Your wheels take in a lot of the dirt from the road, and it can prevent them from functioning properly. Thus, cleaning them regularly is crucial for prolonging their lifespan and appearance. In this article, I’ll show you what to look for and expect from your car cleaner. I’ll also teach you how to discern between premium and low-quality ones.
Additionally, you’ll learn how to get the most out of your cleaner and have your tires look as good as new. And, if you’re not a fan of the chemical cleaners, you’ll be able to find a couple of DIY hacks at the end of the article. Keep reading to learn what the 10 best aluminum wheel cleaners are, and why.
Unfortunately, with so many different products on the market, it can be difficult to find the right one. There’s a great number of formulas, ingredients, and features that a product should offer in order to be good enough for your tires. So, let’s dig in and see which car cleaner shines the brightest.
1. Trinova Wheel Cleaner Rim Cleaning Spray
TriNova offers a premium cleaning spray that works by melting dirt, dust, and oil residue from your wheels. Additionally, it can even remove salt and snow from your rims in the winter.
The product features a concentrated formula that can penetrate into the dirt particles and stains to remove them completely, and give your tires their original shine back. Moreover, the acid-free formula won’t cause any damage to your car, and you can apply as much of it as you want to. The TriNova cleaning spray is suitable for all types of wheels, including white-wall and aluminum ones.
It features an extra-long tube that helps you reach all the nooks and crannies on your wheels. The bottle also comes with a spray nozzle that you can easily screw on and adjust as needed. Additionally, you can tilt the bottle while you’re using it to make sure you use every last drop of it.
To get the best results, spray it and let it sit for around 5 minutes before using a brush or some water to scrub the dirt down. Unfortunately, there have been some customer complaints about TriNova not being as effective as some other premium-grade cleaners. However, its biggest redeeming quality is that it’s made in the US, and the company offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
2. Wheel and Tire Cleaner by Carguys
The wheel and tire cleaner by CarGuys helps you remove dirt, salt, and winter grime from your car quickly and easily. The product is safe for all types of rims and wheels, and won’t damage any part of your car. Moreover, it’s perfect for white car rims, as it gives them that good-as-new shine.
Additionally, the product is environmentally-friendly, non-toxic, acid-free, and pH balanced. You can even use it to clean your motorcycle tires and get rid of any rust spots. Also, one of the best features of this cleaner is that it doesn’t have a strong chemical scent — it smells like soap.
Because of its make and ingredients, this cleaner will not stain or damage your car.
It’s made in the US and the company even offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the product. The only downside to this particular cleaner is that it isn’t the best at getting rid of that pesky brake grime.
3. Griot's Garage 11026 Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner
Griot offers a heavy-duty wheel cleaner perfect for all wheel finishes. It’s non-caustic, non-acidic, and pH-balanced, and will help you loosen and break up all types of dirt and grime. It will even show you just how much dirt you’re getting rid of by changing color.
Additionally, you won’t have to purchase a new bottle every time, as you can opt for a gallon refill solution to save money. You can simply spray it on your wheel, let it sit for 3–5 minutes, and start cleaning it with a sponge. Once you’re done, you can wash your wheels off and enjoy the new shine.
Griot’s cleaner is quite durable and effective, and it comes with a nice, fresh smell. Also, perhaps most importantly, you can use it on all types of wheels, whether they’re aluminum, powder-coated, chromed, or anodized.
4. Sonax (230241) Wheel Cleaner Plus
SONAX offers a formula up to 30% stronger than other commercial wheel cleaners and can help you get rid of debris buildup. It can even help you clean brake dust off, and its formula is pH balanced and acid-free. Additionally, it’s safe to use on all wheel finishes including steel, PVD, painted, chrome and aluminum.
The solution will start changing color when it comes into contact with dirt before it starts dissolving it. You shouldn’t dilute it with water before applying it, as it may lose some of its power. Additionally, you should apply it on dry and cool wheels to clean your tires more efficiently. After application, let it sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing it down or reapplying it.
SONAX’s cleaner is incredibly effective, but don’t expect it to bring your wheels back from the dead. In fact, your wheels should be regularly cleaned and maintained if you expect any cleaning product to work.
5. Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner Spray
Carfidant is a premium quality tire and rim cleaner that can help you easily and safely get rid of dirt and brake dust. Additionally, it features a pH neutral, unscented formula that has been proven safe for human use. It’s safe for all types of materials, including plastic dipped, alloy, painted, polished, chrome, and aluminum.
One of my favorite features by far is that you can use this tire cleaner for years without it leaving any mark on your car. It’s one of the few products that won’t stain or damage your vehicle even after years of use.
Unfortunately, you will have to use some elbow grease and spend time buffing it out of the wheels, as a simple rinse just won’t do the trick. Luckily, Carfidant also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you can return their cleaner if you don’t find it useful.
