How to Remove Cigarette Smell from Leather


Jorja asked: How do I get rid of cigarette smoke smell from a leather purse? My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful, old leather purse. She is a heavy smoker, and the purse smells like smoke. Is there any way I can get rid of that smell?

Removing smoke smells from a leather piece can be a little time consuming, but the efforts will yield results. There are several different methods that can be used to remove the odor. Try one or try them all until your piece is smelling fresh again.

You Will Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Dried coffee grounds
  • Dryer sheets
  • Leather conditioner
  • Soft cloths

Methods to Remove the Smoke Smell:

  1. Mix one part vinegar with one part water. Rub the mixture onto the surface with a soft cloth. Do not saturate the leather. Allow to dry. Repeat until the odor is gone.
  2. Mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water. Use a soft cloth to apply the mixture to the surface of the purse. Allow to dry in between applications. Repeat as necessary.
  3. Dryer sheets have been used to successfully absorb odors. Place several sheets inside of the bag and allow it to set for a few days. Or, place a couple of dryer sheets inside of the bag, and fluff in the dryer (no heat) for a few minutes.
  4. Fill an old nylon stocking with fresh, dry coffee grounds (straight from the can). Place this inside of the purse and allow it to set until the odor is gone. Coffee grounds absorb odors quickly and effectively.
  5. Another option is to fill the bag with dryer sheets and hang it outside in the fresh air for as long as possible.
  6. Place an opened box of baking soda into the bag. Remove the top layer of baking soda each day so that fresh, odor-absorbing powder is exposed. Continue until the odor is gone.

After the Odor is Gone:

  1. Once the odor is removed, it is time to condition the leather to keep it from drying out and becoming damaged.
  2. Allow the piece to dry so any products that were used can evaporate. If there is residue, rinse it off with a mild soap and water.
  3. Next, apply a leather conditioner following the instructions on the manufacturer’s package.
  4. Rub milk onto the surface and rub with a clean, soft cloth to polish.

Additional Tips and Ideas:

  • If the odor in the bag is excessively strong, be prepared to repeat these methods several times. As long as there is improvement, it’s working and should be repeated.
  • Vinegar, baking soda, dryer sheets and coffee grounds can also be used to treat suede products. No leather conditioner is needed. There are suede cleaning products available that can be used as well. Brush the suede after cleaning to restore the texture.


  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the info!

  2. Iceni says:

    Hi; thanks for the info. I too just got a leather purse from a neighbor who is a heavy smoker. So, I will try what you say.
    One question: Wouldn’t the milk go rancid and smell in the leather?

  3. Alice says:

    I got a beautiful purse, but it gives me an asthma attack if I go near it. I will try this. Thank you. I have used saddle soap for two days and Febreze; there still faintly.

  4. Austin says:

    I know this is going to sound dumb, but we use Scope to freshen our breath so…? I got a leather case for my Galaxy Note 4; I got it from someone who obviously smoked five packs a day. It was so bad, but I just put Scope on a cloth wiped it on the case, let it sit a minute, and then wiped away almost all the smell in one shot. Repeat 2 to 3 times and it should be gone.

  5. Nina says:

    I bought a nice purse at ebay, but the smoke smell was gruesome (!). I first washed the bag with saddle soap a couple of times, then with leather cleaner (meant for leather sofas) a lot of times. Then I conditioned the bag several times with conditioner (also meant for leather sofas), and finally I put a lot of paper (newspapers, as a matter of fact) inside. And voila: The smell is gone!

  6. Garry says:

    None of the above worked for me.

    But I succeeded. What I did: I heated up the article (in my case, a pair of lederhosen.) The idea is to make the tobacco oils vaporize themselves again and depart.

    To do this, I put the pants into the oven at the lowest setting (150 degrees) for about an hour and a half. I opened the oven several times along the way to let the newly-evaporated tars and oils escape. At the end, it worked really well. About 95% of the tobacco was gone. And there was no detectable “drying out” effect on the natural oils in the leather at all. If there had been, I would have just applied leather conditioner that I already owned.

    I’m posting in the hope that this will help someone.

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