Using a wheel cleaner is the best and safest method of removing stubborn brake dust and other road grime. They are easy to apply and some cleaners don’t even requiring any scrubbing action to remove dirt, which makes cleaning the wheels effortless.
Even if you are using the best rated car wash soap on the market, you may find yourself struggling to remove built-up brake dust upon your wheels. The unique formula of wheel cleaners simply dissolves the brake dust so that the dirt can be safely wiped clear with ease.
If you are looking for a quick answer, the best wheel cleaner is the Adam’s Deep Clean, which eliminates all dirt and brake dust with an acid free, pH neutral formula.
Table of Contents
Wheel Cleaner Comparison
|Sonax Full Effect
|Chemical Guys Signature Series
|TriNova Cleaning Spray
|Griot's Garage 11106
|Meguiar's Hot Rims
|Poorboy’s Spray and Rinse
|Armor All Extreme
The simplicity and ease of using a wheel cleaner makes it a much loved detailing product. Blasting the wheels with a powerful car pressure washer and then spraying the formula onto the wheels will see most of the tough dirt removed. Before purchasing any wheel cleaner, you should be very cautious as some may be too strong for your wheels. If you have uncoated aluminum wheels, you will need to use a gentle rim cleaner otherwise it could potentially cause damage to the wheels.
Below is a list of the best wheel cleaners that are safe to use and remove all tough dirt and brake dust.
The Best Wheel Cleaner
1. Adam’s Polishes Deep Wheel Cleaner
The Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner is an efficient and effective solution for getting your wheels squeaky clean. It’s formulated to remove thick layers of brake dust quickly and without the tedious scrubbing of the wheels.
After spraying the cleaner onto your wheels, the formula turns any brake dust bright purple, which is very satisfying to watch.
Other features of the Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner include:
- Acid-free and pH neutral formula
- Safe to use on all types of wheels
- Made in the United States
- Available in 16 ounce, 1 or 5 gallon bottle
- Comes with a satisfaction guarantee
The Adams Deep Wheel Cleaner is one of the easiest ways to get grime off your wheels. The powerful spray formula is quick to use and removes brake dust without damaging the rim. It’s one of the best wheel cleaners on the market and is also available as a bulk buy option for the best bang for your buck.Check it Out
2. CarGuys Premium Wheel and Tire Cleaner
The CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner is one of the most popular formulas on the market that’s designed to safely clean both your rims and tires. It’s truly a premium product that you can safely use on all car, truck and motorcycle wheels. It uses a super concentrated formula that’s long lasting and provides extra cleaning power when compared to some of the alternatives.
Other features of the CarGuys Premium Rim Cleaner include:
- Acid-free, non-toxic and pH balanced
- Environmentally friendly materials
- Safe and effective on any surface
- Comes in 18 ounces and 1 gallon size options
- Made in the USA
- Money back guarantee for peace of mind
Overall, the CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner is one of the most effective products for removing tough brake dust buildup. The cleaner is a great option to keep in your garage for touch-ups and and the popularity is a clear indication of its quality.Check it Out
3. Sonax Full Effect Alloy Wheel Cleaner
The Sonax Full Effect is another popular wheel cleaner and for good reason too. According to the brand, it’s safe to use on all OEM or aftermarket wheels and has a pH neutral and acid-free formula. Once sprayed onto dirty wheels, the cleaner turns from a distinctive yellow to a dark red or purple color, which can then be rinsed clear.
Other features of the Sonax Full Effect include:
- Suitable for all wheels
- Available in a 16.9 or 169 oz bottle
- Effortlessly dissolves brake dust
- Ready to use with no dilution required
- Acid-free and pH neutral
The Sonax Full Effect is a top rated wheel cleaner that’s easy to use and highly effective. It’s slightly more expensive than some of the alternatives but the acid-free formula and proven results makes it a worthwhile investment.Check it Out
4. Chemical Guys Signature Series Rim Cleaner
The Chemical Guys Signature Series is a professional grade rim cleaner that uses a strong formulation for tackling tough dirt. The distinctive blue formula has the strength to tackle any dirt without the need for any scrubbing, which is highly desirable. For the best results, it’s recommended that you dilute this cleaner in water, using a 1 to 8 ratio.
