If you’ve just bought a new car, congratulations! But if you’re like many people, the new car leather smell is a bit overwhelming.
In this article, I will discuss how to remove that smell and make your car feel more like home. There are a variety of methods that you can try, so read on to find the one that works best for you. But first, let’s understand what causes that new car smell.
The Causes of the New Car Leather Smell
There are a few different things that can cause that new car leather smell. Below are a few common culprits:
Type Of Leather Used:
There are two main types of leather materials used for car seats, and if we’re talking about a new car here, I’m sure you already know what leather material is used for your brand-new car.
Essentially, there is the faux or synthetic leather car seat side and the real, natural leather seat side of things.
Faux or synthetic leather is made from a plastic base and then has a coating of polyurethane or PVC to give it a look and feel of real leather. It’s cheaper than natural leather and doesn’t require as much maintenance.
The smell of this type of leather car seat, when new, is a strong chemical plastic-y smell that can be quite overwhelming.
Natural leather, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like – it’s made from animal skin that has been tanned and treated.
It’s more expensive than faux leather and does require more maintenance, but many people believe it’s worth it for the comfort and luxury it provides.
The type of smell that new car leather seats come with is often described as a ‘leathery’ smell. It’s not as strong as the faux leather smell, but it can still be quite overwhelming for some people.
So yea, the smell will generally come from the type of leather material used for the car seats.
The Manufacturing Process:
Another thing that can cause that new car smell is the way the leather was treated during the manufacturing process.
Many companies use a variety of chemicals and treatments to make the leather look and feel a certain way.
These chemicals can sometimes seep into the leather and cause that new car smell. There are different treatments given to different leather car seat materials. One of the most common treatments is the tanning method used.
Wait a second, not the tanning you’re thinking about. There is a process of tanning leather that has to do with treating animal skins so that they can be used for clothing, upholstery, and other purposes.
You guessed right, tanning is only done when producing natural or real leather. The tanning process turns the raw animal skins into a material that will not decay or decompose.
This process usually uses chromium salts (commonly known as chrome tanning) or plant extracts (vegetable tanning) which can cause that new car smell. And yes, there are different methods of tanning leather.
This means that the type of smell you would have on your new car leather seats will be determined by the tanning method used.
So while animal skins tanned with vegetable-tanned leather will have a more natural smell, those tanned with chromium will have a more pungent chemical smell.
Dyes and Colorants Used:
Whether you got real leather car seats or faux leather car seats, the dyes and colorants used can also be a cause of that new car smell.
This is because the chemicals used to make the leather look and feel a certain way can often be quite strong. For faux or synthetic leather seats, the colorants often used are chemical based.
When it comes to real leather seats, you’re looking at organic and sometimes chemical-based dyes and colorants. These are used to give the leather seats their unique color and grain pattern.
Glues and Adhesives:
The glues and adhesives used to put the leather seats together can also cause that new car smell.
This is because these glues and adhesives are often made with chemicals that can be quite strong.
The most common type of adhesive used is polyurethane. This is a strong and durable adhesive that is often used in the automotive industry.
So, when you first sit in your new car, you might notice a slight adhesive smell coming from the leather seats.
While this smell can be strong on new leather car seats, it tends to fade away as the leather seats are used more and more.
Cleaners, Conditioners, Polishes, And Finishes Used:
Last but not least, the cleaners, conditioners, polishes, and finishes used on leather car seats can also cause that new car smell.
Usually, the main culprits are the water and stain-resistant finishes that are sprayed on during the manufacturing process.
These finishes or treatments can linger on the leather adding up to the smell of your new leather interior.
How to Remove the New Car Leather Smell
Now that we’ve gotten to the bottom of how the new car smell originates, it’s time to talk about how to remove it.
Because I love to DIY, I have decided to categorize the remedies into homemade solutions (if you’re like me) and commercial solutions if you want something more powerful or if you’re short on time.
Homemade Solutions for Removing the New Car Leather Smell
These methods include everyday items around your home and require little to no time or money. Let’s get into it!
1. Airing Out
I usually say that when it comes to DIYs, you always want to start with the simple and basic solutions because they are usually the most effective.
The same goes for removing the new car smell from your leather seats. The simplest and most obvious solution is just to let it air out.
Leather is a material that needs to breathe, so by cracking open the windows and doors (in a safe place) and letting some fresh air circulate, you will start to notice a difference.
Just like that, the new car smell should start to dissipate on its own without physically doing anything to your new car’s leather interior.
Of course, this solution takes some time and patience, but it is by far the safest method. If you’re in a hurry, however, feel free to try one of the other solutions below.
2. Using Baking Soda
Another non-evasive yet effective way to remove the new car smell from your leather seats and interior is by using baking soda.
Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and will help to absorb any unwanted smells. Baking soda is also effective at removing smells because it is a base, which means it can neutralize acidic odors. To use this method;
- Fill up a box or plate with some baking soda and sit the plate or box inside your car.
- You can also put the baking soda directly on a seat or another surface if you want to target a specific area.
- Leave the baking soda inside your car overnight, and in the morning, vacuum it up using the hose attachment.
- If there is any residue left behind, simply wipe it away with a damp cloth.
- Replace the baking soda on the plate or box and repeat the process until the new car smell is gone.
- You should start to see results after the first night, but for a more potent solution, you can leave the baking soda inside your car for up to two weeks.
You may have to repeat this process a few times to remove the new car smell but trust me completely worth it!
Baking soda is one of the most versatile and inexpensive solutions for removing the new car smell from your leather seats.
Plus, it’s all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals or residues being left behind.
3. Using Charcoal
You may not think of charcoal as a go-to solution for removing the new car smell from your leather seats, but it is surprisingly effective.
Charcoal is great at absorbing odors and can help to remove the new car smell quickly. For this method, you will need some activated charcoal (which you can find at your local hardware store) and a container.
- Fill up the container with activated charcoal and place it inside your car.
- Make sure the container is perforated on the sides.
- Leave the container inside your car for 24 to 48 hours. You should start to see results after the first day, but for a more potent solution, you can leave the charcoal inside your car for up to two weeks
- After 24 to 48 hours have passed, remove the container of charcoal from your car and discard the charcoal.
- You may have to repeat this process a few times to remove the new car smell but trust me completely worth it!
4. Use Sunlight
You can absolutely use sunlight to remove that new car leather smell. The sun’s UV rays are great for killing germs and bacteria, and they can also help to remove smells.
Compared to airing out the new car smell, this method is a lot faster, and you don’t have to wait as long for the results. All you need is a good sunny spot, and you’re good to go. To use this method;
- Find a sunny spot and park your car there for a few hours.
- Make sure the spot is safe and that your brand new car won’t be broken into.
- Roll down the window slightly.
- Not enough for your hand to fit through the opening, though.
- Let the car sit in the sun for a few hours, and that’s it!
- You can do this once or twice until the new car smell is completely gone.
This method is also excellent if you want to remove any musty smells from your car as well. And like I said before, it doesn’t take nearly as long as airing out the car to work.
Just be mindful of the sun’s heat and how it might affect your car’s interior and electronics.
5. Using Vinegar And Water Solution
Vinegar is such a powerful cleaning agent and does an amazing job at removing new car leather smell and any type of smell for that matter.
Vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps to break down and remove smells. The best type of vinegar for this type of cleaning is distilled white vinegar, and here’s what it involves;
- Mix equal parts of lukewarm water and vinegar in a spray bottle.
- I like to use a one-to-one ratio but feel free to adjust it according to how much area you need to cover.
- Now, Spray the mixture on the leather seats and let it sit for a few minutes to work its magic.
- After a few minutes have passed, take a damp cloth or microfiber towel and wipe down the area.
- You might need to do this a couple of times to remove the new car’s leather smell completely.
If you don’t have any distilled white vinegar on hand, you can also use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
Just note that apple cider vinegar is a bit more potent, so you might want to dilute it with more water.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while this method is effective, it might also dry out your leather seats, so make sure to condition them afterward, especially if you have real leather seats or an interior.
Conditioning leather car seats is important anyway, but it’s something you should definitely do after using vinegar to remove the new car smell.
Commercial Solutions for Removing the New Car Leather Smell
If you don’t have the time or patience to try any of the methods I’ve mentioned above, then you can also buy a commercial solution to help remove the new car smell.
There are tons of different brands and products out there that are designed specifically for this purpose. Some of my favorites include;
1. Use Air Freshener
A quick and easy way to remove the new car leather smell is to use an air freshener. You can buy these pretty much anywhere, and they come in all sorts of different scents.
All you need to do is to hang it on the rearview mirror or somewhere else in the car, and it’ll do its job. Just be sure to get one that’s specifically designed for cars.
There are also air fresheners that you can plug into the cigarette lighter socket, which is a nice touch if you don’t want anything hanging from the mirror.
Just be careful not to get one of those cheap air fresheners because they can actually make the smell worse, and they’re not good for your health either.
My go-to air freshener is Air Jungles New Car Scent Car Air Freshener, and it does an excellent job at removing the new car smell quickly.
2. Use A Leather Cleaner And Conditioner
Another way to remove the new car smell from your leather seats is to use a cleaner and conditioner. This is a two-in-one product that will clean the seats and condition them at the same time.
I like to use this method because it’s quick and easy, and it also doesn’t require any special equipment. With this method, there’s simply no guesswork as these products are specially formulated for car interiors.
My favorite leather cleaner and conditioner is Meguiar’s Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner & Conditioner.
This stuff does an amazing job at removing the new car smell, and it leaves your leather seats looking and feeling great.
Just be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle, and don’t use too much because you don’t want to leave a greasy residue on the seats.