Best Wheel Cleaner Reviews | Guide To The Best Wheel and Tire Cleaner
Having a “clean car” means different things to various types of people. There are those who take their accumulated trash out and dispose of it when they get gas, some that keep half their closet in their car, and others that really don’t feel they should clean their car at all. Some types of cars are manufactured with the expectation that the elements are part of the paint job, and in fact add character. Other cars may simply fill up with discarded wrappers, crumbs of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and various odds and ends. Regardless of all of that, even those people simply can’t argue that using some of the best wheel cleaner on the market makes a car look considerably better.
Then there are those who take pride in their car, who keep the interior and exterior as clean as the day their vehicle rolled off the production line. The car’s maintenance record is tracked by receipt and logged religiously. There is a shelf dedicated to various specialized chemicals that each have a purpose, and a box full of applicator pads, brushes, and other intricate tools. Simply sitting in these cars dirties their pristine state.
Most car owners, however, are somewhere in-between. They show up to car washes semi-regularly, and while theirs may not be the cleanest car on the road, they do take care to keep it as tidy as possible considering their lives. After all, keeping a car clean is not an easy task, no matter the climate.
The Best Wheel Cleaner (Full Wheel Cleaner Reviews Below)
Simple Solutions for the Clean-Conscious Car Owner
If you’re looking for a small-scale alternative to paying big bucks at your local automotive detailing shop, invest in various cleaners you know will do the job. Like anything else, you might want to try out a few before settling on a favorite cleaning agent, but the following guide will help you narrow down your choices and decide which product is right for you.
Keeping your car clean is half of the maintenance battle, and with the vast number of cleaners out there, it’s not easy to know what products truly work—and which do more damage than good. So how can you be sure you’re purchasing the right cleaner, at a fair price?
If you’re looking for a go-to wheel cleaner that will strip away miles of dirt and grime, check out this list of products. While the names may change and the formulas are all a tiny bit different, there are a few key things you’ll want to look for when picking out a tough grime remover that will keep even your aftermarket and high-end wheels sparkling like new.
Let’s take a look at those characteristics before we dive into the top 7 products we recommend.
Characteristics of a Good Wheel Cleaner
There are a few things to keep in mind as you’re browsing your local auto parts store or doing online shopping for a wheel cleaner. Choosing the wrong one and applying it to a pricey pair of spokes can do serious damage and ruin your investment. Knowing what to look for in a good wheel cleaner is also an easy way to weed out the competitors until you find a good brand and a great formula. Sure, all wheel cleaners should, of course, clean your wheels, but is it really that simple? If it were, there probably wouldn’t be as many brands out there as there are today.
The first thing to know is what metal your wheels are made of, and if they are clear-coated. Most wheels are alloys, with some older cars riding on steel and sporting hubcaps. Most hubcaps are made of a thin plastic that can sometimes react to certain cleaners. Aftermarket wheels and those that are spray painted or plastic-dipped will also sometimes have adverse reactions to certain products. Many high-end automobiles will have clear-coated wheels, which protect the metal and prolong its life.
The most important thing you can do when first trying out a new chemical is to test a small, unnoticeable spot. That way, if there is any reaction between your wheel and the chemical, you can address a tiny blemish, rather than face replacing the entire wheel.
Acidic Wheel Cleaners
Knowing the difference between the kinds of wheels that are out there and the chemicals that make up each cleaner will ensure you’re picking the right cleaner for the type of wheel on your vehicle.
Generally, you want to stay away from products that are highly acidic. While auto detailing shops may carry this type of corrosive liquid to tackle the toughest of brake dust, wheel acid is not something you want to leave on your wheels—or get on your skin. When sprayed in a mist and in an area not well-ventilated, wheel acid can actually be a strong respiratory irritant as well. If used improperly, the acid can corrode your wheels and damage your tires, especially when applying to machined lips and wheel tape. On some finishes, the wheel acid can instantly strip, discolor, or damage the wheel’s appearance.
Consult the Pros
Depending on the extent of the road grime built up on your wheels, you may need to apply wheel cleaning products 2 or even 3 times after the initial application. Be careful when choosing scrubbing applicators as well, as some brushes and pads can be incredibly abrasive. If you’re unsure how to best use your product or looking for cleaning tips and tricks, stop by your local dealer or automotive detail shop. Most detailing businesses are experts at removing all kinds of grime, and may offer to clean the worst of your wheels for a small fee.
