Though this product comes out as a liquid, it quickly creates a foam that gets deep into your tire treads. It works on most wheels and rim with a factory or aftermarket coating.
You can adjust the nozzle on this bottle to apply a finer or thicker mist to your tires. The product removes most types of grime but may require multiple applications to remove everything.
Capable of removing dust left by your brakes and salt on the road, this cleaner works on almost everything. It comes in a convenient and easy to use bottle with a spray nozzle.
You may need to apply this cleaner multiple times to get the results you want. It also required more scrubbing than some expected.
You can get the full effect of a proper cleaning with this product, which actually changes colors to show you that it works. It is safe for use on painted surfaces and on most forms of metal too.
Once you spray this cleaner on your wheels, you’ll find that it slowly turns red as it gets to work. No matter what areas of your wheels you want to clean, you can use this cleaner.
This cleaner has a really intense smell that some disliked. You may find that you need to use more of the product than you wanted also.
Suitable for homes with multiple vehicles, this Hot Rims cleaner works great on chrome surfaces. It washes easily off your wheels with just a little cold water.
Designed for use on wheels made entirely from chrome, this cleaner removes dirt and grime and comes off easily without leaving behind any residue. You get six bottles in this bulk buy.
The cleaner does not work well on all auto surfaces and materials. A few reviewers received bottles that were open or leaking.
It takes just two steps to apply this cleaner because you simply put it on your wheels and wipe it off later. Many shoppers like how well this cleaner works on all areas of their wheels.
This cleaner works effectively on all the black and white surfaces on your tires and will make those surfaces look new again. It attacks all the grime that sticks to your wheels.
You’ll need your own supplies such as a spray bottle to apply this cleaner. Some users weren’t fond of the end results and thought their tires looked dirty.
You can use this Mothers cleaner on most tires and parts that have any type of coating. As the product foams when applied, you can use less of it to clean your wheels.
Though this product comes out as a liquid, it quickly creates a foam that gets deep into your tire treads. It works on most wheels and rim with a factory or aftermarket coating.
It may cause discoloration or other problems when used on painted or coated surfaces. Most users found that it required they do more scrubbing than they wanted.
You can tell a lot about people by how clean they keep their cars. While you might remove the trash that builds up inside and even go through a car wash once a month, you probably don’t think about how your wheels and tires look. It’s important that you use the best wheel cleaner to keep your wheels as clean as possible. The top wheel cleaners for 2018 will work on your rims as well as your tires. You can use one of these cleaners whenever you wash your car at home to remove all the grime that builds up as you drive and as your car sits.
The best wheel cleaner for 2018 might include a foaming product. Once you apply a little of this product, it will create a rich foam that gets deep into the treads of your tires. You might prefer a large bottle of a liquid cleaner that you can apply exactly where you need it. We found a few different types of wheel cleaners and found products that sell for just a few dollars as well as those that cost more. Our shopping guide will help you find a greater cleaner for your wheels at a price you can afford.
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If you take a walk down the cleaning aisle of an auto parts store or any big box shop, you might find yourself surprised at the sheer number of car cleaning products on the market. There are products designed for your glass windows and cleaners that will remove stains from your upholstery. You’ll also find products that hide paint scrapes and those that work specifically on chrome. To create a list of the best wheel cleaners for 2018, we focused on just those products that you can use on wheels and tires.
We checked with some of the top car websites around to find out which products they recommended and which cleaners they used on their own tires. Though we considered their feedback, we also wanted to find out what real people think. That led us to the product reviews posted on Amazon. We used those reviews to find the top pros and cons of each product and to weed out cleaners that didn’t work as well as most expected.
You can use our shopping guide in a few different ways. We highly recommend that you look at our product reviews and our cleaner matrix. You can then find out more about wheel cleaners, including how to pick the best product and how to use those cleaners.
It also works well on the other grime that you encounter, including the dust that flies off your brakes and the debris that you pick up from the street. This is one of the best environmentally friendly cleaners around too because its formula has a special pH balance that won’t harm the environment. You can use this on a wide range of rims, including aluminum and alloy wheels. Another benefit to using this product is that it can make the white stripes on your tires appear brighter and fresher. With one application, you can make your wheels look new again.