6. Meguiar's G-9524 Wheel Cleaner
Meguiar’s G-9524 offers is a high-quality cleaner — but it does have some limitations. For example, the cleaner is only safe to use on clear-coated and factory painted rims, so if you have a custom paint job — you might be out of luck. So, Meguiar’s wheel cleaner is perfect for most new cars or those that still have their original wheels. Furthermore, it features a trigger spray design that helps the solution cling to the tire sidewalls while leaving almost no dirt behind.
Additionally, it’s quite simple to use and all you need to do is spray the cleaner at a distance of 6–8 inches, and only clean one wheel at a time. Wait for about 15 seconds for it to start foaming up and dissolving the dirt, and rinse it off with water. The solution will foam and turn from white to brown once it starts taking in all of the built-up grime.
7. Mothers 05924 Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner
Mothers offers a specially formulated cleaning solution that you can use on both black and whitewall tires and wheels. The formula is non-acidic and foams up when you apply it. It’s safe to use on most types of wheels and hubcaps, including clear- and color-coated, steel, aluminum, and chrome ones.
The bottle design features a spray-on hose that’s perfect for getting into all nooks and crannies — it leaves no dirt behind. Moreover, the Mothers wheel cleaner will leave your wheels with a fresh scent, and make them look as good as new.
Unfortunately, the company doesn’t recommend using it on roughcast or polished aluminum wheels, as it might damage them. You should also avoid using it on motorcycle wheels, components or casings.
8. Dub u1422 Wheel Cleaner by Meguiar's
Meguiar’s DUB U1422 is an all-wheel cleaner, meaning you can spray it on all wheels at the same time, without worrying about it drying out. Also, you won’t need any elbow grease to get the dirt off, as you can simply hose the solution off. Moreover, the product will change color from neon green to dark red as it cleans your wheels, and you won’t need to scrub it off after using it.
DUB U1422 is safe to use on all types of wheels, and all parts of your car. You can even use it on motorcycle wheels. Additionally, the design of the bottle is quite convenient, as it features a special foaming spray tip for better coverage. Lastly, one of my favorite features is that it doesn’t have that strong chemical scent, and comes with a wonderful Piña Caliente fragrance instead.
9. Chemical Guys Cld_203_16 Signature Series Wheel Cleaner
Chemical Guys has created the perfect wheel cleaner for all custom wheels — and aluminum wheels in particular. Moreover, the citrus-based formula allows you to remove dirt, brake dust, as well as oil and oxidation marks. You can even dilute the solution if you want to use it on other parts of your car. However, be careful and use it on one tire at a time, as it can dry off quickly and become less effective.
If you’ve let your car go a bit, this cleaner will help you get rid of the more stubborn stains. Additionally, it’s simple and easy to use, and all you have to do is spray it on a wheel, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and wipe it down with a microfiber towel. Because the cleaner is so potent, there’s no need to go ham and scrub your wheels until your fingers start to bleed.
10. Shine Society Wheel Cleaner
Shine Society offers a top-of-the-line wheel cleaner, perfect for those who are not quite vigilant with the upkeep of their car. The cleaner is suitable for all wheel types and can help you remove the more stubborn stains, including both those from the road and the brakes. It can be used on all parts of your car, and you can even wash your motorcycle wheels with it.
Additionally, Shine Society’s cleaner is derived from citrus oils and is perfect for aluminum wheels, as it can’t stain or damage them. However, that doesn’t mean that Shine Society doesn’t offer a powerful heavy-duty solution. The company claims that their product can even help you keep the dirt off your car in the long run and prevent it from building up in the future.
The application is quick and simple, and all you have to do is spray the cleaner off and let it sit for a couple of seconds before cleaning it off. Speaking of which, when you order this cleaner — you’ll also get a microfiber towel free of charge.
What to Look When Buying Aluminum Wheel Cleaner
Aluminum wheels have great potential to shine and look brand new after years of use, that is — if you know how to take care of them. Regular and proper cleaning is a must if you want your tires to last, and the products you choose play a great role in that.
Ingredients are key when selecting the best cleaner from your aluminum wheels, and you should always look for products that are pH balanced and acid-free. Moreover, products with a citrus base are some of my favorites on the market. They’re gentle enough so they won’t ruin your car and potent enough to give wheels a good wash. Also, my advice is to use environmentally-friendly products in general to preserve both your vehicle and the environment.
Additionally, depending on where you live and whether you have access to a hose, you’ll need to decide between a washable and a waterless solution. If you live in a house with a lot of space and access to water outside, you can opt for a washable product, as it won’t make much difference to you. However, if you live in an apartment building without access to a hose — a waterless solution might be the best fit.
Also, try to look for products that are easy to use and manipulate. I would suggest getting a cleaner with a long-handle tube that can easily reach all of the tough-to-get spots.