Other features of the Chemical Guys Signature Series include:
- Removes brake dust, oil, oxidization, dirt and more
- Works on chrome and alloy
- Completely unscented
- Sprays on and rinses off quickly
- Citrus based formula
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, the 1 gallon option provides excellent value for the money. Although the brand produce other rim cleaners, the Signature Series is the most rated and it won’t disappoint.Check it Out
5. Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner
Using this rim cleaner is very simple and requires you to spray the formula straight onto the wheels and wait a few minutes. Once the solution has turned purple, you can simply wash it away.
Other features of the Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner include:
- Available in 24 oz and 32 oz options
- Gel formula that dissolves brake dust
- Acid free and pH balanced
- Safe to use on all types of wheels
- Fast acting formula
Overall, the Meguiars wheel cleaner is an affordable yet effective option for keeping your wheels clean. It’s an excellent all-round cleaner that combines performance with value for money.Check it Out
6. TriNova Wheel Cleaning Spray
TriNova are another popular detailing brand and their rim cleaner is an acid-free formula designed for all wheel types. The brand state that it doesn’t require scrubbing once sprayed onto the wheels and it removes even the most stubborn of dirt. It’s a concentrated formula that provides a deep clean and penetrates deep into stains that many alternative may struggle with.
Other features of the TriNova Wheel Cleaning Spray include:
- Suitable for polished, painted and chrome wheels
- Acid-free formula that’s safe to use
- Prevents accumulation of brake dust
- No color changes
- Made in the USA
- 18 oz bottle with an extra long tube
The TriNova formula is a great option that offers great value for the money and won’t disappoint. The brand also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee for complete peace of mind, which shows its high quality formulation.Check it Out
7. Griot’s Garage 11106 Wheel Cleaner
Griot’s Garage are a highly reputable brand and their wheel cleaner follows their great reputation. It’s a pH balanced formula that’s suitable for all wheel types and leaves the wheels with a reflective shine.
Interestingly, this formula has also been recognized and approved by the popular BBS wheel brand who produce both OEM and aftermarket wheels.
Other features of the Griot’s Garage 11106 include:
- Removes brake dust, tar and other road grime or dirt
- Safe for all wheel finishes
- Available in a 22 oz, 32 oz or 1 gallon bottle
- No color change
- High quality ingredients used
Unlike other formulas, the 11106 cleaner requires you to gently use a wheel brush to agitate the cleaner. However, this does allow it to provide a deeper clean that easily removes tough brake dust and other stubborn road grime.Check it Out
8. Meguiar’s Aluminum Wheel Cleaner
Another wheel cleaner by Meguiar’s is their Hot Rims formula and it’s the best aluminum wheel cleaner due to its gentle formula. According to the brand, it’s safe for bare aluminum wheels but also works great on powder coated or anodized wheels.
Other features of the Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminium Cleaner include:
- Designed specifically for bare aluminium
- Foaming cleaner that removes dirt and grease
- Spray on and rinse off cleaning method
- Comes in 24 ounce size
The Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminium Rim Cleaner is the best option for bare aluminum rims that require gentle cleaners. If you have tried other alternatives and found them to be too strong, then this dedicated aluminium wheel cleaner by Meguiar’s won’t disappoint.Check it Out
9. Poorboy’s Spray and Rinse Wheel Cleaner
The Poorboy’s Spray and Rinse is an acid-free and safe formula designed to remove stubborn dirt. It’s also a citrus based formula that the brand states requires no scrubbing. A unique feature of this wheel cleaner is that it doesn’t produce any harsh scent, which is desirable trait for many people.
Other features of the Poorboys Spray and Rinse include:
- Clear coat, chrome, painted and plastic wheel safe
- Pleasant scent once sprayed onto the wheels
- Available in a 1 gallon bottle
- No color change once used
- Made in the USA
It’s important to note that the brand states this isn’t the best cleaner to use for aftermarket or aluminum wheels. However, if the wheels are clear coat, chrome, painted or plastic, this wheel cleaner provides excellent cleaning qualities.Check it Out
10. Armor All Extreme Wheel and Tire Cleaner
The Armor All Extreme is a triple action formula that’s designed to dissolve grease, road grime and brake dust. Once sprayed onto the wheels, this formula uses an intense foaming action to cling onto the wheels and lift dirt away. It also has a blanketing agent that helps spread the foam into all the tight spaces such as around the lug nuts or multiple spokes.