Wheel cleaners work in one of two ways. The most common type requires less work on your part. These cleaners typically come in spray bottles. You may need to lift a flap on the bottle to expose the nozzle, but some have a knob that you twist to use the spray. Those with a knob also let you turn in opposite directions to adjust the amount of the product that comes out. With these products, you simply spray the liquid on your wheels and let it work on its own. You’ll come back in a few minutes to rinse off any of the excess liquid. It may take several applications before the product works the way you want it to work though.
The other type of wheel cleaner is one that requires more work. Once you apply the cleaner, you can use a brush or a sponge to rub the liquid on the wheels. These products are great for those who see debris trapped in their rims. This also lets you remove any larger trash or debris that you might see. This type of wheel cleaner comes in both spray bottles and jugs that let you apply more or less of the liquid to your wheels.
The best ways to remove any excess cleaner from your wheels is with a bucket of fresh water or a garden hose. You can spray water from the hose right on the wheels to remove any of the product or rinse off the wheels with water poured from a bucket. When you choose the bucket method, you may need to pour more water on the wheels to remove all the cleaner.
If you search online for ways to clean your car tires, you’ll likely come across a number of recipes for DIY cleaners. Those cleaners may contain distilled white vinegar or bleach that will remove and break down debris stuck to the wheels. Commercial cleaners such as the ones on our list have a number of benefits over those DIY remedies, including:
While car soaps are cleaning products designed for cleaning vehicles without damaging their paint jobs, you should not use this soap on your wheels or tires. It will leave behind a dingy residue on the tires and can eat through the coating on your wheels.
All in One Cleaners
If you want to save time and save money, you should look at an all in one cleaner. These are products that are safe to use on all areas of your car. You don’t need to worry if the liquid spills onto your paint because it will not damage that surface. These cleaners work well on your tires and rims as well as your brake lines or cables and any other nearby parts. You may find that these cleaners do not work as well as those designed for specific areas or materials though. Some will work better on tires than on rims or make the metal surfaces appear cleaner.
Wheel cleaners work on your wheels but not your tires. These products come in both scrubbing and spray options. With spray products, you spray the formula on your wheels and let it sit for around 10 to 15 minutes before coming back and rinsing off the wheels. Scrubbing products ask you to put in some effort and rub that product on your wheels. Though spray options give you a more convenient way to clean your tires, many products do not work as well as you might think. You usually need to apply more of the formula than the manufacturer instructed or scrub the liquid in yourself.
The problem with using ordinary cleaners on your tire is that most of those products are not suitable for use on rubber. As car tires use rubber, you need to use caution when picking a good cleaner. If you choose the wrong one, your tires will develop a dingy appearance that makes them look old. Other products can actually leave behind discolored spots on the rubber. Both Meguiar’s and Mothers make cleaners that you can use on your tires and other products that are safe to use on your rims and brake cables.
When you purchase a brand new vehicle, you’ll find that most of its surfaces have a shiny appearance. No matter how often you drive that car, those shiny finishes will slowly become dull and dingy. Tire oil is a type of specialized product designed to bring back the original shine of those tires. The oils do a good job of removing dirt and debris but also restore the brilliant shine that you associate with rubber tires. Some oils are best for restoring tires rather than cleaning tires. You’ll typically apply the oil with a dry cloth and rub it into the rubber.
Tire brighteners are cleaning products that actually make car tires look brighter and whiter. You can use these products on any white lettering or on whitewall tires to make those features look much whiter and without damaging the rubber.
When you pay for professional detailing, the expert will use an acid cleaner on your wheels. Acid cleaners are safer than you might assume and do a good job of working on the buildup that can occur when you do not clean your wheels for months or longer. You need to use caution when working with these products because the acidic ingredients can actually damage your skin and affect your lungs. Some products come in a concentrated formula that will require that you mix the liquid with water while wearing some protective clothing. You’ll also find acidic products that come already mixed.