Finally, I personally prefer and trust companies that offer a money-back guarantee over the ones that don’t. This way, you’ll know the supplier trusts that the product is good enough and they can ensure you’ll be happy with it.
Always test out any wheel cleaner you purchase on a smaller, inconspicuous spot. That way, even if the cleaner ends up damaging your car, it won’t be too visible.
How to Use a Wheel Cleaner Properly
You should always wash your wheels before starting on the rest of your car. This way, you won’t ruin your freshly cleaned car with dirty water and brake dust. When cleaning your aluminum wheels, start by rinsing them with clean water. Make sure to get water into all areas of your wheel, in order for it to be completely clean before you start applying the cleaner.
Take your cleaner of choice and spray it based on the instructions. A good rule of thumb is to spray 1 wheel at a time, especially if you’re using washable solutions. If you try cleaning all 4 wheels at once, the product will likely dry off before you’ve had a chance to buff or rinse it off.
Next, take a soft-bristle brush to loosen up the dirt. However, don’t get too aggressive with it, or you might damage your car if you apply too much pressure. You can use a wheel brush, as it’s quite narrow and typically features a flexible stem. Make sure to reach through spokes, and clean the barrel front to back. Additionally, use a lug nut brush to clean around and inside the nut holes.
If you’re using a washable product, make sure to rinse it off thoroughly before wiping it down with a microfiber towel. Otherwise, simply let the product sit for as long as it needs to before drying the wheels off. By following all of the steps as described, you’ll end up with squeaky-clean wheels free of any watermarks.
To get the best results, always apply the cleaner in a well-ventilated area, and apply it on a cool day.
Homemade Wheel Cleaners
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, you might get a kick out of creating your own perfect solution to clean your car. I have composed a list of 4 DIY cleaners you can make at home, and at a small price.
Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
If you spent a lot of time at your grandparent’s house as a kid, you already know all about the cleaning power of these two simple ingredients. The solution is highly potent and can be used on all types of materials — including aluminum. Moreover, it can even help you get rid of the most stubborn stains on your wheels.
- A spray bottle
- ½ cup of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- A microfiber towel
- 1 cup of warm water
Simply pour the water and the lemon juice into a spray bottle and shake it before spraying on the wheels. Dip the microfiber towel into the baking soda, and begin rubbing at the innermost part. Keep going until you rub off all stains and oil off your wheels.
Tartar Paste Cream
Tartar might be a bit expensive if you only plan on purchasing it for your tires. However, if you already have some laying around and don’t know what to do with it — you could use it on your tires!
- A wheel brush
- 2 tablespoons of tartar cream
Apply the tartar cream on a wheel brush and start scrubbing your tires. Once you get most of the dirt off, rinse everything with clean water.
Dish Soap and Baking Soda
A solution with baking soda and dish soap takes the best of both worlds to create the perfect balance between an abrasive cleaner and degreaser.
- 1 teaspoon of dish soap
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 gallon of hot water
- A rag or a sponge
- A soft brush
- An old toothbrush
- A clean towel
Pour the dish soap into hot water and soak the sponge in it. Next, sprinkle baking soda on your rag or sponge, and run it around the rims from the outside to the inside edge. You can use an old toothbrush to get into nooks and crannies and rinse the wheel with water once you’re done. Finally, you can use a clean towel to dry the wheel off.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Believe it or not, you can even use a toilet bowl cleaner to scrub the dirt and grime off your wheels. However, make sure you follow this recipe to the letter to avoid staining your wheels.
- A toilet bowl cleaner
- 6 teaspoons of baking soda
- Spray bottle
- Small brush
- A glass or ceramic bowl
- Rubber gloves
First, put on gloves before using the toilet bowl cleaner. Fill the spray bottle with water and add baking soda, then shake it and let it sit for a few minutes. Pour a small amount of the cleaner into the bowl and dip the brush into it before starting to clean your wheels. Rinse everything off thoroughly to ensure you get rid of the chemical completely.
While all of these cleaners will help you get rid of dirt the long-term solution lies in washing your wheels regularly. Just as with any cleaning your home, the more often you do it, the less work you’ll have to put in.
Keep the Dirt Off Your Wheels
Dirty tires aren’t just an eyesore, as the grime can even start eating into your wheels, and the rest of your car. By using any of the products on my list, I can all but guarantee you will be able to clean your wheels quickly and effortlessly. Moreover, some products will even help you keep the dirt off for longer periods of time.
You could also opt for a homemade solution if you’re not ready to settle on a commercial cleaner just yet. Moreover, these solutions might be the best for those who want a cheap product that they can make at home.
Whichever category you fall under, I hope that now you know what to expect from your cleaner. If so, you should be confident enough to make an informed decision. I can guarantee you’ll give your wheels the shine they haven’t had in years.