Wheels are one of the most important aspects of our vehicles, but often the first to be overlooked when it comes to appearance.
We might give them a quick once over with the cleaning cloth or hose them down now and then, but unless you’re a serious car lover, you probably don’t wash them with a dedicated cleaner.
Although most of us avoid this job, it’s one that can deliver huge results with minimal effort, so long as you have the goods.
Wheel cleaners are designed for this exact job and once you see the difference that a properly maintained wheel can make to the overall look of your vehicle, you’ll be forever converted.
What are the best wheel cleaner products on the market, though?
There are several types of wheel cleaners available, so you have to shop for one that meets the level of clean you require as well as the finish of your wheels. The three most popular types are alloy, aluminum, and chrome, but some are designed to be general wheel cleaners that can do it all.
To help you narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite picks for the best wheel cleaner in each of these categories.
With our help, you’ll have the top-performing and most affordable cleaner on the market to bring some sparkle back to your car’s tires and give a professional finish that cleaning alone can’t offer.
Our Top Picks for the Best Wheel Cleaner
Wheel cleaners come in all shapes and sizes, so to determine the best for you, you’ll need to choose the features that suit.
Most importantly, you want a cleaner that suits the surfaces and finishes of your wheels, so we’ve divided them into some helpful categories with the best car wheel cleaner in each.
The Best Wheel Cleaner: Eagle One 4-Piece Wheel and Tire Car Care Kit
- Chemicals: Sodium Metasilicate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Acid-Free
- Shine: High gloss
- Type of Wheel: All
Our favorite for the best wheel and tire cleaner, in general, has to be the Eagle One 4-Piece Wheel and Tire Car Care Kit. Included in this kit you’ll get everything you need to bring your wheels back to their original shine, including Tire Shine Spray, Wheel and Tire Foam, and two expert shine sponges. This tire kit suits all factory treated tires so it’s great for doing everything from your bike to your car, with amazing results all round.
According to customers, this is the most comprehensive wheel cleaning product around, thanks to the two different steps you’ll take to apply the products. You’ll get the foam that cleans the tires and surrounding wheel first, then a shine spray that gives you a shine at the end. When compared to others that simply scrub the clean the wheel, it’s the closest you’ll get to restoring their original brilliance.
On the downside, it’s not the longest lasting product, and for those who like to clean their wheels regularly, it won’t stretch too far. The best approach is to clean your wheels only once a month or so, depending on when you clean the rest of your car, to try and save some of the product. The gloss does remain for a few weeks after treatment, but if you drive a lot and like to have a pristine wheel, this probably won’t do.
The Eagle One 4-Piece Wheel and Tire Car Care Kit works in a two-part process, first removing grime, grease, and buildup, and then a layer of shine. You determine how much shine you want, from satin to high gloss, with how much you spray, so it’s a product that suits everyone. The two included tire sponges can be reused time and time again with a simple rinse, so they’re a great addition to this package.
If you want a complete wheel kit and prefer a professional finish, the Eagle One 4-Piece Wheel and Tire Car Care Kit is our number one choice. Priced at around $18 on Amazon for the entire package, it’s good value if you can make it last a while, and you’ll qualify for free shipping if it’s your first order on the site. This is the professional’s choice and the best wheel and tire cleaner for car lovers, so see what it can do for you.
Runner-Up: P&S Professional Detail Products Brake Buster
- Chemicals: Acid-Free, Corrosion Inhibitors
- Shine: No
- Type of Wheel: All
Brake Buster is a wheel cleaner from P&S Professional Detail Products, a brand known for creating professional-grade products at a price everyone can afford. This full gallon bottle is enough to last a full year of wheel cleaning, and is easily the best wheel cleaner for brake dust. With an acid-free formula, you don’t have to worry about doing any damage to your wheels, but instead, you’ll be rewarded with a clean wheel that takes very little effort to achieve.
The best thing about the Brake Buster product is that it not only cleans the dirt, dust, and oil from your car’s wheels but prevents corrosion as well. If your car has a small amount of corrosion that’s ruining the overall look, a simple spray and wash with this will apply the corrosion inhibitors in its formula to remove them, making everything look brand new again.
You should avoid using this one on matte and satin painted wheels, as it won’t deliver the same results. Some unhappy customers tested it out on theirs and found that washing with Brake Buster leads to damage to their wheels, so stick to using it on factory painted ones instead. Brake Buster also doesn’t leave a shine to the wheel, so you’ll need another product if this is the look you’re going for.
