How To Clean and Protect a Car Leather Steering Wheel

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cleaning leather steering wheel

While steering wheels usually don’t look dirty, they’re actually one of the dirtiest areas in your car because of body oils and sweat. In this post, I’ll show you the exact steps I take when cleaning the leather steering wheel in my car.

I’ll also show you how I protect and condition the leather on my steering wheel so it lasts longer and is generally easier to clean.

Key Takeaways:

  • To clean the leather steering wheel, you should use a soft leather cleaning brush, leather cleaner, and a microfiber cloth.
  • To protect the leather steering wheel, you should use automotive leather conditioners that don’t leave the surface slippery.
  • If not cleaned regularly, leather steering wheels will wear and tear in just a few years.

Cleaning Leather Steering Wheel

Here are a few simple steps to clean the leather steering wheel in your car. By doing these steps, you’ll remove all the dirt, dust, sweat, and oils from the leather steering wheel but also disinfect it so it’s perfect for a healthy ride.

What you’ll need:

Also, if you can, I suggest that you use a bottle with a foam dispenser for your leather cleaner. That way, you’ll spend way less on products, and cleaning agents will start working quickly.

Steps for cleaning leather steering wheel:

  • Vacuum the steering wheel while brushing it with a detailing brush.
  • Spray leather cleaner on the detailing brush and start brushing the steering wheel. Don’t spray cleaner directly on the steering wheel.
  • After brushing the whole steering wheel, pick a clean microfiber towel and wipe the residue off.
  • Repeat the process once more, and you’re done.

As you can see, I recommended repeating the whole process because sweat and body oils are usually tough to remove and won’t be completely removed with one pass only.

When it comes to plastic parts on steering wheels, don’t worry about those. All leather cleaners are perfectly safe to use on plastics, especially with the method that I’ve shown you above.

Protecting Leather Steering Wheel

When everything is clean, it’s time to protect the steering wheel adequately. But you can’t use just any leather conditioner when it comes to the steering wheel.

Many protectants (such as ceramic coating) leave the surface slippery, which isn’t safe for the steering wheel. If you use such products on it, you won’t be able to drive safely. You want to use a high-quality leather conditioner that won’t leave a greasy look and won’t make the steering wheel slippery.

What you’ll need:

  • Applicator Pad
  • Non-slippery leather conditioner
  • Clean microfiber towel

Steps to condition and protect the leather steering wheel:

  • Pour the leather conditioner on an applicator pad.
  • Start working the conditioner into the leather parts of the steering wheel. Do it thoroughly to protect all the tiny leather pores and crevices.
  • Use a clean microfiber towel to buff off any leather conditioner residue and dry the steering wheel.

After you’re finished with conditioning and protecting the leather steering wheel, let it dry for a few minutes, just to make sure that the leather soaked up all the important ingredients from conditioners.

The Importance of Cleaning Leather Steering Wheel

As I said earlier, the steering wheel is full of body oils, sweat, dust, and other dirt specks. If you neglect it for a while, the steering wheel will quickly become old.

Reasons to clean and protect the leather steering wheel:

  • You’ll keep the leather soft and flexible.
  • Extending the steering wheel’s lifespan.
  • Making rides more comfortable.
  • Protecting the steering wheel from UV rays and other external factors.

With all these reasons mentioned, it would be dumb not to clean, disinfect and protect your steering wheel.

However, many people make mistakes when it comes to protecting the steering wheel the right way, which can be dangerous. That’s why I decided to write this article.

Best Leather Steering Wheel Cleaners and Conditioners

In my opinion, the best leather steering wheel cleaners are standard leather cleaners that you use to clean all the leather in your vehicle. Leather cleaners are gentle enough not to damage the leather yet strong enough to clean and disinfect the steering wheel.

And the best conditioners for leather steering wheels are the ones that don’t leave the surface greasy and slippery.

Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner – Best For Leather Steering Wheels

Chemical Guys SPI_208_16 Colorless and Odorless Leather Cleaner for Car Interiors, Furniture, Boots,...
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I’ve tried at least fifteen different leather cleaners in the past few years, but Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner left the best impression and foamed the best when I use it with a foamer bottle.

With this product, the steering wheel in my car becomes 99% clean even after just one pass with the brush.

Koch Chemie Leather Star – Best Protectant For Leather Steering Wheels

KOCHCHEMIE Leather Star - Deep Cleaner for Leather; Revitalizes, Preserves, and Protects; Pleasant...
Amazon Prime

Koch Chemie Leather Star is my go-to product for protecting leather steering wheels. The reason is that it leaves a like-a-original look without adding shine or gloss or making the steering wheel slippery.

I also realized that the steering wheel feels much softer after applying this product, which makes riding my car so much more comfortable.


How often to clean the leather steering wheel?

The leather steering wheel should be cleaned every time you detail your car, which should be every two weeks.

How to know if the leather steering wheel is dirty?

The easiest way to recognize if a leather steering wheel is dirty is to look at it, and if it looks shiny, it’s dirty. Natural leather always looks matte when it’s clean.

Can I use an all-purpose cleaner (APC) on the steering wheel?

Using an APC on the steering wheel may be risky. If you don’t dilute APC the right way, it may damage the leather steering wheel. I always recommend people use leather cleaner, even if they don’t have a real leather steering wheel.

Can I use rubber conditioners to protect the steering wheel?

I don’t recommend you use rubber conditioning products on the steering wheels. They’ll leave the steering wheel slippery, which is hazardous.

Is the detailing brush important for cleaning the steering wheel?

I recommend you use it. Without a brush, you’ll hardly clean those tiny pores and crevices on the steering wheel. However, you don’t have to use a dedicated detailing brush; any soft and gentle brush will be fine.

If you prefer video guides, I suggest this video from Pan The Organizer. His leather steering wheel cleaning process is similar to mine. The only difference is that he doesn’t use a detailing brush for cleaning but uses a scrub pad instead.

And if you have an Alcantara steering wheel, I invite you to check my guide on cleaning Alcantara steering wheels.

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