The main reason why drivers choose aluminium wheel rims for their cars is the distinctive and luxurious looks they provide. With an interesting rim design, a vehicle gets a completely new character. On the other hand, the wheels may often be the dirtiest part of the car and it can spoil the whole impression. Adequate cleaning methods and proper substances make all the difference!


Well-maintained rims look very effective.

Cleaning the alloy wheels

The rims are constantly exposed to factors that are detrimental to the paint coat. Usually they get contaminated with brake dust, road salt, mud and even tar. Improper maintenance of alloy wheels or lack thereof may even damage the rims irreversibly. Furthermore, it can affect the comfort of driving and last but not least - such wheels simply look bad - and not only in customized models.

How to maintain aluminium rims? The rims should be properly preserved before the first assembly. They ought to be protected with a special wax to prevent dirt from sticking and facilitate cleaning. Dust and dirt builds up over time producing a layer that is very difficult to be removed. A coat of wax will make it a lot easier.

It's worth spending some time on thorough cleaning. Prepare a cloth, a sponge or brushes that you may need, so that you can have them readily at hand. It is also important to thoroughly rinse the cleaning preparation from the rim afterwards. The whole procedure should be repeated once a month to ensure continuous protection. Prior to re-applying the wax, it is necessary to wash and dry the rims thoroughly. For this purpose, a pre-set high-pressure cleaner may also be used. In this case, following the application of warm wax, just rinse the wheels.


How to clean aluminium rims?

1. Make sure the rims are cold.

2. Rinse the surface dirt with water.

3. Apply a special cleaning agent onto the rim.

4. Remove the dirt and dust from the nooks and crannies making sure that the preparation does not dry out.

5. Rinse the whole rim with plenty of water.

6. Repeat the steps until you get the desired effect - by rotating the wheel you will see all the imperfections.

7. Protect the rim with a layer of wax.


Watch the wheel rim structure:


Aluminium wheels cleaning substances

Black alloy wheels, just like black steel rims look impressive, as long as it is not the result of a long-term neglect. Maintenance of aluminium wheels should be based on the regular washing using specialized preparations. Clean rims not only look better, but it is also easier to keep them in perfect shape.

The best effects are achieved by regular, manual washing. You can use a pressure washer, but remember to keep the nozzle in a distance from the rim, usually about 10-15 cm, and follow the  guidelines provided in the instruction manual. An improper use of high pressure nozzle may e.g. damage the delicate brake lines.

Please note that washing the wheels after a long ride is not a good idea. Cleaning hot aluminium rims may damage the varnish, and quickly drying water with detergent will leave stains. Wait a few minutes to achieve the best results.

To make the wheel look really good, it is recommended to clean all nooks and crannies, for example with a brush.

Wheel rim cleaner – which one to choose?

On the rims, not only the dirt from the environment accumulates, but also particles of brake pads abrasive layer which stick to the wheels in high temperature. Only regular cleaning of steel as well as alloy wheels allows for eradicating this type of dirt. In extreme cases, it is necessary to re-paint the rims.

What to use for cleaning aluminium rims? There is a selection of safe substances available on the market, exclusively dedicated to wheel rim maintenance. They come in various forms, such as e.g. sprays and gels, and their prices start at just PLN 10. When choosing a wheel rim cleaner, it is recommended to read the label first and the instructions for use to verify whether the detergent can be safely applied to the model concerned. Each aluminium wheels cleaning  preparation should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, otherwise it may adversely affect the tint of coloured, silver and black alloy wheels, and even lead to discoloration.

Particular attention should be paid to the pH of the cleaning agent - the least invasive ones have neutral pH. If you still have any doubts about cleaning the aluminium, ask the dealer in the automotive store for advice.

Attention! A sponge, cloth or brush used for cleaning aluminium wheels should not be used  for any other purpose in your car. The absorbed sand particles and detergent residues may have an adverse effect on the car's body surface.

Cleaning aluminium with acid? Better be avoided!

Cleaning aluminium heels with unsuitable chemicals is a bad idea. They may contain acids that have a negative, aggressive effect on the varnish coating. Under no circumstances should the rim be cleaned with scratching cleaning agents, polishing agents or steel wool. In this case, the effects of such maintenance will fall short of expectations.

Neglected rims are striking the eye even from a distance.

Also watch out for automatic car washes. At some facilities, acid-based detergents are used to remove the dried up dirt from the surface of the car. A lot also depends on the brushes used - they can (but should not) damage the top coat of the rims, especially in chrome and polished alloy wheels. If in doubt, ask the service about the equipment before using the automatic car wash.


Cleaning aluminium wheel rims using home methods

In various sources, particularly on the Internet, one can find many 'original' tips on how to clean the alloy wheels. These can range from using a shampoo, a toothpaste and even toilet cleaners. Such solutions can damage the paint coat. For tar marks which are particularly difficult to remove, some recommend the diluted engine cleaner, but this may affect the rim's gloss.

Instead of ransacking home cabinets and wondering what substance to use for cleaning the aluminium or alloy wheels, get some cleaners specially intended for such purpose or ask an automotive specialist for advice.


Cleaning chrome rims

These types of wheels require special care. However, particular attention should be given to alloys in chrome-plated wire rims, in which every nook should be thoroughly maintained. Such rims - if neglected - will lose their beauty and gloss.

In this case, you can exceptionally use mild household cleaners - soap or dishwashing liquid. You can also try preparations designed for chrome which will not only help remove dirt, but also restore the shiny looks of the rims. After washing, wipe the wheel dry so that no unsightly streaks appear.


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