How to Choose and Use the Best Steering Wheel Cleaner

Here are the best steering wheel cleaners and cleaning methods—no matter what material your steering wheel is made of.
Written by Jessie Devine
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
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Your steering wheel is your direct interface with your car. You handle it constantly, and that means it can get less-than-spotless pretty quickly. But no matter what your steering wheel is made of, we’ve got the best steering wheel cleaner for you—including the Car Guys Detailing Super Cleaner.
If you like to drive, or even if you just have to commute every day, your hands are all over that steering wheel. If you’re trying to get in breakfast on the way to work, there might be coffee or food on it, and if you work in a hands-on industry, it could be stained with dirt and grease. 
To clean one of the most well-loved parts of your car, the
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Best steering wheel cleaner overall 

Car Guys Detailing Super Cleaner 

The best overall steering wheel cleaner for a variety of steering wheel materials is
Car Guys Detailing Super Cleaner
. This multi-use mega cleaner is great for cleaning faux and genuine leather, upholstery, plastic, vinyl, rubber, and finished wood steering wheels. It’s powerful enough to be effective and gentle enough to not damage your surfaces.
Besides steering wheel materials, the Car Guys Detailing Super Cleaner can be used on carpet, metal, canvas, and more—which means it can be used to detail the whole car, not just your steering wheel.
A bottle of the best steering wheel cleaner overall will cost $27.97 straight from Car Guys. They also offer a 100% money-back guarantee. If you’re not impressed, send it back for a full refund.

Cleaning your steering wheel

The best way to clean your steering wheel with Car Guys Detailing Super Cleaner is to first remove any loose dust. Then shake the bottle and spray the cleaner directly on a cloth before using it to wipe down the steering wheel.

Best steering wheel cleaner for leather 

Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner & Conditioner 

If you’re looking for a cleaner specialized for your steering wheel’s material, read on! The best steering wheel cleaner for leather is
Chemical Guys SPI_109_16 Leather Cleaner & Conditioner
. This kit includes both a cleaner to remove grime and deep clean and a conditioner to restore the silky feel and rich scent of genuine leather.
The kit will run you $24.99 from Chemical Guys, and it can be used on any genuine leather surface.

How to clean a leather steering wheel

To use, spray the cleaner onto a gentle bristle horsehair brush, scrub to activate suds and remove grease, and wipe off with a microfiber towel.
Next, shake the bottle of leather conditioner, apply it to a sponge, and massage it into the leather. This will protect your steering wheel from oil, stains, and sun damage.
MORE: How to replace leather on a steering wheel

Best steering wheel cleaner for faux leather

TriNova Leatherette, Vinyl and Faux Leather Cleaner & Conditioner 

If you have a faux leather steering wheel, the best steering wheel cleaner for you is
TriNova Leatherette, Vinyl and Faux Leather Cleaner & Conditioner
. This one is great because its focus is to restore and protect faux leather to get it looking as great as the real thing. It’s also quick-drying, so you don’t end up with a slick or sticky steering wheel.
This cleaner is $15.97 on Amazon.

How to clean a faux leather steering wheel

To use, shake the bottle, apply the cleaner directly to a microfiber cloth, and rub in circular motions until your steering wheel is clean.

Best steering wheel cleaner for plastic 

Meguiar's Quik Interior Detailer Cleaner Spray

For plastic, the best steering wheel cleaner is
Meguiar's Quik Interior Detailer Cleaner Spray
. A cheap, effective cleaner at $8.99 from AutoZone, this product removes deep stains, grime, and oil. It contains sun-blocking agents which are great for your sun-exposed steering wheel, and it can also be used on vinyl, metal, and even LCD screens.

How to clean a plastic steering wheel

This cleaner is also quick and easy to use, with a simple spray-on and wipe-off cleaning method that dries quickly and doesn’t leave a residue.

