When it comes to the best wheel cleaner for car tires and wheels there are quite a few different options to choose from but my favorite one is the Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect.
I like this one because it sprays out as a green color and as it begins to work its magic on your wheels and tires it turns red, letting you know that it’s working at getting rid of all the dirt, grime, and grease.
I also really like the Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner because it foams up when it’s sprayed on so you can also see that it’s working.
Keep reading to see a more in-depth buyers guide as well as the rest of my recommendations.
Cleaning the wheels and tires of my car it’s something that I spend a lot of time doing and I put a lot of effort into making sure they’re clean and looking fresh.
A few months ago when I first started putting a lot of effort into detailing my Benz I begin my search for the best tire cleaner to use so that my tires and wheels could look as new as I could possibly make them.
With the right tools it’s possible to bring the rims and tires close to how they looked like when they rolled off the assembly line and it’s always a good idea to spend time cleaning them because having the rest of your car cleaned with the wheels dirty looks pretty silly, don’t you think?
In this post I want to share some of the recommendations for what I believe are the best cleaning products when it comes to cleaning the tires and wheels of your car along with some of the tools that I use for a more effective cleaning.
The Best Wheel Cleaner for Your Car
Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect
The Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect is one of my top recommendations when it comes to the best car wheel cleaner.
I like it because as it sprays on it comes out as a green color and as it begins to eat away at and penetrate all of the grime and dirt it turns into a red color that lets you know it’s working.
This cleaner is safe to be used on all types of wheels and can be used on aluminum and alloy wheels without issues.
You can also use it with painted, clear or powder coated wheels without having to worry about it deteriorating or damaging the coats.
For brake dust it’s quite effective and it’s acid-free and pH balanced to help maintain the original quality of the wheels while preventing any damage from being caused.
Using it is quite simple – just spray it onto the surface of the wheel including the barrel, tire, and the caliper and then let it work its magic for up to 10 minutes.
Once the time has elapsed you can rinse it off using the hose and then dry the wet wheel with a microfiber cloth for the best look.
Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner
The Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner is a great choice for those on a budget or not worried too much about using the absolute top level cleaners available.
When I first got started with my obsession on detailing and making sure my car was very clean I used a wide range of Mothers products and I was very happy with how well they worked along with their reasonable price.
This cleaner can be used for cleaning wheels and tires and it’s safe to use on all OEM and factory stock wheels and hubcaps, even those that have been color coated, clearcoated, painted, along with being able to use on steel and chrome tires as well.
It works quite simply and it just needs to be sprayed on and then rinsed off.
Of course I still recommend getting down on your hands and knees and using a scrub brush or a microfiber cloth with some soap to clean off all of the serious built up dirt but this cleaner is great to start off with and it leaves you with a nice relatively clean base to work from.
It’s also great to use to get to all those hard-to-reach spots and right after spraying it it’s likely that you’ll notice the dark brown foamy liquid dripping down the tire as it works to dissolve all of the grime and dirt.
For tires or wheels that aren’t that dirty to begin with or that just need a quick cleaning it’s the Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner that I would recommend checking out and it also works well to use for a quick clean before doing a heavy washing.
Armor All Extreme Wheel and Tire Cleaner
The Armor All Extreme Wheel and Tire Cleaner is one of the favorite sprays I use for cleaning my tires and I quite like the way it works, especially for a cleaning away stubborn brake dust and dirt.
I believe that this is another quite basic and entry-level cleaner although I find that it works very well and along with some light scrubbing I’m able to get rid of most of the dirt and grime off my tires and rims.
It takes advantage of a triple-action formula that works to break down and dissolve brake dust, grime, grease, and dirt from the wheels.
It begins foaming right away after spraying and the foam clings to all of the dirt and grime while it works to break it down so that it can be rinsed away.
The way I do it is I spray it on after hosing down the tires and then before it dries scrub off all of the dirt, grease, and leftover grime with a brush before rinsing it all off with a hose.
Afterwards the rims and tires look quite nice but I find that if I don’t wipe it down and rinse it off fast enough there are some spots left behind but this one happens if I’m lazy.
In my opinion, the Armor All Extreme Wheel and Tire Cleaner is a great product overall and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something to use for cleaning your tires and rims.
CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner
When it comes to the best car wheel cleaner it’s hard to go wrong with the CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner.
This is a favorite for many people that are spending a lot of their own time detailing and cleaning their cars and it’s often been recommended to me.
It features a special formula that is completely acid free, non-toxic so there’s no need to wear gloves while using it, and balanced in pH as well.
It’s effective at removing brake dust, common road grime, and even salt that can be quite damaging to the wheels if it’s left on for too long during the winter.
With this cleaner there’s no need to worry about staining or damaging wheels and it can be used to clean all types of wheels and tires including anodized, chrome, clear-coated, painted, alloy, aluminum, and even rims that have been plasti-dipped.
One more thing I love about CarGuys is that they offer a 100% money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the product and it shows to me that they stand behind what they’re selling and I’m very impressed with the guarantee.
Despite its price, that some might find high compared to the other options I’ve mentioned, I would definitely recommend checking out the CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly and effective cleaning solution for your tires and wheels.
