How to Clean a Steering Wheel?

Created: November 7, 2021


How to Clean a Steering Wheel

The steering wheel is the most important element in driving a car. Since the driver is in constant contact with the steering wheel, the material of the steering wheel quickly loses its appearance, scuffs and scratches appear on it. In this article, we will tell you how to properly clean the steering wheel and restore it to its previous appearance.


General information about steering wheel

The steering wheel is often the most contaminated element in a car’s interior over time. The dashboard is constantly washed and rubbed, the seats are regularly cleaned, but the steering wheel remains in its original form. By neglecting careful and regular maintenance of the wheel, drivers turn it into a breeding ground for dirt and infections. After all, no one washes their hands before driving, which means that all the dirt from the hands gets onto the steering wheel, dust is added to it and so on.

If dirt is not very noticeable on a plastic steering wheel, it is striking on leather and suede controls. Greasy stains on the steering wheel are far from aesthetically pleasing.

Car detailing series: Cleaning car interior

There are no special products for steering wheel care on sale. Therefore, we resort to using car shampoo or wet wipes.

Cleaning without shampoo

Be sure to look at the instructions for the car shampoo. You are interested in the line about proportions. To clean the steering wheel, you need to take more than recommended. Otherwise, the applied soapy water will be difficult to rinse off the steering wheel. Remnants of it will make the steering wheel sticky and unpleasant to the touch and will simply attract dust.

 How do we clean

The steering wheel cleaning algorithm is as follows:

  • the resulting soap solution is applied to the steering wheel with a spray bottle;
  • if the dirt is persistent, then we give the shampoo time to dissolve it (a couple of minutes will be enough);
  • we arm ourselves with a toothbrush and clean out dirt from hard-to-reach places;
  • With a clean microfiber cloth, remove the remaining solution from the steering wheel and wipe it dry.
  • Cleaning without using wet wipes

Wet wipes do a good job with light dirt on the steering wheel. True, dirt cannot be removed from hard-to-reach places with their help. Moreover, of all the variety, preference should be given to those that are created for the care of delicate skin.

    How do we clean with wipes

It is best to apply wipes regularly, as the steering wheel becomes dirty, while the dirt has not yet absorbed into the surface. Then, with their help, it will be easy to maintain the steering column in proper condition.

We take out the wet wipes one by one and wipe them, changing the napkins, until the signs of contamination on the steering wheel disappear and the napkin is clean after wiping the steering wheel.

What effect

A plastic steering wheel is less demanding and whimsical than leather or suede. It is enough to wash the steering wheel made of plastic and wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth. This completes the cleaning.

With a steering wheel made of suede or leather – it’s more difficult. Special protection is required to protect the steering column from further contamination for a long time. It should be an auto suede or leather care product. Thanks to timely care, the steering wheel of your car will always be in perfect condition.

Car detailing series: Cleaning car interior

We restore the appearance of the steering wheel

Most often, restoring the appearance of the steering wheel and of course cleaning leather seats is important when selling a car, it shows how intensively the car was used by the previous owner. But even if the car is not getting ready for sale, it is not very pleasant to constantly hold a worn-out “steering wheel” in your hands. Let us analyze in this article all the questions on restoring the appearance of the steering wheel with our own hands. With the advent of a large number of special automotive cosmetics, the question of self-restoration of the steering wheel disappears. Anyone can cope with this task without resorting to specialists, while saving money.

Reference! If there is leather on the steering wheel, then it can be removed and a new one can be installed, but this process is laborious and requires accuracy so that the seams look even.

You can use special steering pads and covers, but in this case the thickness of the steering wheel changes, which leads to discomfort for the driver, who is accustomed to the standard dimensions.

The easiest and best restoration method is to paint the steering cover, both plastic and leather. When deciding to start restoring the steering wheel cover on your own, you must first decide whether to remove the steering wheel or not.

The first option gives a lot of trouble, because in modern car models there is a large number of touch controls on the steering wheel, an airbag, and the fastening of the steering wheel itself is rather complicated.

If you restore the steering wheel without removing it, you need to take care not to damage the interior of your car and various steering decorative inserts.

To do this, they are preliminarily covered with tape, polyethylene, or an adhesive packaging film that does not leave traces of glue on the surface.

