5 Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaners
5 Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaners
5 (100%) 2 vote[s]
Sonax 230500
Acid-Free, Ph Balanced Formula
Attaches And Emulsifies Stubborn Baked On Brake Dust
Use On Cool And Dry Wheels
Adam's Wheel Cleaner
Safe On Most Finishes
Tough On Brake Dust & Metallic Contamination
Advanced Chemical Technology
Mothers 05924
Foaming, Non-Acidic Spray
For Factory/OEM Coated Wheels And Hubcaps Only
No Need To Hand Dry
TriNova Wheel Cleaner
Safe For All Types Of Wheels
Will Give Dirty Wheels Back Their Original Shine
Removes Dust, Oil Residue
Griot's Garage 11106
Safe For All Wheel Finishes
Removes Brake Dust, Tar, Dirt, And Road Grime
Leaves Wheels Clean And Shiny

Choose the Best Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaners

28 users answered this survey. Please help us improve this review!

64.29% of users selected Sonax 230500, 3.57% selected Adam's Wheel Cleaner, 17.86% selected Mothers 05924, 0% selected TriNova Wheel Cleaner and 14.29% selected Griot's Garage 11106. Every month we analyze your answers and change our rating.

An aluminum wheel cleaner is a strong alkaline formula that removes stubborn brake dust and dirt from the surface of your wheels. It’s designed to be gentle on all types of metal, including chrome, magnesium alloy, titanium, stainless steel as well as anodized or clear-coated aluminum surfaces. Aluminum wheel cleaners also work great on rubber tires because they are compatible with any tire sealant coating present.Aluminum wheel cleaners consist of a blend of surfactants, emulsifiers, and alkaline builders. Wheel cleaners work because they break down the surface tension of water that penetrates dirt particles on your wheels allowing them to be easily agitated off from the surface with either a brush or detailing towel.

What are the best aluminum wheel cleaners? In this article, the experts will show 5 of the top aluminum wheel cleaners and tell you everything that you need to know about them. They have also included a buying guide with helpful tips for choosing the right cleaner for your needs. This is an ever-changing market so keep checking back as the experts update the list!

Sonax (230500) Wheel Cleaner – the Editor’s choice!

Sonax Full Effect not only eliminates swirls and scratches due to oxidation, but also easily cleans brake dust that coats wheels. One of the most notable features is the color-changing formula that activates when it meets ferrous metals (iron) in brake dirt or other grime.

After application, this formula will spray on as neon yellow before turning deep purple – signifying its bond tightness against iron particles making sure they are removed for good!

The color-changing formula sprays on in a fluorescent yellow before turning deep purple or red depending on the ferrous metal content of brake dust and grime it meets. This acid-free cleaning agent is also safe to use on various wheel finishes so your rims will stay looking great for years to come!

Pros

Pros
  • Acid-free;
  • pH-balanced;
  • Safe for various wheel finishes;
  • Can eliminate tough brake dust;
  • Good for DIY and professional use;

Cons

Cons
  • Bad odor;
  • May leave rust stains on the insides of the wheels;

With Full Effect Wheel Cleaner from Sonax, you can confidently achieve a deep and lasting shine without the need to detail your wheels with a brush.


Adam’s Wheel Cleaner 16oz – the best for cleaning tough brake dust!

Adam’s wheel cleaner was specifically formulated for tough cleaning. A cleaner specifically formulated with an intense cleaning chemical formula, Adam’s cleaner will not only leave your wheels looking like new, but it will also remove any heavy brake dust that has built up over time due to temperature, elements, and friction.

Tips for users: with just one use of these powerful wheel cleaners, there are no limits as to how much dirt can be removed! For best results wash off the surface with water or mild soap before applying.

Pros

Pros
  • Powerful;
  • Can get rid of tough brake dust stains;
  • Easy to apply;
  • Won’t be harmful to your finish;

Cons

Cons
  • Not recommended for anodized raw and polished aluminum wheels;
  • Bad smell;
  • Not for the sensitive skin;

It’s tough to keep your wheels looking good even with the best car care products. The Adam’s Wheel Cleaner is specifically formulated to target all those tough brake contaminants, without sounding harsh on the wheel finish.


Mothers 05924 Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner – the best for easy application!

Mothers 05924 Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner gets the wheels and tires of cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles looking just as good as new. Never let anyone be embarrassed by dirty spokes or rusted-out wheels.