Cool Down Your Ride
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to clean your car out in the heat. Higher temperatures will not only make the vehicle harder to work on because surfaces are hot, it will also dry up and harden any chemicals you might be working with. While you may think that hotter metals will expand and therefore you’ll be able to pull more dirt from your wheels, in reality, cooler wheels will help you clear the grime without penetrating too deep into the metal.
Think of it like brushing your teeth. You want the toothpaste in your mouth to work with, but you inevitably spit out as much as you can when you’re finished. Using too hot of water will not necessarily improve your results, and the same goes for ice-cold water. Your car wheels work in a similar way, with the best results happening at a happy medium.
Beyond that, most wheel cleaners vary in terms of scents, colors, processes, and of course, price. Some may require a bit of elbow grease, while others simply foam up and do the work for you. Here are 7 of the best wheel cleaners out on the market today, any of which are a great choice the next time you’re looking to shine up your ride.
The Best Wheel Cleaner on the Market
#1 Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect – Best Wheel Cleaner
Made in Germany by a company who’s been in the business for quite a while, Sonax’s Full Effect wheel cleaner is the best wheel cleaner on our list. Featured in a spray bottle, this acid-free product goes on fluorescent green and turns red when it penetrates dirt and grime. Let the product soak for about 5-10 minutes after applying, and then simply rinse your wheels clean.
Sonax is approved for use on various wheel finishes, including alloys, high-end aluminum, painted, anodized, and clear-coated. This wheel cleaner should never be applied to hot metal, but if it does dry upon your wheels, simply reapply the product and rinse as you normally would. Some baked-on grime might require vigorous scrubbing to loosen the contaminants, but overall you shouldn’t need to get too down and dirty.
Customers that have reviewed the best wheel cleaner on our list absolutely loved it. Most users found that the wheel cleaner performed better than most they had tried previously, and after a few applications (if needed), their wheels were clean and free of debris.
Those who did not find the Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect satisfactory remarked on the smell and stated it did not perform significantly better than products they had used in the past. There are mixed reviews as to whether the color-changing features of this product perform as advertised with each spray, as well as the effectiveness of the product to remove heavy brake dust. On a positive note, this product did not seem to adversely affect the condition of customers’ wheels.
For an environmentally-friendly but industrial-strength wheel cleaner, choose CarGuys. Their product is acid-free and non-toxic, so you won’t have to worry about rinsing away dangerous chemicals down the drain. While it may conform to all safety regulations, that doesn’t mean it can’t cut through dirt and grime. CarGuys’ wheel cleaner will cut through the residue left on your wheels by corrosive road salts as well.
Best of all, this product from CarGuys is safe on every wheel or tire out there, including alloy, aluminum, anodized, chrome, painted, polished, clear-coated, and plast-dipped rims. Even motorcycle tires and rims can be cleaned with this product! Got some old, dirty white walls? CarGuys’ wheel cleaner can’t bring the old days back, but it will restore some life in those classic tires. CarGuys also offers a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee, so if you find their products aren’t up to snuff, simply give them a call.
While there are mixed reviews on the effectiveness of this product, some customers were a bit hesitant to pay such a high price. All the same, many owners found that with a little scrubbing, this wheel cleaner worked well for them, with noticeable results. Many owners have included before and after pictures for review, so it’s clear this product does work for most vehicle owners.
While some companies focus on colors, Chemical Guys focus on scent. Their signature wheel cleaner is a citrus-based formula that can be diluted if necessary. With an all-new formula that is 35% stronger, this wheel cleaner is professional strength and super concentrated. In fact, you can dilute this product 4:1 with water!
To effectively use Chemical Guys’ Signature Series Wheel Cleaner, simply spray it directly on a dirty wheel and tire, agitate the area with a brush, sponge, or other abrasive agents, and rinse clean for a sparkling finish. This product from Chemical Guys is safe to use on chrome, painted, polished, and powder-coated wheels, and can even be used to clean painted and powder-coated brake calipers.
