Can You Steam Clean A Leather Couch? (4 Easy Steps)

Leather couches can be tricky to clean, but can you steam clean a leather couch or do you have to clean them by hand?

You can steam clean a leather couch with no issues at all, and it is a great way to thoroughly clean a leather couch while providing a host of other benefits that you might not consider.

Let’s take a look at how you can actually use a steam cleaner on a leather couch, as well as some of the most common questions that get asked around the topic and some key benefits of the process.

How To Clean A Leather Couch With A Steam Cleaner

Let;’s jump right into the steps for cleaning a leather couch. Before you start, you will need to collect a few things:

  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Steam Cleaning Machine (Optional)
  • Cloths

Once you have these things together you can head right into the steps – note that the steam cleaning machine is optional as you can rent one out if you prefer.

1. Hire/Buy A Machine

If you don’t own a steam cleaner, you will need to either buy one or rent one out from a hardware store. Renting can be a very cost-effective method for one-off cleans, but if you want to invest in a machine for years to come then this is also a sensible decision.

You can also hire a professional, but in this article, we will focus on the steps to do this yourself. It is also expensive to hire a professional, for both couches and carpets.

2. Pre-Clean

Mix a solution of one part distilled white vinegar to one part water as needed in a bucket and use a cloth to wipe down the couch using this solution, making sure to remove all cushions and throws.

It is a good idea to pre-clean with this solution so make sure you don’t skip out on this step. Leave the couch for at least one hour once you’ve wiped it down to allow it to dry.

3. Spot Test The Machine

Before you steam your entire couch you need to test the steamer on a small area to make sure that it doesn’t cause any damage to the leather.

Good places for this are usually around the back of the couch, but try and stick to a small area, and use the brush attachment. If the leather is unaffected you can move on to the next step.

4. Clean The Couch

Now is the time to steam clean the entire couch.

Start at the back and work in circular strokes to cover the entire area, working your way towards the front of the couch. We recommend covering the same area once or twice for the best outcome.

After this is done, take a cloth and blot areas where there is excess moisture and then allow the couch to dry. The drying process can be shortened by using a dehumidifier to dry out the air or by opening windows for increased circulation.

Benefits Of Steam Cleaning A Leather Couch

Know that you know how to steam clean a leather couch, let’s take a look at some key benefits that the process provides.

Removes Stains And Odors

Steam cleaning is highly effective at removing stains and odors.

This is because of the mechanism that is used, as well as the cleaning solution and the temperature of the steam. These factors combined are able to break down any stain, from grease to paints – there is a good reason why steam cleaners are recommended so often for carpets as well.

Removes Allergens

Another benefit is that steam cleaning removes allergens such as dust, pollen and even mold.

While this is more common with faux leather, real leather couches are also prone to collecting surface dust and other particles which are removed during the steam cleaning. This is especially important for people who have allergies.

Kills Insects

Steam cleaning will kill insects such as fleas and mites in an instant, which is something else to consider, especially if you have any pets.

A few insects can turn into an infestation in a couple of weeks to a few days depending on the species, so it is worth considering steam cleaning if you are worried about this.

Kills/Removes Bacteria

Due to the high temperature of the steam and the cleaning solution used, steam cleaners are incredibly efficient at killing bacteria and germs.

If you are concerned about bacteria you can take some comfort in using a steam cleaner to properly get rid of it.


We’ve rounded up some common questions that get asked around leather couches and steam cleaning. If you have any other queries that you would like to see answered, don’t hesitate to let us know here.

What About Faux Leather?

As we hinted previously in this article, steam cleaners can also be used on faux couches and there are a lot of benefits in doing so.

So, if you have a faux leather couch instead of a genuine leather couch, you don’t have to worry about finding an alternative.

Does This Process Rehydrate The Couch?

Another common question is whether steam cleaning rehydrates a leather couch, and the answer is yes – but the effect is minimal.

To rehydrate and condition a leather couch there are much better options, such as using a homemade leather conditioner or a branded leather oil. While some of the moisture will be absorbed during steam cleaning, it is not a significant amount compared to using a dedicated solution.

Steam cleaners are also obviously hot, so the water evaporates quickly out of the leather which doesn’t leave much time for absorption.

Final Thoughts

Using a steam cleaner on a leather couch is a great idea and can make your couch look brand new.

We recommend hiring a steam cleaner, as professionals can charge a lot, but the choice is up to you.