Can You Use A Steamer On Leather Items? The Good, Bad, & Ugly


You may have experienced or heard that a steamer is an excellent way to clean and freshen up your clothes. But can you use a steamer on leather items? In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of using a steamer on leather goods.

So can you use steamer on leather? You can use a steamer filled with distilled water and a temperature setting between 120 -140 degrees Fahrenheit (49-60 Celsius) to kill off any allergen, viruses, pesky dust mites, etc, inside the pores of your leather. Using a steamer on your leather is an excellent way to provide ventilation by opening up the leather pores so the leather breathes better.

To learn more about the pros and cons of using a steamer on your leather items, keep reading this article.

What Is A Steamer?

Well, it’s the same steamer you know. The very thing you were planning to use on your leather items just before you came on google. The same thing that came to your mind when you saw this article.

Not to sound captain obvious here, let me reiterate what a steamer is very briefly.

A steamer is a device that uses steam to clean and freshen up clothes. It’s an alternative to ironing, which can be time-consuming or impossible if you have cotton clothing.

A good example of what a steamer does is remove wrinkles from your shirt by using the heat energy released in vapor form when water boils inside it.

While the steamer can be versatile for many many other materials, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using the steamer on leather.

The Pros Of Using The Steamer On Leather

1. Using Steamer On Leather Goods Is Time Saving

While the first point on the benefits of using the steamer on leather does not really relate to what using the steamer does for your leather, it is important to mention that using a steamer on leather items is time-saving.

For many people like myself, the convenience and the amount of time I save when I use the steamer is one of the most important advantages.

A lot of leather items are expensive, so you want to get your money’s worth by taking care of them properly, as frequently as possible if necessary without having to spend countless hours. This is where the steamer shines.

2. The Steamer Can Be Used To Freshen Up Leather Garments

The second point on the benefits of using a steamer is that it can be used to freshen up leather garments.

This may seem like an unnecessary use for your garment steamers, but with all the dirt and grime in our world these days, you will be able to freshen your leather garments up with only a few minutes of steaming.

This will give you the chance to refold, wipe down and vacuum any loose dirt from your garments all at once.

This helps to make the leather item feel very comfortable to use with all the benefits that come with the natural feel of natural leather goods whether a sofa, jacket, or throw pillow.

3. Using A Steamer On Leather Items Kills 98% Of All Germs

The biggest advantage to using a steamer on your leather is that it is a great way to destroy and kill germs.

As mentioned above, using a steamer removes up to 98% of all germs with its hot water solution.

Having said that, using a steamer on leather is something you should not do too frequently.

Personally, I will use a steamer on my leather items about once or twice a year and one of my intentions is often to get rid of germs.

The best temperature range is between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit (49-60 Celsius). Anything lower than 120 F may not be able to penetrate deep enough into your leather items and anything higher than 140 F might damage them without providing any additional cleaning benefits.

Using a steamer is one of the best options for particularly killing germs on leather car seats, sofas, and other hardwearing leather items.

It is also a good way to make your leather items are new again if they have been abandoned or have been outside for a long time in a hot or humid condition.

I should also mention that the steamer kills dust mites, which are some of our biggest enemies when it comes to allergies.

This is a great way to have clean and healthy leather goods for your home or office.

You will find yourself breathing easier with this method as well because you get to essentially kill two birds with one stone – get rid of germs while cleaning up at the same time! wow, 3 birds actually!

One important tip to remember when you’re using the steamer is to use distilled water only in order to avoid getting mineral deposits on the leather surface.

4. Using A Steamer On Leather Is Environmentally-Friendly

One of the great benefits of using a steamer is that it’s environmentally friendly.

Using a traditional cleaning detergent can be toxic and not good for your health, but when you use distilled water in order to clean up your leather with steam, then there are no chemicals involved whatsoever!

The only thing that needs to be disposed off after using the steamer on your leather items is hot water – which we all know how easy it is to do so.

Again, I don’t mean to sound captain obvious but all you do is to allow the water to cool down and then pour it down the drain.

What about other environmental concerns? Well, as mentioned before, this type of cleaning method does not involve any chemical cleaners whatsoever so you’re able to keep toxins out of our air and ground without having them harm our planet or us.

5. Steamer Can Be Used To CLEAN Leather Goods

A steamer is a great way to clean your leather goods such as your leather sofas, jackets, and car seats.

The steamer is a healthier way to clean up because it doesn’t involve any toxic chemicals. All you need is clean water and a steamer.

It doesn’t matter if your item is real leather or not because they both will be cleaned with just water and heat from the machine! In that case, you will be able to use the steamer to clean faux leather goods as well!

Simply make sure the temperature is set to the lowest or the temperature range is between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit (49-60 Celsius). Also, do well to test out a particular heat setting on your steamer before applying it to you leather item.

