best wheel cleaner

10 Best Wheel Cleaners for Brake Dust Elimination

99% of people concentrate on the face of the wheel. But the most build-up and potential damage that can happen is in the inside of the barrel, any tight edges, or in the pockets of the lug nuts.

Only one drive down to the town streets can accumulate road mud, grime, dirt, and even the brake dust. Brake dust is an issue that affects all vehicles, from daily drivers to sport cars. Every time you hit the brakes, ferrous brake dust particles land on the wheels.

Therefore, constant maintenance is a necessity. Still, with the proper wheel cleaner solutions, it doesn’t have to be much of a chore.

Here’s the list of the 10 best wheel cleaner products to help you clean with confidence, recommended by best car detailers in California.



1. SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect

SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect

SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect safely and efficiently eliminates the most stubborn dirt, including brake dust, oil, and rubber residue, while the color-change foam lets you know it’s working.

Its acid-free, non-corrosive formula is safe on all kinds of aluminum, alloy, chrome, painted, anodized, stainless steel, and clear coated wheels.

The product is pH neutral to protect your wheel’s finish. This’s in contrast to many wheel cleaners, which include harsh chemical solvents. It’s tough on dirt, but nice on wheels. Nice doesn’t mean weak!

Instead of acid cleaners, this solution is designed with more sophisticated ingredients formulated to attack what’s on the wheel, not the wheel itself.

You can actually see SONAX Wheel Cleaner working! It sprays on fluorescent green and turns red as it penetrates grime and dirt. Red shows that the brake dust, oily film, and dirt are being loosened and – with no effort – they’ll rinse away, leaving shining, clean wheels.

Directions

Spray-on cleaner and let it dwell for several seconds as the cleaner turns red. If necessary, take a soft-bristled wheel brush to clean between spokes. Then, rinse with water and towel dry to prevent water spots

PROS//

  • Easy to use;
  • Doesn’t harm painted/bare metal wheels or brake calipers;
  • Minimal time and effort required;
  • Safe and easy color changing.

CONS//

  • It has very strong smell;
  • Really caked wheels sometimes need to be hit twice.



2. Chemical Guys Diablo Wheel Cleaner Gel Concentrate

Chemical Guys Diablo Wheel Cleaner Gel Concentrate

Diablo Wheel Cleaner Gel Concentrate from Chemical Guys is the first product that utilizes concentrated suspension technology to elevate brake dust, dirt, and contamination away from wheels and rims without intensive rubbing and scrubbing that can scratch and damage the material.

Chemical Guys wheel cleaner is 100% neutral and safe for all wheel finishes. Its suspension technology is oxygen-rich that encapsulated dirt particles and swiftly lifted them away from the paint, preventing them in pH-neutral gelatin that easily rinses of wheels and produces spot-free results.

Not only that, the product has a premium natural fragrance and 100% biodegradable composition.

It’s the only pH-neutral product safe enough to use on any and all OEM, aftermarket wheels, chrome, painted/powder coated wheels, chrome, carbon fiber lips, decal-wrapped wheels, and lips and literally all painted surfaces.

The superb gel consistency of this solution allows it to stick to brake dust-filled wheels to quickly loosen and lift contaminants in suspension where they can be safely rinsed away from the surface.

Directions

It can be applied with a brush or sprayed on. Always dilute according to needs. For regular cleaning, dilute the 1-part product to 6 parts water. For easy measurements in any bottle, pour 1-inch of the solution and fill the rest of the bottle with water. For heavy-duty cleaning, the product can be used more concentrated at 1:4 or 1:6.

PROS//

  • You can easily dilute the product;
  • Highly safe to use on different types of oils;
  • Excellent at sticking to brake dust and grime;
  • Effectively loosens contaminants for a safe and spotless rinse.

CONS//

  • Sometimes, leaves watersports on the wheel;
  • The smell can be overwhelming.



3. Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner – Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner  is specially formulated for all aluminum wheels, including uncoated, anodized, and powder-coated aluminum wheels. Xtreme Cling foam technology lingers on the wheel to provide targeted, effective cleaning.

Many products run down the wheel and therefore don’t work effectively where the wheels need it most. This solution delivers foam cleaners that stick to the wheel to remove brake dust and grime more effectively.

This Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is safe on brake components, too! Brake calipers are sometimes anodized, which allows them to be dyed to match the car’s exterior color. The product safely lifts brake dirt and dust without harming brake calipers.

Directions

Spray each wheel with cold water and coat thoroughly with the cleaner. Wait 20 seconds and rinse. Towel dry to prevent water spots. On heavily soiled wheels, employ a soft wheel brush or wash mitt to agitate the wheel surface.

