As the skin of your hands are in contact with bare leather, perspiration and body oils are both acidic , which along with any dirt and grime will become absorbed. Besides staining your leather, it will also make it shiny and can also can weaken and break down the stitching as well as the leather, degrading the finished leather, leading to ultimate failure.
Leather covered steering wheel:
Steering wheels have an extra coating of protective finish on the already finished or coated leather. Perspiration and dirt are absorbed readily into the dry leather, and combined with the ultra violet (UV-B) radiation of the sun a chemical reaction occurs that degrades the finished leather. All of us have seen this wear on steering wheels
A finished leather steering wheel is protected with a urethane clear top coat. UV heat will allow any dirt / grease to become embedded and the surface becomes more soiled the abrasive dirt / grit produces a shine.
Using leather oil-based conditioners on finished leather may cause delamination from the leather substrate. As the oils will permeate the leather via the stitching or any micro-cracks in the surface, once oil gets between the urethane and the substrate it causes loss of adhesion (See also Oil and Oil based Products)
Most manufacturer’s advice against using oil-based conditioners on steering wheels as it makes the surface slippery and could be dangerous if you lose control of the vehicles steering
1. Clean the wheel’s leather surface with a leather cleaner (Leather Masters™ Strong Effect Cleaner ) or a d-limonen (citrus) based de-greaser (P21S Total Auto Wash) diluted 5:1 with warm distilled water in a spray bottle; dependant upon type and extent of soil or stain
2. For oil or grease stains use Leather Masters™ Leather Degreaser (check for colour fastness) this aerosol product is ideal for cleaning this type of stain as it dissolves the oils and transforms them into a powder that is more absorbent than the leather.
3. This powder is what is wiped off, cleaning and degreasing the leather. Allow the white powder to dry fully. If the powder is drying to a yellow colour, it means that there are still a lot of oils in the leather.
Using a Medium / hard horse hair brush, or a soft sponge, spray and work the cleaner into a foam, lightly scrub surface and immediately wipe with a terry towel to remove excess moisture, especially around stitching (you may need to repeat this process).
4. Then use a compressed air nozzle to dry
5. Once wheel is thoroughly dry apply Leather Masters™ Leather Protection
Do not use an abrasive on the surface as you’ll remove the ultra violet protective topcoat
Maintenance – hydrate the leather surface with a damp 100% cotton towel, occasionally use a diluted 1:10 degreaser (Leather Masters™ Leather Degreaser ) solution and distilled water to remove any build-up of body oils from your hands
The DCT Motorsports factory - eighteen years of experience refinishing steering wheels and developing unique aero parts for high end vehicles.
They complete all work orders in-house which allows them to accept a wide range of customer’s requests. Customers can specify material colours, materials, patterns, Carbon weave, or almost any type of finish. DCT has full control of every single step in the manufacturing process, so they can assure the best finish quality and fulfil the work orders with minimum lead time
Suede Covered Steering Wheel
Often perspiration / body oils will cause the nap to become flattened, in most cases it can be revived simply by cleaning with the correct chemicals (Leather Master™ Foam Cleaner) and using a napping brush. As a general rule when cleaning you should only to use products specifically designed for this type of fabric; avoid using a product designed for cleaning leather.
It's also important to do a patch test before cleaning any fabric to make sure the colour or integrity of the fabric won't be damaged. To do this, apply your cleaning product to an inconspicuous area to see what the effect will be.
Use a napping brush to raise the pile and loosen / separate the fibres. Remove pilling with a single-sided razor blade and then apply a suitable cleaning solution on to an applicator pad and apply to one area at a time (do not over-wet the fabric or use wet steam).
Cracked Leather Coating
Clear-Cote is a protective coating for newly refinished leather or vinyl. It provides a durable, washable surface for any leather or vinyl upholstery; available in original gloss or matte finish. Use a very fine 2000 grit finishing paper to provide a ‘key’ for the clear coat. Apply two thin coats as oppose to one heavy coat, allow to dry thoroughly – Color-Plus
Its greatest enemies are; sun, heat, oil (including body oils) perspiration (that contains urea as well as organic salts and acids) and Try to avoid getting leather chemicals on the stitching or in the seams as it can discolour some threads. If the chemical gets in between panels, it may be difficult to get it out. This may even weaken the backing at the seams.
Leather stitching is usually cotton and nylon mix, nylon is attacked by solvents, they melt it and weaken the threads. An oil-based product will attract abrasive dirt / grit and permeated the leather via the stitching, the oil will soften the leather, and the abrasive dirt plus friction may cause the leather to tear and / or the stitching to fail. Do not use harsh solvent-based cleaners as this may cause the stitching to fail over time
Stitching is somewhat friable if subjected to excessive abrasion. Bearing this in mind the cleaner and applicator (a semi-soft toothbrush is ideal) needs to ‘do the work’ without relying on excess friction
a) Clean stitching using a medium / hard horse hair brush, a toothbrush or a sponge, spray and work the aqueous (water- based) cleaner (Leather Masters™ Strong Effect Cleaner ); don't spray on the wheel surfaces , spray on the brush, constantly rinse the brush in clean water, remove cleaner by rinsing with clean water.
b) Use an aqueous (water- based) foaming cleaner; Leather Masters™ Foam Cleaner, shake aerosol thoroughly and then lightly rub surface and immediately wipe with a terry towel to remove excess moisture. You may need to repeat this process.
Once the stitching and the seating surfaces are clean apply Leather Masters™ Leather Protection this will help to keep the stitching clean and inhibit the ingress of dirt and soil
If the stitching and finished leather surfaces are different colours try to avoid allowing any pigmentation to dry on the stitching; to remove wipe with a water-based solvent cleaner. Leather stitching is usually cotton and nylon mix, nylon is attacked by harsh petroleum distillate solvents, they melt it and weaken the threads, which may cause the stitching to fail over time
Stitching is somewhat friable if subjected to excessive abrasion, bearing this in mind the cleaner needs to ‘do the work’ without relying on friction.
To renovate / clean stitching using a medium / hard horse hair brush, a toothbrush or a sponge and a safe solvent cleaner (DT-1105) this chemical is formulated from several types of alcohol and milder based solvents and it will remove all dressings, protectants, waxes and oils from the surface. And then remove all traces of the solvent / alcohol with a foam cleaner Leather Master™ Foam Cleaner
Leather Master™ Leather Degreaser - is an aerosol product for cleaning oily stains; it dissolves and removes oil and grease from finished leather surfaces. This cleaner can be applied for cleaning all types of leather (check for colour fastness) this aerosol product is ideal for cleaning this type of stain as it dissolves the oils and transforms them into a powder that is more absorbent than the leather. This powder is what is wiped off, cleaning and degreasing the leather. Allow the white powder to dry fully. If the powder is drying to a yellow colour, it means that there are still a lot of oils in the leather.
1. “Leather Articles Hyperlinks” http://www.autopia.org/forum/autopia-detailing-wiki/141973-leather-articles-hyperlinks.html
2. “Leather Steering Wheel Renovation” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/autopia-detailing-wiki/139916-leather-steering-wheel-renovation.html
3. “Proper Finished Leather Cleaning and Care” - http://www.autopia.org/forum/guide-detailing/136421-proper-finished-leather-cleaning-care.html