While some customers felt it wasn’t any better than other products they had tried, many of them reported it did not damage their wheels in any way, and even revived their wheels after years of brake-dust build-up. Some customers stated they could not believe their results, as the product didn’t appear to be working, but when they wiped the wheels clean, every spec of dirt grime came with it.
Adam’s is a well-known car-care brand, and their Deep Wheel Cleaner is no exception to their capable line-up. Safe on clear-coated, powder-coated, chrome, and painted wheels, this wheel cleaner changes color as it works. Spray the product on your dirty wheels, wait for the deep purple color to appear—letting you know the agent is working, of course—and then rinse clean. If your wheels require a bit more aggressive treatment, Adam’s has a slew of tools capable of getting the job done while still keeping your wheels intact.
While Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner does have a bit of an off-odor, it is acid-free and proudly made in the USA. Its European-derived formula is a tried-and-tested method for keeping your car clean while protecting it from future dirt and grime.
Many customers noted the product was very expensive for the (small) amount of uses they were able to get out of it. Some users noted that while it did pull away the top layer of dirt and grime, it didn’t penetrate deep into built-up filth. One user notes that it did ruin his powder-coated wheels, even though the product is advertised as safe, and many noted it does have a rather unpleasant smell. All the same, Adam’s does have a strong following of loyal customers who will continue to buy their products.
Another great product from Sonax, the Wheel Cleaner Plus is a faster-working formulation that is actually 30% stronger than the Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect. While it goes on clear, it still turns red as it penetrates deep into brake dust and grime. You won’t have to wait as long for this Sonax product to work, but simply rinse off after spraying on a good coat of it.
Sonax’s Wheel Cleaner Plus is also acid-free and environmentally-friendly. It is safe to use on alloy, aluminum, painted, anodized, and clear-coated wheels. Either way you go, you’re getting the best from Sonax’s wheel cleaning lineup.
There have been customers reporting both that the product worked well, and that it didn’t remove all the road grime from their wheels. Some customers were put off by the smell, while others balked at the price. However, many customers noted this was their go-to wheel cleaner and that they would happily pay the higher price if it meant an effective solution.
This foaming, non-acidic spray-on cleaner from Mothers is for use only on factory/OEM coated wheels. Simply spray the product on your wheels, allow the product to work over the course of a few minutes, and then rinse clean. There’s no need for hand-drying with this product!
Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner is safe to use on painted, clear-coated, color-coated, steel, modular, chrome and factory-coated wheels and hubcaps.
Do not use Mothers wheel cleaner on motorcycle wheels.
Mothers is a popular brand that is known for a number of strong car care products. Among the leading brands in the car-care industry, Mothers’ Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner earns a solid 4-out-of-5-star rating when you look at all the different sites that sell it. One customer points out that prices may vary depending on where you purchase it, but it is well worth the price you pay. Some customers have had issues with the product damaging components, and while one approving customer sprays it all over their car, it is not always a good idea to use wheel cleaner on any other surface than your vehicle’s wheels. If you’re looking to clean your paint, plastics, windows, or interior, check out the rest of Mothers’ lineup for the appropriate product.
This wheel cleaner from TriNova is safe to use on all wheel types, from aluminum and chrome to allows, painted, and clear-coated wheels. With a powerful, concentrated formula, TriNova’s wheel cleaner gel fights against all kinds of road grime, from brake dust and dirt to harsh chemical agents like road salt and winter solvents.
Made here in the United States of America, the Wheel Cleaner Rim Cleaning Spray by TriNova is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. In fact, this product comes with an extra-long spray tube to ensure you get every last drop out of the bottle you purchase.
With pretty good ratings from customers, the Wheel Cleaner Rim Cleaning Spray by TriNova is a solid choice for the money. Some customers did not get a large number of uses out of a single bottle, and were not necessarily impressed with the results they experienced. A few customers noted an adverse reaction to the product. However, most reviews note that customers received their products fast and in a professional manner, and they didn’t always have to scrub their wheels to get them to come clean.
As you can see, choosing an effective wheel cleaner at an affordable price is easy when you know what to look for. If you’re in the market for a new wheel cleaner, check out these great products, and see for yourself which ones work best for you. Clean wheels are only a few clicks—and sprays—away!