To clean your leather goods, first, you will need to fill up the steamer with water. Then add a few drops of dish soap if needed for easier cleaning and more dirt removal.

After this, turn on the machine and let it heat up to the right temperature.

6. A Steamer Is Great For Delicate Leather

There are certain types of leather that are very delicate when it comes to cleaning them. This is because such leathers are very thin, and lightweight.

A good example of such leather are those sourced from the hides of lambs and deers.

Due to the fact that such leather are generally not thick, they cannot handle a lot of direct contact with the traditional leather cleaning products.

In turn, this means any cleaning solution would be limited in its effects as well. So for these types of delicate leathers, it is best to use your steamer on them instead!

Steaming won’t affect their delicateness and will help you clean them up without having to worry about damaging or ruining the leather material itself!

All you do is fill up your steamer with distilled water and the set it to the lowest setting possible. Without using a lot of pressure, run your steamer over the surface of the leather. voila!

7. Using A Steamer Is Great For Removing Mold

If you have had leather items around your house for some time now one of the common issues you might have noticed with leather is how it is prone to mold.

Mold will grow and form in the crevices of your leather goods if they are moist enough for it to thrive on their surface.

In this case, a steamer might be a great way for you to remove or clean up any unwanted mess without having to worry about ruining the leather material itself.

If you have some valuable pieces of leather around your home that have gotten mold-infested, I can confidently say using a steamer is one way of the best ways of dealing with it if you do not want to use any sort of chemicals.

8. A Steamer Can Help Soften Tough Spots On Your Leather

You can also use a steamer to soften your leather. This can be especially helpful for any tough spots on your leather seats, jackets, or furniture that might have been caused by constant use and abuse over time.

Using a steamer is a good way to break down some of the tough spots on your leather without having to resort to using any form of harsh chemicals.

A steamer can soften up tough spots in order to make them less noticeable and also make it easier for you to clean off the surface.

This does not only help with the look and feel of the leather but also makes the leather easier to clean away corners or hard-to-reach places where there are creases and seams.

Exposing tough spots on leather to steam will help moisturize those areas and soften up dry patches in a matter of minutes.

In most cases, you should only need about five minutes of exposure before it starts taking effect so if you are dealing with stubborn stains this could be an easy fix without having to do anything drastic or using abrasive tools.

Cons Of Using Steamer On Leather

1. It’s Not A Good Idea To Use A Steamer On Leather That Already Has Cracks

One of the downsides or let me say more of a limitation to using a steamer on leather is that it doesn’t do very well with leather that already has cracks.

If you have a leather couch or bag that has already been exposed to wear-and-tear, it’s probably not the best idea to use a steamer on it.

This is because just like with any other material when they are stressed and broken down they will be more susceptible to further damage from moisture and heat exposure as well.

The same goes for cracks in your leather items like car seats, jackets, etc where water can easily get inside them and cause even worse problems than what was there before.

2. You May Require A Professional To Help Use A Steamer On Your Leather Goods

Using a steamer has to be done properly in order to get the best results and that usually means hiring a professional.

Whether it’s for your upholstery, furniture, or other leather items they will know what equipment and materials are safe to use and how long you should hold them in place so as not to cause any irreversible damage on the leather item.

While hiring a professional to steam your leather may be a bit costly, it’s worth the price in terms of its long-term benefits – plus it reduces the risk of destroying your leather items yourself.

An example is that if the temperature isn’t just right or if the steamer is too close to the surface, or if it’s held on one area for too long, your leather can be stretched, rippled, or develop dents.

3. Using A Steamer Will Require Time And Care

You will have to be extra careful if you’re going to be using the steamer on the leather furniture in your home.

The first step is to make sure that the temperature isn’t too high and there are no other chemicals on the surface of the leather you’re steaming.

You’ll also need to use a very low-pressure setting as well, because if it’s too high then it will cause creases or even shrinkage in some cases.

It also require more time than the traditional leather cleaners and methods. Using a steamer on your leather goods can take up to about fifteen minutes.

Although the time the leather steamer will require is going to be longer than traditional cleaners, it will definitely do wonders in terms of sanitizing, removing stains, and cleaning your furniture pieces as well as any other household items that are made out of both natural and faux leather.

4. High Humidity Levels

Another limitation when it comes to using a steamer on your leather is that if you live somewhere with high humidity levels then this might not work out so well for you.

Unless of course, you’re willing to take these risks which most people wouldn’t want to do since their furniture typically means quite a bit both financially and sentimentally.


The steamer is a very useful and effective way to take care of both your natural leather and faux leather items. But you will always want to make sure you read the instructions for your specific steamer, because they may differ.

You also want to research the type of leather your item is made of and the effect the steamer will have on it.

I hope this article has helped to bring some clarity to this topic and that you will feel more confident in your leather care!


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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