clean wheel

How To Deep Clean Your Wheels And Rims in 5 Simple Steps

We all love how our car looks like after a nice car wash. No matter how shiny the paint is, the look can be ruined by dirty rims. Car wash soap combined with a pressure washer is enough to clean the paint, cleaning the rims is a bit harder. Learning how to clean the rims and wheels is important if you want that extra shiny look on your car.

  1. Rinse the rims with a pressure washer.
  2. Apply wheels cleaner.
  3. Scrub the rims with a brush.
  4. Rinse again with a pressure washer.
  5. Dry the rims.

There are so many different methods and products available to clean your wheels and tires at home that it can be difficult to know what to use for the best results.

In this guide, I’ll teach you the basic method of cleaning rims and tires, as well as the best method depending on your type of wheels!

How To Clean Car Rims And Wheels

Most car owners think that pressure washing the rims along with the whole body of the car is enough to clean the rims. That’s very wrong. The rims are the most exposed to road dirt and grime.

Please note that you should wash the rims before you wash the car paint. If you don’t do this, there is the risk of decontamination. As already mentioned, the rims are probably the dirtiest part of the car.

When you are hosing down the wheels, all that dirt will get on the paint around the wheels. If you washed the body before the wheels, you will have to wash the body once again.

Without shiny rims and deep-black tires, your car won’t look too great… Even if it’s washed.

Basic Method for Cleaning Wheels and Tires

This basic way of cleaning your wheels and tires is meant to be quick and easy and works on all different types of wheels.

It works best when integrated with your normal car washing process, but can be done by itself too.

What You’ll Need

I highly recommend using a wheel brush! It makes the process much easier and helps you reach all crevices in your wheels. They are also very inexpensive and definitely worth buying. Here is the one I use and recommend.

The Process

  1. Mix your car wash soap in a bucket with water (follow mixing directions on your soap bottle).
  2. Fill a second bucket with water. This will be your rinsing bucket, as your brush/towel will become dirty very quickly.
  3. Rinse the wheels using a hose to remove loose dirt.
  4. Soak your brush/towel with soapy water and scrub the wheels and tires.
    • Be sure to clean between the spokes and around the wall of the tire.
    • Rinse your brush/towel frequently using the rinsing bucket.
  5. Rinse again using a hose to remove the rest of the dirt.
  6. Dry the wheels and tires using another microfiber towel.
  7. Optional: Apply a tire shine to give the tire a long-lasting black shine. Read the section “Best Tire Shine Gel” for my recommendation.

Advanced Method for Cleaning Wheels and Rims

When you are pressure washing the exterior, the car wash soap you are using won’t be able to clean all that road dirt. It’s not strong enough to lift off the dirt. Car shampoo is made for car paint, it’s purposefully weak in order to protect the paint.

Although the pressure washer and the soap can somewhat clean the rims, it’s not the end result we are looking for. Follow this step-by-step advanced cleaning method on how to deep clean your wheels and rims to get that shiny look every car owner wants.

What You’ll Need

Rinse The Rims

Rinse The Rims 

Start off by rinsing the rims. Of course, just rinsing won’t clean the wheels but it will get rid of that surface dirt that may recontaminate. This will leave you with a ready surface for the wheels cleaner.

It’s best to use a pressure washer here for maximum effectiveness. However, if you don’t have a pressure washer on hand, you can use a garden hose. If you want to use a pressure washer but don’t have one, visit a self-service car wash. You will find a pressure washer there.

Thoroughly rinse the rims and the wheels. Once you see that the surface dirt has been washed away, you can start applying the cleaner.

Apply A Wheels Cleaner

Don’t use a homemade wheel cleaner. I’ve seen some people mixing dish soap with water to clean their wheels. Although there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s not as effective as a dedicated wheel & tire cleaner.

There are plenty of products you can choose from online. Most of the products have the tire sud and the tire shine combined. But there are some that sell the shine and the sud separately. Make sure you have both. A good idea is to get a wheel cleaning set, especially if you don’t have a brush on hand that you can use.

Once you have your wheels cleaner ready, freely spray it on the rim and the tire. Before you do that though, check the bottle for any specific instructions.

Scrub The Rims

The wheels will have a lot of road dirt on them. Road dirt is especially sticky and hard to get rid of. A strong agent that will lift off the dirt is not enough, you will have to scrub a bit.

Get a clean bristle brush. You can use the ones you have at home, just make sure that it’s clean to avoid recontamination. Scrub the rims and the tires in a circular motion. You can scrub hard on the rims but be gentle on the tires.

Rinse Again

To finish up, just rinse the wheels again, preferably with a pressure washer. When you are done, you will see that your tires have never been this shiny before.

Wash The Entire Car

It doesn’t make sense to have the rims shiny but your car’s paint dirty. So, if you want your car to be clean and look nice, wash the entire car. Rinse it first with a pressure washer. Apply car wash soap, either with a microfiber cloth or with a foam cannon. Then, rinse again with a pressure washer.

[Related Article: 5 Best Car Wash Kits For New Cars And Buying Guide]

Add Protective Coating

Besides a protective coating of car paint, there is a protective coating for rims as well. If you want to avoid getting your tires that dirty again, you can add rim coating. The coating will not only protect the rims from the brake dust but will add a glossy look.

This step is entirely optional though. If you don’t feel like spending more money on a product, you don’t have to do this. Some people also may not feel like adding this because of the extra effort. Entirely understandable, just make sure to clean your rims regularly.

Best Way to Clean Aluminum Rims

One of the most common types of wheels is made of aluminum.

