How to Clean a Sticky Leather Steering Wheel

Are you struggling with a sticky and unsightly leather steering wheel? Whether it is from overuse, grime buildup, or accidental spills, a sticky steering wheel can be more than just unpleasant to look at – it can also be dangerous. But don’t worry – cleaning your sticky leather steering wheel can be done quickly!

How to Clean a Sticky Leather Steering Wheel

A sticky leather steering wheel can be caused by several factors. Oils from your hands, sweat, dirt, and grime can all contribute to a sticky residue on the surface of your steering wheel. In addition, exposure to sunlight and excessive heat can also make the leather become sticky over time.

Follow our steps below for easy-to-follow instructions on how to clean a sticky leather steering wheel like new again. Not only will you have an aesthetically pleasing wheel back in no time, but one that provides a much safer experience as well!

What Will You Need?

Before getting started, you will need to gather a few supplies:

  • Mild soap or leather cleaner
  • Warm water
  • Soft clean cloth
  • Leather conditioner (optional)

Once you have these items on hand, follow the steps below to clean your sticky leather steering wheel effectively.

10 Easy Steps on How to Clean a Sticky Leather Steering Wheel

Step 1. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution:

Mix a small amount of mild soap or leather cleaner with warm water. Be careful not to use too much soap – you want a lightly soapy solution, not a bubbly one! If using a leather cleaner, follow the instructions on the bottle.

Step 2. Apply the Cleaning Solution:

Dip the soft cloth into the cleaning solution and wring out any excess liquid. You want the cloth to be damp, not soaking wet. Gently apply the cloth to the sticky areas of the steering wheel using a circular motion. Remember to avoid drinking the leather, as it could potentially damage it. Proceed with caution and ensure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the affected areas.

Step 3. Rinse and Dry:

After you’ve applied the cleaning solution, rinse your cloth with clean, warm water. Wring it out well so it’s just damp, then wipe down your steering wheel to remove any soap residue. Be careful not to over-saturate the leather. Once thoroughly rinsed the wheel, use a dry cloth to pat it dry.

Do not rub it, as this can damage the leather. It’s essential to remove all moisture to prevent any potential damage to the leather.

Step 4. Condition Your Steering Wheel:

After cleaning and drying your steering wheel, consider conditioning it. This step is optional but highly recommended, especially for older steering wheels. Apply a small amount of leather conditioner to another clean, soft cloth. Then, gently rub the conditioner into the leather again, using a circular motion.

 Cleaning and Drying Your Steering Wheel

This will not only preserve the life of your steering wheel but also give it a sleek, shiny look. Once the conditioner is thoroughly applied, allow it to dry naturally. Avoid using the vehicle until the conditioner has completely dried to prevent re-soiling.

Step 5. Regular Maintenance:

Carry out regular cleaning to avoid the buildup of grime and sweat that leads to a sticky steering wheel. Depending on how often you use your vehicle, a quick wipe down once a week with a damp cloth can keep your wheel looking and feeling great. Remember, maintenance is critical to prolonging the life of your leather steering wheel and ensuring a pleasurable driving experience.

Step 6. Check Regularly for Sticky Areas:

During your regular cleaning routine, make it a habit to check your steering wheel for any sticky areas. Early detection of stickiness can prevent severe buildup and make cleaning less laborious. If you notice any damp patches, revert to the above cleaning steps. This proactive approach will help maintain the condition of your steering wheel, ensuring a comfortable and safe driving experience.

Step 7. Avoid Eating and Drinking in the Car:

One of the best ways to prevent a sticky steering wheel is to avoid eating and drinking while driving. Accidental spills and food residues can contribute to the stickiness. Simply making your car a food-free space can significantly reduce the chances of your steering wheel becoming sticky.

Step 8. Use Sunshade in Hot Weather:

Excessive heat can also cause your leather steering wheel to become sticky. When parking your car, try to find a shaded area or use a sunshade to protect your steering wheel from direct sunlight. This will not only prevent stickiness but also help prolong the lifespan of your steering wheel.

