How-To… Clean Car Wheels

This Is How Your Rims Could End Up If Not Looked After

This is how your rims could end up if not looked after

Stop right there! Put down that hosepipe ‘cleaning’ brush and step away from the vehicle. You’re about to get a lesson in how to properly clean your vehicle’s wheels. No more household dish detergent will be used and don’t even think about using that nasty brush which scratches the finish on your rims.

It’s easy to keep your car wheels looking their best and we’re going to show you how to do it in a nice and easy step by step guide. To keep your wheels in top condition there’s a couple of Must Do’s first of all.

Choose the right wheel cleaner for your rims

Some cleaning products aren’t suitable for certain alloys such as polished or split-rims. If you get the wrong one, you can cause some serious damage to the finish on your wheels. After you’ve gone over them with a wheel cleaner, it’s good to also use a wash ‘n’ wax shampoo.

Regularly wash and protect your wheels

If you do a lot of motorway milage, or if it’s winter-time, we recommend cleaning your wheels every few days or so. Once brake dust and road grime gets onto your wheels, if left it can eat into the finish on them. Cleaning them this regularly will hopefully keep this from happening.

If you’re buying a car new, it’s advisable straight away, if possible, to remove your car’s wheels, give them a good clean on the inner and outer sides, and then use a protectant wax on them too.

You can buy wax specifically for car wheels but if you can’t get hold of this then just use a ‘normal’ bodywork wax. Waxing them means a couple of good things. One is that once waxed, car wheels are far easier to clean as the dirt will glide straight off. The second good thing is that all that nasty brake dust and road grime will have a far harder time eating into you wheels. You don’t need to wax your wheels every time you wash them

How do I remove stains and ingrained dirt that are already on my wheels?

These can be difficult to remove and it’s not always possible. There are more powerful acidic wheel cleaners that can clean deeply, but they can also potentially damage your wheels. If your paint or lacquer has bubbled even slightly, an acidic cleaner can get underneath this and cause more damage.

There are also naturally strong (non-acidic) wheel cleaners that will do nearly as good a job and are far less likely to damage your rims. A couple of our favourite wheel cleaners are Britemax Grime Out and Valet PRO Bilberry Wheel Cleaner.

What do I need to buy?

If you haven’t got a pressure sprayer, then just use a hosepipe nozzle, like the one in the photos. You’ll need the right wheel cleaner for your rims (see wheel cleaner reviews), and a decent soft wheel brush plus a rim wax, or alternatively a car wax, to protect them after your done cleaning them.

How to clean your wheels

  1. Rinse off any excess or thick dirt.Cleaning alloy car wheels - rinsing off the dirt first.
  2. Make sure that you have the right cleaner for your wheels. If you’re unsure about a product, contact the manufacturer and ask them in person.Applying Valet PRO bilberry wheel cleaner to alloy car wheels
  3. Use a soft-haired specialised wheel brush to agitate the wheel cleaner. Never use a so-called ‘car-wash brush’. These are bad for your wheels and your car’s paintwork too as they can badly scratch surfaces. Shop for wheel cleaner brushes on Amazon
  4. Using a soft bristle wheel brush properly to clean car alloy wheels
  5. After this, rinse your wheels off with clean water.Rinsing Valet Pro bilberry wheel cleaner off car alloy wheels
  6. Go over your wheels again with some wash ‘n’ wax shampoo and once again rinse off the suds.Cleaning alloy car wheels with wash and wax shampoo
  7. Finally, dry off your rims with a soft microfibre cloth and use a rim wax. If this is not available use some ‘normal’ car wax.Apply car wax or alloy wheel rim wax will give a great shine and protect it from brake dust
  8. The final result. Keep looking after your wheels and they’ll stay in this condition.The finished result. Car alloy wheels have been prewashed, washed, dried and waxed.

Top Tip

It’s not necessary to use a wheel cleaning product on your rims every time, and if your wheels are already pre-waxed or regularly cleaned, just use a wash ‘n’ wax shampoo along with a good sponge or wash mitt instead. Specialised rim wax will last a fair few washes also, so there’s no need to wax them every time (unless you’re anal about cleaning your car, that is).

A Final Word

All this cleaning may seem fussy and over the top, but you can save yourself a load of money on not having to get your wheels refurbished or even replaced. Take a look at the two photos above if you’re not convinced yet. A clean set of rims on a car always finish off the look. Well, you wouldn’t wear a pair of mucky wellington boots with a suit would you.


Got any questions or queries? Just leave a comment at the bottom of the page and we’ll answer you as soon

Have you got a thought on this How-To? What How-To would you like to see on this site? Got any cleaning tips to share? Let us know in the comments box below.

7 responses to “How-To… Clean Car Wheels”

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    Really cool post, highly informative and professionally written..Good Job

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  3. Dream Talk Recorder

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  4. CHRIS

    brilliant advice.i take note of wheels alot more since i turned the steering wheel on my car in the snow and nothing happened.only to slide sideways wallop kerbed my front wheel.been going on for ages to missus about looking after her set.i.e NOT DRIVING FRONT WARDS INTO PARKING SPACE AND BRINGING FRONT END ROUND WHILST KERBING IT.the noise of that still makes me wince.anyhow buckled mine on inside after getting it checked.could not see it though.can only tell at 65 70 with very very slight vib on steering.amazing how many cars have buckles and blebs on INSIDE of rim which you cannot see .very the way cracking wheels you have and great advice..yeah if only i had the cash for a golf.well i can dream

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