7 Reasons Why Steering Wheels Are Shiny (Plus Fix)

Leather steering wheels are known for their great quality and expensive feel and look, that’s why many people like them in their cars. But why does the leather look shiny at times?

Here Are The Reasons Why Leather Steering Wheels Are Shiny:

There are many reasons why leather steering wheel looks shiny in your car.

The main reasons can be oils from skin or grease from touch, leather conditioner, sunlight, wear and tear over time and sweat and dirt. These seven reasons can affect the look of your steering wheel, but there are some easy ways to fix and get rid of.

Through this article we will discuss further the reasons why your steering wheel shines so you can identify which one is affecting your car. And some really easy tips to clean or get rid of that shine so it gives the leather more of a matte look. Thanks for reading.

Why Are Leather Steering Wheels Shiny?

Oils (From Skin)

You likely won’t be able to really notice it, but your hands produce natural oils just like your face does and these can soak into the leather of your steering wheel fairly quickly.

Leather soaks up moisture and liquid through its pores, so natural skin oils will become absorbed and give your steering wheel a shiny appearance. You might also feel like your hands are slipping on the wheel a bit as you grip it.

The shiny layer on the surface of the steering wheel occurs when the oils oxidise, so you won’t notice that oils have soaked in at first. The longer you keep your hands on the wheel, the more likely it is that they will produce natural oils, especially if you have naturally oily skin.

Try to avoid touching your hair, face or other areas of skin while you drive because this makes it more probable that you’ll transfer extra skin oils to your hands and, subsequently, the steering wheel.

Grease (From Skin)

Skin is also liable to become greasy, which can be prompted by an overproduction of sebum in the skin, the substance that produces the oil.

Your hands might become greasy due to clamminess as well, which can occur if the car is too hot or if you are a nervous or stressed driver. Greasy skin will make your steering wheel look shiny and also feel slippery.

Try to ensure good circulation of fresh air throughout the car to help relieve any potential clamminess. If you have naturally greasy skin due to genetics, you could wipe over your hands with some skin wipes or a cloth before and after you drive.

Grease from your hands will appear as a sheen on the steering wheel, which may then soak into the leather through its pores, so you should try to clean it as often as you can too.

Leather Conditioner

Leather conditioner is the perfect product to add to any leather item because it will soften the material, give it a boost of hydration and offer an extra layer of protection against general wear and tear.

However, just like when you condition your hair, conditioning leather will give it an extra shine. You shouldn’t feel like your hands are slipping down the wheel as you drive because leather conditioners do completely soak in, but you need to give the product some time to become fully absorbed.

You only need to use a small amount of leather conditioner to moisturise a leather item, but you might want to use an even smaller amount on your steering wheel to avoid any excess stickiness.

The shine will look nice, but you want to feel secure when you hold the wheel. Condition the wheel when you aren’t planning on using the car and then the shine might have gone down a bit by the time you come to drive it again.


When the sun shines directly into your car, the air becomes very humid, which can cause moisture to seep into the pores of your leather steering wheel.

The heat will then cause the moisture droplets to evaporate back out of the leather, which also evaporates the natural moisture inside the material and damages it. The steering wheel will be tacky to touch and likely quite hot too, so it’s best to avoid leaving your car out in sunny spots for prolonged periods of time.

Wear And Tear (Patina)

Leather patina is a sheen that can occur purely due to use, and though the shine will look nice on your steering wheel, it might still take you by surprise.

Lots of people find leather patina to be desirable because of how it looks, but it mostly only appears when an item is well-used, which car steering wheels definitely are. The steering wheel just being exposed to general wear and tear as you handle it can also cause patina to develop, becoming more noticeable over time.


Much like oils and grease, the sweat produced by your skin will also give your leather steering wheel a shiny look. You’ll definitely be able to tell when the shininess is caused by sweat because your hands will feel damp and the wheel will definitely be slippery, though this can be fixed by wiping over it to dry it off.

If you want to reduce the risk of sweaty hands while driving, the best thing that you can do is keep a window down to let in some cool air, or keep your air conditioning switched on.


You may not typically think of dirt as shiny, but if there are lots of random spots on your steering wheel that are starting to shine, it’s likely various bits of dirt.

Dirt will usually settle on your steering wheel if it’s on your hands, but it can also settle there from elsewhere. To properly care for your leather steering wheel, you’ll need to wipe the dirt off as soon as you can, which should help with the shininess too.

How To Fix a Shiny Leather Steering Wheel

Leather Cleaner

Leather cleaners usually come in spray bottles so that they can be conveniently applied to whatever item it is that you are cleaning.

To use one on your steering wheel, you can either spray it on directly or spray it onto a cloth and use that instead. But even if you do spray the cleaner straight on, you should try to use a cloth as well to encourage it into the leather.

Lots of leather cleaners also have conditioning or moisturising elements, so you’ll be able to cleanse and protect your steering wheel from the inside out.

You won’t need to use a lot of product because steering wheels don’t have a large surface area, but you should apply a little more if your first application hasn’t completely cleared off the shininess. Any leather cleaner should do the trick, though you might want to double check for any ingredients that could potentially irritate your steering wheel.

Leather Wipes

Leather wipes are perfect for use on a steering wheel because you can clean over it in a few easy motions with just a few wipes.

You won’t get the same deep cleaning action with wipes that you get with a leather cleaner, but most of the time a shiny leather steering wheel is caused by something at surface level, so a deep clean might not be needed. Any dirt, dust, stickiness or oiliness can be wiped straight off the wheel in no time at all.

Leather wipes are designed to be used on all sorts of leather items, including furniture and handbags, so they won’t ruin your leather steering wheel at all.

You can also purchase them for very low prices in general stores or online. If a surface level clean is enough to get rid of the shininess on your steering wheel then you don’t need to look for any other cleaning product beyond wipes.

Soap And Water

Similarly to leather wipes, sometimes all you need is an easy clean, which you can get by using some warm, soapy water.

Preferably use an unscented soap because these are less likely to contain any potentially irritating ingredients, then dip a sponge into the water and start cleaning your steering wheel. You don’t need to soak it because a gentle clean is more than enough.

Always dry your leather steering wheel after using soap and water on it because you don’t want any of the liquid to be absorbed by the material.

Dab the wheel with a dry cloth until there is no water left and mop up any liquid that has dripped onto your upholstery as well. If the soap and water removes the shiny sheen from your steering wheel then regular sponge baths might be all the cleaning that it needs.

Auto Erasers

Auto erasers (also known as magic erasers) usually come as bars that look a bit like sponges, except you don’t need to add any other products to them.

They are pieces of melamine foam that contain a cleaning agent, so you just work them over the steering wheel as you would a sponge and watch the dirt come out. Auto erasers are often used to remove sticky residue from items, which makes them ideal for cleaning shiny residue and marks off your leather steering wheel.

Auto erasers are a little abrasive, so you don’t need to press hard when you use them, though the leather of a steering wheel is pretty tough.

They are best to use when you want to do a quick job of cleaning a shiny steering wheel because you won’t have to mop up drips or dry the area like you do when using water. In that sense, auto erasers are similar to leather wipes, especially when it comes to convenience.

Warm Water And A Cloth

If the shiny patches on your steering wheel are very faint or if there aren’t that many of them, you likely don’t even need to use soap when applying warm water to the leather.

As long as you have a cloth to clean over the steering wheel thoroughly, you should be able to get rid of all the shininess without adding anything else. And again, you don’t need to soak the steering wheel to clean it, but you do need to completely dry off the leather afterwards to avoid any water getting absorbed.

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