Get rich foamy lather that is non-acidic and safe for use on coated wheels only. This quick-acting cleaner does all the work so you can get back to driving instead of scrubbing.

Mothers 05924 applies easily from a distance with 10 inches being more than enough spray coverage for entire car tires or motorcycle casings.

Pros

Pros
  • Foaming spray is easy to use;
  • Non-acidic;
  • Quick use;
  • Safe for painted coatings;
  • Dissolves all types of brake dust;
  • Easy to use;

Cons

Cons
  • Only for OEM-coated wheels and hubcaps;
  • The foam may come out in blobs;
  • May leave white residue;

Mothers 05924 is what you need to make your wheels and tires clean and shiny. The cleaner can be sprayed on and efficiently hosed off, making clean-up times less of a hassle for you!


TriNova Wheel Rim Cleaning Spray – the best for restoring the original shine!

Griot’s Garage 10970 Wheel Cleaner is the best at removing brake dust, tar, dirt, and road grime. The product leaves wheels clean and shiny using a pH-balanced formula that is safe for all wheel finishes.

Used by professional detailers, Griot’s Garage 10970 Wheel Cleaner is the all-around best choice for cleaning wheels. The pH balance ensures that it will not harm any wheel finishes – leather, chrome, or powder coat paint are safe to use with this chemical.

Tips for users: just spray on Griot’s Garage 10970 Wheel Cleaner and wipe away with a scrub brush or towel – it doesn’t get any easier than that! Stop wasting time cleaning your wheels on your hands and knees.

Pros

Pros
  • pH-balanced;
  • Protect the finish;
  • Safe for all-wheel finishes;
  • Approved by many brands – BBS, Dayton Wire Wheels, and The Tire Rack;
  • Good to remove brake dust, road grime, and tar;

Cons

Cons
  • Bad smell;
  • Too runny and very diluted;
  • The bottle may leak;

The Griot’s Garage 10970 Wheel Cleaner is pH-balanced, safe for all-wheel finishes, and an effective product to get your wheels looking their best. Approved by leading car care experts from the likes of BBS, Dayton Wire Wheels, and The Tire Rack.


Griot’s Garage 10970 Wheel Cleaner – the best for protecting the finish!

Do you want to remove that unwanted grime, restore your car wheels or rims to their original shine, and save the environment? Take a step in the right direction for your car and yourself with TriNova Wheel Rim Cleaning Spray.

It’s easy enough to keep your tires clean and shiny by wiping them down with a microfiber towel every time they need it. But if you like getting creative instead of just running water over them or using soap, there are plenty of other ways for you to get those tires looking really good again.

This spray is great for removing unwanted dirt and grime from your wheel rims. Depending on what kind of finish, TriNova cleans it up in no time with an acid-free formula that’s good for all types of finishes.

Pros

Pros
  • Can restore the original shine;
  • Removes unwanted grime;
  • Great for all finishes;
  • Suitable for all-wheel types;
  • Acid-free;

Cons

Cons
  • Not for tough and old stains;
  • May leave white residue;

Meet TriNova Wheel Rim Cleaning Spray. This eco-friendly formula easily restores the original shine to your car wheels or rims with an easy spray and wipe method. It is safe for all wheel types and it won’t damage any finishes – which means you can clean that rim one day then use it again the next!


The Buyer’s Guide

Benefits of aluminum wheel cleaners:

Aluminum wheel cleaners are designed with specific ingredients to remove rust, oxidation, and brake dust from your wheels. Some products also contain added agents that protect the aluminum from future corrosion or stains. 

Aluminum wheel cleaners vary in their pH levels but they will typically fall around a neutral level of seven on the scale. The most common type of cleaner is one which you spray onto a clean cloth then wipe over the rims before washing off with water. 

As an alternative, some users prefer to use a product that can be sprayed directly onto the rim without using any additional fabric materials as these tend to add extra steps when cleaning up after each application is made so it’s best if you decide what works for you beforehand when selecting a product online or at your local store. 

In addition to their chemical makeup, aluminum wheel cleaners also have several different grades of product so it’s best if you take a look at the label before buying. For example, heavy-duty products can be used on high alloy wheels which are typically much harder and more durable than standard factory rims. 

