Everything You Need to Know About How to Clean Rims

Everything You Need to Know About How to Clean Rims Everything You Need to Know About How to Clean Rims drivrzone.com

Car detailing is a pretty big theme here at the Motorful blog! It comes as no surprise to many that most cars end up pretty filthy from even the most basic day to day activities. Commuting, running errands, and even driving to your favorite spots around town all add up into a maelstrom of muddy woes. If you have any experience with a car then you’ve probably witnessed this first hand. Keeping your vehicle clean is a constant struggle, and sometimes a losing battle. Admitting this is the first step in taking the time to fix it, however! Everybody can achieve at least some semblance of cleanliness if they have the right tools to do so. A few tips and tricks along the way to make things easier never hurts, either. That’s where we come in!

The size of your struggle is unsurprisingly dependent on where you live. Every location presents a separate set of challenges. Each of these challenges will get in the way of your dream… That is, of a truly clean car. Places that experience rain, for example, have to worry about constantly splashing mud all over their tires and undercarriage. Does it snow in your climate? That just means a dirty mess once the pretty, white, fluffy stuff starts to melt. We all know that where there is snow there will soon be a collection of grimy mounds that you have to drive through. Gross! Even arid, hot areas have downfalls. Sandstorms wreak absolute havoc on a car for a variety of reasons and will cover your vehicle in a filthy film. No matter where you live, or how often you drive, you’re going to need some help getting your automotive baby back to tip-top shape.

One of the worst areas for build-up is, naturally, the rims on your tires. This makes a lot of sense because of their placement. They’re low to the ground and get the worst of the dirt and mud. Any situation where you’re driving through messy terrain ends in some pretty gnarly results for your tire rims! So, how do you keep up with that sort of challenge? How do you manage to keep your rims spotless, even in the worst of times? The short answer is you don’t. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to think that you will, at all times, have a perfectly immaculate automobile. You would have to clean it after every single drive for this to be the case, and there aren’t many people who can keep up with that!

However, we don’t want this to discourage you. There are plenty of ways to try and keep things as clean as possible. We’re committed to bringing you the best methods, and lists of the best products available. Our promise to you is that if you take a gander at our blogs you’ll soon be armed to the teeth with everything you need to stop the build-up of grime in its tracks. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about keeping those rims pretty and polished! We’ll begin with a couple quick tips on daily cleaning and preventative measures. After this, we’ll move into a full how-to on washing them thoroughly!

Stay On Top Of Sanitation
Don’t let yourself get so caught up that you forget about your weekly wash. Even if you only have time for a quick rub-down it can make all the difference in the long-run. Keep some cleaning solution and microfiber towels in your car. Wipe them off whenever you get a chance, like on your break at work, or before work if you’re normally an early bird.

Pack On Protection
There are several products on the market that aid in protecting your tires. Polishes and other coatings go a long way in extending the cleanliness even when you can’t find the time for a full wash. We especially recommend climate-specific products, which defend against the challenges you face in your daily environment. Wax can be a fine option for this purpose! Anything to keep a layer between the dirt, grime, and your rims.

Keep Your Friends Close
Remember- cleaning products are your friends! There are so many different travel systems you can use in your trunk to keep things organized and close by. You can’t possibly keep on top of tire care if you’re missing your main ingredients. Don’t forget the most important part of this entire article: the products you’re going to use!

Now that you have a couple of tips on staying squeaky clean even between thorough washing we’re ready to move on! Below you will find a full list detailing each and every step in this quick process. You’ll be back on the road and ready to impress!


How To Clean Your Tire Rims:
It’s important to remember a few things before you begin. First of all, you should never use the sponge for your rims on any other part of your car. The debris you will be cleaning off can be harmful to your paint. Brake dust especially can be harmful to the exterior of your vehicle. So, make sure to keep that sponge set aside only for this job! Also, you will want to choose a cleaner specifically formulated for your rims. There are quite a few different types! We’re sure you’ve seen how many bottles fill the “cleaning” aisle at any auto supply store.

The trick is to make sure that it matches the rim material. Some materials, such as roughcast aluminum or chrome, are able to handle a more corrosive cleaner than others. Caked-on debris needs a strong, vigorous cleaner that can get the job done. You don’t want to ruin your rims in the process, so always match the metal to the right cleaner before you get to scrubbin’.

Another note to remember is this: No microfiber! While normally this is the go-to cloth for cleaning it can actually cause your rims some damage. This is because loose debris can scratch your rims right up. Cotton is also a no-no for the same reason. The correct tools to use are, as mentioned prior, sponges. You can also buy a wheel brush which will certainly come in handy! A toothbrush, finally, can be used in hard-to-reach places that the wheel brush can’t get to.

What You Need:
Wheel cleaner
Sponge (ONLY to be used on tires/rims)
Bucket / Hose
Wheel brush
Toothbrush (Optional)

Give Your Rims A Rinse: First, make sure that your car is completely off. The wheels shouldn’t be hot to the touch! Once you’ve made sure that’s done the only thing left to do is to just get down to business! The first step is rinsing off the entire area. You want to make sure all of the loose grime and grit is washed off. This will make your life infinitely easier. It’ll also lessen the chance of your rims getting scratched

Let It Soak In: Now that you’ve given them a thorough rinse it’s time to step up your soap game. Remember to use that material-specific cleaner we mentioned earlier in the article! Sopp up your sponge in the soapy water and get the rims coated in a fine film.  Let this mixture sit on the rims for a minute or two in order to get the full effect.

Start Scrubbin’: Rinse off your rims, and then use the soapy water mixture to buff away all the dirt and grime. Start with the outer rim, and then move inward as you go. Use the toothbrush in order to reach the inner portions where the wheel brush can’t go. You’ll probably use all three pretty interchangeably, so keep them close by and remember to continue rinsing. Make sure you also change out your water if it starts getting gross. Filthy water doesn’t clean very effectively!

Goodbye Soap, Hello Clean Rims: Presto! After a bit of washing and a lot of scrubbing your rims are looking as good as new. Wash off the rest of the soap and marvel at how much your hard work has paid off. Nothing feels as good as seeing your car looking its best… Especially when you’re the one who got it there!

Seal It Up: This step is entirely optional, depending on whether you feel it needs to be done. We recommend finding an after-care product that is made to coat your rims. This will keep them cleaner for longer, and end in less work for you. As the saying goes, “Work smarter, not harder”. We like to live by those rules, and we’re sure you do, too. Polish adds a lovely pop, as well, to any set of wheels. Be as extra as you want!

No matter where life takes you, or you take your life, you’re now ready to keep your rims on the right track. Off-roading has never been easier, and even the filthy city streets are no match for your newfound expertise!

Congratulations! You have rinsed, scrubbed, rinsed again, and polished your way to perfection. The only thing left to do is to get out there and show them off. Nobody likes to stick out in a crowd unless the spotlight is positive. We all know that one car in traffic that looks like it hasn’t been washed in years. Y’know, the cars that either have “CLEAN ME” written on them, or at least should? Don’t be that person. Give your vehicle the attention it deserves (and needs!) so that you can feel confident in your car. Your rims are such an important piece to this! They definitely get the most flack from the generally filthy streets. While you may not notice dirty rims, you’ll surely notice a clean set. Be the one they notice for the right reasons, and make sure to reference this guide when you get stuck!


  1. Nationwide – How to Clean Your Rims
  2. Dawn Dish – How to Clean Tire Rims & Wheels
  3. YouTube – How to clean your car rims and save money, time and effort