Removing smoke smell from a leather jacket.
December 22, 2003 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I have a nice black leather jacket that has absorbed a bit of smoke smell each time I've gone out downtown, and it doesn't seem to let any of it go. It's gotten pretty stanky. The only advice I'm finding online is to rub baking soda into it, but I'd wonder if it would ever look black again after that. Febreze is not recommended for leather. The jacket is that very soft, pliable glove-leather -- not heavy-duty Harley gear. Anyone have experience with this?
posted by Tubes to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
this is what has worked for me & my leather (which ranges from glove leather to heavy duty boot leather):

--turn garment inside out and spritz the lining with a mixture of 2 parts water to 1 part cheap vodka (you can use expensive vodka, but why?)

--hang out doors for at least 8 hours

--turn right side out and rub with mink oil

for the one leather garment i have that is unlined, i turn it inside out & rub it down with a dryer sheet. then turn it right side out and rub with mink oil
posted by crush-onastick at 2:30 PM on December 22, 2003

The cheap vodka thing may sound crazy but it really works. When my roommate was an intern at Portland Stage Company they used it to "freshen" the costumes -- got rid of all kinds of nasty, stanky smells.
posted by anastasiav at 3:03 PM on December 22, 2003

Response by poster: Vodka, you say. Hmm. I'm imagining the laughter when I report back later that my jacket dissolved...
posted by Tubes at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2003

i have a suede jacket that was like that, i ran it in the dryer on 'fluff dry' (no heat) for umpteen hours, occasionally putting it on 'slightly warm' for a few minutes while paying extreme attention to it, and occasionally spraying some random de-stink spray in there. worked good for me.
posted by duckstab at 3:41 PM on December 22, 2003

Get some ExStink and be done with it. I've tried quite a few odor removal products (hey, I've got cats and kids!) but this one actually WORKS. There's a testimonial on the site from the L.A. Coroner's Office about this stuff removing the stench of decomposition, and I believe it unquestioningly. Baking soda is a joke in comparison.
posted by majick at 4:04 PM on December 22, 2003 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, sounds like amazing stuff. I have vodka handy, so I may try that first, but it's nice to know ExStink exists.
posted by Tubes at 4:38 PM on December 22, 2003

This is a bit of a tangent, but cheap vodka is also really good for cleaning scratched and smudged CDs.
posted by nath at 6:16 PM on December 22, 2003

Cheap vodka is a very bad idea for CDs. There's water content in vodka, and the plastic used in CDs is water-permeable.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2003

vodka: is there anything it can't do?
posted by joedan at 1:57 AM on December 23, 2003

Once we put a new kind of 'minkoil' on our horses leather items, and they hated the smell of it. The only thing we could do was hang the items around a giant bowl of milk in the barn overnight. We never noticed the difference, but milk does absorb smell. The horses no longer jumped away when we came with their saddles etc, so it worked for their sensitive sense of smell.
posted by dabitch at 6:09 AM on December 23, 2003

i've never had vodka dissolve anything and i've used it full-strength to clean very delicate very old fabrics. there are various schools of thought as to what the ratio should be. if 1 (vodka):2 (water) doesn't work, try half-half.

i would think the baking soda would work fine, without discoloring the leather, assuming that the leather had been well treated and didn't have any oils on it, which is a big assumption.

you can spritz down the leather side of the leather. most treated leather goods don't water spot easily, so if you spritz and wipe dry with reasonable dispatch, you shouldn't have a problem. however you can't always tell if something is going to water spot until it's too late. so, personally, i only spritz the lining.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:38 AM on December 23, 2003

On a related note, is there something to spray on the coat in the first place to prevent absorption of smoke, etc? Or am I missing the point of the mink oil?
posted by yoga at 2:20 PM on December 23, 2003

no, not really. leather "breathes" and if you clog it up with something that will prevent the absorption of odors, it's just going to get dry, crack and be ruined quickly.

[mink oil helps keep leather supple (it can also darken leather). i have never actually noticed a smoke smell in my leather--all my de-stinking has been people odor.

leather goods should be reconditioned about every 6-9 months; i use mink oil, but there are other options. i always recondition my leather when it gets wet (after it has dried, of course). (wet leather--dry leather, too--shouldn't ever be put in the dryer) i recently retired my oldest piece of leather: a cheap trench coat my father bought in turkey during The War, over thirty years ago. it finally started cracking a couple of years ago.

stormy leather has good basic leather care instructions.]
posted by crush-onastick at 8:26 PM on December 23, 2003

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