Excessive Heat Can Also Cause Your Leather Steering Wheel

Step 9. Wear Clean Gloves:

If you find that your hands often sweat or if you have lotions or creams on your hands, consider wearing clean driving gloves. This can help prevent oils and lotions from transferring onto the leather steering wheel, reducing the risk of stickiness and grime buildup.

Step 10. Seek Professional Help:

If you’ve tried everything and your steering wheel is still sticky, it might be time to seek professional help. An experienced car detailer will have the knowledge and products necessary to effectively clean your steering wheel without causing damage.

By following these steps, you can maintain a clean and comfortable steering wheel for a long time. Remember, proper care and maintenance are vital to prolonging the life of your leather steering wheel.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Use Non-Abrasive Cloth: Always use a non-abrasive cloth when cleaning your leather steering wheel. Abrasive materials can scratch the leather surface, causing more harm than good.
  2. Test Cleaning Solutions: Before applying any cleaning solution to the steering wheel, test it on a small, inconspicuous area first. This can help prevent potential damage to the leather.
  3. Avoid Alcohol-Based Products: Alcohol-based products can lead to the drying out and cracking of the leather. Stick to mild soaps or specially formulated leather cleaners.
  4. Refrain from Using Heat to Dry: Let the steering wheel air dry naturally after cleaning. Do not use a hairdryer or place it under direct sunlight, which can cause the leather to crack.
  5. Invest in a Steering Wheel Cover: A good quality steering wheel cover can protect the leather from dirt, grime, and sunlight, reducing the risk of it becoming sticky over time.
Use a Hairdryer or Place It Under Direct Sunlight

With these additional tips and tricks, you can ensure that your leather steering wheel remains clean, comfortable, and in top condition for a long time.

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Steer clear of cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals, which can damage the leather, causing it to dry out and crack over time. Stick to mild, leather-friendly cleaners.
  2. Avoid Overwetting the Leather: Avoid soaking the leather when cleaning your steering wheel. Over-saturation can lead to water stains and damage to the material.
  3. Avoid Immediate Use After Cleaning: After you’ve cleaned and conditioned your steering wheel, it’s essential to let it dry completely before using it again. Using the steering wheel while it’s still damp can lead to grime buildup.
  4. Avoid Direct Sunlight: While sunlight can help kill bacteria, prolonged exposure can cause the leather to fade and crack. Use a sunshade or park in the shade whenever possible.
  5. Avoid Ignoring Buildup: If you notice any sticky or grimy buildup, tackle it immediately. Ignoring this can lead to more serious damage over time. Regular maintenance is key to keeping your steering wheel in top condition.
Avoid Soaking the Leather When Cleaning

By avoiding these things, you can prevent potential damage to your steering wheel and ensure that it remains clean and comfortable for years.

Why Does Steering Wheel Feel Sticky When Turn?

A buildup of grime, sweat, oils, and other substances on the leather usually causes a sticky steering wheel. This can happen over time from regular use or from eating and drinking in the car. Additionally, excessive heat from direct sunlight can also contribute to stickiness. It’s important to regularly maintain and clean your steering wheel to prevent this buildup and ensure a smooth driving experience.  So, by following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can effectively clean a sticky leather steering wheel and prevent it from happening in the future.

Remember, proper care and maintenance is key to a comfortable and long-lasting driving experience.


Now you know how to clean a sticky leather steering wheel and prevent it from happening again. Taking care of your leather steering wheel does not have to be a time consuming chore. A few simple steps each month will keep your steering wheel in great condition for years to come. Following these steps will ensure that you have a safe and comfortable grip while driving.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with the necessary knowledge and tips to effectively clean your sticky leather steering wheel. With proper care and maintenance, your steering wheel will remain in top condition, providing you with a comfortable and safe driving experience for miles to come.

Give yourself the peace of mind knowing you’re driving with a clean, non-sticky steering wheel, so there’s no excuse for waiting any longer! Get out there and clean your steering wheel today!

Photo of author

Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

Leave a Comment