Can you steam clean leather couch?

Image showing a leather couch.

Yes, you can steam clean leather couch. In fact, you can steam clean almost all fabrics, including leather, as long as you do it properly. What’s more, steam cleaning your sofa has the advantage of using very little moisture, so it doesn’t dry the leather that much.

Water that soaks deep into the leather brings out any natural oils, that keep the fabric looking fresh and clean. This process later leads to drying, cracking, or even dry rotting. To prevent this from happening, you should limit the amount of vapor that hits your couch, and wipe any excess moisture.

Furthermore, proper care is necessary to keep your leather upholstery looking fresh for a long time. This type of fabric needs to be moisturized regularly, not only before and after cleaning. That’s because sweat and water from our skin play a big role in the decaying process.

If you want to know more about steam cleaning leather fabric, we highly recommend checking out our well-detailed post – Can you steam clean leather?

Dangers of steam cleaning leather couch

Before we give you any actionable tips, it’s important to highlight the possible dangers of steam cleaning leather couch. You need to know, that cracked or dry rotten leather can no longer be restored! There’s virtually no way to restore broken-down fibers, prevention is your only option.

Drying and cracking

This is probably the most common damage when we look at old leather upholstery. Frequent cleaning and lack of moisturizing and conditioning are the most common reasons for this to happen. Natural oils from our skin also play a role in breaking down the leather fabric, since they bound with water molecules and bring out any oils present in the couch.

Damage is often only made more severe when steaming already ruined parts of the couch. It’s important to be delicate when dealing with a sofa that already has cracks.

Dry rotting

Dry rotting is a severe example of irresponsible steam cleaning. This refers to the act of rotting a particular material, while in a dry state. Broken-down fibers create this copper-colored area that often turns into a grainy residue. It’s usually caused by storing the leather in too-dry or too-humid conditions.


Hot water can lead to shrinking when steam cleaning your couch, therefore, be sure to use proper heat settings. This is the case in very delicate types of leather, as well as wrong drying process. Leather that is allowed to dry in sun, or on a heater is much more likely to shrink. You should always let the leather air dry just to be safe.

How to steam clean leather couch?

After you know all the risks that come with steam cleaning your couch, we can describe to you how to actually do it. Keep in mind, that if you are worried about damaging any elements, you can always ask a professional to do it for you.


To get rid of deeply embedded stains, we highly recommend using reputable cleaning products. If you don’t have one, you can create it by mixing half a cup of olive oil and a quarter of a cup of white vinegar. Spray the mixture on an inconspicuous area first, and then on the stains. You can start cleaning when the surface is completely dry. To make the process faster, open windows.

The steam cleaner should be set to the lowest possible heat setting, however, keep in mind that a temperature of at least 121°C (250°F) is needed to kill germs. Now fill the steam cleaner with water – There should be a line indicating how much water to pour. We also highly recommend using a brush attachment to make the process easier.

Steam clean the couch

Remove the sofa cushions and start the steam cleaner. You should work your way from the back of the couch to the front. Be sure to leave out any cracks, so you don’t make them worse. You should only make a few quick runs with a steam cleaner to prevent vapor from soaking the leather. Some people say it’s better to do circular strokes around areas, that you want to get cleaned.

After each run, you should quickly wipe any excess water with a cloth. It will also remove dirt stuck on the surface of your leather sofa.

Apply leather care products

Leather care is even more important than cleaning if you want to keep the couch looking fresh. If you don’t have any leather care products, you can use linseed oil. It’s a great alternative that will work wonders on your leather furniture.

Why you should steam clean your leather couch?

Steam cleaning is a great process to remove stains, harmful bacteria, mold, grime, or even dust mites without the use of harsh chemicals. Vapor from steam cleaners also removes odors that have settled in your leather sofa. All you need to steam clean leather couch is a high-quality steam cleaner with some water.

It’s also more effective than other cleaning methods while being 100% chemical free.

What is the best way to clean a leather couch?

While steam cleaning leather upholstery is a good idea, you shouldn’t do it more than once or twice a year. For more frequent cleaning, we recommend vacuuming or cleaning by hand. Those are safer alternatives compared to steam cleaning, even though, many times not as effective. If you are worried about possible water damage or cracks, you can bring your furniture to a professional.

5 Steam cleaning tips for your leather sofa

If you are still struggling with taking care of your furniture, here are five tips to (hopefully) make your life a little easier.

  • Rent out one of the high-end steam cleaners.
  • Before cleaning, wait for the couch to dry completely.
  • Make a patch test on a small portion of your couch first.
  • Prevent water damage by removing excess water with a cloth.
  • Read the user’s manual of your steam cleaner.


How do you remove ingrained dirt from leather?

Ingrained dirt can be removed by steam cleaning or by the regular hand cleaning process. However, many times this may not be enough, therefore we recommend pretreating stains with a reputable leather cleaner first.

How do you rejuvenate an old leather couch?

Firstly clean the couch with a damp cloth or steam clean it depending on what you prefer. Treat any damaged parts carefully, trying to get the least amount of water possible into the cracks. In the end, apply a high-quality leather conditioner, or a homemade one (linseed oil can work wonders).

How do I keep my leather couch looking new?

Regular moisturizing and conditioning play the biggest role when it comes to keeping leather couches in good condition. Besides that, you should clean your leather upholstery systematically to get rid of any dirt, dust mites, germs, or mold.

What is the life expectancy of a leather couch?

Leather couches can be quite durable, lasting from 15 to 20 years. This is almost three times more than a standard fabric couch! That being said, you need to regularly moisturize and condition the material to achieve such longevity. It’s also a good idea to regularly steam clean your leather couch.

Are leather sofas high maintenance?

Leather sofas don’t need a lot of maintenance. Keeping leather furniture clean should be very simple considering you need to do occasional vacuuming and wiping. What’s more important is proper moisturizing and conditioning, those should be done every 6 to 12 months.