June 17, 2024
steering wheel cleaner

Steering Wheel Cleaner: How to Keep Your Car’s Most-Touched Surface Spotless

A good steering wheel cleaner is an essential part of any car cleaning kit. Steering wheels are an integral part of any car, and they are one of the most frequently touched surfaces in a vehicle. Over time, steering wheels can accumulate dirt, grime, and oils from the driver’s hands, which can make them look and feel unpleasant. This is where a good steering wheel cleaner comes in handy.

steering wheel cleaner

Steering wheel cleaners are specially formulated products designed to clean and protect the steering wheel’s surface. They are available in various forms, including sprays, wipes, and foams. These products are designed to remove dirt, grime, and oils from the steering wheel’s surface without damaging the material. They can also help to protect the steering wheel from UV damage, cracking, and fading.

Choosing the right steering wheel cleaner is essential to maintain the steering wheel’s appearance and extend its lifespan. With so many products available in the market, it can be challenging to choose the right one. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best steering wheel cleaner for your car.

Why Clean Your Steering Wheel?

Cleaning your steering wheel

A steering wheel is an essential component of a car, and it is one of the most frequently touched parts of the vehicle. Over time, the steering wheel can accumulate dirt, grime, sweat, and bacteria, which can make it slippery, sticky, and unpleasant to touch. Not only does this affect the appearance of the steering wheel, but it can also impact the driver’s ability to grip the wheel securely.

Regularly cleaning your steering wheel can help to maintain its appearance and functionality, as well as promoting good hygiene. A clean steering wheel not only looks better, but it can also enhance the driving experience. A clean, well-maintained steering wheel can provide a better grip and improve the driver’s control over the vehicle, which can be especially important in challenging driving conditions.

Moreover, a dirty steering wheel can be a breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and viruses, which can pose a health risk to the driver and passengers. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep the car’s interior clean and sanitized, and the steering wheel is no exception. Cleaning the steering wheel regularly can help to reduce the spread of germs and keep the car’s occupants safe and healthy.

What Causes a Sticky Steering Wheel?

A sticky or tacky feeling on your steering wheel can be caused by several factors, and it’s important to identify the root cause so you can address it appropriately. Here are some common reasons for a sticky steering wheel:

  1. Residue Build up: Over time, dust, dirt, oils from your hands, and other contaminants can accumulate on the steering wheel’s surface. This build up can become sticky and make the wheel uncomfortable to touch. Solution: Clean the steering wheel thoroughly with an appropriate interior cleaner, steering wheel cleaner or a mixture of mild soap and water. Be sure to rinse and dry it properly.
  2. Heat and Sun Exposure: Prolonged exposure to sunlight and heat can cause the materials used in steering wheel construction, such as leather or synthetic materials, to break down or become sticky. Solution: Use a sunshade to protect your car’s interior from excessive heat and UV rays. Applying a UV protectant or conditioner to the steering wheel, after cleaning with a good quality steering wheel cleaner, can also help prevent damage.
  3. Spills and Stains: Food or drink spills on the steering wheel can leave behind residue that becomes sticky as it dries. Solution: Promptly clean up spills with a damp cloth and a mild cleaning solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals that might damage the steering wheel material.
  4. Aging or Deterioration: With time, steering wheel materials can wear out, crack, or deteriorate, which may lead to a sticky or tacky feeling. Solution: In some cases, you may need to replace the steering wheel if it’s beyond repair. Regularly using a leather or vinyl conditioner can help prolong the life of the steering wheel.
  5. Humidity and Moisture: High humidity levels can sometimes cause the steering wheel’s surface to feel sticky, especially if combined with other factors like residue build up. Solution: Use a dehumidifier in your car if high humidity is a recurring issue. Use steering wheel cleaner as needed.
  6. Chemical Contamination: Certain cleaning products or chemicals can react with the steering wheel material and leave a sticky residue. Solution: Use only manufacturer-recommended or car-specific steering wheel cleaners to avoid chemical reactions. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first if you’re unsure about a product.
  7. Faulty Steering Wheel Cover: If you have a steering wheel cover, it may deteriorate over time and become sticky. Solution: Replace the cover with a new one or remove it and clean the steering wheel directly.

Remember that addressing the cause of the stickiness is important not only for comfort but also for safety, as a sticky steering wheel can affect your grip and control of the vehicle. If the issue persists or worsens despite cleaning and maintenance efforts, consider consulting a professional mechanic or an automotive interior specialist for further assessment and recommendations.