Many people prefer acid-free cleaners that are safer for them and the environment. When you use an acidic cleaner, you must dispose of any remaining cleaner properly. With acid-free cleaners, you can be a little more flexible with how you store and dispose of the liquid. Acid-free cleaners do not produce any toxic fumes and shouldn’t affect your skin or breathing, though some products do have a strong odor. Many of the newer acid-free cleaners will work just as well as those that contain acid do, but you may need to spend more time scrubbing and applying those products to get the same results.
It’s really important that you buy the right cleaner designed for the type of wheels that you have. You’ll find cleaners designed for:
Cleaners designed for alloy, aluminum and chrome wheels will only work on surfaces that use that type of metal or finish. If you use the wrong product, you’ll create an effect called etching. This will leave behind marks that mimic the way the cleaner dried or the cloth/brush that you used to apply it. Many of these products do not contain any acid ingredients.
Another example of an acid-free cleaner is one designed for use on a clear coat. Acidic cleaners can eat right through that coating and seriously damage the metal beneath. Black wheel cleaners allow you to clean these unique wheels without using any water. You’ll usually apply the cleaner and then go over it with a soft cloth to buff the wheels and remove any of the excess cleaner. Some manufacturers make black wheels that you can clean with ordinary soap too. You must use a wheel cleaner designed to work on the specific type of metal or finish that your own wheels have.
If you aren’t sure what type of wheels you have, look at the paperwork that came with your car or in your manual. You can also check with the shop that installed new wheels on your car.
One thing you may not give much thought to is how the product smells. When you read a product description, you should always check for any scents listed in the description or on the packaging. Many companies offer wheel cleaners with a new car smell. This is an artificial odor designed to smell just like a new car does. You can also check the posted reviews to see if customers wrote about the smell.
The smell may not seem very important to you because you plan on using the product outside. You assume that the fresh air will help dissipate that odor and carry it away from your nose. Depending on which cleaner you pick though, you may find yourself standing right next to the product for five minutes or longer. That smell can create a burning sensation in your nose and leave you struggling to breathe.
Products that contain more artificial ingredients and chemicals can cause serious damage to your nose, mouth and lungs as you keep breathing in those scents. You also risk the odor clinging to your wheels and tires. Some products have such an intense smell that the odor will hit your nose each time you climb in or out of your car.
If you have a sensitive nose and/or suffer headaches and other symptoms when exposed to artificial ingredients and smells, you should consider wearing a face mask when cleaning your wheels.
One reason we really like this product is that it comes off cleanly. Once you apply and scrub the product into your wheels, you can use your garden hose or a bucket of water to rinse it away. It will not leave behind any type of residue the way that other products can. You can use this cleaner while working in direct sunlight and on wheels with a factory coating. It also works on your sidewalls. A small application of this Hot Rims cleaner will leave those white spots looking whiter and brighter than ever before.
No matter how proud you are of your car, you probably don’t like taking time out of your busy day just to clean it. Even if you make plans to wash your car on the weekend, you might put off the job because you want to hang out with friends or have fun with your family. Many people dislike cleaning their wheels because the job requires so many different steps. You’ll need to get down on the ground to clean the rubber and the undercarriage before you even start focusing on the wheels. Simply running your vehicle through a car wash will not remove all the grit and grime from your wheels.
It’s extremely important that you choose a formula that works quickly to save yourself some time. Those with a fast-acting design will work in 10 minutes or less, while those with a slower acting design will take up to 30 minutes or more to work effectively. You should not assume that all fast acting formulas will work as quickly as you like though. Once you apply the cleaner to your wheels and scrub and/or rinse off the wheels, you may find that you need to go over those surfaces a second or even a third time.
Formulas that change colors as they work are great for those who want to save time. You can check on the product after a few minutes and easily spot any areas that you missed.
As you look at some of the more popular wheel cleaners, you may find that some companies use terms like premium and ultimate to describe the cleaning power of those products. Instead of focusing on those words, you should take a look at the ingredient list and get an idea of the strength of the formula. We also recommend that you think about the type of formula that you need.
The best formula for you depends on how often you drive and the environment where you regularly drive. If you frequently drive through rural areas, you need a stronger formula that will loosen the dust and mud that can cake on your wheels. Weaker formulas are suitable for those who drive in the city and more populated areas because their vehicles pick up less grime.
