Tips For Cleaning Tires and Wheels

Tips For Cleaning Tires and Wheels

To properly clean your tires and wheels, you will need a 3 to 5-gallon bucket, a soft tire and wheel scrub brush, a sponge or washcloth, a water hose and nozzle, car shampoo and a spray wheel cleaner.

Warning: Do not clean your wheels if they are still hot from driving.  Let them cool, or thoroughly hose them down.  Be aware that if your brakes are hot, spraying them with cold water may cause severe damage.


Here are some step-by-step tips to make tire and wheel cleaning easier:

  1. Clean one wheel at a time.
  2. Clean your tires and wheels first before washing the rest of the car.  This prevents the splattering of cleaners, dirt and brake dust on already cleaned panels.  Your car is also less likely to get water spots from drying while you wash your wheels.
  3. Mix a bucket of soapy water with your favorite car shampoo, using double the recommended strength.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the tire and wheel with water using a hose and spray nozzle.  If it is exposed, rinse the brake caliper to flush away loose brake dust.  Finally, rinse up into the wheel well to wash away road grunge, road kill, mud and other debris. 
  5. If your tires and wheels have a heavy coating of brake dust or road grime, spray them down with your wheel cleaner.  Allow the cleaner to soak for 30 seconds (minimum) to 3 minutes (maximum).  For fine wheels, I recommend Sonus Rim Bright and P21S wheel cleaners.  Both cleaners are safe, but have enough power to cut through heavy grime when used with a soft brush.
  6. Use tire and wheel scrub brushes and your soapy water to agitate the tire and wheel surface.  Use plenty of soapy water.  The soap acts as a lubricant to gently lift dirt and grit away from your wheels.  Follow up with your sponge or washcloth to wash the remaining dirt from the tire and wheel.  If your wheels have large open areas, use the sponge to get behind these areas.  Make sure the tires are scrubbed.  Many people put layer upon layer of dressings on their tires, but never clean them.  The result is a brown or yellow discoloration.
  7. Use your wheel brush and soapy water to scrub the accessible areas of the wheel wells, too.  This small detail keeps your car looking fresh and new. If your wheel has a lot of small nooks and crannies, use a parts cleaning brush.
  8. Thoroughly rinse the tire, wheel and wheel well.  Use plenty of water.  You need to ensure that all traces of the wheel cleaner (and your neighbor's cat) are gone.

After washing your car, remember to dry your tires and wheels using a detailing towel.

I do not recommend using tire cleaners containing bleach.  Bleach is used in many tire cleaners to brighten whitewall tires, but they can turn tires a dull gray.  Bleach will stain your alloy wheels permanently.  Read the product contents on the label before you buy.

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  • P21S Gel Wheel Cleaner 16.9 oz

    P21S Gel Wheel Cleaner 16.9 oz

    Our Price: $20.99 - $26.99
    BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, VW and Volvo all use and recommend P21S Wheel Cleaners to remove brake dust and road grime from their alloy wheels. This wheel cleaner has the best reputation for wheel safety of any product available. P21S is a non-acid,...
    Our Price: $20.99 - $26.99
    Qty in Cart: 0
    Our Price: $20.99 - $26.99
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