Leather steering wheels get sticky for a number of reasons and in this article, I will cover all of the major reasons why this happens.
So why do leather steering wheels become sticky?
- Too Much Body Oil Build Up On Them
- Due To Dirt And Grime
- Due To Your Leather Steering Wheel Being Plastic Or Artificial
- Sun Damage
- High Humidity Levels
- Leather Aging
- Not Cleaning Before Conditioning
- Over Conditioning
- Adhesives Leaking Through
- From Leather Cleaners And Conditioners Leaving Sticky Residue
- From Exposure To Acidic Substance
After reading the remaining parts of this article, you will learn;
- The details on why leather steering wheels become sticky,
- Some of the best home remedies for fixing sticky steering wheel,
- How to clean sticky leather steering wheel
- Tips on how to prevent leather steering wheels from becoming sticky again.
1. Due To Your Leather Steering Wheel Being Plastic Or Artificial
Not all leather steering wheels are made of real leather so chances are if your leather steering wheel is sticky it could be due to the fact that they are fake or plastic leather.
This is usually the case if you realize your leather steering wheel becomes sticky pretty fast – in some cases almost after each drive.
Synthetic steering wheels are made from a completely different material than real leather. As the name suggests, these are often made from synthetic materials and don’t have the same “fingerprint” as real leather.
Although synthetic leather is easy to clean, it doesn’t take long before it gets sticky again so you need to be very careful with it.
How To Deal With Sticky Synthetic Leather Steering Wheels
- As far as sticky synthetic leather steering goes, your best bet is to not use any chemical cleaners on it at all.
- The reason is that the chemicals in most car wash or leather cleaner will react with synthetic materials and cause it to become sticky to touch.
- In the case of synthetic steering wheels, your best bet is a use warm water or for stickier situations, use a mixture of dish soap and warm water on a microfiber cloth to wipe the surface of the steering wheel.
- This is very effective at cleaning without damaging your synthetic leather steering wheel.
2. Too Much Body Oil Build Up On Them
One of the primary reasons why leather steering wheels become sticky is because our hands tend to be oily and sweaty when we drive.
These body oils get transferred directly onto the surface of the steering wheel and as we continue to drive, we buff those body oils into the steering wheel which ultimately creates a sticky layer over time.
This is especially true if you have been working out or sweating for any reason prior to getting behind the wheel.
Also, if you’re like me and you constantly snack behind your steering wheel, your hands will often be stained with food coloring.
This food coloring gets transferred onto the leather steering wheel which creates a sticky layer over time.
How To Deal With Oily, Sweaty, and Stained Hands
- The most effective way to deal with this issue is to routinely clean your steering wheel with a good leather cleaner.
- You want to find one that has an oil-absorbing capability so that it will remove the body oil and sweaty stains that we discussed above.
3. Sun Damage
Another common cause of sticky steering wheels is the sun’s harmful UV rays. Due to the natural position of the steering wheel, it gets a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day.
This can be especially true if you live in an area where you’re constantly exposed to the sun or you drive with your windows down or have a sunroof that opens directly above the steering wheel.
The sun will damage your steering wheel over time and cause it to become hard, dry, and ultimately sticky to touch.
Also, the sun’s harmful rays cause colors to fade and in this case, when you apply a leather conditioner it will cause your steering wheel to become sticky again.
How To Deal With Sun Damage On Your Steering Wheel
- The best way to deal with this if your leather steering wheel has already become sticky from sun damage is by using a leather conditioner with UV protection.
- This will help prevent the color from fading and also the steering wheel won’t become sticky as quickly or at all.
- Another simple remedy is to make sure to shade the steering wheel from direct sunlight by using a sunshade or a towel to cover up the steering wheel.
4. Due To Dirt And Grime
The next reason why your leather steering wheels might have gotten sticky is because of dirt and grime that has built up over time.
This build-up of dirt and grime is common when you rarely wash your car which means that the steering wheel will become sticky if you don’t regularly clean it.
If you live in the countryside or you often drive by a place where there is often a lot of dust and you do so with your windows down, the dust and dirt will often land on your steering wheel over time.
