Leather is a beautiful, luxurious, and sleek material. From leather clothing to leather furniture and leather interiors. The issue is that leather is a porous material that collects dirt and grime quickly and can easily look worn and dirty over time.
And, while there are various products on the market specifically designed to clean leather, you may still wonder if you could steam clean your leather instead.
There are different forms of leather, from faux to real leather. All types of leather can be steam-cleaned, provided that the label is followed when adding a cleaning agent to the water. Some forms of leather do not respond well to vinegar, while others do not respond well to abrasive cleaners.
Can you steam-clean any leather?
The short answer to this question is yes.
Genuine leather is made from cow skin. However, genuine leather isn’t the only type of leather on the market. There is also faux leather, PU leather, vegan leather, bonded leather, and leatherette. The one key factor that differentiates genuine leather from all other types of leather is that it is truly unique. No two pieces are the same. Artificial leather, on the other hand, is manufactured leather. All manufactured leather is the same or very similar.
Can you steam-clean genuine leather?
Genuine leather is used to make clothing, furniture, and, in some cases, interiors for vehicles.
Genuine leather contains natural oils. The oil in the skin of the leather joins with the water molecules when the leather gets wet. As the water evaporates, it draws out the natural oils, causing the leather to become dry and brittle.
The question then remains, can you steam-clean leather? After all, steam is water in a different form. Yes, you can. You can steam genuine leather without the risk of damage. The reason is that the steam does not penetrate the leather. It simply removes dirt and grime from the surface of the leather. It’s important to note that you may need to spot-treat stains first to ensure proper cleaning.
Can you steam-clean faux leather?
Faux leather is used to make a variety of fashion items. Faux means fake or imitation. It is a French word that has become popular in the English language to refer to fake leather. There are different forms of faux leather.
Some faux leather materials are made from a plastic base and color is added through dye, wax, or polyurethane. Other faux leather materials are made with a backing material such as polyester, cotton, etc. The backing material is covered with a flexible polymer. This material is then treated until it resembles animal hide.
Unlike real leather, faux leather won’t crack or peel. It is very durable and stain resistant.
These qualities make it resistant to damage when steam is applied. Yes, you can steam-clean faux leather. In fact, steam-cleaning faux leather is a great way to remove dirt, grime, and stains, while also eliminating odor-causing molecules and bacteria. Keep in mind that steam-cleaning faux leather does not imply dry-cleaning as well. Dry cleaning incorporates chemicals that may destroy the plastic film found in faux leather. Steam-cleaning refers to using water vapors only. You may add natural cleaning agents to the water, such as vinegar.
Can you steam-clean PU leather?
PU (Poly) Synthetic Leather is artificial or synthetic leather. It looks and feels like real leather, but it is man-made. PU leather is made with thermoplastic polymer and 100% PU leather is considered to be vegan. PU leather is a category of faux leather.
Because PU leather is a form of Faux leather, and you can steam-clean faux leather, you can steam-clean PU leather as well.
Can you steam-clean Vegan leather?
Vegan leather is made from either polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is a type of polymer. It also falls under the category of faux leather. Vegan leather is used to make a variety of fashion items, furniture, and accessories. Vegan leather has the appearance of real leather and even feels like real leather, but is made from plant-based products.
Vegan leather has in-built waterproof qualities. This means that vegan leather can be steam-cleaned and washed when following the correct procedure.
Can you steam-clean bonded leather?
Bonded leather goes by several other names as well: composition leather, reconstituted leather, and blended leather. Bonded leather is manufactured for use in upholstery and does contain animal hide. Essentially, it is a mixture of real and fake leather. It usually has a life span of two to five years.
To clean bonded leather, you should use a damp cloth and water. You can steam-clean bonded leather, but be careful. The material does not respond well to vinegar, abrasive cleaners, or bleach. Do not add any of those products to the water that will be used to steam-clean the material. A mild soap or face wash will work.
Can you steam-clean leatherette leather?
Leatherette is another form of artificial leather. It is not as durable or strong as real leather and is much less expensive. Leatherette is made from natural or synthetic cloth fibers. The material is then coated with PVC or polyurethane.
Leatherette is a type of faux leather. It can be steam-cleaned.
Does steam damage leather?
Steam cleaning is a method of cleaning that does not usually incorporate any harsh chemicals. It cleans and sanitizes leather products. It is an excellent method of removing dirt, grime, and bacteria that are deep inside the leather. However, water and heat are not the preferred methods for cleaning leather products. Though it is effective, it should not replace proper leather cleaning and the use of leather cleaners.
Generally, leather and water are incompatible. You’ll often find that when purchasing real leather, you will also be offered a leather protectant or a leather sealer to help protect your leather product against water.
Getting leather wet by directly applying water to the leather or submerging the leather in water is very different than using steam to clean the leather. Steam does not penetrate the porous leather like water does and will not cause damage to real or faux leather items, provided that the right procedure is followed when steaming the leather products. No, steam will not damage leather products when used correctly.
Steam cleaning is great for removing germs and should only be done once a year. Most people don’t have a professional steam cleaner at home. There are alternatives to using a professional at-home steam cleaner. But you could also get one for a very reasonable price. If you do have one and would like to clean steam at home, be mindful of how close you hold the steam to the material, how long you keep the cleaner in the same spot, as well as the temperature of the steam. You could cause irreparable damage to your product if you do not use the steam cleaner correctly.
A fast and inexpensive cleaning method
Keep in mind, that steam cleaning does not remove stains. It simply cleans the surface of the leather from any bacteria and germs. The steam’s vapor simply breaks down dirt so that it is easy to remove. You’ll still need to spot-treat the stains before using the steam cleaner.
For an inexpensive alternative, that will also remove stains, fill a spray bottle with warm water and vinegar. Spray the mixture onto the leather and use a soft bristle brush to agitate it before gently wiping it down and allowing it to air dry. Keep in mind that you don’t want to drench the leather in water and you also don’t want to be too abrasive with the brush. You simply want the material to be damp.
In addition, some forms of leather do not respond well to vinegar. You may want to add a baby shampoo or mild soap to the water.
Wipe the leather with a dry microfiber cloth and allow the material to air dry. Always read the label to understand what the best method of cleaning is for your specific type of leather.
Advantages of steam cleaning leather
- It kills germs and bacteria.
- No chemicals are used.
- It removes mold and mildew.
- It removes odors from the leather.
Disadvantages of steam cleaning leather
- It may cause mold and mildew.
- Water damage.
- It may shrink the leather.
- The leather may dry out.
- It only removes bacteria but not stains.