The best way to clean a steering wheel

The best way to clean a steering wheel

When it comes to disinfecting and cleaning the objects we touch everyday, sometimes it’s the little things that have the greatest impact. Cleaning door knobs, sink faucets, and kitchen handles are all great ways to keep the house germ free, but it can be a little trickier to disinfect the high-touch surfaces outside of the home.

There are 130 million households in the United States with cars. That puts the number of registered vehicles on the road at 287.3 million in 2020, and an even greater number of unsanitized car door handles and steering wheels. If households began to disinfect steering wheels and dashboards as much as we clean inside the house, this would greatly reduce the spread of bacteria and disease.

If you’re unsure of the best way to clean a steering wheel, check out our tips for safely and effectively disinfecting high-touch areas in your car without damaging the interior.

Pick the products for cleaning a steering wheel

It can be tricky to effectively clean a car interior for many reasons. For one thing, car interiors tend to be cramped with many hard-to-reach spots that can be difficult to clean. Additionally, your car’s seats, dashboard, center console, and floors are all likely made of a series of hard and soft materials that all require their own levels of care.

Specifically when cleaning a steering wheel, it’s important to use cleaning solutions that will not damage leather or any type of synthetic material. While bleach is a very powerful sanitizer, it can cause discoloration if used incorrectly. On the other hand, many cleaning products designed specifically for cars do not have the ability to effectively kill germs. 

The best way to clean a steering wheel is to use a solution that is both easy on leather and tough on bacteria, like simple dish soap and warm water. Warm, soapy water is great for removing dirt and prepping the surface you wish to disinfect. With a microfiber cloth and a bowl of tepid water and soap, wet the cloth and wipe down the steering wheel. Allow the steering wheel to dry and wipe again to eliminate any forgotten spots. Now, you can begin preparations to disinfect the steering wheel.

Before disinfecting, do a spot test

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned, it’s important to test any disinfecting products against your car’s interior material. Whether your car’s interior is leather or cloth, it’s important to disinfect with products that won’t damage or leave stains.

To effectively test bleach, add 2 teaspoons to ¼ cup of water. It’s important to use cold water when working with bleach, as hot water can cause a chemical reaction and the release of chlorine gas. In a discrete, clean location on your steering wheel, add a drop of the diluted bleach and let it sit for 10 minutes. Return to the spot after it has had a chance to dry and check for discoloration.

If the spot that you tested looks unchanged by the bleach, the material is colorfast enough to withstand it. If the bleach removed some of the color or altered the color, do not use bleach on the rest of the steering wheel and instead use alcohol to disinfect the steering wheel and other interior surfaces of your car.

How to disinfect your steering wheel safely & effectively

If your car’s interior is colorfast against bleach, proceed with mixing and diluting non-chlorine bleach in water. The appropriate ratio of bleach to water is four to one for smaller batches. Add four teaspoons of bleach to one quart of water and submerge a cloth in the solution. 

To disinfect your steering wheel, wipe the cloth around the perimeter, then the inside along the stitching, and then on the front. Make sure to also wipe down your turn signal and let these surfaces remain wet for 5 minutes.

Most car interiors will not react favorably to bleach, so if you’re in need of an alternative, alcohol can also be used to disinfect a steering wheel and your car’s interior. In fact, many car manufacturers use alcohol to disinfect cars before they leave the lot. 

The key to disinfecting with alcohol is to use a solution with the correct percentage. 70% alcohol is the most effective solution for killing viruses and bacteria. With a microfiber cloth, cover the opening of the rubbing alcohol container and dab the alcohol solution onto the towel. You can also dilute the alcohol with water to create a gentler solution. Once you create the right mixture for your car’s interior, start cleaning the steering wheel with the alcohol solution and wait for the area to dry completely.

Disinfecting and cleaning  your steering wheel is an effective way to kill bacteria and stop the spread of germs. With a few household cleaning products and simple solvents, you can keep your car just as clean and germ-free as the inside of your house.

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