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Steering Wheel Cleaning


1993 Chevrolet Caprice, vinyl steering wheel. Any suggestion for cleaning the grime off the steering wheel. Trashed my dress pants on the bottom of the steering wheel getting in the car this morning.

I had tried to clean the wheel a few weeks ago with Simple Green. Any suggestions for a cleaner to break up the sticky surface grime?


Ed B.

The best cleaner that I have ever used is Krud Kutter. I have found this product to be excellent at cleaning the black residue in the crevices of my alloy wheels, so I’m confident that it can handle the stuff on your steering wheel.

Although it is excellent at cutting-through grease and grime, it is actually non-toxic, and it complies with the EPA’s “safer products” standard. I used to have to go to Lowe’s to buy it, but it is now available at some supermarkets. There are several varieties of Krud Kutter. I recommend that you use the one with a red label and yellow lettering.

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Soap, water, elbow grease

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I’ve used Windex that I squirted on a rag, then rubbed.

It might not be dirt/grime.

If not, just put a steering wheel cover on.


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Are you sure it’s actual grime, and not the material falling apart due to age?

I generally use glass cleaner for something like this, but it could conceivably make it worse.

Does it have an airbag? If it doesn’t, you might consider installing a custom steering wheel.

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Agree with Tester. If it’s a cheapish rubber / vinyl wheel, it could be that the material that the thing is made of has degraded to the point that it rubs off on your clothes. I had this happen on a 1979 Jeep CJ. You could scrub the wheel as much as you wanted, but you’d never stop getting the black (color of the wheel) on the rag used for scrubbing. Or your pants. It just kept coming off.

The fist car I bought with a leather-wrapped steering wheel was so gross I thought I would have to use some kind of cover, but then I took a specialized leather cleaner (essentially, mild cleaner) and after around 30 minutes of apply/rub/repeat cycles, all the gross residue was gone and shiny nice leather showed up, I’ve applied some leather protector product and it stayed like that for few months until some stoned dude totaled the car ramming it from the rear.
I would not use anything strong like Windex or KrudKutter although.

Regular interior cleaner and scrub it but I like 409 for heavy duty cleaning.

I use a waterless hand cleaner like DL or Fast Orange.

Except for soap or detergent and water, I’d be cautious. Many cleaning agents have solvents, and many solvents attack and more or less melt vinyl, plastic, clear coat, etc. That leaves the surface more prone to pick up more grime more rapidly, and harder to clean. The owners manual probably gives good guidance.

I have done it to all my cars and have not had a problem let. If I did, I would just put a leather steering wheel cover on it. Gives you a better grip anyway.

When I was a trucker, with many companies you got a different tractor every trio and some of those steering wheels were filthy. I used to carry a tube of DL hand cleaner in my bag.

I use APC (diluted in water) on a microfiber towel.

I found a bottle of Krud Kutter Adhesive Remover in the garage. Awesome and Simple Green had no effect on the steering wheel grime. The Krud Kutter (with a fair amount of elbow grease) is slowly cleaning the wheel up. It may take a few sessions but the wheel is looking better.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Ed B.

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Formula 409 is my go to cleaner. It rarely fails and has never damaged anything.