Pro Tips for Keeping Your Car Wheels and Tires Spotless and Shiny

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Updated on:

July 9, 2023

Ultimate Wheel Cleaning Guide: Techniques, Products, and Best Practices

No matter where you drive your car, in the city or through unpaved muddy roads, your wheels and tires are a glue to the get dirty fast. Cleaning wheels should be a must during any car wash. Car owners tend to neglect cleaning wheels and in the long run end up having to spend more money on their up keep.

Road chemicals, dust, dirt, brake dust and many other substances build up on car and truck wheels. Steam washing them will dissolve and easily remove these invaders. A steamer is the perfect tool for this area as it gets into all of the curves and crevices in what can be a labyrinth of a wheel.

In this guide we will show you how to clean car wheels with you, products to use and what to avoid.

Key Takeaways:

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perfectly ashed lamborghini wheels

Five experts cleaning tips for your tires and wheels

  1. Make sure that your wheels and tires are cooled off before starting any cleaning on them to avoid burning yourself. Spraying any chemical on a warm wheel will create spotting.
  2. Choose one microfiber towel that you are okay with getting dirty. Tires pick up a lot of brake dust, road salt, road grime, and dirt overall, so choosing an expensive microfiber towel might not be a smart idea.
  3. Have a soft bristled brush nearby, it will be a great help to you and save time while cleaning tires.
  4. Clean one wheel at a time. If you apply product to all wheels together, you are risking it drying before being able to washing it off.
  5. Do not clean your wheels in direct sunlight

Understanding Brake Dust and Its Impact on Wheels

Brake dust might be by far the worst enemy for your wheels. Simply put, brake dust is a combination of small particles of iron combined with other particles from brake pads and rotors. The brake dust is produced when the brakes are applied, spreading itself on to metallic components like wheels

how to wash wheel and tires

How to clean car wheels and tires

If the brake dust particles stay on your car for a long period of time, it will eat the coating of the metal polish. Brake dust is essentially made of an adhesive and carbon fibers that come off the brake pad. The heat and friction created by the wheels make this mixture corrosive. Driving your car everyday produces more dust.

1. Start from the bottom of the car tires

Clean wheels from the bottom first. Wheels will have a lot of overspray when cleaning them, so cleaning them from the bottom up will prevent tire grime splashing onto clean surfaces.

2. Choose a best wheel cleaner to apply

If your wheels that are powder coated or have a clear coat, chrome wheels you might want to use gentle wheel cleaners. Below, we have gathered wheel cleaning agents selection for your liking below.

Meguiar's Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

has been voted the best overall wheel cleaner on Forbes for the 2022 year. It is very easy to use, so if you are a beginner, you will not need to do any extra work. The process consists of spraying the product and letting the foam turn into a purple color and then a rinse with a garden hose or soapy water. If the wheels are really dirty, you might want to have a wheel brush close by. On top of our own appreciation for this product on our personal rides, thousands of customers voiced their satisfaction with this wheel cleaner as well.

Fortador Gold Degreaser for engine and wheel cleaning

This engine and wheels degreaser is a multipurpose solution that can clean car tires, dirty wheels, and your engine. It rinses fast, and degreases tools and all vehicles. The formula of this tire cleaner emulsifies grease and grime.

What makes the Fortador Gold Degreaser stand out from other wheel cleaning agents is the fact that it can also be safely used on aircrafts, RVs, motorcycles, semi trucks, tractor trailers & even mobile homes. These units can be covered in oily environmental contaminants that can attack the finish and prematurely destroy them. Fortador Gold Heavy Degreaser can return these to their original cleanliness quickly and effectively.

How to use Fortador Gold tires degreaser

We highly recommend to prepare these three dilutions for different applications:

heavt degreaser for engine bay cleaning

1) Engine cleaning - 1:3

Dilute the solution with clean tap water with the ratio mentioned above, and store in a bottle with a spray nozzle.

Spray on the engine bay and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then using a garden hose or pressure washer, rinse the solution off and wipe off with a microfiber towel. Make sure all the wires are cover before applying water on it.

If you need more help on how to clean an engine bay, here is a guide that our team wrote

2) Wheels cleaning - 1:6

Dilute the solution with clean tap water with the ratio mentioned above, and store in a bottle with a spray nozzle.

To clean car wheels, heavily spray the solution you made on the tires and wheels, let sit for a couple of minutes. Then using a garden hose or soapy water, using a wheel cleaning brush to clean hard to reach areas. Finish with a wheel wax.

3) General cleaning - 1:10

Dilute the solution with clean tap water with the ratio mentioned above, and store in a bottle with a spray nozzle.

This solution can be used anywhere on and in the car, but no the interior.

Elbow grease for tires and wheels

Elbow grease has been around longer than any cleaning product and is a very versatile solution. Wheel cleaning agents are used for one thing - wheel cleaning, however, the components of elbow grease is suitable for household cleanings as well. Applying the grease onto the brush and scrubbing it should do the trick. Make sure to wash it out with soapy water.

white stickers on wheels

Tips for cleaning whitewall tires

When it comes to cleaning whitewall cleaners, make sure to not choose the wrong cleaner and ruin your tires.

