4 Pro-Approved Tips for Cleaning Steering Wheels During Your Auto Detailing Career


We often wash the body, rims, tires, and windows on our cars, but one of the things that we might neglect to clean as often is the steering wheel. Over time, steering wheels collect dirt, bacteria, and body oil from our hands after years of driving. Food residue and grime can also get trapped in a steering wheel that has stitches. For drivers who end up touching all of this day after day, it’s not an ideal situation.

As steering wheels can become breeding grounds for all kinds of germs and bacteria, it’s important for them to be regularly cleaned and detailed.

Below we provide some pro-approved tips that new detailers can use to give steering wheels a good professional cleaning during their careers.

1. Use Interior Cleaner and a Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

For regular surfaces, you can start by spraying interior cleaner onto a small microfiber cleaning cloth and wiping down the steering wheel. Whenever wiping the steering wheel, always do so in 360 degree turns. As you wipe, grip the cloth and steering wheel, twisting back and forth to get at the dirt on both sides of the wheel.

One important detail to keep in mind is to never spray the wheel directly with any cleaner, as this can cause the chemicals to hit the gauge cluster and leak behind the plastic.

2. Use an Interior Scrub Pad for Tough Grime

To clean off tough, ground in dirt you should spray interior cleaner onto a scrub pad and gently rub the wheel in short strokes. An extra tip for recent graduates of professional automotive detailing is to be extra careful not to scrub too hard on more worn out areas of the steering wheel, as you can rub off some of the colouring and damage it.

A gentler technique might be to use a toothbrush dipped in a 3:1 mixture of all-purpose cleaner with some water. You can then work the brush along the wheel to wash off buildup of body oil and grease.

3. Trust Steam Cleaners During Your Auto Detailing Career

Steam cleaning machines can be great for cleaning, disinfecting, or even sterilizing surfaces. Although using a steam cleaner might seem like the more expensive cleaning method, with some machines being sold at $1,097, it presents a non-chemical alternative, and can be used later to wash several parts of a car.



Steam cleaners can be pricy, but can be used to clean several parts of a car

Begin by using the single-hole nozzle and pass it over the wheel to get out all the dirt, then immediately but gently wipe away any moisture left behind. Make sure to use a foam attachment that does not scratch when cleaning leather, plastic, and vinyl surfaces. If you don’t have a soft attachment, you can always wrap a microfiber cleaning cloth around a carpet attachment. However, be sure to use it lightly if you do.

4. Finish by Adding a Good Protectant

One important key to a successful auto detailing career is to know the best methods for cleaning and maintaining different surfaces. For example, the great thing about some protectants is that they can sometimes double as a cleaning product. Some protectants are great for cleaning and protecting vinyl surfaces, while others are more suited to washing and conditioning leather. When using either, simply spray the product on a fresh microfiber cloth and gently wipe down the steering wheel until it’s dry.

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