Best steering wheel cleaner for synthetic resins

Mr. Pink Super Suds Superior Surface Cleaner Car Wash Shampoo 

For a steering wheel made of synthetic resins, you should try
Mr. Pink Super Suds Superior Surface Cleaner Car Wash Shampoo
. The second Chemical Guys product on our list, Mr. Pink Super Suds is a well-loved car shampoo for exteriors, but it’s excellent for removing stickiness and oils from synthetic resins steering wheels as well.
The smallest bottle is 4oz and can currently be purchased from Chemical Guys for just $2.79.

How to clean a synthetic resin steering wheel

To use, you’ll need to dilute the product in water, pre-rinse the steering wheel, and then wipe it down with a sudsy wash mitt. Rinse with water and then dry with a microfiber towel.

Best steering wheel cleaner for microfiber 

ForceField Fabric Cleaner 

Microfiber steering wheels are soft to the touch, but they can be tricky to clean! The best steering wheel cleaner for microfiber is
ForceField Fabric Cleaner
. This product is known for deep cleaning and removing tough stains. True to its name, it also repels dirt and oil to prevent future staining.

How to clean a microfiber steering wheel

To use, spray the cleaner directly on the stain, let sit for five minutes, and blot thoroughly to remove the stain. If the stain is stubborn, you can also use a soft brush instead of a cloth.

Best steering wheel cleaner for suede 

Vinegar 

Suede is one of the most delicate steering wheel fabrics out there. It’s not recommended to use suede cleaners or restorers, as their strengths vary widely and your suede steering wheel may not be colorfast.
You should also not use water. Vinegar works well on suede.

How to clean a suede steering wheel

To use, add vinegar to a soft cloth and gently use it to scrub the steering wheel. You can also use a dry brush to remove loose debris.

Best steering wheel cleaner for Alcantara 

SONAX Upholstery & Alcantara Cleaner 

Alcantara is a high-end material that provides grip, comfort, and a sense of luxury. It’s a good idea to use a specialized cleaner to preserve it. The best steering wheel cleaner for Alcantara is
SONAX Upholstery & Alcantara Cleaner
. It was developed specifically to revive your Alcantara's color and its soft, suede feel. 

How to clean an Alcantra steering wheel

To use this cleaner, slightly moisten the steering wheel, shake the bottle of cleaner, and then apply the foam evenly. Use a brush or sponge to rub the cleaner into the Alcantara, and then let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rub again with the sponge, let dry, and brush afterward.

Best steering wheel cleaner for wood 

The Original Bee’s Wax Furniture Polish 

Wood steering wheels are old-school and classic, and keeping them in great condition gives your car extra charm. To clean a wood steering wheel, use a microfiber cloth and a wood polish.
A great wood polish for steering wheels specifically is
The Original Bee’s Wax Furniture Polish
. It restores the natural beauty of the wood while protecting against damage from oils and acids and—perhaps most importantly—it doesn’t feel greasy! This polish does not build up, fingerprint, or leave you with any residue on your hands.
The Original Bee’s Wax Furniture Polish can also be used on other surfaces, like stainless steel and mirrors, with shiny clean results.

Best steering wheel cleaner for special situations

How to clean a sticky steering wheel

For a particularly sticky steering wheel situation, try
Goo Gone Original
. It can be used on hard surfaces as well as cloth and upholstery—just don’t use it on suede. 
To get sticky stuff off of hard surface steering wheels, apply Goo Gone and let sit for 5-10 minutes, wipe it down, and then wash with hot soapy water.
For upholstery or cloth, apply Goo Gone to a clean white cloth, blot the stain, and then clean the area with soap and water.

How to clean steering wheel covers

Cloth steering wheel covers can usually be thrown in the washing machine or hand washed and hung to dry.
Leather steering wheel covers can be cleaned using the leather steering wheel instructions.
Rubber steering wheel covers can be cleaned with diluted soap and warm water.

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FAQs

Use a leather cleaner followed by a leather conditioner with a microfiber cloth.
Goo Gone is a great option for most materials, or you can dry dish soap and water.
To restore an old steering wheel, you should disconnect it, clean it (according to its material), build up the cracked or damaged areas with epoxy or putty, sand it until the surface is smooth, and then prime, paint, and seal it. 
You can also choose to cover it with the material of your choice after sanding
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