If you've ever wondered how to properly clean and protect your leather steering wheel, you're in the right place. Before we dive into the process, it's crucial to understand why cleaning your steering wheel is so vital. It’s one of the parts of your car you touch the most. Hence, it comes into constant contact with body oils, lotion residue, dirt, and the damaging UV rays from the sun. These factors can lead to discoloration, fading, cracking, and even an oily, greasy residue. Moreover, a glossy or shiny steering wheel is often a clear indication of accumulated grease and oil, which is a far cry from the matte appearance that well-maintained leather should have.
Necessary Tools and Products for the Task
To carry out a successful cleaning and protection job on your leather steering wheel, you'll need a few key products and tools. These include:
- Leather cleaner: This product helps eliminate oils, greases, dirt, and dust from your steering wheel. Choose a cleaner with a pH level of around 5, which is roughly the pH level of automotive leather. Using an alkaline cleaner or APC too frequently may alter the pH and potentially damage your leather surfaces.
- Leather protectant or a leather shield: After cleaning your steering wheel, you'll need to protect it against harmful UV rays, cracking, fading, dye-transfer, and friction damage.
- Leather brush: This tool is designed explicitly for leather surfaces. Its soft bristles won't scratch or damage your leather, and it's instrumental in ensuring the cleaner penetrates all areas of the steering wheel.
- Microfiber towel: This is needed to wipe off the cleaner from the steering wheel and buff it after applying the protectant.
Step-By-Step Guide to Cleaning and Protecting Your Steering Wheel
With your tools and products at the ready, you can now proceed to the main task:
Step 1: Apply the Cleaner
Start by spraying the cleaner into your leather brush. To protect your car's other surfaces from overspray, never spray the cleaner directly onto the steering wheel. Then, starting from the bottom, scrub gently with the brush. Remember, the goal is to let the cleaner do the work, so you don't need to apply excessive pressure or scrub too vigorously.
Step 2: Wipe the Steering Wheel
After scrubbing, use a clean and dry microfiber towel to wipe off the cleaner. This should remove all the dirt and grime, revealing a matte finish on your steering wheel. If necessary, you can repeat this process until you're satisfied with the results.
Step 3: Apply the Protectant
Once you've wiped your steering wheel clean, you'll need to apply the leather protectant. It's a straightforward process: apply the protectant on a sponge, dab it on the steering wheel, and spread it around. Take care to apply it evenly, and remember to treat the back of the wheel too. A good protectant will not only protect your leather from harmful UV rays but also create a barrier against skin oils, dirt, and grime.
Step 4: Buff the Steering Wheel
After allowing the protectant to sit and be absorbed by the leather for a few minutes (as per the manufacturer's instructions), use a clean microfiber towel to buff the steering wheel. Buffing helps to ensure the protectant is evenly distributed and removes any excess product, restoring the steering wheel to a non-greasy, matte finish.
Keeping your steering wheel clean is a task that requires regular upkeep. Depending on how often and how long you drive, you might want to clean and protect your leather steering wheel every month or every other month. The frequency might increase during summer months due to increased exposure to harmful UV rays.
Proper cleaning and maintenance are essential for preserving the quality and durability of your leather steering wheel. Not only will it prolong the life of the steering wheel, but it also improves your driving experience and maintains the aesthetic appeal of your car's interior. With our ultimate guide, you have the steps you need to keep your steering wheel clean, protected, and looking new for longer.