Best Wheel Cleaner to Keep Your Vehicle Looking Sharp

By Jed Lehman •  Updated: 05/21/22 •  16 min read

Looking for the best wheel cleaner to keep your vehicle looking sleek? We break down three of the best choices on the market in this guide.

Rims are made from a different material than a vehicle’s body and paint, so to do the best job you need a wheel cleaner that’s specifically made for rims or tires. You also need to use separate buckets when cleaning your wheels to prevent mixing the solutions. 

Cleaning the wheels of a car is more complex than washing the paint because you need a specific product for the wheels and tires.

The good news is that we’re here to help. We’re going to take you through the best wheel cleaners to help you narrow down your options. We’ll cover several products like our top pick, the Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner, which is the best choice for most vehicles.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about wheel cleaners.

The 3 Best Wheel Cleaners 

We’ve selected 3 of the best wheel cleaners on the market today.

Below are our top choices.

Top Pick
Upgrade Pick
Budget Pick
Description:

We love Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner because you can customize it to your liking because of its concentration. We also love the low price for the large quantity.

Description:

We like Adam's Wheel and Tire Cleaner because it comes with everything you need to clean your tires right out of the box. It's also one of our favorite choices because of the finish it provides on tires.

Description:

We love Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner because it's a safe and affordable wheel cleaner. You also don't have to scrub the wheels, which makes them easy to use.

$32.59 ($0.25 / Fl Oz)
$11.99
$5.99
Pros:
  • The citrus-based formula is safe for alloy, chrome, aluminum, painted wheels, and plastic parts
  • Comes with 1 gallon of wheel cleaner
Pros:
  • Great for wheels and tires
  • Non-acidic alkaline blends
  • Excellent for car enthusiasts
  • Comes with everything you need right out of the box
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • No scrubbing needed
  • Safe for most wheel types
  • pH neutral
Top Pick
Description:

We love Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner because you can customize it to your liking because of its concentration. We also love the low price for the large quantity.

$32.59 ($0.25 / Fl Oz)
Pros:
  • The citrus-based formula is safe for alloy, chrome, aluminum, painted wheels, and plastic parts
  • Comes with 1 gallon of wheel cleaner
Upgrade Pick
Description:

We like Adam's Wheel and Tire Cleaner because it comes with everything you need to clean your tires right out of the box. It's also one of our favorite choices because of the finish it provides on tires.

$11.99
Pros:
  • Great for wheels and tires
  • Non-acidic alkaline blends
  • Excellent for car enthusiasts
  • Comes with everything you need right out of the box
Budget Pick
Description:

We love Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner because it's a safe and affordable wheel cleaner. You also don't have to scrub the wheels, which makes them easy to use.

$5.99
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • No scrubbing needed
  • Safe for most wheel types
  • pH neutral
12/06/2022 12:30 pm GMT

1. Top Pick: Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner

Top Pick
Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner
$32.59 ($0.25 / Fl Oz)

Why We Like It: We love Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner because you can customize it to your liking because of its concentration. We also love the low price for the large quantity.

Quick Facts:

  • Amount: 3.7 liters 
  • Type: Spray 
  • Applications: Wheels, tires, suspension, undercarriage
From Amazon
12/06/2022 12:30 pm GMT

Why We Like It: We love Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner because you can customize it to your liking because of its concentration. We also love the low price for the large quantity.

Quick Facts:

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is a citrus-based product that can be applied to wheels and tires. The product is designed to remove thick dust, brake dust, debris, grime, and even minor oxidation.

It’s a powerful product and because it’s made with citrus extracts it’s safe to use on alloy wheels, plastic parts, and even chrome rims. Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner can also be used to clean a vehicle’s undercarriage and suspension parts, which is unique compared to other non-citrus wheel cleaners.

What Sets It Apart 

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is unique for a few reasons. That said, it’s the citrus-based formula that makes the product more unique than other wheel cleaners.

Instead of using an alkaline formula, the citrus-based blend is safe for most parts of a vehicle. For example, it can be used on suspension parts, plastic panels, brakes, paint finishes, painted metals, and chrome. Another unique feature is that it can be diluted 8:1 (water to cleaner), which gives you the flexibility to conserve the wheel cleaner for lighter cleaning jobs.