Using this method to clean aluminium alloy rims will result in a fantastic sparkle and shine!

The secret is using an aluminium wheel cleaner for maximum results.

aluminum wheel

What You’ll Need

Mothers 06024 Polished Aluminum Wheel Cleaner - 24 oz.

The Process

  1. Rinse the wheels using a hose to remove loose dirt.
  2. Spray the wheels with your aluminum wheel cleaner to break up tough dirt and brake dust. Be sure to follow specific directions on the bottle!
  3. Scrub the wheels with your wheel brush to remove the dirt.
  4. Rinse again using a hose to remove the remaining dirt and dust.
  5. Dry the wheels with a microfiber towel to prevent water spots.
  6. Apply tire shine. With clean and sparkling aluminum rims, you’ll definitely want to shine the tires.

Read my tire shine recommendation in the “Best Tire Shine Gel” section below!

How to Clean Brake Dust Off Rims

Brake dust accumulates on your wheels over time. This is caused by the brake pads being worn down against the rotors on your car. This is normal, and unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent this from happening.

You can use a brake dust protector to make it easier to remove the dust next time. This method can also be used on tires!

What You’ll Need

Armor All Car Brake Dust Repellent, Cleaner for Tires, Wheels, and Rims, Outlast, 11 Fl Oz, 18191B

The Process

  1. Rinse the wheels using a hose to remove loose dirt.
  2. Spray the wheels with Purple Power. Purple Power removes grease and dirt very easily and can be safely used on wheels.
  3. Scrub the rims with your wheel brush to remove the dirt.
  4. Rinse again using a hose to remove the remaining dirt and dust.
  5. Dry the wheels with a microfiber towel to prevent water spots.
  6. Protect the wheels with brake dust repellent.

How to Clean Plasti Dip Wheels

Plasti Dip is an easy way to paint your car. It is a durable, colored, rubber coating that can be used on your wheels or other surfaces.

Plasti Dip can easily be applied and removed. Therefore, it’s very popular among car enthusiasts.

Applying this product changes the texture of your wheels, making it more difficult to clean.

What is Plasti Dip?

Plasti Dip is a coating that can be applied to surfaces to easily change color. It comes in several forms, such as a spray can, which is very similar to spray paint.

It can easily be applied to your wheels by spraying a few coats of the product.

It’s not only easy to apply, but also easy to remove. If done correctly, the coating can be peeled off the surface, restoring it to it’s original condition.

Plasti Dip is a great product, but because of the rubber texture it can be difficult to clean.

What You’ll Need

Adam's Heavy Duty All Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser - Powerful, Professional Strength Formula That Easily Cuts Heavy Grease & Tar, Tire Cleaner, Engine Bay Cleaner, and More (5 Gallon)

The Process

  1. Rinse the wheels using a hose to remove loose dirt.
  2. Spray the wheels heavily with Simple Green and let sit for 1 minute.
  3. Soak your brush/towel with soapy water and scrub the wheels and tires.
    • Be sure to clean between the spokes and around the wall of the tire.
    • Rinse your brush/towel frequently using the rinsing bucket.
  4. Rinse again using a hose to remove the rest of the dirt.
  5. Dry the wheels and tires using another microfiber towel.
  6. Optional: Apply a tire shine to give the tire a long-lasting black shine. Read the section “Best Tire Shine Gel” for my recommendation.

Black Magic Tire Wet Review: Best Tire Shine Gel

A clean car with faded, grey tires doesn’t look very appealing! Tire shine is the perfect finishing touch after cleaning your car.

They come in many different forms, such as spray, foam, or gel. There are many different tire shine products out there, so it’s hard to find the right one.

Black Magic 5072647 Tire Wet Gel, 16 oz.

After personally trying several different types of brands, I’ve found Black Magic Tire Wet Gel to be the best tire shine.

Easy to Use

Black Magic Tire Wet Gel is very simple to use. The product comes with all the tools you need: the gel and product applicator. This makes it quick and easy to get started shining your tires.

It is applied by simply squeezing the product to the applicator and wiping (or dabbing for extra shine) along the wall of the tire.

NO wiping away the product afterwards OR applying several coats!

Having one coat makes it extremely simple. With other tire shines I’ve used, I’d have to wait for the product to sit for 10-15 before adding another coat or two.

Long-Lasting Shine

tire shine after two days
After 2 days and 50+ miles of driving, the biggest reason I recommend Black Magic Tire Wet Get is the long-lasting, intense shine.

I have tried several different tire shines and I have gotten the best results from this one. I was amazed by how long the product kept my tires looking shiny!

The tires would still look wet and shined after a week of driving. I could not get these results with other products I’ve tried.

The gel consistency of the product helps it last longer and sticks to prevents slinging onto the car. Not only is the shine long-lasting, but it also has an intense, deep shine.

Black Magic Tire Wet Gel is the best tire shine gel to give the deepest, long-lasting shine to your tires! After trying many different products, this one surpasses them all.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

What Household Item Can I Use To Clean Rims

You can clean car rims using a mix of dish soap, water, and baking soda. The dish soap will lift off the dirt, and the baking soda will be an abrasive agent. Keep in mind, dedicated car wheel cleaning products are way more effective at cleaning the rims. In addition, these products protect the wheels from dirt and add a glossy look.

How Can I Make My Rims Shine

To make your rims shiny, you need to clean them first. Use a tire sud for cleaning the rims, then, add a tire shine. Most products combine these components but you can find a product specifically for adding a shine to your rims.

Check out the list of recommended products that kept my car squeaky clean and shiny.

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