Your car’s wheels are like a pair of shoes: They can complete the look. Naturally you want to take care of them, but wheels are quickly covered with brake dust, dirt, grime and other muck your car meets when driving.
Cleaning wheels regularly is key to keeping them looking their best. While you could use regular car wash soap, getting a cleaning product specifically for cleaning wheels can take your efforts to the next level. But there are a lot of wheel-cleaning products out there, so which you should invest in before grabbing a brush and a microfiber cloth and starting to scrub down that wheel surface?
Read more: Best motorcycle cleaner for 2021
Have no fear, Roadshow is here with what we recommend as the best car wheel cleaners on the market (based on our hands-on experience). Read on for our picks and some handy wheel-cleaning tips.
This rim cleaner is the one. By far, Sonax makes a killer wheel cleaner with its Wheel Cleaner Plus product. There is one important note, however. If you have a set of aftermarket wheels on your ride, check to make sure Sonax will play nice with them. The product is rated for a host of different materials, but do be sure you won’t cause any damage when using it. Otherwise, spray on, scrub some of the tougher, dirtier spots with a wheel brush and rinse the Sonax wheel cleaner off. Clean as a whistle.
This wheel cleaning product nearly made it to our top pick, but Sonax is just slightly easier to use in our experience. However, Chemical Guys’ Diablo Wheel Cleaner is safe on all factory coated wheels and aftermarket wheel types, so no need to do any homework to make sure you’re good to go. This product is also, as it notes, a gel. You’ll need to dilute it properly to get the best results cleaning up dirty wheels, but it returns very good results washing away stubborn dirt, road grime and brake dust.
Another solid choice for any type of wheel surface like painted wheels, clear-coat wheels and chrome wheels, but we like this one a lot if you happen to rock Plasti-Dipped wheels. It works very well on all sorts of wheel type coatings, though. You’ll have no complaints about this product.
Maybe you can’t swallow the prices on our other alloy wheel cleaner top picks. That’s alright, we get it. Fortunately, there’s decent wheel cleaner at affordable prices, and the best of them all comes from Turtle Wax. The All Wheel and Tire Cleaner does what it says: It cleans wheels and tires. The foaming wheel cleaner sits, you scrub with a wheel cleaning brush and then rinse it off for a nice clean set. For the price, you can’t beat the wheel finish it produces.
Wheel cleaning requires the right tools, and this kit is currently on sale and provides all sorts of brushes to ensure every type of wheel, no matter its design, is prime for a good cleaning.
Comparison of the best wheel cleaners for 2021
|Best wheel cleaner||Brand||Name||Price|
|Overall||Sonax||Wheel Cleaner Plus||$24|
|Aftermarket wheels||Chemical Guys||Diablo Gel Wheel Cleaner||$13|
|Plasti-dipped wheels||Car Guys||Wheel Cleaner||$45|
|Cheap||Turtle Wax||All Wheel and Tire Cleaner||$4|
How to get wheels clean and keep them clean
- Use enough cleaner: You may need more or less of a specific cleaner depending on the product. Typically, the more premium cleaning products will do a better job with less. But if you find results aren’t really what you’re looking for, try spraying a little more.
- Scrub the wheel: Honestly, it’s really tough to find a cleaning product that’s a true “spray on, rinse off” deal. That’s especially true with seriously dirty wheels caked in dirt, road grime and brake dust. So, do some scrubbing and work that cleaning product in!
- Separate buckets: Don’t clean your wheels and wash your car with the same water. That’s a great way to mix contaminants and won’t do any favors for your wheels or the car’s paint.
- Try a power washer: High pressure water will blast brake dust and dirt off wheels with ease. It’s a game changer with the right wheel cleaner and pressure washer.
Rock wheely clean wheels
Any of our top picks will leave you with sparkling clean wheels. Follow our tips to give your car a proper and clean look.