When you add on the additional value that’s provided by the large quantity of cleaner for a low cost, it’s clear that Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is the top choice for wheel cleaner.

Things To Consider

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is one of our favorite products. While it’s a product that we recommend for most shoppers, it’s not perfect. One of the biggest drawbacks is that it doesn’t come with the tools needed to apply it on wheels.

This means that you’ll have to empty it into a spray bottle or attach a nozzle to the top of the container. While this isn’t a big issue alone, it can become tricky to measure the water-to-cleaner ratio and you can waste wheel cleaner if you mess up the ratio.

If you prefer a simpler product to use, Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner is the better choice. It comes with everything you need to spray it on your wheels right out of the box.

Who It’s For 

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is a great product for most shoppers. While you have to mix the product on your own and use a separate spray bottle, it offers the most value.

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner also has a simple formula that’s citrus-based, so if you accidentally spray other parts of your car with the wheel cleaner you don’t have to worry about ruining the paint or causing the suspension to rust.

Overall, it’s the best choice if you want a simple wheel cleaner that you don’t need to be careful with or purchase frequently.

Pros 

Cons 

2. Upgrade Pick: Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner

Upgrade Pick
Adam’s Wheel & Tire Cleaner
$11.99

Why We Like It: We like Adam's Wheel and Tire Cleaner because it comes with everything you need to clean your tires right out of the box. It's also one of our favorite choices because of the finish it provides on tires.

Quick Facts:

  • Amount: 16 ounces 
  • Type: Spray 
  • Applications: Alloy, powder-coated wheels, painted wheels, plasti-dipped wheels, tires
From Amazon
12/06/2022 04:41 am GMT

Why We Like It: We like Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner because it comes with everything you need to clean your tires right out of the box. It’s also one of our favorite choices because of the finish it provides on tires.

Quick Facts:

Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner is a simple product that’s useful for most shoppers. It uses a non-acidic alkaline formula, which is safe for most types of wheels and tires. The formula is also safe to use on some suspension parts and doesn’t damage the paint on most vehicles.

Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner can be used to remove dirt from wheels and tires, shine wheels and tires, clean brake dust, and preserve coated wheels. The spray is also easy to apply and doesn’t need to be mixed with water to create the ideal solution.

Adam’s is also one of the most reputable companies in the industry and its products are backed by a satisfaction guarantee.

What Sets It Apart

Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner has several features that you can’t find in other wheel cleaners. One of these features is that it can change the color of your tires. When cars are driven through dirt and exposed to harsh road conditions, the tires become worn down and coated in dirt and debris; the same happens to the wheels when braking in high-heat conditions (hot days, stopping short).

While most wheel cleaners focus on removing things like brake dust and dirt from tires, Adam’s goes a step further with their alkaline blend. Instead of removing dirt from wheels and tires, Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner can preserve tire dressings and wheel enhancements.

This is a type of cleaning method that appeals to the car community, which is often not catered to by big-name wheel cleaners like Adam’s.

Things To Consider 

Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner is well-rounded but its niche uses come with some drawbacks. One example is that to get the benefits of its tire dressing preserving capabilities, you have to have tire dressings in the first place.

Moreover, the wheel cleaner is only a little better than competitors when used on regular alloy wheels. While the blend is better on coated and chrome rims, only some vehicles have these wheels. For these reasons, a more generalized wheel cleaner like Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is often the better choice for people with regular wheels and tires.

Who It’s For 

Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner is the best choice for car enthusiasts. If you’re someone who cares for your vehicle often and uses coatings and tire dressings, you can’t go wrong with this wheel cleaner. It’s also great for car enthusiasts who enjoy racing their vehicles at the track or drag strip.

When a vehicle is pushed to its limits at the track, there’s a lot of brake dust and tire wear. Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner can help a car look brand new after a long track day and preserve the life of the wheels and tires.

It won’t add extra miles to a wheel or tire but it can help a car look brand new with minimal effort. Given these factors, it’s an upgrade pick worthy of a true gearhead.

