How to Clean Car Wheels and Rims in 9 Steps (w/ Photos)

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean car wheels and rims

Car wheels are among the filthiest car components. They collect dust, dirt, grease, and grime—you name it. Aside from accumulating into nasty buildups, they can interfere with your car’s performance and make rides less enjoyable.

Therefore, it is very important that you pay enough attention and invest time and effort into taking care of them. To do that, you should know how to clean car wheels and rims.

Even though you may be tempted to just simply blast a stream of high-pressure water to wash them, this is not enough. There are other steps that you must take to clean rims and tires properly.

In general, the steps to clean car rims at home are:

  • Turn off your car and check if the tires are ready to be cleaned
  • Get rid of as much loose filth as possible with a high-pressure hose
  • Apply the wheel cleaner as guided on the product’s descriptions
  • Scrub the wheel and rims with a brush in circular motions
  • Rinse the cleaning solution away with a high-pressure hose
  • Scrub the wheels and rims thoroughly with a DIY solution
  • Rinse the wheels and wash off all the soap
  • Dry all the wheels and rims completely
  • Coat a protective layer to prevent future filth

You can learn the details and other essential information on cleaning wheels as you read. So, what are you waiting for? Go on! Below, you will find the best way to clean car wheels and rims.

What You Will Need to Prepare


You have to gather the following materials:

  • A high-pressure garden hose
  • A wheel cleaner
  • A wheel cleaning brush
  • Two microfiber towels
  • Water and car washing soap
  • A toothbrush (Optional)
  • An anti-filth protective coating

Among the materials listed above, you have to be a bit more selective with the wheel cleaner and wheel cleaning brush.

First, for wheel cleaners, it is incredibly important that you spend time researching before you make your final purchasing decision. There are many wheel cleaners available in the market. So, it is not a problem to find them. But you must consider various factors to find the right one for you: formula, ease of application, brand, and price.

Generally, the best wheel cleaner features a safe formula that is eco-friendly and biodegradable. It is usually stocked in an ergonomically designed spray bottle for easy application. Plus, it is made by well-known brands that have been in the niche auto industry for a long time, and most wheel cleaners like this have a price range from $8 to $20.

Apart from that, your cleaner of choice should come with straightforward, clear instructions on how to use and apply. If the directions are wishy-washy, choose a different cleaner.

To give you a head start, take a look at these top-tier options: Adam’s Wheel Cleaner, Meguiar’s G180132 Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner, and CAR GUYS Wheel Cleaner.

Second, for wheel cleaning brushes, it is necessary that you find one specifically made for working with tires. Once you begin your brush shopping endeavor, you may be surprised by how many types are available in the market. Make sure you have researched adequately before picking one up at a local store or an e-commerce site.

A good quality wheel cleaning brush should have soft but stiff bristles that are safe for delicate surfaces: matte, painted, polished, chrome, etc. In addition, there should be a long handle for easy gripping and maneuvering. Typically, you can get a decent wheel cleaning brush for $30 to $40.

Here are a few reliable options that you can consider if you are unsure of where to start: Mothers Wheel Brush and Tire Cleaner, VIKING Microfiber Metal Free Rim and Wheel Brush, and Chemical Guys ACC602 Extended Reach Wheel Brush.

What You Will Need to Do

Step 1: Turn off your car and check if the tires are ready to be cleaned


First, you need to switch off your car and check that the tires are cool to touch. If not, wait until it is no longer hot or warm before moving onto the next step.

Step 2: Get rid of as much loose filth as possible with a hose


Second, grab your garden hose and use it to spray the wheels caked with filth. Make sure that the water stream coming out of the hose is high pressure. Otherwise, it will not be enough to force out the gunks. Spray thoroughly to get rid of as much loose filth as possible. The more you can remove at this point, the easier it will be for you later.

Step 3: Apply the wheel cleaner as guided in the descriptions

Third, apply the wheel cleaner that you have prepared. Make sure that you use it as guided. Each product will have specific instructions on proper use. Some cleaners will have to sit for a few minutes while others will be ready for scrubbing right away. Do not deviate from the directions on your cleaner’s descriptions or packaging.

Step 4: Scrub the wheel and rims with a brush in circular motions


Fourth, scrub. Use a wheel cleaning brush and circular motions. Do this carefully, as well as not forget to reach all the nooks and crannies.

Step 5: Rinse the cleaning solution away with a high-pressure hose


Fifth, wash the cleaning solution away. Use the same high-pressure hose from the first step. Check that there are no residues. Most cleaners contain chemicals that should not stay on your wheels and rims for too long. Therefore, be meticulous and make sure that the tires are hosed down completely.

Step 6: Scrub the wheels and rims thoroughly with a DIY solution


Sixth, give your wheels and rims another wash with a DIY solution. In a bucket, mix water and car washing soap. Then, soak a microfiber towel in the solution and use it to scrub. Again, do this with circular motions. Start from the outer edge of the rims and work your way inwards. Take the time to scrub thoroughly, especially the crevices.

When you notice that the towel is collecting dust, dirt, grease, or grime, rinse it and re-soak it in the solution to continue scrubbing. Repeat this step as many times as needed until you are sure that the tires are free of filth.

Top Tip: You can use a toothbrush to scrub the hard-to-reach areas.

Step 7: Rinse the wheels and wash off all the soap

Seventh, rinse the just-scrubbed wheels and rims using the high-pressure hose. Clear out all the soapy lather on the outside and inside of the tires. Only proceed to the next step when you are guaranteed that they are clean.

Residues can cause etching and potentially damage the materials of your tires. Remember, better safe than sorry! Triple check to make sure.

Step 8: Dry all the wheels and rims completely

Eighth, let it drip dry for two to three minutes. Then, use a fresh, dry microfiber towel to pat it dry. You may have to use several towels to finish this step for all four tires. It is slightly time-consuming but surely rest assured that the outcome is rewarding.

Step 9: Coat a protective layer to prevent future filth

Ninth, apply a protective coating on your wheels and rims to complete. This prevents filth from clinging onto your tires. Thus, it will ensure that your next cleaning session is more time-saving and less tedious.

So, there you have it! Congratulations on reading through all the steps in the best way to clean car rims and wheels. Now, you can apply what you have read. It was not as difficult as you thought, right?


As you have read, there is more to cleaning car tires than blasting them with high-pressure water. There are materials that you need to prepare and steps that must be carried out with care. Reading about how to clean car wheels and rims is the first step. Next, you have to put what you have read into practice.

Just remember, there are nine steps to take, starting from turning off your car and checking if they are ready for cleaning, to drying them off and coating a protective layer to prevent future filth.

But feel free to bookmark this article so you can refer back to it whenever you need to.

After you have tried this yourself, share the experience with us in the comments. If you have questions or thoughts, you are welcome to leave a comment as well.

Do not forget to share this article’s content with your friends, family, or any car owners you know will appreciate the content!

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– Bruce Sonnier