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What’s the most important part of your car? Some drivers believe it’s the infotainment system. Others value their shift knobs over other interior parts. For many drivers, the steering wheel is the focal point of their vehicles. A dirty steering wheel could say a lot about the condition of the rest of a vehicle’s cabin. Many owners take pride in keeping a vehicle clean. So, what do you do when there’s buildup on your steering wheel? Is there an effective way to clean it?

Why a clean steering wheel is important

The interior of a Mercedes-Benz EQE electric vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz EQE | Mercedes-Benz

Before we dive into how to clean your steering wheel, let’s discuss why you should have a clean steering wheel in the first place. Does having a dirty steering wheel impede your ability to properly operate your vehicle? Probably not. That being said, maintaining a clean vehicle can help you protect its long-term value for reselling purposes.

If you don’t plan on reselling your vehicle, there are still plenty of benefits to keeping a tidy interior. For one, regularly cleaning a vehicle’s interior can help prevent the buildup of germs and bacteria. Since the steering wheel is one part of a car you interact with regularly, it helps if the surface is relatively free of germs.

So, now that we’ve established that keeping a clean steering wheel can be conducive to good health and retaining value, what do you do with a dirty steering wheel? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

Which steering wheel cleaning solution should you get?

Drivers, especially gearheads, could get all types of substances and residue on steering wheels. Anything from paints to sticky gels could end up stuck on a wheel, causing the interior of your vehicle to look older and more weathered than it actually is.

If you’re going the DIY route, cleaning your steering wheel will involve some sort of chemical solution. If you don’t want to go through the trouble and potential danger of mixing your own chemical solution, here’s a list of a few popular cleaning solutions.

Steering Wheel Cleaning Solutions

  • Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner
  • WeatherTech TechCare Leather Conditioner (for leather steering wheels)
  • TriNova Faux Leather Conditioner & Cleaner (for faux leather steering wheels)

Note that MotorBiscuit is not partnered with any of these brands; they are just popular suggestions based on extensive research and personal experience. I use Chemical Guys products for the exterior of my 2018 Honda Civic and personally approve of them.

How to properly clean a dirty steering wheel


The 3 Most Common Types of Steering Wheel Locks             

Steps to Cleaning Your Steering Wheel

  1. Prep your cleaning area by covering the dashboard and other areas to protect from residual solution.
  2. Apply a liberal amount of cleaner to a cleaning brush (*not the leather itself).
  3. Brush the steering wheel vigorously so the cleaning solution can work its magic.
  4. Wipe away solution remnants using a clean, dry microfiber cloth/towel.
  5. Repeat steps if the desired effect has not been achieved.

Maintaining the materials in your car may seem simple enough, but the wrong equipment or a lack of prep could damage your interior. Detailing brands offer protection solutions as well as cleaning products to keep your interior looking and feeling great. Whether you drive a Toyota from the early 2000s or a brand-new Bimmer, your vehicle deserves the best.