Or, you love to drive with your windows down, it will also lead to dirty, dusty steering wheels which can combine with other elements to cause them to become sticky.
How To Deal With Dirt And Grime Build Up
- One of the best ways to deal with this issue is to regularly wiping your leather steering wheel with a microfibre cloth dampened with warm water.
- This is a natural way to safely get rid of grime from the surface of your leather steering wheel without ruining them.
- Another thing I personally like to do is to use leather cleaning wipes because they are quick and easy to use.
- However, if you do decide to go with the leather wipes make sure that it doesn’t contain any conditioners because this could cause the surface of your steering wheel to become sticky.
Tip: Wipe your leather steering wheel once a week. Wiping down your leather steering wheel once a week is an easy, quick way to keep it clean and free of dirt which prevents the build-up.
5. High Humidity Levels
If you live in a humid climate then your leather steering wheel will often become sticky. This is because of the moisture that gets trapped between the steering wheel and your hands.
The high humidity levels can cause the steering wheel to become sticky especially if you live in a place that is constantly warm and humid.
This can also happen on hot days when your leather steering wheel gets really hot to the touch.
When the humidity levels outside are high, it also creates a perfect environment for mold to grow on your leather steering wheel. When this happens, your steering wheel will become crusty or sticky to the touch.
How To Deal With The Effects Of Humidity On Your Steering Wheel
- Another thing I do is by applying some form of wax like an automotive wax to the surface of my leather steering wheel from time to time because it helps to protect them from moisture.
- Yet, another thing you can do is by applying a thin layer of leather conditioner that does not leave any sticky residue to the surface because it will trap in some moisture which prevents your steering wheel from becoming sticky.
6. Leather Aging
Over time, your leather steering wheel will wear down and lose some of its softness which causes it to feel sticky. When the surface of the steering wheel becomes too smooth from use, it will begin to feel sticky when you touch it.
Also, the color from your leather steering wheel might also fade which can cause it to look dull and feel sticky when you touch it.
Another reason why your leather steering wheel can become sticky over time is because of the oils from your skin that have built up which can cause it to be sticky.
How To Deal With A Sticky Steering Wheel Due To Aging
- There are many ways you can deal with a sticky steering wheel due to aging. One of them is by using a leather conditioner that has been specially formulated for restoring old leather.
- These types of products can make your steering wheel look and feel like new again which will reduce the amount of stickiness.
- Another thing you can do is by applying a leather cleaner to the surface that has been specially formulated for getting rid of dirt and residue build up that can cause your steering wheel to become sticky.
7. Not Cleaning The Leather Steering Wheel Before Conditioning
This is a common mistake that can leave leather steering wheels sticky. Many people often neglect to clean the surface of their leather steering wheel before applying any conditioner or cleaner which can cause it to become sticky.
When you neglect to clean the surface of your leather steering wheel before applying a conditioner, it will trap any dirt and grime which can cause the surface to become sticky.
This is why it’s always recommended that you clean your leather steering wheel before applying any conditioner because it helps to remove any grime that can get trapped.
How To Clean A Leather Steering Wheel Before Conditioning It
- The remedy for this is simple and clear. All you have to do is clean your leather steering wheel with a mild soap and water or an all-purpose cleaner.
- Afterwards, make sure you dry it completely to remove any excess moisture from the surface before applying a conditioner.
- Another thing you can do is by using a leather cleaner that’s specially formulated for getting rid of dirt and grime which can cause your steering wheel to become sticky.
- The key takeaway or most important thing is that you never neglect to clean your leather steering wheel before applying any conditioner!
8. Over Conditioning The Leather Steering Wheel
This is another mistake that can cause your leather steering wheel to become sticky. The goal when you’re conditioning a leather steering wheel is just to maintain the suppleness of your leather steering wheel by adding a thin layer.
However, many people make mistakes when they condition their leather steering wheel by applying too much conditioner.
When you apply too much of it, it will cause your steering wheel to become sticky because the excess residue can trap moisture.
This is why it’s recommended that you only apply a thin layer of conditioner to your leather steering wheel because this will maintain suppleness.
How To Deal With A Steering Wheel That Is Over Conditioned
- The simple remedy for this is you just have to remove the excess conditioner by wiping it or buffing it off with a clean, dry rag.