P&S has been making car care products for over 50 years, and Brake Buster is one of their best sellers. As a foaming gel, you require very little to see results, and it froths up quickly with a bit of scrubbing. You can mix it with water before applying at a ratio of 5 parts water to 1 part Brake Buster, and weekly users can use just half that amount to get the same results. This means it’ll last for years with the gallon bottle, and is easily priced better than any of the competition, especially for something so premium.
For a full gallon of P&S Professional Detail Products Brake Buster, head to Amazon and pay around $25. You’ll also receive it shipped to your door and a satisfaction guarantee from this trusted brand, so there’s nothing to fear when giving it a go. If you prefer a clean but shine-free finish on your wheels, this is one of the best.
Best Alloy Wheel Cleaner: Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner
- Chemicals: pH neutral, Acid-Free,
- Shine: Medium
- Type of Wheel: All
If your pride and joy has alloy wheels, our favorite pick is Sonax Full Effect Wheel Cleaner. This is a spray and set type of cleaner designed for minimal effort and maximum results, and it’s great for people with dirtier than most wheels. Sonax has created this to be gentle and safe on all types of wheels, but the best results were found by those with alloy wheels, and it was able to restore the factory shine to them in minutes.
The best thing about this wheel cleaner is the color-changing chemicals that show you when it’s come into contact with the ferrous metals from dirt, grime, and brake dust. When you spray it on, it’s yellow, and then it turns red and purple as it breaks down the particles, so you truly feel as though you’re seeing magic happen when it cleans your wheels.
Although this is marketed as a scrub free cleaning agent, you may need to work a little to get results. Some users found that they had to scrub for a while to get the wheel cleaner working, so if you’re planning on purchasing because you want something you can spray and then walk away, don’t choose this.
This is an acid-free and pH balanced formula that’s completely safe on all types of wheel finishes including steel, alloy, clear coated, plastic, magnesium, and aluminum. For best results, apply to cool and dry wheels, usually before you start cleaning the entire car. There’s no need to dilute it with water either as it sprays straight onto the wheel, so it’s minimal effort for you. However, this does mean it’s more expensive than most, especially for those who clean their wheels regularly.
With a price tag of around $16 for a 16oz bottle, it is a premium price, but when you see the results working in front of your eyes, you’ll know it’s worth it. When you shop with Amazon, you’ll get free shipping on the order and the option to purchase in bulk with a 169oz bottle for $80, so there’s a chance to save a lot. This unique color-changing formula is the coolest way to clean your wheels and bring them back to their original brilliance.
Best Chrome Wheel Cleaner: Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner
- Chemicals: Citrus Extract
- Shine: Low
- Type of Wheel: Chrome, Factory Paint, Clear Coat
Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is a cleaner designed for all cars and their owners, as a fully customizable product that you can dilute to suit your needs. Use just a little for cleaner cars that don’t require as much power or leave full strength when your wheels need a savior. This spray bottle tackles wheels, rims, hubcaps, and tires, giving a low shine finish and cleanliness that you can eat off.
If you’re a car lover who prefers to be as gentle as possible with your pride and joy, you’ll love the citrus extract base used for this cleaner. Customers were thrilled to find how gentle it was on their chrome wheels while also giving a deep clean, so you don’t have to worry about scratches or damage to your finish when you use this one from Chemical Guys.
However, some users found that the product left a white residue on their wheel when they didn’t scrub hard enough after applying and scrubbing the cleaner. Compared to other products that are a spray and set type or those that require minimal effort to use, this does need some effort. The results are worth it if you’ve got the time, but if you’re after a more convenient product, you’ll probably want to shop around.
Chemical Guys have created a wheel cleaner that’s not just good for Chrome wheels, but most other types as well, including factory painted and clear coated styles. Housed in a 16oz spray bottle that can be diluted down as needed and applied to all parts of the wheel, it’s versatile. The citrus shines through in the scent without having an overpowering chemical scent that many car products leave behind, so if you prefer a gentler clean then you’ll love everything about it.
As one of the cheaper options out there, at around $10 for the 16oz bottle on Amazon, the results are worth it. For those who dilute it down as suggested, you’ll get over a year of use from this wheel cleaner, and even more if your car is kept in good order. For those who don’t mind putting in some elbow grease to clean their vehicle, this citrus-based cleaner will suit you well.
Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaner: Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner
- Chemicals: pH balanced, Acid-Free
- Shine: No
- Type of Wheel: All
Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is the best tire and wheel cleaner for those who need something full strength. Designed for use on all types of wheels including aluminum, alloy, mag, and chrome, it’s 100% safe to use on any car and with serious results that will impress. If you have a car that regularly gets filthy or picks up a lot of brake dust, something this strong is the only way to go.
An aluminum wheel is just like an alloy wheel, and if this is what your car has, you’ll want to choose this wheel cleaner. According to customers, it provided a professional-grade clean without any of the unusual scents or perfumes that some car products put into their formulas. Carfidant promises only pure cleaning chemicals with no fillers, so you don’t have to stress about your precious wheels being spoiled.
On the negative side of things, it’s an expensive choice, and it won’t leave any shine on your wheel. This is purely a cleaning agent that’s better suited to dirty wheels, and not those looking to restore their factory finish. For the best results, you’ll want to apply a shine spray to the wheel if this is what you’re after, otherwise, this one is only suited to providing a deep and powerful clean.
Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is pH balanced and acid-free, so there’s no threat to your wheels. Compared to other wheel cleaners on the market that have harsher ingredients, Carfidant promises their unique formula is even safe enough to come into contact with other more sensitive parts of your car so you don’t have to be too careful when you’re washing your wheels. It removes brake dust, grime from the road, and dust and debris, so it’s the complete package in cleaning.
Priced at around $17 for an 18oz bottle and without the ability to dilute it, it’s an expensive choice. However, if you’re someone who needs a deep clean and you take your car care seriously, it’s the only product you’ll want to use.
Carfidant is an American owned brand with a great reputation and they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of their products, so if you don’t love what it does to your wheels, you can get a full refund. This and the free shipping offered by Amazon makes it a smart choice for the serious car enthusiast who needs something extra to keep their pride and joy sparkling.
The FAQs About Wheel Cleaners
A wheel cleaner should be an integral part of your car maintenance routine, and if you don’t already have one working for you, now’s the time to start.
No matter how dirty your wheels get, bringing them back to a clean shine will have a huge impact on your car, and with little effort required from you.
Check out these FAQs about wheel cleaners to give you more information about what they’re so important.
What Is A Wheel Cleaner?
A wheel cleaner is a specialized car care product designed just for cleaning the wheels of the car.
This includes the tires, rims, hubcaps, and surrounding areas that usually pick up a lot of dirt, debris, and brake dust.
Wheel cleaners are applied directly to the wheel and either left to sit for a while before washing off, or scrubbed into the area to remove the dirt.
They can be used to clean and also provide a shiny finish, depending on your goals for your car’s appearance.
Can I Use WD 40 To Clean Wheels?
Some people have used WD40 to clean their tires and surrounding parts, but this abrasive formula can end up doing damage to your car’s paintwork if you’re not careful.
For the best results and a gentle product that’s designed for this specific area, you should shop for an acid-free wheel cleaner that can remove the dust and dirt without stripping away paint or damaging the surface of the car.
How To Clean Brake Dust?
The best way to clean stubborn brake dust from your wheels is with a specialized wheel cleaner.
These cleaning agents feature special chemicals that work to lift the dust and other debris from the surface of the car without damaging the paint or finish.
Choose an acid-free formula as it’s more gentle but still effective enough to lift even the most stubborn and caked-on brake dust.
Will Wheel Cleaners Damage My Tires Or Brakes?
A wheel cleaner is designed to clean the wheels of the car, but it’s common for some of the products to get near the brakes.
Provided you choose a quality brand and product, they are designed to be gentle enough not to do any damage.
If you’re concerned about wheel cleaner touching your brakes, you can spend extra time washing them off with a hose to ensure everything has been removed.
The Brilliance Of A Clean Wheel
As car owners, we often underestimate the statement that the wheels of the vehicle make, focusing instead of cleaning the body.
Once you see just how impressive a set of clean and shiny wheels can make your whole car look, this is one part that you’ll never skip over again or leave to a car washing product to tackle.
There are wheel cleaners out there to suit every type of car and their owner.
Whether you like to take it off-road and get things seriously messy or just want to keep the factory shine beaming at all times, you can guarantee there’s a dedicated wheel cleaner that can do it, and with our help, you’ll be able to get your hands on the best.
Our recommendations for the best wheel and tire cleaner cover all specifications and goals for car cleanliness, and every budget.
This one simple addition to your regular cleaning routine will have major benefits, and it’ll restore the original new car brilliance that you thought was gone for good.