How to Clean Alloy Wheels: The Process, Tools, and Products

If you want to know how to clean alloy wheels like a professional car valeter or detailer, then this is the article for you. We will cover the process, what tools and products are needed, and why it’s so important that you take care of your alloy wheels!

Why Clean Alloy Wheels?

Alloy wheels need to be cleaned regularly to ensure that the alloy itself doesn’t become pitted or damaged by dirt such as road film, tar, or brake dust. alloy wheels are generally very stylish in design which makes a car look great so keeping them clean will ensure your car maintains its looks, also alloy wheels improve the performance of a car because they are lighter than a regular steel wheel.

Before Starting to Clean Alloy Wheels

Make sure that the wheels are cool if the car has been driven recently then wait until everything has cooled down before starting the cleaning process.

If possible take the wheels off the car for cleaning, if this is not possible a good idea is to jack up the car with a trolley jack, this will allow the wheel to rotate, give better access to the wheel arch area and make the cleaning process easier.

Ensure you wear the correct safety clothing such as rubber gloves and goggles when working with chemical products.

how to clean alloy wheels on a car

How to Clean Alloy Wheels - The Process

  1. Pressure wash the wheels thoroughly (off the car for better results), with the wheels off the car pressure wash the front and back of the wheel, also pressure wash under the wheel arch. Use a long reach detailing brush to lightly scrub under the wheel arch.
  2. After a thorough rinse with the pressure washer, spray an all-purpose cleaner to all areas of the wheel and also under the wheel arch, allow the cleaner to soak in for about a minute.
  3. Use a long reach detailing brush to lightly scrub under the wheel arch this will loosen any embedded grime from the wheel arch area.
  4. Agitate the all-purpose cleaner with a wheel brush on the rubber of the alloy wheel tyres.
  5. Pressure wash the entire wheel and arch area making sure you rinse all the dirt away that the all-purpose cleaner has loosened.
  6. Once rinsed thoroughly apply your chosen wheel cleaner product to the wheel, make sure you cover all areas of the wheel, leave the product to soak for approximately 3 minutes. Depending on the product used you may notice a colour start to appear on the wheel, don’t worry this is the product working to remove deep grime.
  7. Once the product has been allowed to work for a short period of time you can then start to do a deep clean of the wheel, use a detailing brush to agitate the wheel cleaning product, make sure you get into all the areas of the alloy wheel including wheel nut housings, in between spokes, and around the tyre air pressure stem, With the wheel raised off the ground you will be able to rotate the wheel to make this cleaning process easier.
  8. After the wheel has been thoroughly agitated all over with your wheel detailing brushes, use a wash mitt to clean the wheel using your hand, place the mitt into your bucket of water and use your fingers inside the mitt to clean around all areas of the wheel, If the wheel is on the car use a wheel back brush to work on the rear side of the wheel, a wheel back brush is designed to go through the spokes of the wheel then open up to easily clean the rear side of the wheel area. If the car is on the ground it can be difficult to clean the wheel area near the brake calliper, you may need to roll the car forward or backwards slightly to clean that area of the alloy wheel.
  9. Rinse the wheel thoroughly with a pressure washer to remove any remaining product from the alloy wheel, If the alloy wheels have never been cleaned before it may be necessary to repeat the processes above one or even two times to ensure the wheel is fully clean.
  10. The next process is tar removal, even after a thorough clean with wheel cleaner it is likely that there will be small black specks of tar that the wheel cleaner product couldn’t remove. Spray the tar remover product to the wheel and allow to soak in for about 1 minute agitate the area with a microfibre cloth to remove any specks of tar from the wheel, depending on the amount of tar on the wheel this process may need to be repeated until all tar spots have been removed. Rinse the wheel with a pressure washer thoroughly to remove any traces of the tar removal product.
  11. The next process is to dry the wheels this can be achieved by either using an air vehicle dryer tool to blow dry the wheels or you can simply use a drying towel or microfibre cloth.
  12. Finally, Once the wheel is fully dry you can apply your favourite tyre dressing to the wheels tyre and your alloy wheel will look amazing! Complete the above processes to all alloy wheels on the car then stand back to admire your hard work.

Recommended Tools Cleaning Alloy Wheels

Before carrying out any cleaning process on a car it is always advisable to have the correct tools for the job, below we have listed some great tools that will make cleaning alloy wheels much easier.

Pressure Washer

Sale
Kärcher K 5 Power Control high pressure washer: Intelligent app support - the...
  • NEW - Discover valuable tips from Kärcher experts with our Home & Garden App, such as the right...

Last update on 2021-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wheel Brushes

LJNH Car Wheel Cleaning Brush Set, Wheel Brush for Car Alloy Wheel and Tyre...
  • Powerful Combination - Wheel Cleaning Brush + Rim Cleaning Brush + Soft-tip cleaning brush + Soft...

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Long Handle Wheel Arch Cleaning Brush

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wash Mitt

Glart Microfibre Alloy Wheel cleaning mitt for car, Car Maintenance...
  • Professional equipment: microfibre wheel mitt for looking after car wheels Cleaning paintwork, alloy...

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Microfibre Drying Cloths

Glart 443TPO 3 Super Absorbent Microfibre Thick Plush Cloths 40 x 40 cm, for Car...
  • Perfect for car care as microfibre car drying cloth and car polishing cloth; excellent car care,...

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Recommended Products Cleaning Alloy Wheels

Alloy Wheel Cleaner

Bilt Hamber Auto Wheel Cleaner 1 Litre
  • Non-acid non alkaline universal wheel cleaner

Last update on 2021-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

All Purpose Cleaner

Autosmart G101, Multi Purpose Cleaner, 5L, Official
  • Autosmart G101 is an excellent multi-purpose cleaner and all-rounder

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tar Remover

Autoglym AG 193251 Intensive Tar Remover, 325ml
  • Remove stubborn tar spots, glue residue, pen marks, oil and fuel stains inside and out

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion

By following the step-by-step process in this article “How to Clean Alloy Wheels: The Process, Tools, and Products” it will be easy to achieve great results when cleaning alloy wheels.

By having the wheels off the ground or off the car altogether it is much easier to clean alloy wheels because all areas of the wheel and arch are more easily accessible.

Having the correct tools and cleaning products will make cleaning alloy wheels much more simple.

Wearing safety clothing and equipment when working with chemicals is important to avoid burns or reactions to any chemical elements that are within cleaning products.

Best Car Cleaning Product Guide

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I hope you found this article “How to Clean Alloy Wheels: The Process, Tools, and Products” useful as a guide to cleaning alloy wheels on a car, if you have any comments about the process or what techniques you use leave a comment below or visit our car valeting group on Facebook.