How To Clean Steering Wheel Leather The Easy Way



Without knowing it, you’re probably overlooking one of the dirtiest things you touch on a regular basis.

It’s not your phone screen, not that door handle to the bathroom, and it’s not even the toilet in the bathroom.

It’s your car’s steering wheel.

Like most things you touch often, if you don’t take good care if it, it can get gross.

Really gross.

It’s not something that you think about on a day to day basis, but your car’s steering wheel is one of the dirtiest surfaces that you touch every day.

Think about it for a second. If you’re an “average” American driver, you spend about 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year. That’s over 12 days a year.

And guess what you’re touching for most of that time? Your steering wheel!

It’s not just that you’re touching it when you drive.

It’s what you touch during the day, and how often its touched by others. You carry bacteria from these surfaces and deposit them on your steering wheel.

Like the gas pump. Gas pumps are grimy, with a CarRentals study noting that the pump handle is likely 11,835 times dirtier than a public toilet seat.

All the bacteria, grime, and who knows what from stores, pets, your office, and that bar you got drinks at will end up on your steering wheel at some point.

Even worse, about 1/3rd of us clean our cars only once a year. That means your steering wheel is a petri dish for bacteria like Staphyloccus and Propionibacterium, which are responsible for everything from skin infection and inflammation to food poisoning and MRSA.

The average steering wheel was found to be:

  • Over six times dirtier than your average cell phone screen
  • Four times dirtier than a public toilet seat.
  • Twice as dirty as the public elevator buttons at your office

Although most aren’t dangerous, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your steering wheel is worth cleaning. For most steering wheels, you can just use a Lysol wipe or a 90%+ alcohol solution to disinfect your steering wheel.

You can then change the air filter and spray disinfectant to help clean the air coming into the car.

However, if you have a leather steering wheel you’ll want to clean it differently to avoid drying out or cracking the leather, which just looks terrible.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Distilled Water
  • Liquid Dish Washing Soap OR Castille Soap
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Soft Cotton Cloth
  • Leather Conditioner
  • Small bucket
  • Optional: Leather Disinfectant
  • Optional: Leather Cleaning Wipes

Your first step is to sterilize the leather and remove the layer of grime that’s caked on to it.

Step 1: Clean and Sterilize The Leather

Start by mixing a quart of distilled water with liquid soap (Castile Soap and liquid dish washing soaps) are best. Distilled water should be used because it has no impurities that can damage the leather, unlike tap water.

 You can also use a specialty leather disinfectant, like Straight Cleaner Formula No. 2, which is a blend of water, alcohol and other non-alkaline ingredients.

Afterwards, dampen a soft cloth with the solution, and wring the cloth of all liquid before beginning the cleaning process.

Afterwards, gently wipe down the entire steering wheel. Emphasis on gentle. Do not rub it hard. Gently bathe the leather, and then wipe away any excess moisture using a clean microfiber towl.

Step 2: Replenish The Oils In The Leather

After you’ve disinfected the leather, you need to apply a protective coat of oil to keep your leather steering wheel feeling soft and supple.

You’ll want to use a leather conditioner that has sunscreen, as it will protect your steering wheel’s leather from damage caused by light.

Using a leather conditioner and your bare hands, work a dime sized amount of conditioner into the leather using your hands. Work gently around your steering wheel, and then let the conditioner sit for about half an hour.

Afterwards, buff any remaining cleaner away using a microfiber cloth.

Congratulations, your steering wheel is in good shape.

Step 3: Establish A Regular Cleaning Routine For Best Results

Just like how you regularly maintain your car mechanically, you’ll want to clean your steering wheel periodically.

What we recommend is you wipe your steering wheel down weekly, using leather conditioning wipes. Wiping the steering wheel down weekly will help keep the bacteria away.

It’ll also replenish the SPF and nourish your leather, keeping it smooth and supple.

Then, use the above cleaning routine once a month for the optimum health of your steering wheel. The more consistent you are in cleaning it, the better off the leather will age.

Steering Wheel Care/Additional Tips

Any spills you should clean immediately. Leather is porous, and if liquid is allowed to penetrate the surface the stain will be very difficult to remove.

Just as well, avoid cleaning your leather steering wheel with harsh or abrasive cleaners like bleach, as these will cause damage. You can use a mixture of alcohol and water, or water and white vinegar instead.

