5 Best Wheel Cleaners for All Budgets 2019 (Reviewed & Tested) 

Alloy wheels have become a symbol of fashion on several cars today. This is due to the fact that they are strong, light and stylish. Despite all these positive attributes, alloy wheels seem to exhibit one weakness; their open-spoke design allows road grime and brake dust to accumulate very quickly. 

This factor alone can make your ride less enjoyable particularly when driving in dusty cities, dirt roads or even worst, nordic conditions like in Canada eh! During winter, road salt will cause pitting, corrosion and even permanent damage to your costly wheels.

Before and after wheel cleaning

When it comes to the design of typical alloys (regardless of their appeal to the eye), you will be surprised to learn that it is yet another real trap for dirt, dust, and mud collected from the road surface. 

On top of that, the design accumulates brake dust that is thrown off by your vehicle's brake pads. Luckily, there are several top quality products on the market today all designed to ease this task. This way, you can at least enjoy your ride without any worry of the menace caused by dust, dirt, and grime. 

Removing brake dust with wheel cleaner

While this comes as good news, you need to know that the hurdles of getting the right product are not over yet.  As usual, many buyers are left stranded when it comes to choosing the right product among the scores on the display. 

But that won't be a problem for you anymore now that this guide will take you on the fact-finding mission about the best wheel cleaners you can find on the market. Once you have this priceless knowledge at the back of your mind, you will definitely make a wise decision on the product that will make your wheel cleaning effortless and timeless much to your delight. 

Read on and find out what you've probably been looking for. 

#1 OBSSSD Wheel Cleaner Gel

OBSSSD Wheel Cleaner Gel comes in the form of a spray that is formulated to clean soiled rims and wheels. The product is safe for use on any alloy wheel that you can come across. This may include the factory painted, clear-coated, polished, chrome and anodized finishes. 

OBSSSD Wheel Cleaner has unique features that make it stand out from the other products. As a matter of fact, this cleaner is 100 percent safe and you can use it to maintain the wheels regardless of whether they have sealants, coatings or wheel wax on them. 

You can rest assured that this efficient wheel cleaner won’t strip the protection on the wheel, but will provide outstanding cleaning power. Sadly, this product may not be a good choice for heavily dirty wheels or rims. 

Features

  • It is suitable for cleaning cars or other types of vehicles equipped with brake rotors made from carbon-ceramic.
  • A very effective and efficient wheel cleaner, designed primarily for delicate rims such as those that have matte finishes.
  • Designed to maintain the status of your brake rotors unlike other color-changing wheel cleaners known for initiating rust.
  • The product is used for cleaning the tires prior to applying the tire dressing.
  • It can remove carbon build up on all exhaust tips in addition to being safe when used on metals and finishes.
  • The best choice for cleaning rims with sealants, coatings and wheel wax.
  • It has a pleasant scent and no harsh odors.

 

#2 Nextzett Colortec Wheel Cleaner

If you are looking for a wheel cleaner product that can safely clean different types of surfaces, then Nextzett Colortec has you covered. The product is safe and can clean wheel finishes as well as rims among other surfaces. Nexzett Colortec is formulated with a lot of care, making it both pH balanced and acid-free. 

This tells you that the product has all the safety features both for the user and the wheels it cleans. Whether you apply it on chrome rims to clean dirt or use it on aluminum wheels to wipe off grime, this product will give you the best results ever. If you think that is all you have to get from this wheel cleaner, then you should brace yourself for more. 

The formula used in designing this product helps it change colors as you work with it. So, if you see it turning into a shade of purple when cleaning dirt, just know the formula is working pretty well. By the time you are done with your cleaning, your wheels will be spotless and radiating. This will give your car the last touch it needs to make heads turn. 

Features 

  • Changes in color when it starts disintegrating iron contaminants such as brake dust
  • The wheel cleaner eliminates all stubborn road grime, dirt, and dust. 
  • It is free of corrosive acids, assuring you maximum safety when working on aluminum, chrome, painted or non-painted finishes and other related surfaces. 
  • It is efficient in terms of cleaning power and speed, for exceptional results. 
  • Designed for all-wheel finishes. 

 

#3 Swissvax Wheel Cleaner 

Swissvax Wheel Cleaner is one of the latest wheel cleaners designed for easy cleaning of rims and wheels. This product is known to adhere well to the surfaces, making it a top-performing cleaning agent that can easily dissolve dirt. 