On the other hand, light-duty options shouldn’t be used for car or truck alloys as they do not work as effectively against corrosive agents like brake dust (for instance). It is important that you select the right cleaner depending upon your needs because, otherwise, this could damage your metal components down the line.

Types of aluminum wheel cleaners

There are many types of aluminum wheel cleaners such as spray cans and aerosol sprays. The type you choose depends on how often you plan to use it and if there is a risk that doing so could damage the wheels. 

Spray cans are most commonly used for cleaning brake dust from alloy wheels, however, if your rims have a protective coating on them you may need to use an aerosol spray instead. 

Aerosol sprays contain pressurized chemicals that can be directly applied onto the rim without causing any damage or tearing of the wheel’s protective layer first. This is important because not all aluminum wheel cleaners will dissolve properly when sprayed straight into fabric or material materials so it pays to read up before trying anything yourself at home.

Main Features:

  1. Formula

Aluminum wheel cleaners are the best products for cleaning and polishing your aluminum wheels. The formula of these chemicals is specifically designed to clean, shine and keep the aluminum alloy shiny by removing surface rusts and pollutants. 

Aluminum wheel cleaners usually contain several ingredients such as: 

  • Methanol contains active cleansing agents that dissolve all kinds of grime, dirt, or stains on the surface. This type of chemical also serves as a stabilizer in high-temperature environments; it can prevent corrosion caused by water vapor condensation inside brake drums/rotors when you stop your car after driving at high speeds under intense heat conditions; 
  • Acrylic resins serve as an anti-static agent that prevents oxidation from reoccurring over time they create a protective film against UV rays to prevent the alloy from turning dull over time; 
  • Polymers are used to reduce spotting or streaking. These chemicals also create a long-lasting shiny effect on surfaces by forming strong bonds with aluminum and hardening them when they dry out after application, so when you remove your vehicle at high speed under intense heat conditions, the wind blows will not cause watermarks;
  • Harsh acidic metal cleaners contain several acids such as sulfuric acid which is highly corrosive and causes etching on the surface of alloys if it comes into contact with rubber or plastic parts that surround wheels;

Hydrochloric acid is very dangerous for humans because breathing in its fumes can lead to respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis:

  • nitric acid which is extremely dangerous because it is very caustic and can lead to severe injuries if the liquid comes into contact with skin or eyes; 
  • phosphoric acid which produces harmful fumes that are highly corrosive. It also corrodes alloys, rubber, plastics parts of wheels when diluted by water so you should wear gloves while using this type of chemical on your alloy wheels;
  1. Scent

Most aluminum wheel cleaners have a strong chemical smell. Some of them bring that into the house, and you need to open all doors and windows for ventilation if they are indoors (the product manufacturers recommend doing this too). The best way is probably to take everything outside when using these cleaners. It’s not difficult though – it only requires some planning before starting with cleaning. 

For people who are sensitive to the smell of these cleaners, some products have a milder scent. Some manufacturers even claim they use natural ingredients in their aluminum wheel cleaner formulas with no harmful chemicals at all.

  1. Color change

Many wheel cleaners claim to give a deeper, cleaner shine and restore the color of faded aluminum wheels. If you want your car’s rims to look like they were just polished out of the factory, this is definitely something worth considering when choosing which product to use:

  • Some products can restore the color of your wheels after one use, while others may take multiple rounds before they finally work;
  • Most people prefer to choose a product that comes with an easy-to-follow application process and doesn’t leave behind any residue or streaks on their rims once it dries up;
  • It is also important to consider that some aluminum wheel cleaners are more suited for regular maintenance purposes than restoring faded colors, so you will need to figure out if this is something you really want in order for these types of products not to disappoint;
  1. Ease of application

The ease of application is important to consider when looking for the best aluminum wheel cleaner. When you are choosing a product, it should be easy for you to apply on your wheels and not take too long in order to get results. Some products will provide fast relief while some can create problems even with just an added step or two that might affect how much time it takes before they dry up completely. 

The best aluminum wheel cleaners are those that can be used conveniently, without too much effort. These products typically come in a spray bottle so you just have to attach an extension and hold it as far as possible from the surface. 

For optimal results, you should avoid spraying directly on your wheels because this could cause streaking or other problems with applying the product evenly across all surfaces. When using a spray-on method, pay close attention to how well it is applied before letting dry completely. If there are areas where streaks appear after use, then re-apply the solution again until the desired coverage has been achieved for maximum effectiveness. 

