When it comes to car washing we tend to overlook the wheels because it seems really hard to properly clean them.

Imagine that almost 1/2 of the car owners do not even bother to wash them because they get dirty very easily, the brake dust goes everywhere, your rims turn black, etc, etc.

Although some products and methods may sound interesting, they tend to damage our brake system components if not used correctly.

In this article, we will unveil the 2 most amazing methods you can use to properly clean your wheels without damaging your brake system or oxidizing your precious surfaces.

The First Method is The Easy Method

Well, lads, there are two methods. The easy method and the right method. The easy one includes spray cleaners and other chemicals that are made for this type of job.

Let’s analyze the available cleaning agents first.

  • Acid-Based Wheel Cleaners
    Many acid-based wheel cleaners are extremely effective on shifting grease and grime off your lovely wheels, while their pH remains at a scale of 5.5 to 6.0. However, even a pH as low as 5.5 can really damage some specific alloys, such as chrome plated.
  • Neutral pH Cleaners
    The vast majority of car owners typically purchase dedicated pH neutral cleaners because they don’t damage your wheels while completely removing the brake dust, road grime, or any other contaminants. Most of them include foam-generation elements, in order to make the clean process a lot easier and more successful.
  • Iron and Fallout Removers
    The final solution is a type of cleaning spray called iron and fallout remover. They usually have a neutral pH that doesn’t damage your wheels, although it must not be applied to plastics or vinyl components. The tricky part with these types of cleaning agents is that once the friendly pH is exposed to contaminants such as brake dust, their pH base aggressively changes.

In conclusion, this is a good wheel cleaning solution but must be done in a shaded area or on cool surfaces.

Check out this amazing review on wheel cleaners by carbibles.

Image by Meguiar

How To Clean Your Wheels (Easy Method)

After you purchase your cleaning agent follow the steps below:

  1. Wet your wheels with a hose
    Throw some water on your wheels first in order to remove any easy-to-go dirt, brake dust, or any other contaminants.
  2. Spray the entire wheel
    Apply a generous amount of product on the wheels but be careful not to spray the tires on the car’s surfaces. Also, keep your distance after applying the cleaner to minimize your exposure to damaging fumes.

    Want to learn how to make your tires shine? Check out this article.

  3. Give the cleaner some time to penetrate the contaminants
    Allow the cleaning product to sit for at least 1-2 minutes, while you spray all the other wheels. While you wait, the cleaning agent will penetrate the contaminants that are bonded with your wheels and make the job easier for you.
  4. Scrub the wheel with a soft-bristled brush
    In a circular pattern, start scrubbing the product off the wheel. With this technique, any dirt, debris, or brake dust will be removed. Be cautious not to change the pattern of your moves.
  5. Rinse them well
    Don’t forget to rinse your wheels very well after you finish, because any remaining product will probably cause oxidation to your wheels, and believe me, you don’t want that to happen.
Image by Chips Away

The Second Method is The Proper Method

In Nanex we love proper things, as much as Conor McGregor loves his whiskey. The method we are about to tell you is the proper one and if you want to truly clean your wheels, this is definitely suited for you.

First of all, grab your supplies:

  • Washing bucket
  • Microfiber rag
  • Soft-bristle wheel brush
  • Dedicated pH cleaning spray (non-acidic)
  • Degreasing or Wax-Stripping Automotive Shampoo (if you DON’T have Ceramic Coated Wheels)
  • pH Neutral, Wax-Free Automotive Shampoo (if you HAVE Ceramic Coated Wheels)

You can read this article on the best car shampoos of 2020.

After you have what you need follow the steps below:

  1. Wet the wheels
    If you have a high-pressure washing machine, you’re golden mate. If you don’t have, simply take your hose and cover with your finger half of the opening, thus the force of the water will increase.
  2. Spray the wheels with your cleaning agent
    It’s critical to follow the instructions manual before applying the cleaning product on your precious wheels. Some require to simply spray, let it sit, and scrub off, while others need a different approach. Either way, we suggest you read the instructions first before doing anything.
  3. Wash your wheels with a car shampoo
    Although cleaning agents are great for removing contaminants, they can’t sit on the wheels for a long time. That being said, we totally recommend you to use a proper car shampoo to wash away any chemical residue. For car owners who already coated their wheels, we suggest you use a neutral pH, wax-free car shampoo that it’s made for ceramic coatings only.
  4. Wash your entire car
    When you finish the steps above wash your entire car, specifically focusing on the wheels and wings. Believe me, you don’t want any residue to remain on any surface and start oxidizing your shiny surfaces. With the microfiber rag, wipe the remaining water off in order to completely dry the wet surfaces.


Washing your car wheels is a tricky process, but with the above methods becomes a piece of cake. You should definitely pay attention when you use cleaning agents because they can oxidize your surfaces.

In conclusion, there is an easy way and the right way. Either way, the choice is yours!

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Constantine Stephan

Constantine Stephan is the Founder and Chief Editor of Nanex.

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