The product changes to reddish-violet when doing active cleaning on iron particles and brake dust. The changes in the color act as action indicators across all active cleaning phases. The whole cleaning process for this cleaner involves spraying on, allowing the spray to act and then rinsing with a powerful jet of water for easy and quick cleaning.

In case that your wheels are heavily contaminated, you are advised to agitate the cleaner on the dirty sections of the wheel using a dedicated wheel brush. Then rinse it off with clean water to get rid of all dirt and dust. 

The main reason why you should consider using this wheel cleaner is that it is phosphate-free, acid-free and designed for all types of wheels including the polished aluminum wheels, chrome wheels, and multi-piece rims. 

Key Features 

  • Adheres perfectly to the surfaces. 
  • It is acid-free as well as phosphate-free.
  • Safe to use on all types of wheels.

 

#4 Griot’s Garage Wheel Cleaner 

Griot's Garage is reputed for manufacturing high-quality car cleaning products. And one of their most popular product is this one. Designed with pH balanced formula, Griot's Garage Wheel Cleaner is remarkably mild and safe for use. 

Speaking of safety, this product is ideal for cleaning different types of materials like aluminum and paint. Besides, this wheel cleaner is non-toxic not to mention being environmentally friendly. Griot’s Garage Wheel Cleaner boasts a high-quality finish coupled with deep cleaning capabilities, leaving your wheels looking as though they are brand new. 

This excellent product is affordable, which is one of its key benefits!

Key Features 

  • It has an extremely gentle formula. 
  • Effective in cleaning dirt, grease and brake dust. 
  • pH balanced and non-toxic.

 

#5 Chemical Guys Diablo Wheel Gel 

Chemical Guys Diablo Wheel Gel has what it takes to make your rims and wheel sparkling clean. As a premium pH-balanced wheel cleaner, this product comes out very strong and effective in every aspect of wheel cleaning that you can think of. 

What you need to do is to spray it on the surface and rinse off to reveal a clean surface that is free of dust, dirt, and grime. Actually, this wheel gel uses a concentrated suspension cleaning technology that is one of its kind from Chemical Guys products. 

The gel is designed to break down brake dust and road grime on your wheels during the cleaning process. It goes further to lift off all contaminants from the surface, making it easy for you to do the rinsing. 

In fact, its rich and consistent formula enables it to cling firmly to the wheels regardless of whether it's diluted or not. This way, the formula is able to break down every element of build-up within the cranny and nook of the wheel. The gel can be used to any aftermarket wheel or OEM no matter what type of finish it has. 

Key Features 

  • There is no need for scrubbing and rubbing the surface when using this product.
  • It can easily and safely lift off the brake dust, road grime, dirt, and contaminants.
  • Effective and efficient when it comes to lifting contaminants from the surfaces.
  • It is 100 percent pH balanced.
  • The gel is safe for all types of wheels.

 

The Ultimate Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guide to Wheel Cleaning 

How Do Wheel Cleaners Work? 

The need for wheel cleaners has been pushed by the necessity to keep wheels clean. In reality, the wheel on your vehicle is consistently subjected to the most difficult conditions compared to other parts of your car. 

As such, there is a need to give them more TLC in order to keep them looking spotless. Wheels are always on constant rotary motion regardless of the nature of the terrain on which you’re driving your car. More often than not, they are in constant contact with loose stones and pieces of grit found on the road surface, dust, mud or even burning metal particles left by your brakes. 

Best wheel cleaners during test

Due to the nature of obstacles the wheels on your car have to come into daily contact with, it becomes extremely difficult to clean them. But the good news is that there are numerous wheel cleaners on the market and they are all designed to make your cleaning task effortless.

These wheel cleaners are carefully formulated to tackle any form of dirt, dust, mud, and grime. On the other hand, these cleaning agents are designed to remove metallic contaminants from the cast materials of your car's brakes. 

That's why every wheel cleaner is different from other ordinary cleaning products that are used on other surfaces of your car. Of course, these surfaces don't get the same type of metallic contaminants as the wheels, thus the unique and effective formula for wheel cleaners. 

Types of Wheel Cleaners 

Much to your surprise, quite a number of wheel cleaners have some similarities. All of them or a larger percentage of them are formulated to follow the same cleaning techniques. This includes spraying on the dirty surface and eventually cleaning the dirt off with a mitt or brush. 