If you need an extremely strong formula and had problems using cleaners in the past, look for a concentrated mixture. You can mix that liquid with less water to create a more powerful liquid that will work on most types of grime and buildup. Manufacturers of concentrated formulas will often give you instructions that show you how to mix the cleaner.
When you factor in the cost of this bottle compared to the number of ounces provided, you’ll quickly discover why it’s the best wheel cleaner for the money. You get 64 ounces of this cleaning liquid inside every bottle. If you need more, you can order a bulk package that comes with six bottles of 32 to 64 ounces. Many of the reviews we read pointed out how quickly and effectively this liquid works. Unlike other products that require a number of different steps, this one has just two. You simply apply the liquid and then wipe it off. It takes only one application to see some big results.
We like that this cleaner works on so many different areas of your tires. Not only will it remove grime and buildup from your tires, but it also works on any of the white lettering or walls on your wheels too. While some thought it made their tires look dingy, most liked the results. This cleaner works specifically on the dirt and environmental debris that you pick up on a daily basis. It actually attacks that dirt and grime to make the darker and lighter areas of your wheels look as clean as possible.
A degreaser is a type of product used in commercial kitchens to remove the grease that builds up every day. Many home chefs use the same cleaning products in their own homes. You can actually use these cleaners and similar products on your car wheels. The formula is gentle enough that it won’t damage the metal but strong enough that it eats through layers of built up grime.
While you can use an ordinary scrub brush like the one from your kitchen when cleaning your wheels, you may want to invest in a wheel cleaning brush designed specifically for tires and wheels. These brushes come in a few different designs. The most common type looks similar to a hairbrush because it has a rounded end with bristles on the top attached to a handle that extends down from that end. Professional detailing experts use products that look more like bottle brushes. They have strong bristles that completely surround one end and a handle on the opposite side. You’ll also find some products that look like simple paint brushes.
Brushes make it easy to remove some of the noticeable debris from your wheels before you apply the cleaner. You can brush off any road salt or dirt clinging to the wheels. The brushes also help you get inside the spokes on your tires or the decorations on your rims to remove any of the debris or dust hidden behind those areas. Another benefit to using a wheel cleaning brush is that it reduces the risk that you might scratch or damage your rims. Though most have durable bristles, those bristles are soft enough that they won’t leave behind any marks.
Tools That You Will Need for the Job
Give the Wheel a Good Brushing
Before applying the wheel cleaner, you’ll want to give the wheel a good brushing. You can use any of the top brushes for this job. Run the brush right through the spokes or decorations in the rim to knock loose any debris clinging to the back of the tire. You can also use the brush to clean out the tread on your tire and to wipe off debris stuck to the rubber.
Apply the Cleaner
Many people refer to wheel cleaning as a waiting game because you might spend more time waiting than you actually do cleaning. Once you spray the cleaner onto the wheel, you can actually take a short break. Some products must sit for five to 10 minutes, but other products take up to 30 minutes to work.
If you purchased a cleaner that does not come in a spray bottle, you can apply it in one of two ways. You can pour the cleaner into a small container and use a sponge or a brush that you dip into the liquid before rubbing it on the wheel. Another option involves the use of a separate bottle. You can decant the cleaner into a clean spray bottle and then spray it on the wheel.
Depending on the type of wheel cleaner that you buy, you may have the option of skipping this step. All in one cleaners and those that offer full effect cleaning will loosen and remove grime without any scrubbing. Most products do require that you put in a little work though. You can use the same brush that you did to complete the first step after rinsing it off in some fresh water. As you scrub, make sure that you use enough pressure to remove all the buildup from your wheel.
It’s important that you remove all the leftover cleaning product from your wheel. As long as you have some supply of water nearby, you can rinse the wheel off in a few minutes or less. You can fill a bucket with water and toss it right on the wheel or pour it over the wheel from above. Using a garden hose is an even better and easier way to remove the cleaner. You can aim the hose right at the wheel and rinse off all the cleaner in under a minute.