You may also want to consider if any of these top brands have wipes available since some people prefer not having to deal with squeezing out a bottle or spritzing it on their wheels.

How to Use an Aluminum Wheel Cleaner?

First, read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use an aluminum wheel cleaner. Most cleaners are extremely versatile and can be used in several ways. 

Read below for more information about each step of the cleaning process:

  1. Start by pouring some product into a foam or microfiber applicator pad (it is best if you have two separate pads for this purpose). Now spread it across your wheels with light pressure so that it covers all sides evenly;
  2. You should let the solution sit on there for about five minutes before washing off any excess solution from your car’s paintwork or rims. There will surely be residue left over after you rinse everything down; do not worry because we will deal with whatever there is in the next step;
  3. Using a second pad, you will now want to “deep clean” your wheels by applying moderate pressure and circular motions onto them for about two minutes or so at a time. You do not have to be extremely thorough with this process since it is just meant to get rid of any excess aluminum wheel cleaner left behind after rinsing everything off earlier. Some cleaners may require longer dwell times before being washed away; make sure that you check the label on whatever product you are using beforehand because these instructions can vary from one product to another;
  4. After all, residues are gone, simply spray down the entire surface area again with water (you might need an extra stream if you are cleaning larger rims). You can use your hose or a pressure washer for this process;
  5. Allow the area to dry off naturally (if you used water) and wipe it down with microfiber towels. If there is still some moisture left on the surface of your aluminum wheels, go ahead and buff them out using another towel after they have air-dried completely;

Do not attempt to speed up the drying process by putting something hot like an oven mitt closer because that would be quite dangerous since heated metal parts may cause severe burns if touched directly!

Wheel Cleaning Tips:

  • Avoid using dish soap on wheels;
  • Use the right tools (e.g., towels, wet/dry vac) to clean wheels;
  • Keep cleaning supplies near your car for ease of use; 
  • Make sure you scrub the wheels until they are super clean before rinsing them off;
  • Avoid cleaning your car when it is still wet from a previous wash, as this can cause scratches and swirls to form on your paint job;
  • If you’re using an aerosol spray, don’t hold the nozzle too close because this could cause overspray which leads to unwanted spotting once dry. Also, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area;
  • To avoid unsightly streaking, make sure the product is evenly applied and use smooth back-and-forth motions to distribute the cleaner over the wheel surface;
  • Avoid metal or abrasive brushes that can damage your aluminum wheels;
  • You should also never attempt cleaning while they are still hot from driving because this could cause uneven drying which leaves behind stains. For best results, allow them to cool before applying any cleaners or rinsing off with water;

Aluminum alloy wheels are not cheap! You will want to make sure you carefully read all instructions and warnings before attempting any DIY cleaning. In some cases, it might be best to leave this task up to a professional.

FAQ

What can you use to clean aluminum?

Aluminum is a soft metal and easily scratched, so great care should be taken when cleaning it. If you don’t want to take any risks with your aluminum wheels, we recommend using cleaners that are specifically designed for this purpose. There are many options on the market today and choosing one can prove difficult. 

To help you in making an informed decision we have created a thorough guide about the best aluminum wheel cleaners that includes reviews of products by actual users as well as useful tips from professionals!

How do you remove heavy corrosion from aluminum wheels?

The quickest and safest way to remove corrosion from aluminum is by using a chemical cleaner. Most of these cleaners are non-toxic, which means you do not need any special protective equipment while cleaning the wheels with them. They also do not leave corrosive residue behind that can cause damage in the future. You will be able to use most standard car wash equipment for this job as well – your garden hose or pressure washer should work just fine!

How do you remove oxidation from aluminum?

The oxidation on aluminum wheels is a result of the alloy’s exposure to air and elements. It can be removed by using specific cleaners or polishes, which are specifically designed for this purpose. The best way would be to remove it completely after you’ve applied cleaner. However, if some remains but has turned black (due to brake dust) – take a soft cloth and rub hard until no more comes off

Always remember: do not use aggressive abrasives as they may irreparably damage your wheel surface. 

You should also keep in mind that oxidation will only get worse over time so try to prevent its formation during winter as much as possible!

Does WD40 clean aluminum?

