How To Clean Your Car Wheels


In this article you will learn:

  • How to clean aluminum wheels so they shine like new

  • The importance of cleaning and polishing your wheels regularly

  • The best cleaners and polishes to use on your car wheels

Your wheels have some of the dirtiest surfaces on your car, and they’re also some of the most difficult to maintain. Dirt, brake dust and road grime all make their way onto and around your wheels as you drive, including deep between the spokes and underneath the brake calipers. The longer these contaminants sit, the more difficult they are to remove, dulling the metal of your wheels and diminishing that deep, mirror-like shine.

It’s important to clean and polish your wheels at least once every 1-2 weeks in order to prevent permanent damage to their protective clear coat or aluminum alloy underneath. Luckily, with the right products and tools, this process is simple! Just follow these quick and easy steps to clean, restore and protect your wheels in 30 minutes or less.

What you need to know

While many older car models featured steel or chrome alloy wheels straight from the factory, manufacturers today produce most of their cars with oxidized aluminum wheels that are topped with the same clear coat that protects your painted exterior panels. Wheels on today’s car models also feature more intricate designs, making it easier for dirt and grime to get trapped deep in the spokes, around the lug nuts and on the wheel facing. They also have larger rims that have been painted black or charcoal grey, showing stains and discoloration more easily.

To prevent brake dust and soils from eating away at your reflective clear coat, you need a dedicated wheel cleaner and a gentle polish to clean and revitalize the metal of the wheel and bring back that natural gloss. We recommend purpose-built wheel cleaners like our All Wheel & Tire Cleaner to remove as much brake dust as possible without leaving behind any scratches or swirls. For alloy wheels with a protective clear coat, you can use any polish you would normally use on your exterior panels, including Hybrid Solutions Pro 1 & Done or Hybrid Solutions Polish & Wax.

You’ll also need a wheel brush like the Wheel Woolie to gently scrub mud and stains from your wheel barrels and sidewalls. This flexible brush bends and contours to every surface of your wheels, including deep between your rotors and calipers. You can also use a soft bristled detailing brush to scrub dirt and stains from the more intricate cracks and crevices of your wheels.

wheel & tire cleaner

Wash and dry your wheels

Start by rinsing your wheels with the jet setting of a garden hose to wash away any loose dirt and soils embedded in your rims and sidewalls. Then, spray the wheel and tire cleaner on one wheel at a time. Make sure to cover the entire wheel barrel, facing, rotors and calipers on both sides in an even layer of product.

Use your wheel brush or a heavy-duty wash mitt to break up and agitate any stubborn stains, soils and residues. Be sure to reach deep into the wheel wells and under the brake components to remove as much brake dust as you can. You can use a gentle detailing brush to scrub decals and the tighter spots of your wheels, like around your lug nuts.

Once you’ve removed all the dirt and grime from your wheels, use your hose to rinse away any excess product and soils. Then, dry the wheels with a fresh microfiber towel to prevent streaks and water spots.

wash and dry your wheels

Use a microfiber towel to apply your polish

Apply a quarter-sized amount of Hybrid Solutions 1 & Done Polish to a fresh, folded and quartered microfiber towel and buff the product into every surface of your wheels to correct light scratches, swirls and oxidation. Avoid transferring polish onto your tires to prevent scratches in your rubber sidewalls. Car polishes are abrasive and potentially damaging to your vehicle if you use them on the wrong surfaces, so take your time, especially if you’re new to polishing your car.

Continue polishing your wheels until you’ve removed all the stains and imperfections from your clear coat. Use a separate lint-free, microfiber towel to remove any excess product and buff your wheels to a wet-like, metallic shine.

hs ceramic polish & wax

Protect your wheels with a wax coating or paint sealant

Now that you’ve cleaned and restored your wheels, it’s time to apply a wax coating or paint sealant to protect that brand-new, sparkling finish! We recommend using any wax or paint sealant you would normally use to protect your paintwork, like as Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax or Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Spray Coating. These protectants prevent fading and oxidation, so your wheels will stay fresh and glossy for months after you’ve cleaned!

hs pro graphene flex wax


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