Choosing the Right Steering Wheel Cleaner

steering wheel cleaner products

When it comes to choosing the right steering wheel cleaner, there are a few factors to consider. The type of material used for the steering wheel is the most important factor to consider. Different materials require different types of cleaners. For example, leather steering wheels require a cleaner specifically designed for leather, while plastic steering wheels require a different kind of cleaner.

Another factor to consider is the level of dirt and grime on the steering wheel. If the steering wheel is heavily soiled, a more heavy-duty cleaner may be necessary. On the other hand, if the steering wheel is only lightly soiled, a more gentle cleaner may be sufficient.

It is important to also consider any allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals when choosing a steering wheel cleaner. Some cleaners may contain harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritation or other adverse reactions.

When selecting a steering wheel cleaner, it is recommended to read reviews and compare products to ensure the chosen cleaner is effective and safe to use. Additionally, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use to avoid damaging the steering wheel or causing any other issues.

5 Of The Best Steering Wheel Cleaners

Finding the best steering wheel cleaner can sometimes be tricky. There are some many different products out there. Some are high end products and others are great if you are on a budget. Below is our top 5 steering wheel cleaners that we have used or had recommended to us.

  1. Meguiar’s G13616SP Quik Interior Detailer Cleaner: Meguiar’s is a well-known brand in car care, and their interior detailer is known for its effectiveness in cleaning and protecting steering wheels. It’s safe for all interior surfaces and leaves a non-greasy finish.
  2. Chemical Guys Inner Clean Interior Quick Detailer and Protectant: Chemical Guys offer a range of car cleaning products, and their Inner Clean is designed for quick and easy cleaning of interior surfaces, including steering wheels. It leaves a matte finish and helps protect against UV damage.
  3. 303 Aerospace Protectant: This is a versatile product that not only cleans but also offers UV protection for your steering wheel and other interior surfaces. It leaves a dry, matte finish, which can be appealing to those who prefer a non-greasy feel.
  4. Mothers VLR Vinyl, Leather & Rubber Care: Mothers is another trusted brand in car care, and their VLR cleaner is suitable for steering wheels made of various materials, including vinyl, leather, and rubber. It cleans, conditions, and protects.
  5. Lexol Vinylex Protectant: Lexol is known for its leather care products, and their Vinylex Protectant can be used on vinyl surfaces like steering wheels. It cleans and leaves a clean, non-greasy finish.

When choosing a steering wheel cleaner, consider the material of your steering wheel and any specific preferences you have for the finish (matte or glossy) and any additional features like UV protection or scent. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results and to ensure the safety of your steering wheel and interior surfaces.

How to Clean Your Steering Wheel

hand on wheel

Keeping your steering wheel clean is essential for both hygiene and aesthetics. Cleaning your steering wheel regularly can help remove dirt, grime, and bacteria that accumulate over time. Here is a step-by-step guide to clean your steering wheel:

Step 1: Choose the Right Cleaner

The first step to cleaning your steering wheel is to choose the right cleaner. The type of cleaner you choose will depend on the material of your steering wheel. For example, if you have a leather steering wheel, you should use a leather cleaner. If you have a plastic or vinyl steering wheel, you can use an all-purpose cleaner. It’s essential to read the label of the cleaner to ensure it’s safe for your steering wheel material.

Step 2: Apply the Cleaner

Once you have chosen the right cleaner, apply it to a microfiber towel. Avoid spraying the cleaner directly on the steering wheel to prevent it from getting into the electronic components. Gently wipe the steering wheel with the towel, making sure to cover all areas, including the sides and the spokes. If there are any hard-to-reach areas, use a soft-bristled brush to clean them.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

After cleaning the steering wheel, rinse the towel with clean water and wipe the steering wheel to remove any residue. Then, use a dry microfiber towel to dry the steering wheel. Make sure to dry it thoroughly to prevent any water spots from forming.

Step 4: Condition the Steering Wheel (Optional)

If you have a leather steering wheel, you can apply a leather conditioner to keep it soft and prevent it from cracking. Apply the conditioner to a clean microfiber towel and wipe it onto the steering wheel. Allow the conditioner to sit for a few minutes before wiping off any excess with a clean towel.

By following these steps, you can keep your steering wheel clean and in good condition. It’s essential to clean your steering wheel regularly to prevent the build-up of dirt and bacteria, which can be harmful to your health.

