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The Best Tools and Sprays For Cleaning Your Car Wheels

Car wheel and rim, sudsy during car washing
Papa Annur/Shutterstock

Clean wheels are a key part of ensuring your car or truck looks as good as it did the day you first drove it off the forecourt. You need the right tools and cleaners to get that desired effect though. Here’s a look at the best cleaning products out there for removing brake dust, oil, and general road dirt.

All these cleaners have the potential to eliminate all dust and dirt from your wheels and tires, providing you use them correctly. You need to own the right cleaning tools for achieving that result. Ideally, you want a brush, microfiber cloth, or sponge to get things looking just so. You also need a high-quality pressure washer to wash off residue and any easy to eliminate dust marks. We’ve already checked out general cleaning implements, but we’ve picked out some key favorites for this task too.

Read on to find out more about making your wheels and tires super clean and shiny.

Wheel Brush: TAKAVU Wheel Brush ($16)

The TAKAVU Wheel Brush is ideal for getting to those hard to reach nooks and crannies within the wheel spokes of your alloys. Using your fingers with a rag is not only ineffective but a route to sore hands, so this brush is a great and effective way of circumventing that. It’s 9.5″ long so there’s plenty of room here to get into the tricky parts of your wheels. Whether you’re just trying to agitate some dirt away, or quickly polish something, this brush will help you out a ton.

Detailing Brush: Mothers Detail Brush ($4)

It’s not that hard to get the dirt and debris off your wheels but it’s trickier to get them super shiny and as good as new. That’s where the Mothers Detail Brush comes into play. It offers extra soft bristles on a long brush that’s easy to grip onto. Simply use it to eke out the last few marks on your alloys so you get every last hint of dirt. It’ll take a little elbow grease but if you want a sparkling clean car, you want to do it well, right? These brushes will make that possible, and at a low price too.

Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner ($17)

The sweet spot for a good wheel cleaner is to use one that cleans effectively, but doesn’t take much effort from you. Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner is that cleaning solution. Simply spray it on, wait for it to change color, then wash it off. It is genuinely as simple as that.

The brake dust on your wheels bleeds bright purple before falling off, just waiting for you to rinse it away. It’s an acid free and pH neutral formulation so you don’t have to worry about it damaging your alloys or painted wheels, and nor do you have to stress about leaving it on too long. The beauty here is that you don’t really need much elbow grease either. At times, you might need to agitate it a little with a brush to get some stubborn dirt out but for the most part — you can just rinse it off. It’s super satisfying to see the results.

Sonax Wheel Cleaner ($16)

Sonax’s Wheel Cleaner goes one step further than the Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner when it comes to color changes. It starts out fluorescent green then changes red as the dirt and grime is penetrated. That actually makes it kind of fun to apply, as well as useful because you can see exactly where you may have missed when spraying. The downside? Well, typically the Sonax Wheel Cleaner requires a little elbow grease to gain the best results. It’s not exactly a deal breaker but if you’re feeling lazy, you might prefer switching over to the Adam’s version instead.

Stick with Sonax though, and you still get an acid free and pH balanced formulation that’s safe on painted, anodized, and clear coated wheels. Rinse it off after about 10 minutes and you’re good to go, unless dirt is extra stubborn. It’s nice when a lot of effort is removed from a job.

Meguiar’s Hot Rims Wheel Cleaner ($14)

Both the previous wheel cleaners have the advantage of being ideal for people that don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. Meguiar’s Hot Rims Wheel Cleaner isn’t like that. It’s simple to use but if you leave it on plastic-diped wheels or some clearcoat wheels for too long, some reports suggest it will eat away at the surface. So, why are we recommending it? Well, use it correctly and it’s the most effective wheel cleaner out there.

It’s a foam rather than liquid, that you squirt on and watch as it strips off dirt and grime in a matter of seconds. It’s just as easy to use as the others with a simple ‘spray on, hose-off’ mentality. You just need to make sure you hose it off effectively. Do so however, and you’ll rarely ever need to agitate it with a brush afterward. It’s that effective.

Jennifer Allen Jennifer Allen
Jennifer is a freelance writer for ReviewGeek. In the past decade, she's also written for Wareable, TechRadar, Mashable, Eurogamer, Gamasutra, Playboy, and PCWorld. Read Full Bio »