how to clean a leather steering wheel

How To Clean & Protect Your Leather Steering Wheel

A leather steering wheel is a great way to boost your vehicle’s style. For proper care, learning how to clean it regularly and remove dirt and grime that accumulates over time is key for proper care.

Imagine sitting in your car, gazing at your steering wheel. You notice that it doesn’t look as soft, supple, and bright as it once did, and just a quick wipe is enough to reveal all the dirt and grime that has accumulated over time… 

Cleaning your leather steering wheel is an important part of auto maintenance. Leather requires regular care to maintain its beauty and prevent it from drying out, cracking, or fading. Rest assured, the process is not even as hard as you may think — as long as you know what products to use and how. 

If you are interested in learning how to clean a leather steering wheel, this blog post will give you everything you need to know for excellent results. 

What Are Leather Steering Wheels All About?

Before showing you how to clean them, here’s a quick look at what these fancy car auditions are. 

Leather is a natural product made from animal skin. This skin is stripped of its hair, treated to remove oils and protein, and tanned with various chemicals. This process is not easy or quick. When ready, leather can withstand wear and tear better than any other material.

Leather steering wheels can be wrapped both in genuine or artificial leather — aka vinyl. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. The type of leather selected for the wheel can determine its look. For instance, softy-soft black leather will have a much different look than rough-textured brown or white leather.

Why Do Steering Wheels Become Dirty? 

If you're like most people, your car's steering wheel is dirty! As it gets handled daily — constantly making contact with your hands and fingers — it's warm and moist, creating the perfect conditions for bacterial growth. Considering that most cars are parked for hours at a time, grime and dust keep building up on the steering wheel.

Dirt can range from light soiling to heavy grime buildup, which we've seen happen due to dirt and grease from food residue and key chains. 

Even though you can't see dirt and grease stains on the surface, they are still there, creating a sticky feeling when you grip. 

The best way to prevent this is to clean your steering wheel regularly. You can buy and use products specially designed for leather care like Nexgen’s Interior Cleaner. This leather cleaner will help clean and protect the entire leather upholstery from damage due to exposure to dust, UV rays, and other elements found in cars.

nexgen interior conditioner for car steering wheels

Changing out your air filter every 10k miles is also a good idea because it will help keep dirt from building up in places like your garage or driveway where it doesn't get touched as often.

How Often Should I Clean My Steering Wheel?

Learning how to clean a leather steering wheel is a good idea, but make sure you know how often to do it too.

Leather is pleasing to the eye and offers more comfort — some may even call it luxury. However, this “luxury” comes at a cost! If you don’t care for it properly, it will show signs of tear and wear faster than other materials. Once that happens, reversing the process is hard.

That said, you should clean your steering wheel’s leather regularly because grime doesn't usually come off by itself. Don’t worry, you won’t need to wash it every day either! A general rule of thumb is to clean it once a week, but you can go a bit longer if you can't find the time.

If you want to keep your leather soft and supple for longer, you cannot go wrong with Nexgen Interior Conditioner. This conditioner comes in a spray bottle, is compact, and easy to use. Apart from working great on leather, it offers excellent results on plastic and vinyl as well. 

nexgen interior cleaner

What You Should Know About How To Clean Leather Steering Wheels

Leather steering wheels have a prestigious look and feel. They are most often found in luxury cars. Leather is a very rich material with a lot of depth to it. It can be made to look worn or brand new, depending on the part you choose. Certain types of leather also have different textures, which can provide an interesting change from the usual shiny plastic steering wheel.

Whether your car is used for business, pleasure, or just daily driving, upgrading to a leather steering wheel can make it look more expensive and luxurious. 

Here are some aspects you should know about owning a vehicle with a leather steering wheel:

Different Materials, Different Results

The truth is your cleaning sessions may vary because of the many types of leather used to make steering wheels. 

Genuine or premium leather has a high gloss finish, making it look smooth and luxurious. This type of leather is often used for car interiors because it is hard-wearing and looks great over time. It should only be available in one color since dyeing this type of leather will often lower the quality if not done properly.

Another option for steering wheels is full-grain leather. Full-grain leather also has a high gloss finish, but the texture is slightly different than genuine or premium. The color can vary, so you may see blotches of darker colors on the surface. But don't let that fool you! These are still high-quality skins that will last for an extremely long time with the proper maintenance.

Premium vinyl leather is another option to consider when upgrading your steering wheel to real leather. Premium vinyl looks like authentic leather but doesn't require as much special care as its genuine counterparts do.

Longer Leather Lifespan

When you clean and moisturize your leather steering often, you may expect it to last up to 10-15 years, so regular maintenance really pays off in the long term. 

Increased Road Safety 

What’s more, knowing how to clean the steering wheel may also increase your safety on the road. A dirty leather steering wheel may easily become slippery, causing improper handling when driving. 

How Can I Make My Steering Wheel Leather Look New?

steering wheel cleaning

Cleaning leather is not like cleaning other materials like cloth or vinyl. You must avoid certain things to prevent damage. 

For starters, never use ammonia-based products on the surface of your leather steering wheel. This can leave streaks that will darken after time and ruin the look of your beautiful new leather.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to clean your car’s leather steering wheel:

  • First, gather the following items: interior cleaner and conditioner along with a microfiber cloth or cotton swabs. I also recommend using a soft towel or old t-shirt instead of paper towels, which can be abrasive on the material.
  • Apply a small amount of cleaner onto the cloth and gently wipe the entire steering wheel in circular motions until all dirt is removed from the surfaces of the leather.
  • Rinse off any dirt and grime with warm water, and pat dry with a clean towel. If there are any dried substances, use an old toothbrush to scrub these away before wiping them down with a damp towel.
  • The last step in protecting your steering wheel is applying a quality leather conditioner in an even layer over the entire area. This will moisturize and rejuvenate the leather and help guard against stains and fading over time!

How To Prevent Grime And Dirt Build-Up In The First Place

  • The first thing you can do to avoid dirty steering wheels is to wipe them down before and after driving. You can use a damp rag or a cleaning cloth for this purpose.

  • Apply a small amount of vegetable oil to your hands before driving. This will create a barrier that will prevent dirt from sticking to your hands as much.
  • Use cotton gloves while driving, which is an effective way to keep your hands clean and bacteria-free.
  • Purchase a steering wheel cover. These are easy to install, are inexpensive, and make any dirty steering wheel look clean again!

Wrapping Up

There are many benefits to using leather in your car’s interior. Leather is durable, stylish, and provides a comfortable grip on your steering wheel. Plus, it can be dyed to any color, so it’s perfect for customizing your car's look. 

But this all hinges on one thing — if you want to keep your car leather steering wheel looking new, cleanliness is key.

As you can see in this blog, learning how to clean your leather steering wheel is not at all complicated. In fact, the entire cleaning process is an easy set of steps that, when followed, will help you get excellent results.

If you are ready to level up your car cleaning and detailing efforts, try Nexgen! Our products have been rigorously formulated and tested to provide only the best results. We deliver across the US and offer our VIP customers free, 2-day shipping.

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