Wheels are the only thing that we overlook when we wash and clean our car. Most people think there is no purpose of washing and cleaning the wheels because as soon as they hit the road, they will be dirty again. But that’s not the whole story.

There are many things that can make the wheels and tires look ugly besides road grime. It includes water spots, mud, atmospheric dust and brake dust. Brake dust is the only element that can change the entire appearance of the vehicle. You look at the shiny paint of the car, and it looks amazing. However, as soon as you see the tires, they are all covered in brake dust and grease.

Compared to interior or exterior cleaning of the car, it’s a little complicated to clean the tires and trim because of their shape. You need to spend a good amount of time cleaning inside the grooves and treads of the tire that are both visible and hidden behind the brake disc.

Important elements to consider

When it’s an alloy rim, there are specific cleaners that will work on the surface. Using a common cleaner with bleach might damage the rim surface permanently. Therefore, it’s important that when choosing the tire and trim cleaning product, you look at the constituents and see if it’s suitable for the wheels you have on your car.

Car owners usually assume that even if a detailed cleaning of the car can get you 2-3 months of protection, tires and trim cleaning will only last for 2-3 weeks and most of the time, it’s true. If you want to prolong this duration, you just need to invest in expensive and premium cleaning products that will keep the tires clean and shiny for a long time.

Useful tips for cleaning tires and trims

  • Start with washing the tires with running water and if possible, use a water hose because it creates a high pressure that can easily remove most of the dust and debris.
  • Use mild brushing after the debris has loosened up, and then wash the dirt off with water again.
  • For deep cleaning the tires, you have two options. You can either use regular car cleaning shampoo or a specific tire cleaner. Either way, use a suitable hand puck to scrub the surface with cleaner or shampoo.
  • Use a long hair brush that can reach behind the brake disc. Scrub well and focus on the corners and grooves where debris has hardened.
  • After that, just wash it with running water, and subsequently apply a good quality polisher.
  • For the trims, use specific trim cleaners, and shine restores. Just spray a small amount of cleaner on the trim part and let it stay for a few minutes.
  • Use a suitable scrubbing puck on the trim and rub from side to side.
  • Once done, wipe it off with a clean towel and apply a tire dressing or wheel wax.

Wheel cleaning FAQs

What wheel cleaner product to choose for cleaning wheels?

Most of the wheels on cars today are clear-coated or painted. If you use an acid based cleaner on these types of wheels, then it will eat away at the paint. The best type of product to use is one that is safe for painted and clear coated wheels. We would recommend a PH neutral wheel cleaner that will not damage your wheels.

What tools or accessories will I need?

There are many accessories that can clean wheels ranging from a microfiber wash mitt to a range of brushes specifically designed for your wheels. Make sure you only use brushes that are specially designed for wheels as these are not too harsh.

How do I clean wheels?

The best way to clean your wheels is one at a time. I like to finish one wheel before I move onto the next. This ensures that none of the dirt you are removing from the wheel dries on it whilst you have moved onto the next one.

Start by giving the wheels a hose down with a pressure washer to remove as much dirt, grime and tar as possible. This is not always necessary, although I find this an easier way of cleaning the wheels. Once this is done, it is time to apply the wheel cleaner. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spray cleaning product on the wheel and leave for a few minutes to allow it to dissolve the dirt and grime. Then use wheel cleaning tools such as a brush to work the cleaner into all areas of the wheels. Once complete, wash off the wheels with some water and check to see if it has removed all the dirt.

If there are stubborn tar marks on your wheels, you can use a clay bar to remove these. Make sure you follow our clay bar guide and use plenty of lubrication, the same as when it is used on paint.

Once all the dirt is removed from your wheels, use a soft microfiber drying towel to dry the wheels. You can then apply a wax coat to the wheels to make sure they are protected. This will make it harder for the brake dust and dirt to stick to them and also make them easier to clean next time.

There are many specific wheel waxes available in the market, but you can also use the same wax that you have used on your paintwork to give the wheels a wax coat.