No. WD40 has lubricating oil that is not suitable for cleaning aluminum wheels or any other metal parts on your car. Instead, you should look for an aluminum wheel cleaner with the correct pH balance to avoid damaging your alloy’s surface by using a product formulated especially for it.

Does baking soda clean aluminum?

The answer is yes. However, it can also be abrasive and cause damage to the wheel if not used correctly. If you do use baking soda on your aluminum wheels, make sure to dilute it with water first or mix in a couple of drops of dish soap too. Add the mixture to a spray bottle and use it sparingly.  Don’t scrub too hard, and rinse it off with water.

Baking soda is one of the most common household items used to clean aluminum wheels because it’s cheap, readily available, and works well if you follow our advice above. 

Never use bleach on aluminum wheels. It can ruin the coatings and paint finish of your wheel, leaving it dull and discolored. Avoid using harsh chemicals like brake fluid or gasoline to clean your alloy wheels as well because they contain petroleum which can damage rubber rims and vinyl topcoats too. 

If you do not have access to any cleaning supplies, there is always another option: scrubbing with a regular baking soda paste made from water should be enough for light stains but avoid this method if you see signs of corrosion or rust already present on the wheel. If that’s the case, then professional help is recommended instead!

Does vinegar remove oxidation from aluminum?

Vinegar may remove the oxidation from aluminum surfaces, but it is not likely to clean well or completely. The best way to deal with this problem is by using a cleaner specially designed for cleaning wheels made out of aluminum. 

Does lemon juice remove rust from aluminum?

No, it does not. Lemon juice is acidic in nature and can corrode the surface of your wheels. If you use this regularly to clean corrosion on your wheel, you would be making things worse for yourself by damaging its appearance furthermore. This also applies to orange or lime juice that contains citric acid. The best way to deal with oxidation on aluminum surfaces is by using a product designed specifically for cleaning them safely since they are much softer than steel surfaces.

Can you use CLR on aluminum?

CLR can be used on aluminum. You have to leave it for at least 30 minutes, so you don’t damage the surface of your wheels.  You can also use a CLR and vinegar mixture. Pour half of the bottle on your car’s aluminum wheels and let it stay there for at least one hour.

You should clean your wheels with warm water after that, to remove all residues from them. The reason why we recommend this product is because it doesn’t cause any damage or corrosion to the surface of your alloy wheels while cleaning them properly.

How do you keep aluminum shiny?

Here is what you should do:

  • Use an aluminum wheel cleaner regularly;
  • Wash your car with products that are safe for the material of your wheels. Don’t use dish soap or anything too harsh because it will strip off all of the protective layers and leave you with oxidized, dull-looking rims;
  • Be sure to dry them thoroughly after washing to prevent water spots from forming on the surface;
  • Wax your rims with quality car wax;

These tips should keep the shine on aluminum wheels for longer periods of time.

Is Dawn dish soap safe for aluminum?

Dawn dish soap is not safe for aluminum. It contains chemicals that are known to be corrosive on metal. Aluminum alloy wheels can corrode when exposed to them, so absolutely don’t use this product.

What degreaser is safe on aluminum?

There are many cleaners available on the market, but it is important to know what degreaser is safe for your wheel. There are some that can be used undiluted; others need to be diluted with water. Some work better than others and each has its own pros and cons.  

In general, degreasers tend to be alkaline in nature. For aluminum wheels, it is best to use a neutral pH cleaner that will not rust the metal or corrode any of its parts.

What are some tips when washing silver wheels?

Silver alloy can be cleaned in much the same way as regular steel but take note that they should never come into contact with acidic chemicals like vinegar because these could corrode them over time; instead, opt for non-abrasive cleaners and neutral pH solutions such as baking soda mixed in lukewarm water at best. Rinse off all residue until there is no bubbling once done and dry immediately!

Useful Video: Budget Wheel Cleaner Shootout

Final thoughts 

If you are looking for the best aluminum wheel cleaner, read on as the experts have listed their top 5 favorites. Have any of these cleaners been successful for you? Which one does think will work best for your specific needs? Hopefully, this guide gave you the answers that you’ve been looking for. 


Hello! I'm a James Miller, and I'm an expert in materials science. I learned different metal properties in the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and I know everything about all kinds of metal. That's why I want to share my experience with you.

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