Can you steam clean leather chairs?

Image showing leather chairs.

Yes, you can steam clean leather chairs. Provided you do not do this more than once or twice a year, it’s a great way to clean a leather surface. High vapor helps you reduce the amount of moisture needed to thoroughly clean leather upholstery. This is vital as a large amount of water can lead to shrinking, cracking, or even dry rotting.

Steam cleaning allows the material to open up more, in order to thoroughly clean deeply embedded dirt. When leather opens up all the pores from steam cleaning, using various detergents can be even more efficient. This is the cleaning method professionals use, in order to remove all the stubborn stains.

If you would like to learn more about steam cleaning leather upholstery, we highly recommend checking out our article – can you steam clean leather?

Dangers of steam cleaning leather chairs

Before we discuss how to actually clean leather chairs, we need to talk about possible risks. Since leather is a very delicate fabric, there is not much you can do in order to thoroughly clean it. Steam cleaning has one big advantage though, as you can go through this process without using any chemicals. Besides that, you can also use steam cleaning to kill bacteria, viruses, allergens, or even dust mites.

Despite all the benefits, steam cleaning is not the most popular cleaning method when it comes to leather material. This is because there are some risks involved.

This process works by creating a high-temperature vapor, that soaks the fabric. Even though the moisture level is lower than during hand cleaning, it can still damage the material. To prevent the dangers we will be discussing, be sure to moisturize and condition your chairs before and after cleaning.


Cracking is the most common damage in leather items. It’s usually caused by long exposure to sun and water. Since leather is porous, it absorbs sweat and oils from our bodies, that bound with natural oils present in the fabric. The natural oils are brought out with water particles that evaporate, which leads to drying out. Additionally, all the bacteria from the skin gets onto the leather and causes the dried-out fabric to crack.


Shrinking is another common problem with leather chairs, especially when it’s left out in the sun. To prevent this from happening, you should not leave leather items to dry on a heater or in direct sunlight. Using a hair dryer also can cause shrinking, commonly on smaller items. This is why most of the time, you should let your leather air dry. Shrunk leather can not be repaired, therefore, prevention is your only option. Applying leather conditioner on vulnerable spots can also help drastically.


Dry rotting is usually caused by the loss of lubricity. It can often be observed by the gray residue on the fabric – those in fact are damaged fibers, that no longer can be repaired. You can stop the deterioration process by applying leather care products, however, there is no way to make the fibers look new again.

A side note: We would not advise cleaning your leather fabric more than once or twice a year!

Why you should steam clean your leather chairs?

A steam cleaner can help you remove dirt and grime, stains, or even mold. They are the perfect cleaning tool when warm water with a damp cloth is not enough. It’s also an effective way to clean delicate fabric without using harsh chemicals.

Steam cleaning a leather sofa or a leather couch does not differ that much from cleaning chairs. The steam loosens dirt particles that are deeply embedded inside the material, allowing you to wipe the off with a standard cloth. Using just a vacuum, or cleaning by hand will not get out all the dirt that is stuck inside the material.

Steam cleaning also allows you to limit the amount of moisture that gets into the fabric, prolonging the life of your leather chairs.

It’s also safe to say, that a steam cleaner might be a good investment for your house. It can be used for many different chores, such as cleaning an oven, refreshing the car seats in your vehicle, cleaning the cushions, or just steaming the floor.

If you are considering cleaning your leather chairs, you may also want to clean the rest of your upholstery. In this case, we highly recommend checking out our other two articles – can you steam clean leather couch? and can you steam clean leather car seats?

How to steam clean leather chairs?

  1. Apply leather moisturizer and wait for it to dry completely.
  2. Prepare your steam cleaner and wrap a clean cloth around the brush attachment. – This helps protect delicate leather from soaking too much water and creating damage.
  3. Patch-test any leather cleaners, that you want to use.
  4. Spray leather cleaner on deeply embedded stains.
  5. Start steam cleaning by running circular strokes on your leather chair.
  6. Wipe off any excessive moisture with another clean cloth straight away.
  7. Apply leather care products after you finished cleaning.

If you don’t have a leather cleaner product, you can make your own by mixing white vinegar with water in a small bucket, with 1:1 proportions. Additionally, you can moisturize your leather with linseed oil.


In conclusion, steam cleaning leather chairs is safe. What’s more, this is a safe way to clean leather furniture without using harsh chemicals. That being said, you should not steam clean the fabric more than once or twice a year. Additionally, stray away from using too much water or high heat. Many people also recommend renting out one of the high-end steam cleaners.

It’s also very important to apply leather conditioner before and after cleaning. Fabric that is not moisturized regularly, will eventually dry, crack, or even rot. Once it’s damaged, you can no longer restore the fibers to its originals state. Prevention is the only option when it comes to owning leather furniture.