Pros 

Cons

3. Budget Pick: Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner

Budget Pick
Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner
$5.99

Why We Like It: We love Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner because it's a safe and affordable wheel cleaner. You also don't have to scrub the wheels, which makes them easy to use.

Quick Facts:

  • Amount: 23 fluid ounces 
  • Type: Spray 
  • Applications: Alloy, coated wheels, ABS brakes, aluminum wheels, polished rims, clear-coat wheels
From Amazon
12/06/2022 01:58 pm GMT

Why We Like It: We love Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner because it’s a safe and affordable wheel cleaner. You also don’t have to scrub the wheels, which makes them easy to use.

Quick Facts:

Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner is a spray-on wheel cleaner that’s safe for most applications. It can be used to clean most types of metals and is safe to spray on suspension components and even ABS braking systems.

Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner also won’t damage plastic and has a neutral pH level, so it won’t cause corrosion on a vehicle’s undercarriage. It’s also one of the easiest wheel cleaners to use. You only have to wet the wheel, spray the cleaner, and rinse the wheel off. From there, the cleaner dissolves dirt and debris to provide the wheel with a sparkling shine.

What Sets It Apart 

Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner is like no other tire cleaner because you don’t have to scrub the wheels. This means that you don’t need to have extra tools like a wheel cleaning brush or microfiber cloth.

Instead, all you have to do is coat each of the wheels with a spray and let the wheel cleaner do the rest of the work. Another benefit of Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner is that it’s more affordable than other wheel cleaners.

It gives you more cleaner at a lower price when compared to companies like Adam’s. These features make it a great budget-friendly choice.

Things To Consider

Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner has a few issues that we need to cover.

We’ll begin with the lack of scrubbing.

Not having to scrub your wheels is beneficial because it’s less work but the cleaning job is not as effective as alternatives like Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner. Another drawback is that Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner is not useful for tires. Yes, it can be sprayed on tires, but it doesn’t clean tires as well as other wheel cleaners.

Who It’s For 

Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner is a great choice for people who want a simple and inexpensive wheel cleaner.

You don’t need to be a car enthusiast to use Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner and you don’t have to worry about water-to-cleaner ratios either.

This makes Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner the ideal choice for people who want shiny rims without all of the scrubbing that comes with using high-end wheel cleaners like Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner.

Pros 

Cons

Everything You Need to Know About Wheel Cleaners 

Taking a look at some of the best wheel cleaners around is a great place to start. That said, you have to know what factors to consider before making a choice. While one product might work for someone else’s vehicle, that doesn’t mean it will work for yours. To help you narrow down your options, we’re going to take you through a few factors to consider when shopping for the best wheel cleaners.

Amount 

The first thing to consider is how much wheel cleaner you need. Wheel cleaner comes in different amounts, which limits how much you can use.

You also have to consider the concentration of wheel cleaner you’re going to use, which is how much water is mixed with the wheel cleaner.

Some wheel cleaners require a lot of water to be mixed in, while others don’t need to be mixed with water at all. Wheel cleaners that are mixed with water offer more value because you can use more of the wheel cleaner when it’s mixed with water.

If you’re looking to get the most wheel cleaner for your money, Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is your best option.

It comes with a gallon of wheel cleaner and can handle most cleaning jobs. You also don’t need to worry about damaging the paint or suspension components with this wheel cleaner.

Type 

There are also a few types of wheel cleaners you need to consider. Some wheel cleaners are applied to wheels as a spray and come in a spray bottle.

On the other hand, some wheel cleaners need to be mixed with water first or applied with a sponge. Depending on how you want to clean your wheels and tires, the type of wheel cleaner is important.

The simplest wheel cleaners to use are spray-based wheel cleaners, which are what most of the products we recommend consist of.

However, some of the products we recommend don’t come with everything you need to get started right away or require a mixture of wheel cleaner and water. If you want a simple spray-based product that doesn’t require extra effort, Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner is the best choice.

Applications 

Wheel cleaners can have more than one application. For example, some wheel cleaners can clean the whole wheel, which includes the rim and tire.

