How to Clean Rims & Tires

When it comes to car maintenance, we often focus on the body, the engine, or the interior. But have you ever thought about the condition of your tires and rims? Not only do clean tires and rims improve the overall aesthetic of your car, but they also help maintain its performance. Let’s take a look at how to clean those tires and rims like a pro.

rims and tires cleaner

The Importance of Cleaning Your Wheels

Wheels are often overlooked during car cleaning, but they face some of the toughest conditions of any car component. They’re constantly exposed to road grime, brake dust, and various contaminants that can stick and cause damage if not properly cleaned. Besides, clean rims and tires can dramatically enhance the overall look of your car.

The Tools of the Trade

To get started, you’ll need a few basic supplies:

Wheel Cleaner

Choose a cleaner that’s safe for your type of rims. Whether you have alloy, chrome, or painted rims, you’ll need to make sure the cleaner you select won’t damage your specific type. Read the labels to ensure the cleaner is compatible and, when in doubt, test a small area first.

Tire Cleaner

A cleaner specifically designed for tires will help to remove dirt and restore the black look. These specialized cleaners are formulated to tackle road grime and brake dust that accumulate on the rubber over time. They also often contain agents that can revitalize the color of your tires, giving them that new-tire look again.

Stiff-Bristled Brush

Great for scrubbing away stubborn dirt and grime on tires. The stiff bristles are tough enough to remove the hardened grime that can build up on the rubber without causing damage. They are specifically designed to withstand the rigors of tire cleaning and make your job easier.

Soft-Bristled Brush

Ideal for cleaning rims without scratching them. Unlike the tires, rims are more prone to scratching and require a softer touch. These brushes are gentle enough to prevent scratching while still being effective at removing dirt and brake dust from the surface and those hard-to-reach places.

Microfiber Towels

These will be used for drying. Microfiber towels are superior to traditional cloth towels as they are highly absorbent and gentle on your car’s surfaces. They can quickly dry your tires and rims without leaving behind lint or causing scratches.


To keep the tires looking fresh and new. After cleaning, a protectant adds the final touch. It not only gives your tires a nice shine, but it also creates a protective layer that guards against UV rays, prevents browning, and repels water and dirt, keeping your tires cleaner for longer.

Steps to Clean Your Tires and Rims Like a Pro

To get the job done right, specifically, like a pro you’ll need to follow certain steps.

Step No. 1: Rinse Both Tires and Rims

Start by rinsing your wheels with a high-pressure hose to remove loose dirt and debris.

Step No. 2: Apply the Wheel Cleaner

Spray a generous amount of wheel cleaner onto the rims. It’s designed to break down the tough, baked-on brake dust and grime.

Step No. 3: Scrub the Rims

Use your soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the rims. Make sure to clean the front and back of the rims and reach between the spokes. After scrubbing, rinse the rims thoroughly.

Step No. 4: Apply the Tire Cleaner

Spray your tire cleaner onto the tire, making sure to cover the entire surface.

Step No. 5: Scrub the Tires

Use the stiff-bristled brush to scrub the tires vigorously. This will remove any road grime and give your tires their original black look. Rinse thoroughly when you’re finished.

Step No. 6: Dry Your Tires and Rims

Use a microfiber towel to dry your tires and rims thoroughly. This prevents water spots from forming.

Step No. 7: Apply Protectant

Once your tires and rims are completely dry, apply a tire protectant. This not only makes your tires shine but also protects them from the elements.

Care for Tires & Rims

Sprucing up your wheels might appear challenging, but armed with the appropriate tools and a dash of determination, the transformation can be truly impressive. So, the next time you’re giving your car a thorough cleaning, remember to bestow some care on your tires and rims as well. Enjoy your cleaning session!

See AlsoTire Terminology 101

Photos under license from Adobe Stock.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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