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best wheel cleaner

The Best Wheel Cleaners 2020

Using a wheel cleaner is the best and safest method of removing stubborn brake dust or other road grime. They are easy to apply and some rim cleaners don’t even requiring any scrubbing action to remove dirt, which makes cleaning the wheels effortless.

The best wheel cleaner is the Adam’s Deep Clean, which eliminates all dirt and brake dust with an acid free, pH neutral formula.

Even if you are using the best car wash soap on the market, you may find yourself struggling to remove built-up brake dust. The unique formula of wheel cleaners simply dissolve the brake dust so that the dirt can be safely wiped clear.

Wheel Cleaner Comparison

Wheel CleanerColor ChangeStrength
Adam's PolishesPurpleStrong
CarGuys ProfessionalPurpleStrong
Sonax Full EffectPurpleMedium
Chemical Guys Signature SeriesBlueStrong
Meguiar's G180132PurpleMedium
TriNova Cleaning SprayNo ColorMedium
Griot's Garage 11106No ColorMedium
Meguiar's Hot RimsNo ColorLow
Poorboy’s Spray and RinseNo ColorStrong
Armor All ExtremeNo ColorLow

The simplicity and ease of use when 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 will 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 to a 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

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 the brand also provides the option to bulk buy, which is great for those that want better value for money.

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2. CarGuys Premium Wheel and Tire Cleaner

The CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner is designed to safely clean both your rims and tires of all dirt and road grime. 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 is 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

The CarGuys Premium Wheel Cleaner is one of the most effective products for removing tough brake dust buildup. This cleaner is a great option to keep in your garage for touch-ups and it’s the most popular wheel cleaner on the market.

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3. Sonax Full Effect Alloy Wheel Cleaner

The Sonax Full Effect is one of the most popular options available and for good reason too. It’s safe to use on all OEM or aftermarket wheels with 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 washed 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.

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4. Chemical Guys Signature Series Rim Cleaner

The Chemical Guys Signature Series is a professional grade rim cleaner with a strong formulation for tackling tough dirt. The distinctive blue formula has the strength to tackle any dirt without the need for any scrubbing. It’s recommended that you always dilute this cleaner in water, using a 1 to 8 ratio of cleaner to water.

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 provide excellent value for the money. The brand also produce a wide variety of other rim cleaners but the Signature Series is the most rated by detailing enthusiasts.

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5. Meguiars Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner is another powerful formula that works quickly to remove all dirt and grime. It’s safe to use and comes with an affordable price tag.

Using this rim cleaner is very simple and requires you to spray the formula 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

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.

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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 to penetrate deep into stains that many other cleaners 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 won’t disappoint and offers great value for the money. The brand also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee for peace of mind, which shows the high standards of this cleaner.

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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 is suitable for all wheel types and leaves the wheels completely clean with a reflective shine.

This formula has been recognized and approved by the popular BBS brand, which 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, it will require 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.

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8. Meguiars Aluminium Wheel Cleaner

The Meguiar’s Hot Rims is the best aluminum wheel cleaner due to its gentle formula, which is safe for bare aluminum wheels. Meguiar’s is one of the best brands for car detailing products and this cleaner lives up to the brand’s reputation.

Although its initially design for aluminum wheels, it’s a versatile cleaner that 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 the Hot Rims formula won’t disappoint.

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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 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 scents, 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 state 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.

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10. Armor All Extreme Wheel and Tire Cleaner

The Armor All Extreme is a triple action formula that is 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 is 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.

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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 you wheels have will determine the best wheel cleaner for your requirements. For example, bare aluminum wheels will need a more 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.

wheel and tire cleaner

Effective Cleaning

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, without extra scrubbing or applying multiple layers.

It should also cut through all types of road grime, ranging from brake dust, oil, greasr, salt and snow. The stronger the cleaner, the more effective it will be at getting rid of all of these problematic substances. Ideally, the formula should separate the grime from the surface of the wheel, making it easy to rinse off with a hose.

Bottle Size

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 will allow 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 are not going to damage the wheels, brakes, tires or other components of the car.

Cleaners that aren’t pH neutral contain acid, which is very dangerous for cars, particularly those made from sensitive materials. Acid can erode the metals and paint on your car and be very detrimental. For example, center caps are often made from weak materials but more worryingly is people using 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.

wheel cleaner for brake dust

Safe Surfaces

When purchasing a cleaner, you should double check the types of surfaces it is intended to be used on. While most pH neutral cleaners are safe for all surfaces, some are not. Some cleaners are also designed for more sensitive surfaces, so they might not be as effective for stubborn brake dust, dirt and grime.

Cleaning Method

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 how to clean your wheels using their specific cleaner on the back of the bottle.

You should make sure you understand how to clean your wheels and that you have all the materials needed to clean them appropriately. You should also ensure that you have an appropriate space in which to clean your wheels.


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 it 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.

aluminum wheel cleaner


The odor of the wheel cleaner 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, making the washing process very unpleasant.

Ideally, your wheel cleaner should not have a smell at all, or it should have a very light, pleasant smell. Cleaners that have very harsh, chemical smells are often dangerous for sensitive car materials, so this is something else to keep in mind. 

Foaming vs. Non-Foaming

Some cleaners have a foaming consistency, so they turn from liquid to foam after they’ve been sprayed onto your wheel. Other cleaners stay liquid the entire time. Many people find foaming cleaners to be easier to use and that they wipe away dirt more effectively. There are many foaming cleaner options, so it’s helpful to look at this feature when purchasing the product.


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 long 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 will make 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.

You should look for a cleaner that combines strength with safe ingredients that won’t damage your car. The options presented in this guide are some of the best for effective wheel cleaning. Some car brake pads will produce more dust than others and if you cover thousands of miles, it will cause a large build up of dust on your wheels. If this is the case, investing into a wheel cleaner for brake dust is highly recommended to make the detailing process less time consuming.

procarreviews author

Written By Dan

About the Author

Dan is an automotive journalist and owner of over 10 cars ranging from supercars, tuned cars, classics and your good old beater cars. He always like to get his hands dirty with nut and bolt restorations or detailing sessions using the best products on the market.

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