Cleaning a leather steering wheel

Im in and out of the car all day long, pumping gas, doing this, doing that. I try to keep my hands clean; I use a “wet-wipe” several times a day. I started using the wet-wipe on the steering wheel, figuring it was pretty dirty, too. Sure enough, it comes off the steering wheel a dark brown. But, is that actually DIRT, or am I just removing whatever was used to stain the (factory-installed)leather steering-wheel cover? Am I drying out and cracking and aging the leather, or truly keeping it clean? Is there a better way to clean a leather-wrapped steering wheel, or is that why people wear driving gloves?



Wet naps will not damage anything, basically they are wet cloths with some minor soaps to clean. If its good for a baby’s bottom it should be fine for the leather on your wheel… If you are that worried get some leather conditioner from any autoparts store and use that every now and again to keep the leather soft.

Yeah that’s a good question…if you notice on leather steering wheels…I think they are actually kind of Painted…instead of stained. When this gets cracked or wears thru you will be looking at raw leather and not dirt…it looks dirty… SO I almost don’t even know what to do either…

I’d like a good answer really…Is mild soap n water plus leather conditioner the way to go? Probably so…but I’d like to know too. You don’t want to emulsify the leather “paint” and eat down into the actual skin…


If the “wet wipes” contain alcohol, I’d stay away from them. I’d use Lexol cleaner instead. I’d follow that with Lexol conditioner, unless that makes the wheel too slippery, in which case the cleaner alone is better than nothing.

If you have a local auto upholstery shop, they could probably take a quick look at the type of leather and give you some tips.

I’d look around for some disposable leather wipes, google it, there are several brands.

Meguiars makes a good disposable leather wipe.

For full cleaning, I really like the Leatherique line, although for the full treatment you need a hot day to let the car bake in the sun and heat up the leather.

Ever hear of “Saddle Soap”? Lots of leather cleaners around. Use whatever you would clean leather furniture. Many wipes contain alcohol which isn’t great for leather, it dries it out.

Lion read my mind. I use “wet wipes” regularly too, I even carry the foil packets around in my pockets, but I always make sure I get the “alcohol free” ones.

I put a microsuede cover over my steering wheel because its black and as everyone knows how hot those black steering wheels can get in the summer and I am not good at steering with my pinkies. A good cleaner for your steering wheel and if you’re in a pinch is LCD screen cleaner, the same stuff you’d use to clean your flat panel TV. A lot of the new flat panel TVS have a glossy finish so alchohol based products is a no no. So in response they’ve developed the LCD screen cleaner which works great.

Hmm sounds good…Like I said B4 you REALLY do not want to emulsify that painted exterior of the leather…once that happens its ALL downhill from there.

Katidid reminds me…you know…I have resorted to throwing a white T-shirt over my leather wheel in the summer months…my wheel is black leather also…However the real reason I do this is because of what happened in my 91’ Ford Explorer… In those Explorers SOMETHING in the wheel Turns to Black Goo over the years…I think it was a sort of thin padding under the skin that completely breaks down and emulsifies into a Black tar like substance…it then leaks out of the stitching and onto your hands…then pants…shirt, your nose…everywhere…

IF I had known this was possible prior I would have tried to provide the wheel with some sort of heat/sun relief. Now that I know…I will never let that happen again…EVERY SINGLE 90’s Explorer I have driven…has the Goo Wheel…all of the ones in the “yard” have it too… Funny but not really… SO its either a windshield reflector/blocker in the car or something from Fruit of the Loom…LOL…white T-shirt…works wonders.