PROS//

  • Quickly eliminates dirt, grime, and dust on your wheels;
  • Designed specifically for uncoated aluminum wheels;
  • Perfect for aftermarket wheels with sensitive and delicate surfaces;
  • Effectively cleans alloy, anodized, and powder-coated wheels.

CONS//

  • Goes fast;
  • Can be a little strong.

4. Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

With so many different finishes on wheels, it’s sometimes hard to find the proper product for the job. This solution erased this concern by being safe for use on all wheels’ finishes and brakes!

Meguiar’s Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is tough on brake dust and road grime – but not on your wheels and painted brake components!

This solution changes to a purple color when it comes into contact with iron, and turn brown when it comes into contact with road grime and dirt!

Not only is your wheel being cleaned adequately, but you also get to see what made the mess in the first place.

Directions

You don’t need to wet the wheels first. Twist the nozzle to open and spray evenly across the wheel. Within 2 minutes, you’ll see the dirt literally fall off, with the wheel turning a purple color which signals the product is working.

PROS//

  • Safe and effective on all wheels and painted brake components;
  • Deep-cleaning gel formula turns brake dust purple and road grime brown as it gently loosens stubborn contaminants;
  • Quick-acting formula;
  • Acid free and pH balanced.

CONS//

  • It doesn’t smell good.

5. Eagle One A2Z 824331 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner

Eagle One A2Z 824331 All Wheel & Tire Cleaner

Eagle One A2Z All Wheel & Tire Cleaner is one of the most recommended products by automotive enthusiasts.

This Eagle One wheel cleaner is an acid-free combo that works on the following wheel types and finishes: steel, alloy, anodized, clear-coated, chrome, PVD, plastic, and factory-painted.

It’s not recommended for use on aluminum, non-factory painted, gold-painted, and motorcycle wheels. Damage can occur to the finish of the wheels if you use this product before the wheels are cool to the touch.

If they aren’t, then rinse with water to help cool. The 23oz offers good value at its price, each bottle usually lasts the average consumer 3-4 uses.

This alloy wheel cleaner is also available in a 64oz jug – comes with a sprayer that offers a cheaper cost per use, and even better value.

Directions

Clean one wheel at a time. If the wheel is hot, rinse the wheel for 30 seconds to cool it before the application of the product. Hold the bottle away from your body and about 6” away from the wheel. Spray cleaner evenly onto the wheel.

Let it soak for 30 seconds. For dirtier wheels, agitate with a soft brush or sponge. Rinse the wheel thoroughly for at least 1 minute and dry it with a clean towel for a spot-free result.

PROS//

  • Acid-free; safe for all types of wheels;
  • Easy to apply;
  • Form action eliminates grease;
  • Thick foaming action destroys brake dust and grime.

CONS//

  • It’s not recommended for non-factory wheels.

6. CarPro Iron X Remover – Best Wheel Cleaner for Brake Dust

CarPro Iron X Remover

Iron X by CarPro is a pH-balanced, acid-free brake dust remover that decontaminates wheels and auto paint. It’s highly recommended for all clear coated alloy wheels.

Iron X wheel cleaner removes ferrous brake dust to guard your wheels from further damage. It can save you the cost of replacing factory wheels.

The product is easy to use, and you can see it working! It’s a clear solution in the bottle, but it turns purple when it comes into contact with iron particles.

This solution turns the iron into a water-soluble complex for easy removal. After using it, you can polish and clay your car as you usually would.

Also, Iron X Iron Remover takes off iron particles and their effects to keep the car’s exterior  clean and healthy.

Directions

Wash the surfaces of the wheels, make sure the surface is in cool temperature. Spray product on the surface. Rub it in with a damp sponge. Wait five minutes, while contaminants change its color to purple or red. Wipe off with a damp soft sponge. Don’t let the Iron X dry entirely on the surface. Rinse the whole surface thoroughly.

PROS//

  • Removes ferrous metallic contamination on any type of wheels;
  • Safe to use on clear coat paint;
  • Acid-free and pH neutral product;
  • Simple to apply.

CONS//

  • It smells a bit bad.

7. SONAX Wheel Cleaner Plus

SONAX Wheel Cleaner Plus

SONAX Wheel Cleaner PLUS is far stronger than SONAX Wheel Cleaner Full Effect, making it the first choice for filthy wheels.

Like its elder brother, this product turns red as it cleans. It’s acid-free and safe on all wheel finishes, including clear-coated, painted, aluminum, anodized, and stainless steel.

