Can you steam leather? This is actually a very common question.
Leather is a natural material that is flexible and durable but, over time, it can become dirty, stained, wrinkled, or creased.
There are several ways to clean and remove creases on leather such as by steaming or ironing.
However, ironing leather can cause irreparable damage compared to steaming. So most people opt for steaming whenever their leather items get dirty or develop visible wrinkles or creases.
In this article, we are going to talk about the pros and cons of steaming leather. We will also give you some simple tricks on how you can safely steam leather to remove wrinkles.
Can you steam leather?
Yes, you can steam leather to remove dirt and stains and to get rid of creases and wrinkles. You can steam large leather items like sofas and car seats using the soft attachment nozzle on the steam cleaner or simply hang lighter items like jackets, shoes, and belts in a hot shower.
Steaming is a great way to clean and restore the natural look of leather without damaging it. However, it has a good side and the bad side.
Leather items you can steam
In my experience, I’ve successfully steamed leather jackets, bags, pants, car seats, shoes, furniture, and upholstery to remove wrinkles and creases and reshape the material.
I’ve found that using a garment steamer or handheld steamer on the lowest heat setting works well for most leather items, as it allows me to control the flow of steam and avoid direct contact with the leather.
Benefits of steaming leather
One of the main benefits of leather steaming is that it kills germs.
Steam cleaning is an ideal way to get rid of bacteria, viruses, and mold in leather upholstery.
Since leather is porous, the hot steam gets deep into the pores and destroys germs that are embedded deep into the leather. This leaves the upholstery clean and free of impurities.
Gets rid of stains and dirt
The good thing about steam is that it helps to get rid of stains and dirt on the leather without using harsh or abrasive chemicals.
For instance, if leather loses color due to dye transfer, spills, or sweat, steaming gets moisture deep into the leather pores to remove the stains.
Also, the vapor loosens the dust and oil in the leather fibers along with other allergens without damaging the leather finish.
Removes wrinkles and creases
One of the main reasons why people steam leather is to get rid of wrinkles.
Whether it’s a leather jacket, a skirt, or a pair of shoes, it’s bound to get creased if not properly stored.
Luckily, steaming is the easiest way to rejuvenate dry leather. The hot steam from the steamer relaxes the leather fibers, which helps to straighten the creases and wrinkles.
How to steam clean leather to get rid of wrinkles and stains
Steaming leather is a simple task that can be done in a number of ways using tools like;
- Garment steamer: This is one of the most common tools used to steam leather. It produces a continuous flow of steam, which can help reshape and soften the leather.
- Steam iron: A steam iron with a low heat setting can also be used to steam leather. It is important to make sure the iron is not too hot and that the leather is not placed in direct contact with the iron.
- Handheld steamer: A handheld steamer can be used for small leather items or for hard-to-reach areas of larger items.
- Steam: Some people use steam from a hot shower or a tea kettle to straighten out the wrinkles on their leather items.
In this article, we are going to only focus on three ways; using a garment steamer, a steam iron, and hanging the leather in a hot shower.
Before steaming the leather, make sure that the item is dry as it might shrink if wet.
Method 1: Hang leather in a hot shower
This method usually works for people who don’t have a steam cleaner but want to straighten out the creases and wrinkles on their leather jackets, belts, or skirts.
Here are the steps to follow;
1. Hang your leather clothing in the shower using a clothes hanger or hook. Alternatively, drape it over the curtain rod.
2. Run the water in the shower at the highest temperature so that it can release a lot of steam. You can also do this while taking a shower but remember to regulate the water temperature to your desired level.
3. Leave your leather item for about 30 minutes in the hot steam for the wrinkles to settle.
4. Leather is porous so the steam will easily get into the pores and relax the fibers thereby making the leather pliable.
Method 2: Using a garment steamer
It’s obvious that you cannot steam your dirty or creased leather couches and leather car seats in the shower. So the best solution is to use a garment steamer or a handheld steamer.
If you don’t have a garment steamer, consider renting one from any home improvement store near you.
Here are the steps to follow when using a garment steamer to steam and clean leather;
1. Fill the steamer with distilled water to avoid any impurities or minerals that may damage the leather.
2. Set the steamer to a low heat setting so that you can control the amount of steam that is applied to the leather. This helps prevent the material from becoming overheated or discolored.
