Car Repair and Maintenance

6 Steps to Clean Sticky Steering Wheel

You need to clean sticky steering wheel if it’s sticky from heat. You should also be worried that it might have melted a bit, so restoration and prevention are your go-to solutions.

It can be annoying when you try to turn your steering wheel and then stick to it since it’s so tacky. The steering wheel would have collected dirt, debris, and bacteria that form sorts of weird touch, which affects your driving experience.

Sometimes, you get squeamish when you know the contaminants on the wheel, including saliva, sweat, food grease, and bogeys. Most high-mileage vehicles will have sticky steering wheels as you probably don’t clean them as much or care so much about the UV rays getting to them.

How to clean sticky steering wheel

How to clean sticky steering wheel

Now to the good news: not too much effort is required to clean the steering wheel, and this guide helps you to get rid of the stickiness.

1. Prepare your cleaning materials

It is mostly up to you to decide what convenient materials you need to clean your sticky steering wheel. Of course, no specific tools or even cleaners are out there but you can be sure of ones recommended for good quality and reliability.

In many cases, just a brush and an all-purpose cleaner do the job. Your kind of brush can be an old toothbrush, scrub brush, or hair brush. You could even get a drill brush to make the cleaning more convenient.

Do have in mind that your choice of the brush depends on the material used for your steering wheel and the level of contamination/stickiness. I recommend Chemical Guys Acc_S95 Leather Cleaning Brush

This Chemical Guys brush works great in removing stickiness from the steering wheel. The bristles are gentle and you don’t have to apply so much force.

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After cleaning, use a microfiber cloth sponge to apply your conditioner and you’re done cleaning.

You’d also need a dashboard/vinyl/plastic cleaner to protect your steering wheel, which I’ll mention the one I use in the cleaner section of this guide.

As mentioned already, you need some microfiber towels. It can be those cheap towels you don’t mind disposing of after cleaning your sticky steering wheel.

Nevertheless, make sure you use a towel that will not transfer color and stain to your detailed steering wheel. In this manner, you don’t also want to use a cleaner that will transfer color onto the towel, making it unsafe to use on other interior surfaces.

2. Prep the area

Detailing your steering wheel is not restricted to a particular process. I mean we all have a process that works. But first, since you’re cleaning the steering wheel only, you need a sheeting or cloth to cover the surrounding areas, including the dashboard to prevent any sling. You can wear gloves if you prefer, but it’s not necessary.

3. Apply the cleaner

You just have to spray your cleaner on the brush. I already mentioned the brush you should use earlier.

Now, you need a cleaner and I recommend Adam’s Leather Cleaner & Leather Conditioner

This cleaner is less abrasive, compared to baking soda, and is quite gentle on the steering wheel leather.

Read also: how I remove/stop windscreen bugs

It comes with a good conditioner that doesn’t leave a high shine that can attract bugs and debris on the steering wheel. It also absorbs well enough without leaving a heavy residue and dries pretty fast, so you don’t have to wait so long to drive after application.

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To begin cleaning, apply the cleaner to the brush and not directly on the steering wheel to prevent overspray and cleaner wastage.

4. Scrub your steering wheel

You need to get creative to clean your steering wheel, giving it the best possible finish. The rule of thumb is to decide on a specific pattern to follow. Don’t scrub randomly, otherwise, the steering wheel will appear patchy and unprofessional.

Consider cleaning your steering wheel the same way you’d polish the car. Start on small sections and make sure to fully clean dirt from a particular spot before moving on to the next.

Read also: here, I’ve explained how often you should polish

Do not scrub so roughly though—keep it gentle to avoid damaging the leather. This is the reason you need a brush with mild bristles to avoid discoloration and quicker degradation of the steering wheel.

5. Wipe residues and inspect your work

Your next step is to wipe off any product residue from the wheel. Consider using disposable towels to prevent color transfers. It’s advisable to wipe as you clean to prevent stains from drying on the surface.

Go through your work, making sure no product residue or dirt on the steering wheel. You may not get the perfect finish if the sun had excessively faded your steering wheel leather. Thus, consider getting a replacement for your vehicle model. But this is not to say that the cleaning solution will not give it the much-needed look.

6. Apply protectants

The final step is to apply a protectant on your steering wheel to prevent UV rays from the sun causing it to melt as a result. You can use the conditioner from Adam’s Leather Cleaner earlier recommended or get yourself the Leather Honey Leather Conditioner for a non-greasy dry to the touch and long-lasting shine.


This protectant is clear in color and comes out of the bottle in a viscous fashion similar to corn syrup or glycerin. This not only enhances the color and overall finish but also protects against  UV rays to keep your steering wheel from faster fading and discoloration.


Cleaning your steering wheel will get rid of the stickiness but regarding giving you a perfectly new finish, it can only do so much on older cars.

Leathers and plastics in cars are generally tougher to return to a new look after the fade. Moreover, these cleaning solutions do not offer permanent solutions, so you’d have to reapply them once the current application fades.

Never expect a cleaner and conditioner to do so much but you can expect to get an improved finish, compared to when your steering wheel was sticky.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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