Steering Wheel Cleaner – What’s Best to Use?

Using the right steering wheel cleaner is key in keeping your steering wheel looking good. Learn how best to clean a steering wheel, plus our favorite products.

Steering Wheel Cleaner

The best way to protect the resale value of your vehicle is to clean it often. With the complete detail, you must also pay attention to the steering wheel. After all, your hands are constantly touching it, leading to a buildup of dirt, debris, sweat, oils from our hands and bacteria. What’s the best steering wheel cleaner to use and how should you remove the dirt?

It’s important to purchase a steering wheel cleaner that works with the material in your vehicle. Otherwise, you could cause irreversible damage. Among the top brands to choose from, some of the most popular options continue to be Chemical Guys, CAR GUYS and Armor All. 

In this guide, we outline the best way to clean your steering wheel based on what type it is. We also review the top three brands and show you what makes each unique. First, you need to determine what type of steering wheel your car has and then follow the guide below depending on the material.

Plastic Steering Wheel Cleaner 

1. Choose Appropriate Cleaner

Your lower-budget car is probably equipped with a plastic steering wheel. While it’s not the best material, you still want to take care of it properly.

Thankfully, there are a lot of all-purpose cleaners that can be used on plastic steering wheels. Consider the benefits of using something like CAR GUYS Detailing Super Cleaner

2. Apply to a Microfiber Cloth

Even with this all-purpose cleaner, you don’t want to apply it directly to your steering wheel. Instead, grab a clean microfiber cloth. 

Spray some of the cleaner on the microfiber cloth. It’s okay to start with a minimal amount and work your way up. You don’t want to over-apply the cleaner. 

3. Wipe the Steering Wheel

Clean off the steering wheel with the microfiber cloth. We recommend starting with the top and moving down the front, then the back. 

You want to apply gentle pressure, but use caution around any buttons. If you need to get deep into any areas, you can use your finger with the microfiber cloth over it. 

4. Dry the Steering Wheel

You don’t want to leave any of the cleaner on the steering wheel. Otherwise, it could create damage as the sun bakes it on. 

Instead, get another clean microfiber cloth. Use this cloth to dry the entire steering wheel, which also removes any leftover residue. 

Rubber Steering Wheel Cleaner

1. Choose Appropriate Cleaner

If your steering wheel or cover is rubber, you want to choose the best cleaner possible. You might have success with something such as the Chemical Guys Floor Mat Cleaner & Protectant.

To use it on your steering wheel, you would do better mixing some in equal parts of water. You can mix this mixture up in another spray bottle for use at any time.

2. Apply to Steering Wheel

Don’t apply the cleaner directly to your steering wheel. If you do, it can infiltrate the buttons and cause trouble later.

Instead, apply some to a clean microfiber cloth. Clean the entire steering wheel, paying close attention to any cracks and crevices. Use an internal scrub pad if there is tough grime and you can use a toothbrush to reach difficult areas.

3. Dry Steering Wheel

With a new microfiber cloth, dry off the steering wheel. Wipe it down the same way you did when you were cleaning it.

If you allow it to air dry, there could be residue left behind. This residue can make the steering wheel slippery and could lead to discoloration. 

Upholstered Steering Wheel Cleaner

1. Choose Appropriate Cleaner

Upholstery requires special care to keep in good shape. Thankfully, you can use the same types of cleaners on the upholstered steering wheel as you would on the seats.

You might prefer something like the Sonax Upholstery and Alcantara Cleaner. Considering it’s multi-purpose, you are sure to get your money’s worth. 

2. Apply Cleaner

Before you apply any cleaner, wipe the steering wheel with a clean microfiber cloth. Once the loose dirt has been removed, you are ready to spray some of the cleaner on your cloth. 

You might need to mix some of the cleaner with water if it is strong. Rub down the wheel until it is clean. 

3. Dry Steering Wheel

Many people want to walk away after cleaning the steering wheel, but you should always dry it first. However, you shouldn’t dry it off with the dirty microfiber cloth. 

Grab a clean cloth and give the wheel one more good wipe. If the wheel is dry, it won’t be slippery or sticky. 

RELATED: How to Clean the Inside of Your Car Windshield (3 Steps)

Alcantara Steering Wheel Cleaner

1. Choose Cleaning Solution

Alcantara is not very common in normal cars but is used a lot in race car interiors. You need a special cleaner to work with Alcantara. We recommend the last option, the Sonax Upholstery and Alcantara Cleaner.

Because you are dealing with a synthetic fiber commonly used in racing or sports cars, you must use extra care. If you don’t use the right products, the material will wear out prematurely. 

2. Clean the Wheel

To clean an Alcantara steering wheel, you need the cleaner and a brush. Apply the cleaner to the brush instead of on the wheel directly.

Agitate your wheel with the detailing brush. You can also wipe it off with a microfiber cloth, which removes any leftover contaminants and helps to dry the surface before you drive. 

Leather Steering Wheel Cleaner

1. Choose Appropriate Cleaner

Leather steering wheels are found in high-end luxury cars. While they are comfortable to hold onto, they do require special care to get a clean leather.

Thankfully, most car care product companies make a formula for leather interiors. We recommend Armor All Car Leather Cleaner Spray.

