How to Get a Musty Smell Out of a Leather Jacket

A leather jacket is a classic investment in any wardrobe, worth shelling out for and maintaining throughout the years. Unfortunately, some of that upkeep may include dealing with unpleasant odors that have settled into your jacket, and are all the more difficult to eliminate from dense leather material. If your jacket has absorbed a musty smell, take a look at the instructions below to get rid of the odor and restore the garment to its former glory.

Things You'll Need

  • Damp cloth

  • Gentle moisturizing soap

  • White vinegar

Step 1

Take a damp washcloth and pour a small quantity of a mild moisturizing cleanser onto it. Rub the cloth together to create a bit of a lather.

Step 2

Apply the cloth to the jacket, making sure not to let too much water get absorbed by the leather.

Step 3

Wipe away any soapy residue with a new dampened washcloth, but do not rinse. Lightly polish the jacket's exterior with a dry cloth. Let it dry.

Step 4

Apply a leather conditioner or some type of waxy polish to the dry leather to protect the surface.

Step 5

Determine if the musty smell remains after one to two days. There could be a mildew problem. If this seems to be the case, rub a cloth dampened by white vinegar all over the leather of the jacket.

Step 6

Hang your jacket in a dry area where it can air out for a day or so, preferably away from the sun to prevent possible cracking. If you're hanging it to dry outside, bring the jacket inside at night.

Step 7

Take the jacket to a dry cleaner's. Professionals are equipped to handle the jacket with care while eliminating just about any type of odor.


Some leather jacket owners advise using Febreeze or laundry fabric softeners on the interior of the garment to help get rid of an unpleasant odor.


Do not use white vinegar to clean a suede or nubuck jacket, as it can damage these types of leather.