LAST UPDATED: September 22, 2020

The Best Wheel Cleaners For Your Car (Review & Buying Guide) 2021

Best Choice sonax wheel cleaner Sonax (230200-755) Wheel Cleaner
Premium Pick griot’s garage wheel cleaner Griot’s Garage 10970 Wheel Cleaner
Best Value mother’s foaming wheel & tire cleaner Mother’s 05924 Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner
Many people enjoy washing their vehicles. Who doesn’t enjoy driving around in a clean and shiny car? However, there is one part of the vehicle that’s not particularly fun to maintain: the wheels. The design of typical alloy wheels is stylish, but it also traps dust, dirt, and mud that kicks up from the road. The brake pads also produce a lot of grime. Fortunately, there are a number of products that are designed to make this task a little bit easier. But on the other hand, it can be hard to tell which ones do the best job. Don’t fret though — we already did all of the work for you. Our buying guide below lists some of the best wheel cleaners for cars to help you out.

The Best Wheel Cleaners

A great thing about these products is that you can safely use them on a variety of surfaces, trims, and wheel finishes. That is precisely the standout feature on this cleaner by Sonox. It has been carefully formulated to be both acid-free and PH balanced, which means you can just go nuts with it. That’s nice to know when you are dealing with caked-on dirt and grime.

 

The formula also changes color as it works, turning from yellow to a lovely shade of red or purple as it breaks down dirt. This handy feature is essentially a progress bar, and you know your wheels are spotless. That’s useful when you’re trying to deep clean all the nooks and crannies on a car wheel.

Key Features
  • Acid Free Formula
  • Safe on Various Wheel Finishes
  • Turns Red as it Works
Specification
  • Brand Sonax
  • Model 230200-755
  • Weight 1.43 Pounds

The first thing you may note is that nowhere in the name of this spray bottle does it state that it’s a wheel cleaner. That’s because this incredible product from CarGuys is designed to replace all your individual cleaning products, including your dedicated wheel cleaner product. 

It’s safe to use on all surfaces except glass and instrument panel screens. Aside from that, you can spray it on your vehicle with happy abandon and get incredible results from this non-toxic, surprisingly mild product. It’s pretty cost-effective to have the ability to clean nearly every surface with just one product. It even comes with a free towel. What more do you want?

Key Features
  • Multi Surface Product
  • Non Toxic (No Ammonia)
  • Free Towel!
Specification
  • Brand CarGuys
  • Model SC-18OZKIT
  • Weight 1.25 Pounds

Do you remember the scene in the film Ghostbusters 2 when the characters spray pink slime over the Statue of Liberty to make it walk? That could be an application guide for this product.

First of all, it’s a far nicer product than paranormal slime, but when it is sprayed onto your wheels it foams up nicely and is designed to cling to surfaces even when they are vertical, i.e. a wheel. This makes application super simple: just spray it on and let it soak in and do its job, breaking down dirt and grime that’s easy to wipe off.

Its mild formula is safe on factory paint, trim, and rubber, so you don’t have to be too picky about where you spray it. This is one of the cheaper products on the list, but is it a great overall product that’s easy to use and will leave your wheels sparkling clean.

You may also like our review of the best foam cannons.

Key Features
  • Foam Based
  • Safe on Paint, Rims & Tires 
  • Easy to Apply, Easy to Rinse
Specification
  • Brand Meguiar’s
  • Model G9524
  • Weight 1.65 Pounds

This product from Mothers is one of the cheapest on the list, but don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot going on in this bottle. It’s more than meets the eye and more than you would expect for the price.

This product is specially formulated to be safe to use on a range of surfaces – including paint and chrome – making it easy to apply. It foams up nicely to penetrate caked-on dirt and, despite being mild enough that you don’t have to worry about your paint, it is tough enough on dirt that it rinses right away without any scrubbing. For a bargain price, you get a top-level wheel cleaner.

Key Features
  • Foaming Spray
  • Non-Acidic
  • Spray On & Hose Off
Specification
  • Brand Mother’s
  • Model 05924
  • Weight 12 Ounces

This great product from Trinova provides a really deep clean that makes it perfect if you’re working with older wheels that didn’t receive all the care and attention they needed over the years.

Cleaning the wheels is a hassle sometimes, and we can’t always be bothered, right? If that sounds familiar this could be the product for you. It’s specially formulated to bring back shine and restore luster to dull and dirty wheels

It’s even specially formulated to tackle those irritating stains left behind by snow and road salt deposits, making it the perfect product for keeping wheels looking sharp in colder weather.

Key Features
  • Formulated to Restore Shine to Older Wheels
  • Works on Snow & Salt Stains
  • Acid-Free Formula
Specification
  • Brand Trinova
  • Model 6255396
  • Weight 1.15 Pounds

If you’ve never heard of Aero Cosmetics, you’re missing out. The company consistently goes above and beyond to bring car cleaning products to the market that are both high quality and unique – and this product is no different.

This cleanser is deeply effective and an excellent degreaser. More than that, the water-based formula is very mild and safe to use on a variety of surfaces. Since Aero Cosmetics’ heritage lies in producing products for aircraft, this wheel cleaner is even safe to use on the wheels of your Boeing airliner (if they’re a little grubby looking).

The water-based formula also means that you can wipe it off with or without additional water. That makes an irritating task quite a bit faster and easier.

Key Features
  • Water Based & Safe on Multiple Surfaces
  • Wipe Away Without Water
  • Meets Boeing Specifications
Specification
  • Brand Aero Cosmetics
  • Model 787Q
  • Weight 2 Pounds

Most of the products on this list have been designed for tackling dirt that has accumulated on the outside of your wheels. However, if you have a sports car with slick sport wheels and alloys then you may have a different issue when you are cleaning your wheels – brake dust.

This material is a natural, normal byproduct of using your brakes when driving. On a regular car wheel, you may not notice it too much, but you’ll definitely see it on a more cut-back sports style wheel.

If that sounds like you, this could be the product you’re looking for. It’s specially formulated to tackle and dissolve metallic debris and brake dust. Not only that, but it’s PH neutral, making it safe to use on a variety of surface types.

Key Features
  • Changes Color
  • Brake Dust Specialist
  • PH Neutral
Specification
  • Brand Adams
  • Model DWC-16
  • Weight 1.24 Pounds

Griot’s Garage has a reputation for producing premium car cleaning products, and this wheel cleaner is no exception.

It is a remarkably mild, PH balanced formula that is not only safe to use on a variety of materials such as aluminum and paint, it is also nontoxic and environmentally friendly. That means when you rinse the product away, you don’t have to worry about where the run off is going.

Coupled with that is the fact you are getting a high-quality finish with deep cleaning capabilities that will leave your wheels looking incredible, and this really is an excellent product. Price-wise, it’s toward the top end of the scale, but not really any higher than you would typically expect to pay for a premium brand of this type.

Key Features
  • Extremely Gentle Formula
  • PH Balanced
  • Effective Clean from Dirt, Grease & Break Dust
Specification
  • Brand Griot’s Garage
  • Model 10970
  • Weight 1.59 Pounds

Best Wheel Cleaner Buying Guide & FAQ

There you have some of the best wheel cleaners on the market – but how to tell which is the right one for you?

Well, here is some of the vital information that you simply must know about this product so that you can make the selection.

wheel cleaner

What Are Wheel Cleaners & How Do They Work?

Wheel Cleaner products came about because the wheels of your car perhaps take more punishment on a day to basis than any other component on the vehicle – except perhaps your neck as you rock out to Bohemian Rhapsody.

For one thing, they are in near constant motion (or perhaps less than constant if you live in a city or commute on a busy route!) They are battered by pieces of grit and loose stone from the road surface, caked in dust, driven through mud, and bombarded by tiny pieces of searing hot material discarded by your brakes.

It’s a hard life being a wheel all right, and because of that fact, they can also be hard to clean. That’s where wheel cleaners come in.

Typically they will be formulated not only to tackle dust, dirt, mud, and grime but they will be made to take on metallic contamination – this being the cast of material from your brakes. This makes them different from cleaning products aimed for use on other parts of your car, such as the paintwork or windshield. These areas are simply not going to get the same kinds of metallic contaminants, hence the unique formula of a wheel cleaner.

Types of Cleaners

Broadly speaking, most of the cleaners are quite similar in that they are all formulated to be sprayed on and cleaned off, taking with them all the dirt you want removed and leaving your wheels looking shiny and great.

That said there can be some small differences between products which may make one cleaner more suited to you than another. Keep an eye out for features like:

  • Color Change: A couple of the products on this list are formulated to change color as they react with dirt and metal containment. This can help provide helpful visual clues that the product is both working and also when your wheels are completely clean.
  • PH Neutral: All of the products on this list are either PH neutral, or otherwise stated to be safe to use on a variety of surfaces such as paint and alloys. Naturally, make sure that you double check the labeling before you start spraying it everywhere, but generally speaking PH Neutral products are not going to cause any damage. That cannot be said for every wheel cleaner, however, with some being highly acidic and frankly dangerous to paintwork, wheels, and tires. If you select a product from this list, however, you don’t have to worry about that.
  • Rinse Action: Some cleaners, including a couple on this list, claim to work with water rinsing – you just spray on and wipe away. That is, of course, going to help to make this task faster and easier to complete however that may not be the case with very dirty wheels or ones that need a little extra care and attention.

wheel cleaners

Equipment You Will Need to Clean Your Wheels

Beyond the wheel cleaner itself, there are also some pieces of equipment that can really help the job proceed faster and result in a better finish, such as:

  • Pressure Washer – You need water, and whilst a bucket will do, a pressure washer is frankly faster and more efficient.
  • Wheel Brushes – Really help you to get into all of the parts of the wheels, especially into the alloy arches where dirt and grime can hide away out of reach.
  • Cloths/Towels – Always handy to have around during any cleaning task. Clothes can help you to wipe in the cleaner so they can really get to work, while microfiber towels help to dry off and buff the wheel surfaces.
  • Wax – Consider sealing your wheel with wax when you finish to promote a long lasting shine and help to prevent dirt accumulation in the future.

Sources:

  1. Wayne’s WorldYouTube
  2. How to Clean Alloy WheelsWikiHow
  3. How to Clean Wheel Bearings – HowStuffWorks