Finding the right tire cleaner should be easy, just make sure that it is specifically made for preventative maintenance of whitewalls.

Do not use household cleaners that have chlorine or alcohol, they will clean the tires, but it will have a negative effect on them in the longrun. Best thing to use is an all natural white wall tires cleaner.

To make the wheels extra white, you can use something that all of us already have - baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda onto a damp sponge or cloth and wipe the surface of the whitewall tires. Rinse the the tires with water.

Learn more about water spots removal from paint and windows

Iron remover for your wheels

If your wheels are extra dirty, iron remover will be your helped. This type of wheel cleaners is very abrasive, so be careful not to get it on your tires.

3. Choose the right wheel brush to help you clean

There are lots wheel brushes on the market, but to avoid scratching of the wheels, look for a soft bristled brush. Mothers wheel brush is a great choice. With over eight thousand reviews, people love how easy and efficient the Mothers wheel brush helps them in their cleaning jobs.

Your tires will require a tire brush that is stiffer to be able to scrub the rubber easily. If you do not want your new tires to turn brown overtime, make sure to repeat scrubbing and washing them regularly.

5. Wash off with a hose or pressure washer

After you have lathered your solution and scrubbed the wheels and tires, wash everything off with a stream of water. Keep in mind to never lather all four tires and wheels to prevent your cleaner from drying. Clean one wheel at a time.

perfectly washed jeep wrangler wheels

6. Dry your wheels and tires

Dry your tires and wheels with a towel with a towel you are not going to use on any other part of the car to prevent streaking

Learn more about washing microfiber towel efficient

5. Use wheel wax for your wheels

If you want your aluminum wheels to stay shiny even after your wash, remember to regularly apply wax on them.

Find the best wheel finishes

wheels wax applied

Wheel wax

Whenever you finish cleaning tires and wheels, you want to bring back the shine to your tires and wheels. Clean car wheels will need a wheel wax to seal the wheel surface. Using an applicator pad, buff the solution onto the wheel surface.

This step will ensure that your wheels stay shiny and will look cleaner for longer periods of time. Wheel wax creates a protective layer for your clean wheels. If you are keeping up with applying the wheel wax, using water will be the only thing you will need to clean car wheels in between waxings.

Ceramic coating

Ceramic coating is known to be applied on the paint of the car, but did you know that the clear coat solution is also great for your car wheels?

Fortador ceramic coating kit

Kevlar - a polymer from the group of polyamides (more precisely aramids), from which artificial fibers with high tensile strength are spun. Kevlar was invented in the DuPont laboratories in 1965 by a team of researchers led by the an American chemist of Polish origin Stephanie Kwolek. Kevlar is a trade name of DuPont. The Kevlar synthesis is obtained by the reaction of the polycondensation of dicarboxylic acid chlorides with aromatic amines.

Our clear coat ceramic coating kit is meant to be used for the whole car. If you are a car enthusiast and looking to save yourself time and money on car wax and paint and wheels UV protection, look no further.

Best rubber conditioners for your car tires

Waxing your clean tires regularly will prolong their life. When choosing tire dressings, make sure that the formula does not have silicone, it tends to turn the tire color brown.

tire gel for rims

Fortador Tire Gel

This tire gel is a water-based, VOC free tire dressing with high gloss and excellent durability. It can be used to protect and dress all tires, and if high gloss finish is desired on the interior and exterior trims, vinyl and dashboard.

- Protects & Shines tires and vinyl surfaces

- Contains ozone & UV protectants

- Contains no petroleum distillates

- Lasts much longer than other tire dressings

Alternative methods of wheel cleaning

Above, we have showed you the traditional methods of wheel cleaning. However, what we did not mention yet is the ultimate wheel cleaner that can clean car tires, the interior and the outside all together - a steam cleaner.

Steam cleaners have cleaners have been around for quite some time in the car wash business, but they are still not very popular amongst car owners that just like to maintain their car.

Feel the power of Fortador steam cleaners. New opportunities arise along with one of the best Diesel Hybrid Burners made by Lamborghini. It is all to help you work faster, more efficiently, and more profitably.

Our steamers for car detailing and commercial cleaning are the most powerful on the global market, being the most frequent choice of the professionals and private users. Innovative design and tech which do not compromise. Steam cleaning has never been made easier with our heavy duty steam cleaners and cleaning materials.

The best wheel cleaner is a steam cleaner

When wheel cleaning with a steam cleaner, you will not need to find the best wheel cleaner to make sure your wheels look nice, the steam cleaner will do the job for you. All you have to do is spray the wheel with a degresaser, point the steam job on your wheel and the see the magic happen before your eyes.

About the Authors

Darren Priest
Proud owner of AutoFetishDetail, where the emphasis lies in the finer points. Passionate about instructing, guiding, and providing expert consultation for all things related to meticulous detailing.
Sabrina Tretyakova
In the world of cleanliness and hygiene, Sabrina Tretyakova stands as a beacon of expertise and dedication. As an ISSA-certified cleaning technician, Sabrina brings a wealth of knowledge and three years of unwavering commitment to her profession. Having served a staggering 1,200 clients

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