Other tire cleaners are specifically designed for either the tire or the wheel. Some people prefer all-purpose tire cleaners that work for all wheels and tires but getting an all-purpose wheel cleaner comes with the drawback of getting a less potent and specific product.

If you’re looking for a wheel cleaner that handles every job regardless of how much dirt or debris there is, Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is a great choice. It can clean most wheel and tire grime without damaging other components.

Steps to Clean a Wheel

Cleaning a wheel is not like cleaning the rest of your vehicle. You need to take precautions to ensure that you don’t damage your wheels and you also need additional tools aside from wheel cleaners. For example, we recommend a good wheel cleaning brush and microfiber cloths to dry the wheels. We recommend microfiber cloths because it reduces the chances of scratching the rim.

Below are the steps to clean your vehicle’s wheel with a product like Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner.

  1. Get ready to clean one wheel at a time.
  2. Rinse the wheel with a hose to loosen dirt and grime 
  3. Spray the tire cleaner on the wheels and sidewalls of tires
  4. Use a wheel brush to scrub the wheels and tires.
  5. Rinse your wheels after the dust, oxidation, and grime is removed.
  6. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the rims 

Following these steps will work for most basic wheel cleaners.

Wheel Cleaners FAQ

What Is the Best Wheel Cleaner? 

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is the best wheel cleaner. It’s the best wheel cleaner because it works well for most applications. It can help with oxidation, brake dust, and general cleaning. This Chemical Guys product can also be used to shine rims and remove dirt from tires. Ultimately, it’s one of the best all-purpose brake cleaners available.

What’s the Best Wheel Cleaner for Brake Dust? 

The best wheel cleaner for brake dust is Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner. You can choose the concentration level you apply to the wheels, so it can handle tough jobs and wheels that are covered in large quantities of brake dust. It’s also safe for all wheel types, so you don’t need to worry about having the right cleaner for your specific rims. Additionally, it can remove dirt and brake dust from the tires.

Can WD-40 Be Used To Clean Wheels? 

Yes, WD-40 can be used to clean wheels. If you don’t have a good wheel cleaner you can use WD-40 instead. While WD-40 can be used to clean wheels, that doesn’t mean you should use WD-40 to clean wheels.

We always recommend using a product that’s designed for wheel cleaning like Adam’s Wheel and Tire Cleaner instead of WD-40. WD-40 isn’t the best wheel cleaner because it can damage some metals if it’s not used properly.

What’s the Best Wheel Cleaner for Alloy Wheels? 

Chemical Guys Signature Series Wheel Cleaner is the best wheel cleaner for alloy wheels. It uses a formula that doesn’t damage alloy rims and you can alter the concentration to ensure that your rims stay safe. In fact, this wheel cleaner can be used for all wheel and rim types; it can even be used to clean and shine tires.

How Do You Remove Oxidation From Aluminum Wheels?

Aluminum wheels oxidize over time; this is unavoidable. However, you can remove oxidation from aluminum wheels with the right tools.

You need a good aluminum pre-cleaner, a wheel cleaning brush, and a spray bottle.

To remove the oxidation, spray the aluminum pre-cleaner on the wheel and let it coat the wheel for about 10 minutes. Then, brush the oxidized areas with the wheel brush until the black oxidation residue is gone. From there, you can clean the wheel and tire normally.

Let Those Wheels and Tires Shine! 

Having clean wheels and tires can help your car stand out from others. Plus, a car wash is never complete unless the entire vehicle is clean.

While there are many choices when it comes to wheel cleaners, the best wheel cleaner is the product that works the best for your needs. Make sure you shop based on your needs and feel free to try a few wheel cleaners to see what works best for your vehicle.

Most importantly, let those wheels and tires shine! 

Jed Lehman

Jed Lehman is a born gearhead who has been working on cars since he could crawl. He inherited his love for auto from his grandfather who owned a maintenance shop in Carlsbad, California. Jed is the driver behind Gearshift, and started this site to provide straightforward, helpful automobile information. From maintenance tips to product reviews, you can find it all here.