Never use furniture polish, or any waxes or silicon products on the leather. Avoid using Pledge, for instance, as it can make your leather feel sticky.

Don’t use baby wipes to clean your leather steering wheel. They’re alkaline and will damage the finish.

How To Remove Spots From Your Leather Steering Wheel

Chances are you’ll have a spot or two on your steering wheel, either from water, or something else settling on the leather.

The good news is it’s easy enough to remove the spots.

You’ll need the following:

  • Lemon Juice
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Soft cloth

Mix together 1 part lemon juice and 1 part cream of tartar and then work the paste into the spot you’re looking to remove with a soft cloth.

Once you’ve worked it in, let it sit for a few hours. Make sure you park in the shade, as sunlight can cause damage at this stage.

After letting the paste sit for about 2 hours, come back, and then buff the stain out with another dollop of the mixture. The stain should lift fairly easily.

How To Remove Water Spots From Your Leather Steering Wheel

You’ll need the following:

  • Distilled Water
  • Cotton Cloth
  • Patience (lots of it)

If you get your steering wheel wet, just wipe it down with a soft cotton cloth. However, if water is allowed to sit, it will stain your leather.

Once the leather is stained, you’ll need to blend the stain into the surrounding area.

Dampen a soft cloth with distilled water and wipe outwards from the center of the stain. Be gentle! Use the drier sections of the cloth to work outwards and blend the stain.

How To Remove Grease Stains From Your Leather Steering Wheel

You’ll need the following:

  • Cornstarch
  • Vacuum (with soft brush attachment)
  • Soft cotton cloth

When you decide to eat a greasy burger and throw caution to the wind, have some corn starch on hand to blot up any grease stains.

Start by blotting the grease with the cloth to lift any surface grease. Afterwards, shake a layer of cornstarch on the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes.

After letting it sit, vacuum up the residue with the soft brush attachment on your vacuum. You may need to repeat this process several times to get all of the grease, although you should pull a majority of it fairly quickly.

How To Remove Scratches From A Leather Steering Wheel

Removing scratches from your steering wheel absolutely can be done, but it’s a little tricky.

You’ll need:

  • Olive Oil or Baby Oil
  • Soft Cotton Cloth

Start by dabbing the cloth with olive oil. Lightly rub the cloth on the affected area, using a circular motion to buff out the scratches. Continue to move outwards from the scratches.

The scratches will soak up the oil and will appear darker than the leather. This effect will fade as it dries.

Continue working the olive oil into the leather, making sure to slowly work it into the non-effected area.

It’s best to do this during the evening, when there’s no sun.

Afterwards, let the steering wheel dry for about 12-18 hours, with the steering wheel sitting out of the light or sun.

Repeat the treatment as needed, until the scratches have gone away.

How To Restore A Stiff Leather Steering Wheel To Supple Leather Steering Wheel

Leather stiffens as it ages. Fortunate, you can easily soften the leather on your steering wheel and keep it soft with regular care.

You’ll need:

  • All the materials listed above to clean the leather
  • A clean, dry cotton cloth
  • Leather dressing (contains neatsfoot, or lanolin oil)

This is best done after the cleaning procedure above. Apply the dressing over the steering wheel with your fingers and allow it to soak for up to 3 hours. Repeat the application until the leather softens.

After the leather softens, allow the oil to soak in overnight. The following morning blot any remaining oil out with a clean, dry cotton cloth.

Repeat this procedure at least once every 1-2 months for best results.

Maintaining Your Car Pays Dividends – Let Protect My Car Help You Maintain Yours

We know how expensive it can be to keep your car running in tip top shape.

In addition to the pain of paying regular maintence fees, cars inevitably break down as they age, and can leave you saddled with thousands of dollars of expensive repairs that aren’t as easy to handle as cleaning a leather steering wheel.

We don’t want you to have to experience the pain and stress of suffering an expensive breakdown.

That’s why we have our extended warranty policies, which protect you from expensive repair bills.

If you have a covered breakdown, we’ll step in and pay the cost of the repair for you.

The hardest thing you’ll have to do is drive your car out of the repair shop after it’s fixed for you.

If you want to get more information, you can do so by getting a free quote here.

Happy driving!

About Protect My Car

Protect My Car is an extended auto warranty company. Our goal here at Protect My Car is to eliminate your worry of being financially responsible for an expensive mechanical breakdown. With our extended auto warranty, you don’t have to worry about being fully burdened with the cost of a covered repair.