How to Clean Car Tires? Know the Right Way Here!

how to clean car tires

As tires, wheels, and rims are constantly exposed to contaminants from the road, the elements, and brake dust, they require special attention and the use of a specialized cleaner and a tire protectant. And you’ll also need to observe the proper way how to clean car tires to get the best results and avoid causing damage.

And if you’re also going to do car washing, you should work on the tires first.


What You Need to Follow This Tutorial


Since tires and wheels differ from paintwork in material, you’ll be needing some products specially designed for cleaning and protecting them.

It’s also advisable to designate cleaning supplies for only the tires and wheels, such as wash brushes, buckets, towels, etc. That way you’ll avoid grinding particles that could be picked up from the tires onto the car’s body after the tire wash, which could cause scratches.

  • Pressure Washer or Hose With Spray Nozzle – A pressure washer would be best to use when you clean tires and rims, as it can help dislodge the contaminants that got stuck on them. But a hose with a spray nozzle would also do.
  • Cleaning Solution – When washing the tires and wheels, you can either go for a car wash shampoo or a DIY cleaning solution. If you opt for the latter, you would need dishwashing soap and warm water.
  • Specialized Car Tire/Wheel Cleaner – Sand, mud, and asphalt tar on tires and wheels can’t easily be removed merely by washing with car wash shampoo. So the best way to clean car tires would be by using a specialized tire cleaner.

You can find a car tire cleaner that can also be used on wheels, while some shouldn’t. The latter should be carefully applied, avoiding splattering them on the wheels.

If you opt for a cleaner suited for both tires and wheels, make sure that it’s safe to use on the type of wheel you have. For example, cleaners usable safely on chrome and aluminum wheels could damage painted and anodized wheels.

The best way to clean wheels is to find a quality wheel cleaner that’s safe to use on your wheel type.

  • Tire Protectant – There are several types of tire protectants. Generally, they protect tires from UV rays and add shine to them.

For instance, tire gel undoes and prevents the browning on tires. It also protects from harmful elements and pollutants that could cause drying and cracking. It can keep tires protected and shiny for a couple of weeks.

Tire dressing restores the black color into faded tires. This type of protectant lasts for several weeks. And there are three tire dressing group types: dressings, waxes, and sealants.

And, tire coating seals the surface of a tire and prevents its factory lubricants from escaping. It can also repel dirt, dust, and water with its anti-static properties. It can last as long as several months up to a year.

  • Stiff-Bristled Brush or Wheel Brush
  • Soft-Bristled Brush
  • Small Brush or Toothbrush
  • Microfiber Towels

Step by Step Instructions to Clean Dirty Tires


Step 1: Work on the Tires First

The tires and wheels must be washed first if you’re going to wash your entire car. Washing tires first will prevent the contaminants on them from splattering and re-soiling the car’s body. This also gives the chance to clean off any accidental splatters of tire or wheel cleaner onto the paintwork, which can be adversely affected.

Step 2: Rinse off the Loose Contaminants


Firstly, cleaning tires by rinsing off the loose dirt, sand, and mud. You can use a hose with a spray nozzle or a pressure washer set on the lowest setting.

Spray water from various angles to remove as many contaminants from the rim’s interior as possible. Also, remember to keep the tires wet while you clean them to lubricate them and prevent scratching.

If you’re going to deep clean very dirty rims, removing the wheel for a more thorough cleaning would be advisable. And you should also start the cleaning from the back to the front to avoid re-soiling the front.

Step 3: Wash the Tires

You can use a car wash shampoo and dilute it as suggested by the manufacturer. Or you can also create your cleaning solution by mixing dishwashing soap with warm water at a ratio of a tablespoon of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water.

Then using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the tire with the cleaning solution. Let the cleaning solution sit on the tire for a few minutes to loosen the grime.

After a few minutes have passed, rinse the tire. Scrubbing and rinsing may be repeated as necessary.

Step 4: Wash the Wheels

Now, you can wet the wheel, then scrub it with the cleaning solution. Use a small brush or toothbrush to clean the narrow areas. After scrubbing the wheel, rinse it down.

You may repeat washing as needed. Once you’re satisfied, dry the tire and wheel with a microfiber towel.

Step 5: Use a Specialized Cleaner for the Tires and Wheels


Apply and let the cleaner sit on the surface as per the product’s instructions.

In the case of overspray on the wheel or paintwork, wipe them off immediately with a rag. Scrub off the dirt and grime either with a stiff-bristled brush or wheel brush.

When working on the wheels, don’t let the cleaner dry out, as it could cause permanent stains. Also, pay special attention to narrow areas where stubborn brake dust would accumulate, like the lug nuts.

Step 6: Rinse and Dry the Tires and Wheels

After scrubbing, rinse the tire and wheel. It would be best to use a pressure washer if you have one to get rid of as many contaminants as possible. Then dry them with a cloth.

Step 7: Clean the Tires and Wheels With Cleaner Again if Necessary

If there’s still stubborn grime on the tires and wheels, redo the tire cleaning process following the product instructions.

Step 8: Apply a Protectant of Your Choice

As mentioned earlier in this article, different tire protectants can serve particular purposes. Choose a tire protectant that would suit your tire’s needs.

The application may vary among the different types and brands, so just follow the instructions on the product label on how to apply your protectant of choice.


Always remember to do these steps on cleaning tires and rims to prevent them from getting damaged and lengthen their lifespan and make your car look more presentable.

If you have any thoughts on this article on how to clean car tires, feel free to write them in the comments. Why not also share this article to help spread this helpful information on car maintenance?

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