When used as recommended, these cleaners can take with them all the dust, dirt, road grime and mud, leaving the surface of your wheel looking clean and shiny.

But there are some minor differences from one product to the other. These differences make each wheel cleaner unique and more suitable for certain types of wheels. 

Results of best wheel cleaner

Here are the factors to check out when purchasing your wheel cleaner: 

Color Change: Most of the wheel cleaners on this list are designed to change color depending on their reactions with different forms of dirt or metallic contaminants.

But in the car care industry as a whole, this feature is actually quite rare. Change in color can give you a visual clue about how much contaminants are on the wheels and if you need to apply more products in order to remove it all.

In other words, you will be able to know if the cleaning agent is working well and when the wheel is completely clean. 

pH Balanced: 

Every wheel cleaner on this list is classified as balanced. pH Balanced wheel cleaners are a must to ensure no stain or damage is left on the wheel. The safety, however, is attributed to the surface with which the product will be used and that of the person handling it. 

For that reason, make sure you check properly so you may not make serious mistakes when using the wheel cleaner. But this is not the case with all other types of wheel cleaners. Some are highly acidic and dangerous even if handled well as instructed by the manufacturer. 

These types of wheel cleaners can cause a significant amount of damage to the wheels, tires or paintwork. In this respect, you should go for pH neutral wheel cleaners to keep yourself safe and your car as well. 

Spray & Rinse: 

Some brands of wheel cleaners, including a few on this list, can work as Spray & Rinse products. All you have to do is to spray and rinse the surface.

This is only applicable to surfaces that are not heavily dirty. For other surfaces with baked-in dirt and road grime, you will need to agitate with a brush or a mitt the cleaner on the wheel. 

Before and after deep wheel cleaning

Wheel Cleaning Tips!

  • When cleaning the wheels, you should use a pH neutral and acid-free cleaner that will guarantee both your safety and that for the rims.
  • Keep in mind that you should clean the wheels when it is appropriate to touch them. This will prevent the formation of water spots on the wheel.
  • Make sure that you clean one wheel before moving to the next to avoid the premature drying of the cleaning product. 
  • You must use the right cleaning brush set aside for the wheels. Naturally, the wheels collect much more abrasive dirt compared to the rest of the car. Therefore, you wouldn't wish to spoil the image of your car’s paint by rubbing it using a wheel brush. 
  • Always remember to keep the wheel barrel clean. This part is located in the inner section of the wheel. You can use wheel woollies brushes to ensure that this section is clean just like the rest of the wheel. 
  • Don’t allow the wheel cleaners to dry on the tires because they are more likely to cause permanent discoloration.
  • Always start by performing a spot test on an inconspicuous part of a wheel for any new wheel cleaner you try to find out if it is safe for your wheels or not. 

Steps to Cleaning Your Wheels Like a Pro

At the start of your cleaning process, you should start by spraying the wheel using the wheel cleaner. Leave it to sit and soak for a given period as per the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Then proceed with scrubbing it gently before rinsing with clean water. In case the regular wheel cleaner fails to clean your car wheels properly, then you should think of another stronger alternative. 

Perhaps you may shift your attention to Nexzett Colortec Wheel Cleaner because it is an effective and efficient wheel cleaner that can remove stubborn tar and brake dust from the wheels. 

After using the wheel cleaner on your car wheels, remember to rinse it thoroughly. The rinsing should include the innermost sections of the wheels, brakes, and tires. Take great care of thoroughly rinsing off any residue because most wheel cleaners tend to discolor other surfaces on the car if left to dry out on their own.

Protecting Your Wheels

Protecting wheel with ceramic coating after cleaning

Maintaining the wheels on your car is as simple as taking a leisurely walk in the park. For alloy and painted wheels, you can use the same steps and products you would use with your paint. This means you can protect your wheels using the same high-quality wax or sealants. 

For better durability and brake dust resistance, you may consider a high-temperature sealant or synthetic wax in order to resist the higher temperature that wheels are exposed to.

The ultimate way to protect your wheels against contaminants is a ceramic coating. These coatings are referred to as 9h, nano or quartz coatings. You can apply them to harden the surface of your wheels and help them repel dirt, water, and brake dust. 

Also, these coatings act as a sacrificial clear coat when applied on the wheels. Most significantly, they are durable and adaptable to all weather conditions. 

Following all these steps while using the best quality wheel cleaners can help you transform your rims to look as good as new in no time.

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