Meguiar’s Hot Rims Wheel Cleaner
It comes in a spray bottle that makes it easy to spray the cleaner onto the wheels as well as into any of those hard to reach spots on the tire behind the rim.
After spraying it onto the wheels it can then be sprayed off with the hose although for it to be most effective I would recommend cleaning it off with a microfiber cloth or brush to get rid of any of the built-up dirt and brake dust.
This cleaner is safe for all factory coated wheels and will result in the wheels looking shiny and clean if used correctly.
Once it has been sprayed onto the wheel you’ll be able to see the foam cleaning to the vertical surface while it breaks down and dissolves any of the dirt, dust, and grime it comes into contact with.
Like I already mentioned it’s a good idea to use a brush or a cloth to get rid of any of that heavy build-up and after rinsing off the cleaner I would also recommend drying off the wheel to avoid any water spots.
The Best Tire Cleaning Products
Along with using the right tire cleaner there are also a few different cleaning products and accessories that I would recommend checking out that can make the process a lot easier and can result in a more effective clean.
For cleaning my tires, wheels, and rims I use a combination of microfiber cloths along with actual tire brushes.
For the easy-to-reach spots and flat surfaces of the tire and rims I use microfiber cloth to scrub everything down and for those hard-to-reach nook and crannies I use the brush so I can get rid of all of the grime and dirt that’s stuck on the inside spaces.
Mothers Contoured Tire Brush
The Mothers Contoured Tire Brush is one that I use after spraying a cleaner onto the tire, especially if it’s really dirty, and I like it because it comes equipped with a handle that offers a lot more control compared to just using the cloth.
The handle comes equipped with a non-slip grip to prevent it from slipping in your hands when it’s wet and soaped up and there’s also a protective rubber bumper so that the brush doesn’t damage your rims for a car paint if you accidentally bash it into something.
The way I use it is by simply spraying on a cleaner and just rubbing all of the cleaner off with the brush after a few moments of letting it soak in so that I’m able to get rid of all of the dirt and brake dust rather than just hoping it will rinse off.
Zwipes Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
I use the Zwipes Microfiber Cleaning Cloths for everything that I do when it comes to cleaning the car including using it for the detailing with soap, drying it off, and I even use these cloths for cleaning the rims and tires.
Depending on the severity of how dirty the tires are I use these for a quick wipe down after spray on a cleaner and then after rinsing it off with the hose I still use the cloth for drying off the water to prevent any spots or leftover residue.
Every so often I’ll pick up a new 24 pack just because I find that after using them for a while the cloths become harder to clean and they end up leaving behind some grease that I’m just not able to get rid of without new cloths.
Since they come in three different colors I’m also able to color code them so that I can use different cloths depending on which part of the car i’m cleaning, drying, or detailing.
When it comes to cleaning and detailing your car it’s always a good idea to have some microfiber cloths laying around and these are the ones I recommend.
How to Clean Your Car Wheels and Tires
Get Everything Ready
The first step in properly cleaning the wheels and tires of your car is to get all of the supplies together so that you’re not rushing around during the cleaning process looking for something you need.
I spend a few minutes getting together my cleaner, brush, hose, cleaner, and cloths and laying them all out so that they’re easy to reach when I need to use them.
Once everything is ready I take a quick look at the tires to see if there’s any problem spots I want to focus on and if not I got started with the cleaning process.
Hose the Wheels and Tires with Water
I usually start by hosing down the wheels and tires first so that I’m able to get rid of any of the surface dirt and because I think it allows for the cleaner to work much more effectively.
I would also recommend cleaning the car in the shade so that the surface isn’t too hot and doesn’t cause any of the cleaning components to stick to it and not work as well.
Spray the Cleaner
Once I have hosed everything down I coat the entire wheel in the cleaning solution that I’m using and then I let it sit for a short while.
Depending on the product that you’re using there might be instructions on the back in regards to how long you should let the solution sit for but I usually leave it for up to 5 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Right after spraying on a cleaning solution I usually notice that it’s already working and that the foam or liquid has begun to break down the grime, dirt, brake dust, and grease that have accumulated on the wheels and tires after so much driving.
Scrub or Hose
Depending on how dirty the wheel is i’ll either scrub it down using a brush or cloth and if it’s not dirty at all or I’m just doing a quick touch-up then I’ll simply hose off the cleaning solution.
For really dirty scenarios I use the brush and I get down on my hands and knees so that I’m able to completely scrub both the surface and interior parts that I can reach with the brush.
If it’s not that bad but I still want it to look nice I use the cloth and do a quick rub down of the surface as well as some of the interior parts that I can reach.
I usually just spray it off with the hose if I’m doing a quick cleaning or if I don’t have the time to just spend 20 minutes cleaning the tires.
After I’m done I hose off everything one more time and then move on to the next step.
Dry Everything Off
I find that it’s very important to make sure that everything is dry so that there aren’t any water spots left behind and so that the cleaning solution, if there’s any left over, doesn’t stick to the tires and stain.
For this step I use a clean microfiber cloth for each wheel and before moving on to the next one I take a few steps back so that I can check out different angles to see if there’s any spots that I missed.
Here are some videos that I find helpful when it comes to the best ways to clean your car tires and wheels.