How to Clean a Leather Steering Wheel? (5 Easy Steps)

I’ve always been drawn to the unique characteristics of leather. Its texture, durability, and aroma make every piece special. Today, I want to share my expertise on a common leather care query: cleaning a leather steering wheel. This is not just about aesthetics; it’s about maintaining the integrity and feel of the leather.

Main Points:

  • Regular Cleaning is Essential: Steering wheels can harbor more germs than toilet seats, making regular cleaning crucial not only for hygiene but also to maintain the leather’s quality and finish.
  • Use Leather Cleansing Spray: Start with a leather cleansing spray for initial cleaning. Apply it evenly, let it settle, then gently scrub with a soft brush or cloth.
  • Avoid Harsh Products: Steer clear of alcohol wipes, rubbing alcohol, baby wipes, magic erasers, and harsh dish soaps, as they can damage the leather.
  • Condition After Cleaning: After wiping off the excess cleaner, apply a light leather conditioner to preserve the leather’s suppleness and appearance.
  • Different Approach for Synthetic Leather: For synthetic leather, avoid soaps and detergents, and follow manufacturer-specific instructions for cleaning.
  • Safe Sanitization Method: Consider using a steamer for deep cleaning and sanitization, but be careful to prevent water damage.

Understanding the Need for Regular Cleaning

Firstly, let’s address a startling fact: steering wheels can harbor more germs than toilet seats! This alone justifies regular cleaning. But from a craftsman’s point of view, there’s more to it. Leather, being a natural material, demands care to retain its suppleness and finish.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Method

  1. Start with Leather Cleansing Spray: This is my go-to for initial cleaning. Spray it evenly across the wheel and let it settle for a moment.
  2. Gentle Scrubbing: Using a soft brush or cloth, gently scrub the wheel. Pay special attention to areas that feel stickier or look dirtier.
  3. Wipe Off the Excess: After scrubbing, take a clean cloth to remove any leftover cleaner.
  4. Conditioning the Leather: This step is crucial. Apply a light leather conditioner, ensuring it’s evenly distributed.
  5. Let it Dry: Avoid direct sunlight or high temperatures while drying. This helps preserve the leather’s quality.
Fun Fact: Did you know that your car’s manual often includes specific instructions for leather care products? Always worth a check for tailored advice!

What to Avoid

  • Alcohol Wipes: They may be handy for quick sanitization, but they’re harsh on leather.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: This can strip the leather of its natural oils.
  • Baby Wipes: Their alkaline nature can damage the leather’s finish.
  • Magic Erasers: Too abrasive for delicate leather surfaces.
  • Dish Soap: If you must use it, choose a mild one and dilute it well.
Pro Tip: For water-based cleaning, use distilled water. It's free of impurities that can harm leather.

Choosing the Right Products

In my experience, purpose-designed leather cleansers and conditioners are the best. They clean effectively without damaging the leather’s natural texture and integrity.

Cleaning Synthetic Leather

The approach slightly changes here. Avoid soaps and detergents, and follow any specific manufacturer’s instructions. Remember, the right care can significantly extend the life of even synthetic leather.

Safe Sanitization

Consider using a steamer for deep cleaning and sanitization. It’s effective and natural but handle with care to prevent water damage.


Cleaning a leather steering wheel isn’t just about hygiene; it’s about preserving the craftsmanship and quality of the leather. Regular care keeps your wheel in prime condition, enhancing both your driving experience and the wheel’s lifespan. Remember, leather is not just a material; it’s a piece of art that requires and deserves meticulous care.

Andre from

Andre is a passionate leatherworker who spends his spare time working with leather. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.