cause this problem than commercial dyes.

Dyes such as vinegaroon, iron, copper sulfate, and potassium permanganate can cause your leather to smell like poop.

If you’re using a homemade dye, it’s best to test it out on a small piece of leather before applying it to the entire surface.

This will help you determine if the dye could cause the smell and whether or not you need to adjust the recipe.


  • If you’ve determined that the dye is causing your leather to smell like poop, the easiest solution is to air it out often.
  • Another thing you can do is to make a mixture of a tablespoon of baking soda, vinegar, and your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle and spritz the item lightly. Wipe off with a clean cloth and let it air dry.
  • You can also try to re-dye the leather using a different color. Just be sure that you select the right dye and test it out on a small piece of leather before applying it to the entire surface.

Final Thoughts

So, these are six of the most common reasons why leather sometimes smells like poop.

As you can see, there are many different things that you can do to help prevent this from happening.

Be sure to clean and condition your leather on a regular basis and avoid using too many chemical cleaners or dyes and your leather will continue to have that rich luxurious smell that you would want in any natural leather product.

Hopefully, this article has helped you in some way, shape, or form. If it did, feel free to share this with your friends and family members that are looking for information on this topic.

You can also browse my site for more helpful tips and advice on leather care. Thanks for reading!


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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