Cleaning alloy wheels in 7 easy steps
How to clean alloy wheels
If you’ve bought a new car recently, it probably came with a nice new set of alloys. Alloy wheels can elevate the look of any car but can look grubby rather quickly. Your vehicle’s wheels collect grime, oil, grease, brake dust and dirt every time you drive. Regular wheel cleaning prevents these elements from turning into rust, corrosion and oxidation and ruining your rims altogether.
With the right products you can keep your car looking its best and protect your alloys in the process. Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning your car’s alloy wheels.
Cleaning alloys with household products
Have you heard you can clean your alloys using some common household items? While baking soda, lemon juice and coca cola will remove dirt from your wheels, we recommend using professional grade products when you clean.
Brake dust and baked on debris are hard to remove and household cleaners aren’t designed for alloys. Household cleaning products like oven spray and washing up liquid should be avoided as well. These can cause damage to your alloys that you won’t be able to fix.
Specialty alloy cleaning products are your best friend when it comes to cleaning your rims. They offer a more effective clean, won’t leave any sticky residue behind and your wheels will benefit from an added layer of protection.
Check out our range of IronX contaminants cleaner that removes Iron particles and prevents the spread of iron-related damage: https://www.detaildepot.co.nz/product/carpro-irx001-iron-x-iron-filings-and-contaminants-cleaner/.
How long does it take to clean alloy wheels
Don’t skimp on the time and effort that goes into cleaning your alloys. You’ll need about twenty-five minutes to do a thorough job. It may take you a little longer to remove the baked-on dirt and grime if you don’t clean your wheels very often.
Combining regular cleaning with professional grade products will cut your cleaning time down considerably.
When to clean your alloy wheels
Only clean your alloys once your wheels are cool. When you drive, your brake pads heat up. Leave enough time between driving and cleaning for your wheels to cool down so that you don’t damage the alloy.
Clean the wheels before the car’s body. The wheels are often the dirties part of the vehicle and should be cleaned first. You’ll prevent harsh products from lingering on your paint job.
Step 1: Gather your tools and products
Before you begin cleaning your alloy wheels, gather your tools and products.
You'll need a bucket, a hose, a wheel brush or brushes, a microfiber towel, and a quality wheel cleaner. Some of our favorite professional-grade wheel cleaners include Iron X and TRIX.
Step 2: Rinse off loose dirt and debris
Start by rinsing off any loose dirt or debris by using a hose to rinse the wheels thoroughly. Aim the hose downward to avoid spraying water into the brake rotors. This will help remove any surface-level dirt or grime that could scratch your wheels during the cleaning process and will generally make cleaning less messy.
Step 3: Apply wheel cleaner
Once you've rinsed off the loose dirt and debris, it's time to apply your favourite wheel cleaner. Wheel cleaners are specially formulated to break down and dissolve the build-up that accumulates on alloy wheels. Some wheel cleaners require dilution, so make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle carefully and wear gloves if necessary.
We recommend cleaning one wheel at a time. Apply a generous amount of cleaner to the wheel, making sure to cover all the surfaces and crevices. Allow the cleaner to sit on the wheels for a few minutes to really get to work breaking down the grime.
Step 4: Scrub with a wheel brush
Once your wheel cleaner has sat for a few minutes, it’s time for some elbow grease. Wheel brushes are handy tools for getting into all the crevices in your alloys. They’re also better for your alloys as brushes designed for other surfaces can scratch or damage your rims.
Scrub each wheel thoroughly. Pay attention to the nooks and crannies around the wheel spokes and lug nuts. These areas are often the dirtiest.
Apply a firm but gentle touch while you scrub. Too much pressure or a brush that's too stiff can cause scratches. If you encounter stubborn spots or buildup, apply additional cleaner and let it sit for a few more minutes before scrubbing again.
If you’re looking for a deeper clean, try out our microfibre wheel detailing brush kit with three brushes made of synthetic wool to avoid scratches and get your wheels shining again: https://www.detaildepot.co.nz/product/detail-depot-microfibre-wheel-detailing-brush-kit-3-brushes/.
Step 5: Rinse off the wheel cleaner
Once you've finished scrubbing each wheel, it's time to rinse them clean. Use a hose to rinse off all the cleaner, making sure to remove any traces of product from the wheel's surface. Leftover cleaner can damage your wheels over time, so be sure to do a thorough job.
Step 6: Dry the wheels
Use a microfiber towel to dry off each wheel. This will prevent water spots from forming on the surface of the alloys and ruining that showroom shine we’re going for. Make sure to dry all parts of the wheels getting between all the crevices and spokes.
Step 7: Apply a protective coating
Now that your alloy wheels are clean and dry, it's time to protect them from future buildup and damage. We recommend using a ceramic coating, such as CarPro Cquartz, to protect your wheels from brake dust and other contaminants.
Ceramic coatings are long-lasting and provide excellent protection against environmental factors that can damage your wheels.
Cleaning your alloy wheels regularly not only helps maintain the appearance your vehicle, but it also prolongs the lifespan of your wheels. For premium car care products that will help you get a showroom shine, check out our range of wheel cleaning products at Detail Depot.