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engine oil smell issue in leather

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Hi folks. I really hope someone on here can help. I bought a leather interior to replace my cloth, and it looked in good condition, bar the driver's seat outer bolster. So left in with trimmer, who did a great job. Fast forward a week later, and after fitting into my car, there's a terrible stench of engine oil. Pulled the base part of the rear seat out, and the foam base was oozing out oil onto my floor, and obviously previous owner had left it lying on an oily floor. Tosser!


Anyways, I have carefully removed the leather skin from the oil soaked foam, but the thin 4mm foam lining on back of leather was also oil stained in 1 small area. I have removed this foam, and haves scrubbed the back surface of the leather with  washing powder, cillit stain remover, fairy liquid, hot soapy water, leather cleaner cream, and spray bleach cleaners. Nothing is removing the smell, and I am scared to use anything stronger, in case I breakdown the leather.


Soooo I'm hoping someone can pass some worldly advice, so I can re-cover my cloth base, to match the rest of the now minty leather. :giveup:

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One of thhe best things for absorbing odours is sodium bicarbonat (Baking Soda). Usually this is sprinkled on fairly liberally, worked into the item gently (maybe with a soft brush) and left overnight. Then vacuum it up. May need a couple of repeats. Has the oil staining come through the leather to the front surface?


I also googled 'How to remove smell of engine oil' and a number of products came up  - including the Dr Beckmann Stain Devils range. They have one for Lubricant & Grease and another for Odour Remover. Also one called StressNoMore professional strength for dried in stains and Odour Destroyer (although I have not heard of this one).


Only other option is to ask an upholsterer or car trimmers for their opinion.

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Answering this on the basis/assumption that this is just the foam that is contaminated . . .

Have you tried using the 'Swarfega' hand cleaner? As this is specifically designed to remove oil/grease from your hands then I would expect it to be OK for the foam.Try a small area first though.

I use it to remove oil/grease from Cotton/Linen fabrics without damage.To get the best use you need to rub /massage the Swarfega into the item then leave it for 2-3 hours to do it's work.Wash out with warm soapy water ( i use the green blocks of household soap for this).

I accept that there is a smell to the Swarfega, however this is removed when washed with the soapy water, just repeat if the odour is still there.

You may have to repeat the process to get all the oil out but it will get it.

Most import thing is to massage the swarfega in and LEAVE IT to work on the oil, if you just wash immediatley it will not work.

Last point to mention is try to avoid getting swarfega on the leather as it will happily remove all the 'good oils/waxes' from the leather.If it gets on the leather just wipe it off asap and apply leather balm etc.

I suggest you only use Swarfega, would avoid the other cheaper/unknown brands.

Hope this helps with the problem



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Thanks folks. Little update. To clarify better, I had removed the leather skin from the seatfoam base, but the leather skin has a thin 4mm foam sewed to back of it, which also had some oil stains, so I carefully cut it away, to leave the bare rough underside of the leather. I sprinkled lots of bicarbonate powder onto it, and left for 6 hours. Not much improvement, so oil must be soaked into the leather. I then mixed some becarbonate with vinegar, and brushed on this foamy residue, then let it dry in. I then scrubbed with warmsoapy water, then added some leather food cream to replace the natural oils. Smell seemed to have gone,so I carefully remounted the leather skin the best I could onto my stripped clean cloth seat foam, and congratulated myself on saving the £240 to recover my cloth seat base. The day after today), I went to work, and my car is smelling of oil again. Oil smell seems to be coming out of the leather itself, and prob noticeable, as the car has no air moving through it, when parked up. 3 of those little neutragenia house air freshner tubs now in, but looks like I'm de-skinning the flaming skin again, to try the suggestions above. Think the lesson here is, if you are buying leather, if the back seat base foam, is not a perfect unstained yellow, don't go near it with a bargepool! :angry:

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