Can I Polish A Wooden Steering Wheel?

Yes, you can polish a wooden steering wheel to enhance its appearance and protect the wood. Polishing a wooden steering wheel can help maintain its luster, remove minor imperfections, and add a layer of protection against environmental factors. Here are the steps to polish a wooden steering wheel:

  1. Gather Your Supplies:
  • Mild wood cleaner or soap and water mixture
  • Soft microfiber or cotton cloth
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (optional, for minor imperfections)
  • Wood polish or wax
  • Wood polish applicator or another soft cloth
  1. Clean the Steering Wheel:
  • Start by cleaning the steering wheel with a mild wood cleaner or a mixture of mild soap and water.
  • Dampen a soft cloth with the cleaning solution and gently wipe down the entire steering wheel to remove dirt, grime, and any residue.
  • Rinse the cloth and wipe down the steering wheel again to remove any soap or cleaner residue.
  1. Inspect for Imperfections (Optional):
  • If your wooden steering wheel has minor imperfections like scratches or blemishes, you can use fine-grit sandpaper (around 1000 to 1500 grit) to lightly sand the affected areas. Sand in the direction of the wood grain, and be very gentle to avoid excessive removal of wood.
  1. Apply Wood Polish or Wax:
  • Once the steering wheel is clean and any imperfections are addressed, apply a high-quality wood polish or wax designed for automotive use. Make sure it is suitable for the type of wood your steering wheel is made from.
  • Apply a small amount of polish to a wood polish applicator or a soft cloth.
  • Work the polish into the wood in a circular motion, ensuring even coverage.
  • Allow the polish to sit for the recommended time specified on the product’s instructions.
  1. Buff and Shine:
  • After allowing the polish to sit, use a clean, dry microfiber or cotton cloth to buff the steering wheel. Buff in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Continue to buff until the steering wheel has a shiny, polished appearance.
  1. Repeat as Necessary:
  • Depending on the condition of the steering wheel, you may need to repeat the polishing process periodically to maintain its appearance and protection.
  1. Maintain Regularly:
  • To keep your wooden steering wheel looking its best, clean it regularly and apply wood polish or wax as needed, especially if you notice it losing its shine or developing minor imperfections.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific wood polish or wax you are using, and be gentle when cleaning and polishing to avoid damaging the wood. Proper maintenance can help prolong the life and appearance of your wooden steering wheel.

Tips for Maintaining a Clean Steering Wheel

Keeping your steering wheel clean is important not only for aesthetics but also for hygiene reasons. A dirty steering wheel can harbour bacteria and germs, which can be harmful to your health. Here are some tips to maintain a clean steering wheel:

  • Wash your hands before driving: This may seem obvious, but washing your hands before driving can prevent dirt and oil from transferring onto your steering wheel.
  • Use a microfiber cloth: A microfiber cloth is gentle on your steering wheel and can effectively remove dirt and grime without scratching the surface.
  • Choose the right cleaner: Depending on the material of your steering wheel, you may need a specific cleaner. For example, leather steering wheels require a cleaner specifically designed for leather.
  • Clean regularly: It’s important to clean your steering wheel regularly to prevent buildup of dirt and grime. How often you clean your steering wheel will depend on how frequently you use your car and how dirty your steering wheel gets.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Harsh chemicals can damage your steering wheel, so it’s important to avoid using them. Stick to gentle cleaners that are specifically designed for your steering wheel material.

By following these tips, you can maintain a clean and hygienic steering wheel, which will not only look great but also help keep you healthy.


After researching various steering wheel cleaners, it is clear that there are many effective products available on the market. Whether you prefer a spray or a wipe, a leather or faux leather cleaner, there is a product that will suit your needs.

One of the top recommended products is the Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner, which is versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces in addition to the steering wheel. For those with premium leather seats, the Colourlock Leather Shield is a great option to protect and nourish the leather. And for those with faux leather, the TriNova Faux Leather Conditioner is highly rated.

It is important to note that when cleaning a steering wheel, one should avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the surface. Instead, opt for a gentle cleaner that is specifically designed for use on leather or faux leather surfaces. Additionally, always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the best results.

Overall, taking care of your steering wheel not only improves the appearance of your vehicle’s interior, but also ensures a comfortable and safe driving experience. By regularly cleaning and maintaining your steering wheel, you can extend its lifespan and keep it looking and feeling like new.

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