- And also make sure you only apply a very thin layer of leather conditioner because this will help prevent your leather steering wheel from becoming sticky.
9. Adhesives Leaking Through The Leather Steering Wheel
Chances are the leather material you have wrapped around your steering wheel was done using some form of adhesive and when the steering wheel heats up the adhesive use may sometimes leak through seams or stitchers and finds its way onto the surface of the leather steering wheel.
This is often a typical case of a non-heat-resistant adhesive being used and will usually leave a sticky residue that can cause the steering wheel to become very sticky.
The same can happen if the adhesive used to assemble the leather to the steering wheel begins to expire and breaks down.
This is why it’s important to always consider using high-quality adhesives when assembling the leather steering wheel if you choose the DIY route or purchase one from a renowned company.
How To Deal With A Steering Wheel That Is Sticky From Adhesives
- Get a leather-safe adhesive remover and wipe it on the surface of your steering wheel.
- If there is still some residue left over you can use a fine sandpaper like the magic eraser to scrape away the sticky residue.
- Remember to always take your time when doing this and be very gentle because you don’t want to damage the surface of your steering wheel.
- Then, after you’ve gotten rid of the excess material apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to prevent your steering wheel from becoming sticky.
10. From Leather Cleaners And Conditioners Leaving Sticky Residue
This is a classic case of a solution being a problem as the thing that is supposed to help keep our leather looking great can actually make it sticky.
It is important to note that not all leather conditioners are the same. Some leather conditioners and cleaners will simply leave a heavy sticky residue on your leather steering wheel and can cause it to become sticky.
Usually, these cleaners and conditioners contain ingredients such as silicone, wax, or tar that can cause your steering wheel to become sticky.
How To Deal With A Steering Wheel That Is Sticky From Cleaning And Conditioners
- If this is the case you have a couple of options on how to deal with it. Make sure you always get leather conditioners that will not leave a sticky residue on the surface of your leather.
- If your leather steering wheel has already become sticky from leather cleaners or conditioners, you can first try washing the steering wheel with dish soap and water to remove any residue and then recondition it an appropriate leather conditioner like the Leather Honey Leather Conditioner.
- However, if this doesn’t work you can use a high-quality citrus solvent cleaner to remove the sticky residue before conditioning it.
11. From Exposure To Acidic Substances
Leather steering wheels are often exposed to acidic substances such as soda, fruit juice, and coffee. This can cause the leather on your steering wheel to become sticky.
These substances contain high amounts of acid and when they dry on your steering wheel’s leather it can break down the substances in the leather which causes it to become sticky.
Other acidic substances like rain can also cause the same thing to happen to your leather steering wheel.
It is also important to note that some soaps can be too acidic to leather and so you should never use these types of soap that are acidic or alkaline because this can cause your steering wheel to become sticky.
How To Deal With A Steering Wheel That Is Sticky From Exposure To Acidic Substances
- The best way to deal with this is always try to keep your steering wheel away from anything acidic and try to wipe up any spills as soon as they happen.
- You can also use a leather safe cleaner to remove any acidic substances from the steering wheel before conditioning it.
- However, if your leather steering wheel has already become sticky you can use the Leather Honey Leather Cleaner which is a powerful cleaner that will remove sticky residue and neutralize any acidity in your steering wheel’s leather.
How To Clean Sticky Leather Steering Wheel
Tips On How To Avoid Leather Steering Wheel From Becoming Sticky
- The best way to avoid this is always properly care for your steering wheel by using leather cleaners and conditioners that are specific to the material.
- Avoid using strong cleaners and always try to remove any acidic substances from your steering wheel as soon as they happen.
- Keep the surface of your leather steering wheel free of any excess material by avoiding over-application of leather conditioners and cleaners.
- Always try to keep your steering wheel away from anything acidic.
- Try using any leather safe cleaners to remove sticky substances and neutralize the sticky build up on your steering wheel’s leather.
- Always try to avoid exposure of your steering wheel to direct sunlight as this can cause it to become sticky.
- While leather steering wheels look great and add a nice touch to your car they can actually get sticky if not properly cared for.