We restore the appearance of the steering wheel

How to paint steering wheel general information?

As already mentioned, the range of automotive cosmetics today is very wide, and it is not difficult to pick up paint for the steering wheel. When choosing materials, the budget that you are willing to spend is more important. Anyone who is going to restore the appearance of the steering wheel himself must decide for himself what suits him best. We can only give general guidelines.

Now in the auto cosmetic departments, kits for the restoration of the interior are sold, both for plastic and for leather. It is enough to remove any plastic part of the interior in order to select the desired color.

The type of paint depends on the dressing of the leather. If it is vegetable tanned, then due to the increased absorption, you will have to use a large amount of water-based or vegetable-based paint in order to achieve an even color. And if the dressing is rough chrome, then when painting you can use paint and solvent-based.

If the coating has not only abrasions, but also various damages in the form of cracks and other defects, it is best to use “liquid skin”. With its help, the leather surface can be brought almost to its original state.

Step-by-step instructions on how to paint the steering wheel?

For painting, you can use both a brush and an aerosol can. As already mentioned, if the steering wheel is not removed, then first you need to protect all the parts of the interior and steering wheel, which do not need to be painted.


If chemical based paint will be used, you may need to use a respirator and goggles to protect your eyes.

In addition, you will need:

  • sandpaper 500, 1000, 1500;
  • scotch tape or sticky packaging film; degreaser;
  • sponge, preferably melamine; spray paint can, or a brush, depending on how you paint;
  • paint; paint fixer or special varnish.

The process itself is not complicated. Having collected everything you need to restore the steering wheel, let’s get to work:

  1. We protect surfaces that do not need to be painted with adhesive tape or film.
  2. The entire surface intended for painting is thoroughly wiped with a sponge moistened with water and any household detergent to remove dirt.
  3. Using sandpaper, starting with a large one, we clean the entire surface, removing the old varnish and old paint, and finish cleaning with the finest sandpaper.
  4. Degrease the surface.
  5. Using a brush or a spray can, apply paint evenly to the surface. The paint is applied in several layers, at least three. There is no point in waiting for each of the layers to dry, it is better to paint in a row “wet” in order to achieve uniformity of color.
  6. If “liquid skin” is used to restore the surface, after application, a fixer is used and only then is the painting performed.
  7. We are waiting for the paint to dry completely, after which the steering wheel is ready for use.
  8. If restoration of decorative inserts on the steering wheel is required, we carefully paint them with compositions that match the color.


Painting plastic and wood inserts on the steering wheel

Plastic and wood on the steering wheel are used more often as decoration, but plastic is the basis of the steering wheel, and only the rim is covered with leather. There is usually little damage to the plastic part, as these areas are not heavily used, except for the horn and touch control buttons located on the steering wheel.

Buttons and other small parts are cleaned of dirt and old paint with a cotton swab with a solvent, dried, and then a new paint, matched by color, is carefully applied with a brush. After cleaning, larger parts are painted with a brush or using an aerosol can with a thin layer so that aggressive paint components do not affect the plastic.

Wooden inserts are usually coated with a durable varnish. But if scratches appear on them, then they can be removed simply by polishing, cleaning the scratch with sandpaper and using special polishing pastes. Deep scratches are polished to a matt surface, after which the wooden insert is covered with polyurethane varnish, as it is the most durable and elastic.

Painting plastic and wood inserts on the steering wheel


A steering wheel cover is available to protect the steering wheel, but not all adapt to changes in the thickness of the steering wheel. In order for the steering wheel material and also leather seats to retain its appearance and integrity as long as possible, it is advisable to wipe the steering wheel at least once a day using specialized automotive cosmetics and steering wheel cleaners. Dirt removers are available at any specialty store, both for plastics and leather.

After applying the product to the surface of the steering wheel, you need to carefully wipe all parts with a soft microfiber, and then wipe everything dry. This prophylaxis will preserve the appearance of the steering wheel. In case of minor abrasions or scratches, it is advisable to have a “cosmetic set” with a brush and paint in the car in order to quickly eliminate the damage. These simple measures will preserve the steering wheel cover for a long time and save you the hassle of frequent restorations.

Steering Wheel Cleaner

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