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My Go-To Wheel and Tire Cleaning Products


Wheel and Tire cleaning is the first step in my exterior detailing process.  Like most detailing tasks, this can be time consuming, but the right tools and products will reduce your effort while producing even better results.

Tire Cleaning

I always begin by cleaning the tires.  An incredible amount of dirt and grime can accumulate on the rubber that makes the tires look dull, faded, and old.  Many consumers reach for off the shelf, greasy tire shine to make their tires look good, but these products simply build up on the surface of the tire over time and create a thick layer of gunk.  Tires are often overlooked as part of the cleaning process, but removing this build up from the rubber will certainly enhance the look of the tire, and also help to keep the rubber healthy.

I have found the Tuf Shine Tire Cleaner and Tuf Shine Tire Brush to work very well for me when it comes to cleaning tires.  The tire cleaner works quickly to break through the dirt and grime on the face of the tire, as seen in the photo below.  The stiff bristled brush then makes it easy to scrub through the layer of filth.  Due to the impressive amount of crud on some tires, this process may need to be repeated many times to remove everything, however routine cleaning will make the process much quicker.

ATD | Wheel & Tire Cleaning

Wheel Cleaning

It seems that many vehicle owners also neglect their wheels.  The car may get washed from time to time, but the wheels rarely receive the full attention they deserve.  A high quality wheel cleaner is crucial for breaking down the dirt and grime that builds up on the wheels.  I reach for P21S Gel Wheel Cleaner on the majority of my jobs, and it does great on tough buildup.  Another great choice is Sonax Wheel Cleaner Plus.  These products, as well as others, will make cleaning heavy buildup much quicker as they work to loosen dirt so that it wipes away easily with your brushes.

ATD | Wheel & Tire Cleaning

While the wheel cleaner helps to loosen the dirt on the surface, the tools you have will make it much easier to remove the grime from every area of the wheels.  Remember, we never use the same wash media on our wheels as we do on our paint, therefore you need a separate bucket as well as some specialized tools to really maximize your results when cleaning your wheels.  The tools I use most often are my Wheel Woolies, Boar’s Hair Detailing Brush, and EZ Detail Brush.  These tools are safe and very effective on all types of wheels.

Wheel Protection

Once you’ve got your wheels cleaned up, it’s always a good idea to apply a layer of protection as well.  Keeping your wheels sealed will help to keep them looking better for longer periods of time and will also make cleaning much easier overtime.  You simply cannot find a quicker, easier, or better looking sealant than CarPro HydrO2.  Be sure to read my article on How to Seal Your Wheels in Under a Minute with HydrO2.

ATD | Wheel Cleaning

Click Here to check out other articles on wheel cleaning on the Detailed Image Ask-A-Pro Blog.

As always, thanks for reading!

Zach McGovern
Attention To Detailing Peoria
Peoria, IL

15 comments on My Go-To Wheel and Tire Cleaning Products

  1. Steve K says:

    Great article Zach! Those are great products that do the job.


  2. Dave says:

    Question. I thought I read somewhere that some of that brown coming out of the tires is the natural oils and waxes that are molded into the tire to keep it from cracking. Any thoughts?


    • Sounds like you’re referring to tire ‘blooming’… this refers to brown spots forming on the tire itself overtime from an ingredient within the tire. The image shown in this article is the tire cleaner turning brown due to surface dirt and grime.

  3. felix says:

    I love my concentrated tuf shine after reapeated use my tires no longer need crazy amounts of time to clean couple that with a quality tire shine like opti bond or pearl and your good to go I haven’t tried hydr02 because of the price I normally use car pro reload or sonax net shield

  4. David G. says:

    And you’re favorite tire dressings for

    1) highest gloss?

    2) durability?

    3) matte finish?

    • 1 – PERL undiluted is as glossy as I prefer
      2 – Tuf Shine Tire Coating as I find the gloss to last at least a few weeks while any water based dressing will wear out in a week or so
      3 – PERL diluted to your desired finish (2:1 or 3:1 greatly reduces the gloss)

  5. Iv heard a lot about the CarPro Hydro02, looks like it does a great job of protecting the wheel!

    • No doubt about it… I’ve seen great durability on my own daily driven vehicles (exceeding 3 months on the wheels), and it is the quickest product on the market. Can’t beat it!

  6. Eric says:

    What would you recommend for a wheel cleaner that won’t strip Hydro2 or a spray sealant like reload or even a liquid sealant for that matter ?

    • Hey Eric – HydrO2 & Reload are quite resistant to cleaners in my experience. I personally just use shampoo to clean my wheels as I never let them get too dirty, but I have used Sonax FE on wheels that are protected with HydrO2 and have not noticed any negative effect on the beading afterwards. Another potential option would be something like Chemical Guys Diablo Gel.

  7. Diluted: Phosphoric hydrofluoric Acid for Rims (not aluminum), Jams and Chrome. Hit bakes with tire dressing too to prevent rust. A great detail starts with a good prep. Don’t know how ? Go to prep school !

  8. lele says:

    What can I buy for my chrome rims they are tornish

    • For bare metal wheels, I would recommend a metal polish like Optimum Metal Polish or Chemical Guys Metal Polish. You will then want to apply a wheel sealant or wheel coating for added protection.

  9. lele says:

    I bought chrome rims from a rim chop do u think poor boys rim restore a work

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