Inspect and Scrub Some More
If you think that rinsing is the last step in the cleaning process, think again. Once you rinse off the cleaner, you’ll want to inspect the wheel and decide if it needs additional cleaning. Cleaners that have a gentler or milder formula may not be strong enough to remove all the layers of buildup sitting on your wheels. You may need to apply more of the cleaner to the wheel and let it sit before attacking it with your brush. If you find that a spray product does not work as well as you expected, you can apply that cleaner to the wheel and then scrub the liquid with your brush. You can wait a few minutes or begin scrubbing as soon as you apply the liquid.
Rinse and Dry
Once you finish cleaning your wheel and are satisfied with your work, you can rinse the wheel once again and dry the metal. You’ll want to use a soft cloth to gently dry the metal. Microfiber cloths are great for these jobs because they absorb quite a lot of liquid and can actually buff the metal to a nice shine. You can also use old towels or tee-shirts. As long as you use a light touch and work slowly, you’ll dry the wheel without damaging it. You can then polish the wheel or move on to the next one. We recommend working on just one wheel at a time.
Specifically designed to target the grime that builds up on your wheels, this product will also work on the environmental hazards and pollutants that stick to your tires too. It works on both your rims and your hubcaps as well as your tires. Though the manufacturer claims it will work on all surfaces, some reviews claimed that it damaged painted and coated surfaces. It works especially well on rims and other metal surfaces that have a factory or aftermarket coating. The manufacturer warns customers against using the product on motorcycle parts and on other products because it can bleach or discolor those areas.
If you live in a home with kids who can’t keep their hands to themselves, consider investing in a locking cabinet that you place in your garage or shed. You can use the cabinet to store cleaning products and other chemicals away from those children. Only those with a key can unlock and open the cabinet.
A common question that many car owners ask is how much wheel cleaner they actually need. When you go to buy a new bottle, you’ll find that the amount provided varies from one manufacturer to another. You can get a simple bottle that has just 16 to 24 ounces inside. This is enough to clean all four of your wheels and any areas around your tires. You may even have enough to clean your wheels a few times.
If you like cleaning all your family’s vehicles at the same time, you’ll want to purchase a larger bottle. Some companies offer half-gallon bottles that contain 32 ounces and bottles with 64 ounces or a full gallon inside. Those bottles lack the spray nozzle found on smaller options though. You’ll either need to clean out an old bottle that you used in the past or spring for a new spray bottle.
Several companies offer bundle packages too. You’ll get a smaller bottle that has a spray nozzle and a larger bottle. The tube on the nozzle reaches deep into the bottle to help you get out every last drop. When you run out of cleaner, you can refill the bottle from the larger jug.
Though you probably wonder how much wheel cleaner you should buy, you might wonder how much one of these products will cost. Cost often relates to the size of the bottle. You can get a small bottle with up to 24 ounces for just $10. Some of the top products cost much less than that too. The Mothers brand sells its foaming cleaner for $5 or less.
If you want to purchase a gallon or a half-gallon, you’ll spend upwards of $20. Some of the gallon jugs that we saw retail for right around the $15 mark. You generally do not want to spend more than $20 on a single bottle of wheel cleaner unless you tried it before and know that it works great on your wheels.
The only exception to this rule concerns the bulk or bundle packages that you can buy. A bundle that comes with a spray bottle and a gallon jug of cleaner might cost more. You’ll also spend more when you buy in bulk. A good way to find out how much those packages will help you save is with a look at the price per ounce. You can divide the total cost by the number of ounces of cleaner that you get.
A: A money back guarantee is a policy offered by some manufacturers of wheel cleaners. The best guarantees are those refund the entire cost of your purchase. While some companies may not cover shipping costs, they may let you keep any of the leftover product and still refund your money.
A: Though we mentioned the average cost of these cleaners above, you should also check out the average price per ounce of those products. You should not spend more than $1 per ounce on a wheel cleaner. Many products have an average price of $.25 to $.50 per ounce.
A: Though you must remove the lug nuts when changing or rotating your tires, you can usually leave those nuts in place when cleaning your wheels. The right cleaner will penetrate into the nuts and remove any debris clinging to the top of the metal. If you want to give your wheels a complete cleaning and remove rust and buildup from all metal surfaces, you can remove the lug nuts. You’ll want to put your car on a jack to keep the rim from sitting directly on the ground.
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UPDATED October 2019