When you wash your vehicle, clean the wheels and tires first. This will prevent overspray or grime from splashing onto already-clean panels. If you like to clean your wheels and tires with soap and water, use a separate wash and rinse bucket and soft bristle brush.
Choose a cleaner that is appropriate for the type of wheels you have. Roughcast aluminum and chrome can withstand stronger cleaners than coated, painted, or anodized wheels. The cleaner will say what it is suited for on the label. For example, Mother’s Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner can be used on any type of coated wheel, but their Chrome/Wire Wheel Cleaner is not safe for coated wheels. If you are not sure what kind of wheels you have, use a cleaner that is safe for all wheels.
I prefer to use a cleaner that works on the tires, too. It loosens brake dust that has crept into tiny holes in the metal and into the pores of the rubber. A little agitation with a brush will allow Wolfgang to work even better.
If the wheels have brake dust that’s caked-on, or if they haven’t been cleaned in months or years, consider a more powerful wheel cleaner. Pinnacle Advanced Wheel Cleaner Concentrate is a professional grade wheel cleaner that forgoes caustic acids, butyl ethers, and other harsh detergents that do more harm than good.
The Low Profile Tire Brush is perfect for cleaning low profile tires You’d be surprised how many tire and wheel brushes are out there. Basically, you want to look for a brush with feathered bristles for the wheels. This will prevent scratching.
Tires require a stiffer brush to really scrub the rubber. Don’t be afraid to put a little elbow grease into it, particularly if your tires have layers of old dressings on them. These layers will turn brown and make your tires look worn out if you don’t scrub them off. If you have a vehicle with low-profile tires, the Low Profile Tire Brush will quickly become your go-to tire cleaning brush! The Low Profile Tire Brush features hundreds of stiff nylon bristles that get into the nooks and crannies of your tire’s sidewall, removing stubborn road film and previously applied tire protectants. The curved handle minimizes fatigue on your hand while enabling maximum scrubbing power.
Always clean your tires and wheels one set at a time to prevent the cleaner from drying. Wash and then rinse with a strong jet of water before moving to the next tire.
Don’t forget to dry your wheels! Use a Microfiber All Purpose & Wheel Detailing Towel or a terry cloth towel, but not one that you plan to use on any other part of your vehicle. Once a towel is used on the tires or wheels, it should always be used for tires and wheels. Drying prevents water spots and helps you remove every last bit of the brake dust.
Wax your wheels!
Once your wheels are clean and dry, apply a quality wheel protectant, Wheel Glaze or Wheel Wax to seal the wheel surface. These products work just like car wax. Apply them with an applicator pad and then buff the wheel. They keep your wheels looking shiny, and they prevent brake dust adhesion. Your wheels look cleaner longer. You have to reapply these products weekly, but it’s better than scrubbing your wheels every two days. The good news is, if you use a wheel wax as recommended, water is the only thing you need to clean your wheels between waxing.
Another option is to coat your wheels. Wheel Coating blankets your wheels in a rock-hard barrier of protection that is impenetrable by ferrous brake-dust particles, road salt, tar or oil.
Regular wheel cleaning will only require soap and water, even on brake-dust laden German sports sedans. A strong jet of water from the hose will also knock off most of the built up brake dust, minimizing the amount of scrubbing required.