It’s pH neutral to defend your wheels’ finish. Compared to other alloy wheel cleaners, this solution doesn’t utilize acids or harsh detergents in its formulation.

It changes color as it cleans, and turns red as it penetrates grime and dirt. Not only does this solution eliminate oily road grime, but it also dissolves brake-dust particles, leaving the wheels cleaner than ever.

Directions

Spray-on cleaner and let it dwell for several seconds as the product turns red. If necessary, employ a soft-bristled wheel brush to clean between spokes. Rinse with water and towel dry to avoid water spots.

PROS//

  • A powerful solution for really dirty wheels;
  • Safe to use on different wheel finishes;
  • Extra strength formula for European vehicles with difficult to clean wheels;
  • Effective color-changing formula.

CONS//

  • The product has a strong odor.

8. Auto Fanatic Professional Wheel Cleaning Foam – Best Chrome Wheel Cleaner

Auto Fanatic Professional Wheel Cleaning Foam

Auto Fanatic Professional Wheel Cleaning Foam works on all finishes including, clear coat, paint, chrome, billet, and anodized aluminum.

This Auto Fanatic wheel cleaner doesn’t contain caustic components or color-changing iron activating ingredients that are harmful to the wheels, braking components, and to your health.

Its proprietary formula reactivates brake dust. It rises grime/dirt from the surface of wheels, breaking up hardened deposits with no agitation.

The multi-stage corrosion inhibitor additives prevent problems with the brake system and suspension components.

The high lubricity of this dual-stage foam attacks the harshest brake dust without tackling the base surface finish. Light agitation may be needed for heavily soiled wheels.

Directions

Mix your wanted ratio of this chrome wheel cleaner to water. Put foam evenly to all surfaces, including the brake caliper and wheel barrel. Recommended dwell time is 2 minutes and lightly agitate hard to reach areas. Don’t let the product dry on the wheels and rinse it for the final touch.

PROS//

  • Solution works as advertised;
  • No harsh chemicals included;
  • Minimum agitation required;
  • Multi-purpose product.

CONS//

  • It doesn’t affect the black stained areas.

9. Adams’s Deep Wheel Cleaner

Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner

Adam’s Wheel Cleaner has a strong chemical odor, so strong that it’ll linger, so make sure you don’t use this inside the garage. It works great to remove metallic contamination and brake dust from the wheels.

Its formula is made to sling to the wheel’s surface, helping to rift stubborn brake dust particles that are left behind by so many of today’s high-performance braking setups.

The solution reacts with the iron/metal in the brake pad dust and dissolves and loosens it from the wheel. The formula is color changing, so it lets you know when it’s working on the deep grime since it’ll turn purple.

The product is safe on most finishes, even motorcycle wheels, which many wheel cleaners aren’t recommended for this type of wheels. It’s safe to apply on factory clear coated wheels, aftermarket aluminum, and painted wheels.

Directions

Spray on only after the wheel is completely cooled off. Wait for a cleaner to become purple. Then agitate using a soft wheel cleaning brush. Rinse off and wipe with a dry towel.

PROS//

  • Liquidated the brake dust and grime;
  • It uses advanced chemical technology;
  • Safe to use on many finishes;
  • It changes color s as it works.

CONS//

  • Doesn’t remove road scuffs, tar, or any sticky buildup.

10. Griot’s Garage Wheel Cleaner

Griot’s Garage Wheel Cleaner

Griot’s Wheel Cleaner cleans wheels safely and effectively with a concentrated, biodegradable formula. More importantly, its premium, pH-balanced formula cleans well yet is gentler on your vehicle and the environment.

It contains unique penetrants that let for far less effort when cleaning wheels. The high concentrate enables the product to hang on the wheel longer to clean brake dust, road oils, and other deposits.

It’s a superior solution with no expense spared toward the ingredients. A little mild agitation will release grime and brake dust from the wheel.

The Tire Rack, Dayton Wire Wheel Company, and BBS  have all approved Griot’s Garage Products for all of their wheels. If it’s safe enough for the world’s best wheels, then you can depend on this solution to be safe and efficient on your wheels.

Directions

Use the product on cool wheels. Rinse the wheel with water. Spray the wheel thoroughly and use a wheel brush to agitate the surface gently. Rinse and towel-dry wheels to prevent water spots.

PROS//

  • Non-acidic, non-caustic, and pH balanced;
  • Safe for all-wheel types;
  • It changes color as it interacts with brake dust;
  • Clings to the wheels successfully.

CONS//

  • It doesn’t come with a spray top.

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