Other features of the Armor All Extreme include:
- Safe for factory and aftermarket wheels
- Reveals and enhances the shine
- Dissolves brake dust
- Multiple spray patterns
- Requires agitating
- 32 oz bottle
Overall, the Armor All Extreme is an excellent all-round cleaner that’s effective on both tires and wheels. It does require agitating with a brush or wash mitt but the intense foaming action ensures that all dirt is lifted away.Check it Out
Wheel Cleaner Buying Guide
If you’ve invested into high quality wheels for your car, it’s important to have a good wheel cleaner on hand to keep them clean. The more effective your formula is, the easier and less frustrating your cleaning process will be. Depending upon the type of finish that your wheels have will determine the best wheel cleaner for your requirements. For example, bare aluminum wheels will need a gentle formula compared to chrome or powder coated wheels.
To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding wheel cleaners.
The first and most important thing to look for when choosing a wheel cleaner is how effective it is at removing dirt and grime. Ideally, the cleaner should wipe away everything in one application and without extra scrubbing or applying multiple layers.
It should also cut through all types of road grime, ranging from brake dust, oil, grease, salt and snow. The stronger the cleaner, the more effective it will be at getting rid of all of these stubborn substances. Ideally, the formula should separate the grime from the surface of the wheel, making it easy to rinse off with a hose.
To ensure that you get the best value for money, you will want to purchase larger bottles. Most of the time you will be paying for the bottle itself, which isn’t a cost effective solution. We highly advise that you purchase a high quality spray bottle and a bulk size wheel cleaner (1 gallon capacity). This allows you to refill the spray bottle as and when required.
pH Neutral and Acid Free
The cleaners you use on your wheels should always be pH neutral to prevent damage to the rim. pH neutral formulas aren’t going to damage the wheels, brakes, tires or other components of the car.
Cleaners that aren’t pH neutral contain acid, which can be dangerous for wheels, particularly those made from sensitive materials. Acid can erode the metals and paint and be very detrimental. For example, center caps are often made from weak materials but more worryingly is when people use strong wheel cleaners for uncoated aluminum wheels.
Acidic formulas also can be dangerous to the people using them, which means you need to be more careful. It’s advised that you use the cleaners outside or in a well ventilated area to avoid any potential health risks.
When purchasing a cleaner, you should double check the types of surfaces it’s intended to be used on. While most pH neutral cleaners are safe for all surfaces, some aren’t. Some cleaners are also designed for more sensitive surfaces, so they might not be as effective for stubborn brake dust, dirt and grime.
Another thing to look at when choosing a cleaner for your wheels is the method of cleaning that the manufacturer recommends. Most cleaners will have detailed instructions for cleaning your wheels on the back of the bottle. This can include use with or without a wheel brush for agitating the formula onto the dirt.
Many wheel cleaners are colored and this isn’t just to make them look pretty. This is actually to help you identify where you have sprayed the product so you can get a completely comprehensive wash.
Many cleaners will also cling to the debris and turn a bright color so that you know exactly where to rinse off. Although it isn’t essential, a colored formula can make the process of washing your wheels much easier and fun.
The odor wheel cleaners produce is another factor to consider when making your purchase. If you are sensitive to chemical smells, then a cleaner with an odor may end up giving you a headache and make the washing process unpleasant.
Cleaners that have very harsh, chemical smells are often dangerous for sensitive materials, so this is something else to keep in mind.
Foaming vs Non-Foaming
Some cleaners have a foaming abilities, so they turn from liquid to foam after they’ve been sprayed onto your wheel. Other cleaners stay in liquid form the entire time. Many people find foaming cleaners easier to use and they wipe away dirt more effectively.
Since you will likely be washing your car outside, it’s important to make sure that the formula you choose doesn’t have any harmful chemicals that could damage your surrounding area. Look at the ingredients list on the back of the bottle or the product listing to get a better idea of what the formula actually contains.
To keep your wheels in the best possible condition, you should clean them regularly to remove dirt and other debris. Using a high quality cleaner makes the process of cleaning your wheels much easier and more pleasant. Once clean, we highly recommend using a wheel sealant that protects and reduces dirt and brake dust build up to finish things off.