Cleaning your car’s interior can be tricky, more so, if it’s the steering wheel that you want to rid of dirt, built-up grime, bacteria, and body oils. Since it’s the part of your car that you touch the most (hopefully), then it would be safe to assume that it’s also the dirtiest. Just imagine the times you drove after changing your tires, or after you’ve checked something under the hood. Even those who regularly use lotion for their hands can also make for a dirty steering wheel.
While cleaning the steering wheel with just water is tempting, it won’t completely do the trick because the dirt build up might be too much for that. On the other hand, using chemicals is dangerous, especially if you’re unsure if that chemical will damage the material. To help you with that, we’ve made a handy dandy guide for you.
Identify the steering wheel material
There are certain types of steering wheel material, such as plastic, polyurethane or faux-leather, synthetic resins, natural wood, and leather. Each has its own dos and don’ts when cleaning. To see the type of material used on your steering wheel, check you car’s manual. Remember, polyurethane material will look and almost feel like a real leather, so it’s better to be sure.
Steering wheels made of plastic are usually found in entry-level vehicles. It’s the easiest to clean among others as you will only need soap, water, and dry cloth to do so. Use a sprayer to spray liquid soap onto the surface, rinse it with water (also using a sprayer), and dry it with a clean cloth.
People usually mistake synthetic resins as plastics, but that’s fine since you can clean both with just soap and water. So, you can follow the same steps given above for plastic-made steering wheels. Take note, though, that using polish on synthetic resins can make it more slippery than you would prefer it to be, so it’s better not to use any polishers.
It’s rare to see a car with a steering wheel made of real wood, but if your car has one, you will need wood polish in order to clean and protect it. Be careful on putting too much pressure on the surface as it may scratch the finishings of the wood. A microfiber towel is your best tool for this, since it’s designed to prevent damages due to heavy rubbing or scratching.
Polyurethane, sometimes called faux-leather/fake leather, is the most common type of steering wheel. It’s easy to clean with plain soap and water, but you can also use chemicals to enhance the material. Make sure you clean them thoroughly as they often come with fake stitches that can easily catch dirt and grime.
Leather types are usually found on top-of-the-line variants of vehicles, and are the ones that can give you the most pleasure when holding it. Use a leather cleaner or conditioner for this one, instead of using soap and water as the latter can damage the integrity of the leather. Remember to spray onto the cloth (or microfiber towel) and not directly onto the steering wheel. Be careful of using too much force to remove built-up dirt on it as you can scratch its surface. You will also need to let the chemical dry first before using.