2. Test the steaming method on a small, inconspicuous area of the leather to ensure that it will not cause damage. Hold the steamer about 6-8 inches away from the leather and move it back and forth over the area, keeping the nozzle moving to avoid concentrating the steam in one spot.
3. Once you have confirmed that the steaming method is safe for the leather, proceed to steam the entire item. Hold the steamer about 6-8 inches away from the leather and move it back and forth over the item, working in small sections.
4. While steaming, use your hands to shape the leather as desired. For example, if you are reshaping a leather jacket collar, use your fingers to mold the collar into the desired shape as you steam it.
5. If the leather has wrinkles or creases, focus the steam on those areas and then use your hands to smooth them out.
6. After steaming, let the leather item dry naturally, away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not use a hair dryer or other heat source to dry the leather as this can cause damage.
If you don’t have a garment steamer, do not be tempted to use a steam cleaner. The high temperature and pressure of steam cleaners can damage the leather and cause it to shrink, crack, or lose its natural oils.
Method 3: Using a steam iron
As aforementioned, It is generally not recommended to use a steam iron to steam leather, as the high temperature and pressure of the iron can damage the leather.
In fact, if you are not careful, the iron’s soleplate can leave marks or imprints on the leather causing permanent damage.
However, if you still want to use a steam iron to steam leather, here are some tips to help you do so safely:
1. Fill the iron’s water reservoir with distilled water to avoid mineral deposits that can leave stains on the leather.
2. Set the iron to the lowest temperature setting and turn on the steam function. You can also use a steaming pitcher or spray bottle to apply distilled water to the leather before ironing, which can help soften and reshape the material.
3. Place a clean dry cotton or linen cloth over the leather item and then gently glide the iron over the cloth applying light pressure. Do not press down too hard as this can burn the leather.
4. Move the iron in a circular motion to distribute the steam evenly and be careful not to hold the iron in one spot for too long.
5. Once you have finished steaming, let the leather item cool and dry naturally before using it. You can also apply a leather conditioner or protectant to keep the leather soft and supple after it dries.
Cons of leather steaming
It damages leather
While steaming is a good way to kill germs and straighten out wrinkled leather, it can cause leather damage if not done right.
For instance, the steamer brush can scratch the surface of the leather without covering it with a microfiber cloth.
Also, if the temperature is too high, it can cause the leather to stretch.
Steaming one spot for too long can also strip off the finish on the leather and leave it exposed to water damage.
It dries leather
Directly steaming leather can cause it to dry out, especially when done regularly.
The hot steam might strip off the protective sealant on the leather accessory and expose it to harsh weather elements.
Dry leather often peels and cracks over time.
This is why steaming should not be done regularly. It is also recommended that you apply a good leather moisturizer after steaming to prevent drying out.
It stretches or shrinks leather
If you use high temperatures to steam your leather items, there is a high possibility that they might stretch.
The excessive heat from the vapor causes the pores on the leather to open up and make it soft. Soft leather is very flexible and can stretch easily since the fibers are brittle and weak.
Similarly, the hot steam can cause the leather to harden and shrink as it dries out.
Also, the combination of heat and moisture causes the leather fibers to tighten up resulting in shrinking.
Can you steam a leather jacket?
Yes, you can steam a leather jacket to remove wrinkles or reshape the material.
However, it is important its important note that your leather jacket can shrink when it is exposed to high temperatures or when it is soaked in water for an extended period of time.
So when steaming leather, it is important to use a gentle approach and avoid exposing the material to excessive heat or water.
This can be done by using a steamer on the lowest heat setting and by steaming from a distance to avoid direct contact with the leather.
Also, avoid steaming leather for too long and let the material dry naturally after steaming to prevent any damage or shrinkage.
While the best way to clean leather is by using mild soap and water, it can also be steam cleaned.
Steaming helps to kill germs and get rid of creases and wrinkles on leather car seats, couches/sofas, leather jackets, skirts, and shoes.
However, steaming should be done with a lot of care as it can cause irreparable damage to the leather.
So if you want to steam your leather accessories using a steam cleaner, consider the following;
- Avoid high temperature
- Use the soft nozzle attachment on the steamer
- Wrap the nozzle with a soft microfiber cloth when steaming
- Do not steam leather regularly
- Leather clothing like jackets and skirts can be steamed in a hot shower