2. Clean the Wheel

Do not spray the cleaner directly onto the steering wheel. Instead, put a small amount on a clean microfiber cloth. 

Rub the surface of the steering wheel using gentle pressure. With a clean microfiber towel, you can wipe away any excess product and dry it off before you drive. Apply a good leather conditioner when you are done with the cleaning to keep the leather in good shape for many years. Just ensure that the steering wheel doesn’t get slippery.

Synthetic Resin Steering Wheel Cleaner

1. Choose Appropriate Cleaner

The synthetic resin is often confused with the plastic steering wheel. These two materials are closely related, making it easy to figure out how to clean a synthetic resin steering wheel.

You can use the same type of all-purpose cleaners that you would with the plastic wheel. Consider the benefits of using something like CAR GUYS Detailing Super Cleaner

2. Apply to a Microfiber Cloth

Don’t apply the multi-purpose cleaner directly to your steering wheel. Otherwise, you could cause damage to the electronics and buttons.

Spray some of the cleaner on the microfiber cloth. Start small and work your way up. You don’t want to over-apply any cleaner. 

3. Wipe the Steering Wheel

Clean off the steering wheel with the microfiber cloth. Move down from the top to get the front and then move onto the back.

You want to apply gentle pressure but ease up near the buttons. If you need to get deep into any areas, you can use your finger with the microfiber cloth over it. 

4. Dry the Steering Wheel

Don’t leave any of the cleaner on the steering wheel. Otherwise, it could create damage and leave behind a residue.

Instead, get another clean microfiber cloth. With this cloth, you can dry the entire steering wheel.

Wooden Steering Wheel Cleaner

1. Choose Appropriate Cleaner

There can be several types of wood used on your steering wheel, so it’s important to know what you are working with. Choose a wood polish and cleaner that works with your type, something such as Weiman Wood Cleaner.

Whatever you choose to use, don’t clean the steering wheel too often. Applying too much polish can lead to cracks over time.

2. Clean Steering Wheel

Put a small amount of the cleaner or polish on your microfiber cloth. Wipe down the steering wheel carefully to remove all grease and germs.

Do not apply a lot of force to the wheel, especially when working around buttons or switches. Make sure all of the residue has been removed before you move on. 

Best Steering Wheel Cleaner Brands

1. Chemical Guys

Believe it or not, Chemical Guys has been around since 1968. These decades of production have caused the company to be one of the most trusted on the market. 

Chemical Guys is based out of Southern California, so the headquarters is in the States. However, the products ship throughout the world. You can find everything needed to clean and detail your car from this company, including buffing pads, high-quality solutions and accessories. 

2. CAR GUYS

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a newer company that is also making a name for itself. CAR GUYS hasn’t been around nearly as long as Chemical Guys, but it’s become one of the top competitors.

All of the formulas are manufactured and mixed up in the United States. Plus, the company prides itself on only using high-quality ingredients, ensuring everything is biodegradable and non-toxic. For this reason alone, it’s clear that CAR GUYS cares about its customers, maybe even more than making massive profits. Again, you will find a complete lineup of car care products, making it easier than ever to keep your vehicle looking its best.

3. Armor All

Back in the day, Armor All was the trusted brand of fathers and grandfathers alike. The American company has been in business since 1972 and rose to the top of the competition quickly. In fact, it became a household name without a lot of other brands to choose from. It’s also been known as a cheaper option if you aren’t looking to spend top dollar.

Armor All is headquartered in Danbury, Connecticut, further adding to the list of United States-based companies. Today, you can wash and detail your entire car with the help of Armor All. Choose from exterior and interior protects that make the vehicle sparkle. 

Benefits of Using a Steering Wheel Cover

If you want to avoid cleaning the steering wheel or having it wear out, consider the benefits of using a cover. You can find a variety of styles and materials, sure to match any lifestyle. 

You can also achieve a better grip on the wheel with a cover. However, the best part is that you won’t be cleaning the wheel itself as often, although you will need to wipe down the cover periodically.

FAQs about Steering Wheel Cleaner

What is the best steering wheel cleaner?

There is no best steering wheel cleaner for all types of steering wheels. To find the best steering wheel cleaner, you need to find out what type of material your steering wheel is made of. Chemical Guys, CAR GUYS and Armor All are some of the best steering wheel cleaner brands in the industry.

Can you use baby wipes on a leather steering wheel?

No, it’s not recommended to use baby wipes to clean a leather steering wheel. The reason being is that the alcohol and other chemicals in the wipes can dry out the leather over time, which will cause it to crack and peel. Use a steering wheel cleaner that is made for leather to prevent damage to the leather.

Can I clean a steering wheel with alcohol?

Whether you can use alcohol to clean the steering wheel depends on the material your steering wheel is made of. If it is made of leather, it can dry out the material and cause it to crack, so it is always recommended to use an appropriate steering wheel cleaner for your car’s type of steering wheel to prevent damage.

Why does my steering wheel feel sticky?

Your steering wheel most likely feels sticky because you haven’t cleaned it in a while. If you don’t clean your steering wheel, it will attract dirt, sweat and other unpleasant things that make the steering wheel feel sticky. Buy a proper steering wheel cleaner for your car’s type of steering wheel.

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