Best Wheel Cleaners: Give Your Car a Showroom Look
Spritz and rinse your wheels to make them shine with these top wheel cleaners
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.
PUBLISHED ON October 7, 2019
You may have looked at your car recently and wished you could turn back time to when it was new. You may not like the way it looks, especially the wheels. That’s because brake dust can test your car wheels’ limits. If you don’t clean off the dust, it can corrode the clear coat and eventually erode the aluminum alloy surface. This guide will help you choose the best wheel cleaners available.
- Best OverallSonax Full Effect Wheel CleanerSummarySummaryThis eco-friendly wheel cleaner makes short work of brake dust build-up. It is safe to use on a wide range of wheel finishes.ProsProsIts pH-balanced, acid-free formula leaves your wheels damage free. The cleaner penetrates deep layers of grime and changes color when in contact with dirt and ferrous metals from brake dust. Its formula makes it a safe product for powder-coated wheels.ConsConsIt may affect the quality of custom-made wheels. Applying it may require extra effort, especially when dealing with caked-on dirt.
- Best ValueAdam’s Deep Wheel CleanerSummarySummaryThis pH balanced, tough-on-stains formula dissolves the most stubborn wheel gunk. It is specially designed to eliminate heavy brake dust.ProsProsIt's a safe product for most wheel finishes, including chrome, alloy, powder coating, clear coating, and factory paint. The long straw in the sprayer nozzle helps you get your full money’s worth with each use. The formula is concentrated enough to dilute with water.ConsConsThe strong smell could be irritating to some users. The cleaner is not recommended for anodized aluminum wheels, polished aluminum wheels, and aftermarket metallic wheels.
- Honorable MentionAero Cosmetics Wash-All Cleaner and DegreaserSummarySummaryAll you need after applying this cleaner is a firm hand to wipe the dirt and soot off the engine, wheels, and tires. It meets Boeing Aircraft cleaning specifications.ProsProsThe cleaner is water-based and can be used on aluminum, leather, and even glass. It is ammonia-free and doesn’t overpower you with strong fumes as you clean. It also comes ready to use, no need to dilute it. You don’t need to rinse your wheels with water afterward; a wipe down achieves the desired results.ConsConsThe sprayer nozzle isn’t as secure as it should be. The cleaner is also gentler than other cleaners, so you may have to use more of it to get rid of tough stains.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
- Always test the product on a small area first. Make sure it is safe to use before you apply it. You can apply it on a small section of the wheel and give it time to settle.
- Wheel cleaners give the best results when they are used on cool surfaces. Make sure your wheels are cool to the touch before application. After application, hose down with water and let your wheels dry.
- Although some cleaners are eco-friendly, make sure you wear protective gear on your hands, nose, and eyes. This helps you avoid irritation and allergic reactions.
- Check whether the wheel cleaner you want is safe to use on your wheels. You may not know it, but some wheel cleaners can damage aftermarket and custom-made wheels.
Q: How do I get rid of the dirt after applying the cleaner?
A: Rinse them off with a high-pressure water hose and let them dry. You may have to use some elbow grease to loosen up the dirt before you rinse it off.
Q: Is a wheel cleaner safe for engines?
A: Some wheel cleaners are safe for engines. However, you need to check the product details to make sure your preferred cleaner won’t harm or damage the engine.
Q: Does a wheel cleaner remove rust?
A: Some wheel cleaners can also be used as rust removers. But for the best results use a dedicated rust remover, which may include a stronger formula.
Finding a wheel cleaner that works on most wheels can be tough, but the Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner gives a spotless shine. If you want a cleaner that is slightly more affordable, we recommend the reliable Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner.