Your wheels are prone to collecting heavy amounts of dirt and brake dust and are actually subject to the most severe conditions on the road.
While you may be tempted to give them a quick wipe over with your car sponge and standard shampoo, a specially formulated wheel cleaner is going to be much more effective in this task.
Working to break down dust and dirt particles a cleaner will leave your wheels sparkling in no time.
Selecting the best wheel cleaner can be a little challenging particularly for those who have never purchased this product before.
We have done the hard work for you and searched through the variety of products on the market that we would deem to be our top five picks.
You will also find a handy buyer's guide at the end of our review. Here we have highlighted our top tips for choosing the best product for your needs.
If you are in a hurry and don't have time to continue reading, we have selected our top pick for you below.
OUR TOP PICK
Adam's Professional Car Wheel Cleaner is deemed to be a professional standard product that can remove the build-up of dust from your wheels. It is also great for detailing.
As your wheels are close to the ground they are subject to regular contact with brake contaminants and dirt as well as frequent heat exposure. As such the surface of your wheels becomes layered with these unwanted particles.
Utilizing advanced chemical technology, this cleaner has been specially formulated to target the areas of dirt and grime to create super clean wheels.
The formula is both acid-free and pH neutral and makes the chore of car cleaning significantly easier.
Simply spray the formula onto your wheels and you will then witness the brake dust turn purple before falling off. The results are sure to amaze you.
Impressively, this Adams Car Cleaner is suitable for application on a multitude of wheel types from alloys and painted wheels to clear and powder coated wheels.
- This cleaner is available in different quantities so you can select the best option for your wheels.
- The formula is acid-free and pH neutral.
- 110% satisfaction guarantee provides support if you are not happy with your product.
- It works to tackle grime and dust that has collected on your wheels, breaking it down with ease.
- Following application, this product takes a minimal amount of time to work in breaking down the dust and dirt contaminants.
- This product smells a little strong so some individuals may find it a little off-putting.
This Sonax Wheel Cleaner has an acid free and PH neutral formula which makes it suitable for application onto a range of wheel surfaces.
Whether your wheels are made with chrome, aluminum, or steel, you can be sure that they aren't going to become damaged from this product.
A great thing about this cleaner is that you can quite literally see it working on your wheels.
Upon contact with the surface, the formula will activate and change color. Initially, this product is bright yellow, however, this transforms into a deep red or purple following contact with the dust and dirt.
To use this cleaner it simply needs to be sprayed directly onto the problematic area of your wheels.
It will change color once it has begun to work in breaking down the dust and dirt particles. If this fails to happen you may need to agitate the cleaner to encourage it to do so.
Once they are rinsed, your wheels will appear glistening clean.
- The spray on bottle design allows you to apply the desired amount to your wheels and helps to avoid product waste.
- As a diluted product, it is ready to use straight away.
- The formula is acid-free and Ph balanced.
- It is available in a decent sized bottle so you have plenty of product to see you through many uses.
- It is suitable for use by both DIY car enthusiasts and professionals in the trade.
- This product requires a decent amount of effort to remove it from your wheels after rinsing.
The Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is perfect for use on custom wheels and intends to remove dirt and debris that has built up over time.
The formula itself uses ingredients that are going to combat brake dust, oxidation, and marks from oil and dirt.
Similarly to our previous picks, this cleaner comes in a spray bottle which allows for easy application directly onto the problematic area.
As the formula utilizes gentle ingredients it is suitable for many wheel types and doesn't pose the risk of damage. Whether your wheels are finished with gloss, paint, clear coating, polished metal, or chrome this product is going to tackle the areas of concern for a much cleaner finish.
This product can be used in one of the two following ways. If you are tackling wheels with a heavy build-up of dirt and debris the product can be used undiluted for increased strength.
However, if the build-up is less severe, this cleaner can be used diluted for a lighter strength product. Using this product is simple.
Spray it directly onto the wheel and then use a brush or cleaning cloth to agitate it.
Once you have done so, the product can then be rinsed to unveil your dazzlingly clean wheels. The instructions for use are also detailed on the label of the product.
- This product is available in two different size quantities so you can select the best option for your needs.
- The spray bottle design allows for easy application directly onto the wheels.
- This cleaner is suitable for use on a variety of wheel types.
- The product can be used diluted or undiluted depending on the severity of the build-up of dirt.
- This product leaves your wheels visibly cleaner and works well against brake dust.
- This cleaner requires a lot of elbow grease to scrub and remove it from your wheels.
The Mothers Foaming Wheel and Tire Cleaner intend to combat the build-up of dirt, brake dust, and grease to leave your wheels sparkling clean.
As a foam-based product, it is going to soak into the surface of your wheels, to effectively break down the dirt and dust, etc. This product is mildly formulated and also non-acidic.
Whether you have painted, clear coated, steel, modular, or chrome wheels this product is suitable for you. Not only can it clean the wheel itself but it is also suitable for use on the tires.
Applying the product is easy thanks to the spray on bottle design. Spray directly onto the surface where it is required then watch it work against the dirt and dust.
This product has a spot-free rinse formula. Once it has been applied to the wheel and rinsed it can then be left to dry naturally without the need for you to do this task yourself.
- Affordably priced this is a great value option.
- The foaming formula works quickly and easily against the build-up of dust and dirt.
- It is available in multiple bottle size options.
- This product is suitable for a range of surfaces including paint and chrome finished wheels.
- The spray bottle design allows for easy and direct application.
- This cleaner emits a heavy chemical scent which some may find off-putting.
The Meguiars All Wheel Cleaner has gained its title as the 'ultimate' wheel cleaner due to its fast acting power on tough dirt, brake dust, and grime.
The powerful active gel formulation reacts upon contact with brake dust turning purple, which indicates that it is working effectively.
Courtesy of the acid-free and pH neutral formula, this product is safe for use on all wheels and finishes and is safe on painted brake components too.
Despite being acid-free, this product remains strong enough to achieve visibly improved results.
Unlike most wheel cleaner products, this cleaner doesn't require agitation to work. If your car has been subject to a heavy build-up of brake dust the cleaner will change in color so you can see it working effectively.
Similarly to our previous picks, the spray bottle design allows you to apply the product onto the wheels easily.
Taking a short amount of time to get to work in breaking down the dust and grime, it can then be rinsed off for a spot-free finish.
- The formula is gentle and safe but still delivers powerful performance in breaking down wheel dust and dirt.
- Once applied to the wheels the product turns purple so you can see it reacting to the particles.
- Safe for use on all types of wheel finishes along with brake components too.
- Available in two different bottle sizes you can select the right size for your needs.
- This product works fast against the dust and dirt on your wheels.
- This cleaner is a little experience and so it may not be an affordable option for all car owners.
Best Wheel Cleaners Buying Guide
Before selecting your wheel cleaner there are many factors that you will need to consider.
You don't want to rush into your purchase, only to find that once applied, the product is incompatible with your wheel surface and instead causes them to become damaged.
We have outlined some features of a good quality wheel cleaner below along with our top tips for choosing the best product.
The Size of the bottle
You are likely going to purchase the product according to the amount that you require.
Most brands tend to offer their products in multiple size options. This allows you to select the best-sized bottle for your needs.
While some may choose a larger bottle to see them through many uses in the future, others may choose to invest in a smaller bottle.
As the size of the bottle increases you should expect to see an increase in the price.
If your wheel cleaner is going to be used on alloy wheels, ideally, it should be acid-free and non-toxic.
Aside from this, the formula should also be PH balanced. It is paramount to ensure that the cleaner you select isn't going to cause damage to your wheels. Not only is this going to be a waste of your time by worsening the state of your wheels, it may also result in some costly repairs.
Also, ensure that your cleaner is safe for use on your brakes and lug nuts. You don't want to invest in your cleaner only to find that it causes the areas surrounding your wheels to become damaged.
There are various types of cleaners available on the market.
Some will be foam-based and others are going to be liquid-based. It is important to choose the cleaner that is best suited to your needs and the one that you are going to find easier to apply.
Some cleaners utilize color-changing technology too. As the name suggests, a product of this kind will change color following contact with dirt and dust particles.
As you are going to be handling the product too it is important to ensure that it is safe should it come into contact with your skin.
Many products are known to cause your skin to become burnt or irritated.
Most cleaners will state the safety of the formula and whether it is likely to cause damage to your skin should happen to come into contact with it.
Your wheel type
Before selecting your product it is important to ensure that it is safe for use on your wheels, particularly the case for alloy wheels as they are available in numerous types.
Alloy wheels tend to be available in the following types, powder-coated, painted, polished aluminum, or chrome and each may require a different sort of cleaner.
For example, painted wheels are likely to require a different product to chrome or polished aluminum wheels.
The Solution type
Wheel cleaners tend to come in two different forms, undiluted and diluted.
A diluted formula is ready to use right away and doesn't require you to alter the solution in any way. It is going to be lighter in strength and best suited to less severe build-ups of dirt etc.
Some solutions can also be used undiluted, of course, this is going to be stronger and more effective in tackling harsher build-ups of dirt.
Ease to remove
The product should be easy to remove. Some may require a bit of elbow grease to remove it effectively, however, you don't want to find yourself spending a considerable amount of time battling against a stubborn product.
As mentioned previously some will have a no-rinse formula that doesn't require the use of water. Others however are likely to require water rinsing. The severity of the issue is also likely to impact how easy the product is to remove.
If your wheels were very dirty before cleaning you are likely going to need to agitate the cleaner to work effectively. It is important to ensure that the product is rinsed thoroughly.
Wheel cleaners tend to be a pretty affordable product. While you may choose to spend a little more on a more expensive product there are also plenty of affordable options available.
The price of the product may also be reflected in the results achieved after cleaning your wheels. If they are severely dirty you may choose to spend a little more on a product that guarantees to remove this build-up of dirt with ease.
You will find that many cleaners are backed with a guarantee and this tends to be a reflection of the manufacturer's confidence in their product.
A guarantee essentially offers support should you experience any issues with your purchase.
A product with a good guarantee suggests that a brand has a lot of confidence in the products that they produce.
Many car cleaning products are known to be stronger in scent and many people may find this a little off-putting.
While it may not be a significant concern for some, it is worth reading the reviews surrounding the scent before making your purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are wheel cleaners safe?
Wheel cleaners can be dangerous, however, those with acid safe formulas are safe and effective if they are used correctly.
Some cleaners contain phosphates along with other harmful agents.
Not only can this cause your wheels to become damaged, but it can also burn your skin when you are using it.
Do I need to use a wheel cleaner?
If your wheels collect a lot of brake dust then yes you may benefit from using a wheel cleaner to remove this.
Can wheel cleaner damage your wheels?
If the product is left to sit on your wheels for too long it can cause them to become damaged.
Some may also lead to light staining which will then need to be cleaned off.
You may find different cleaners that are suited to different wheel surfaces.