The Complete Guide To Cleaning Alloy Wheels (Make Them Sparkle Again!)

The Complete Guide To Cleaning Alloy Wheels (Make Them Sparkle Again!)

Does your car need some TLC? Washing your vehicle’s body is a good idea, but have you forgotten something? There’s an art to cleaning alloy wheels and making them sparkle. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your car wheels, there’s no time like the present. Check out our guide to getting the detailing on your car wheel just right.

Do you need a special cleaner for alloy wheels?

If you’re looking for the best way to clean alloy wheels, you may think getting a specialist product is the answer. But, while you can buy a cleaner for alloy wheels at garages, you don’t need to do so. Instead, you can make your own cleaning solution at home. Yes, you likely already have everything you need in your cupboards. So grab some soap, vinegar, and water now! A homemade cleaning product is a great way to save money and cut back.

Cleaning alloy wheels: The complete guide

Step 1: Make your cleaning solution 

Want to know how to clean car wheels at home? The first step is making a homemade cleaning solution. Mix white wine vinegar, gentle soap (like washing-up liquid), and warm water together. Put this cleaning solution into a bucket, ready to use.

On the other hand, you may want to use a specialist alloy wheel cleaner. If you go to your local garage, you should be able to find an array of options. Be sure to check out some online cleaner reviews ahead of time to get the best possible option.

Step 2: Brush off any excess dirt

One of the most common issues with alloy wheels is excess dirt. When you’re about to start cleaning your car wheels, look at them first. Is there a crust of brake dirt on the exterior of them? If so, you should clean this off before you get to work. Use a soft brush to remove the brake dirt. That will take a minute or so — give it some elbow grease.

Step 3: Grab your power washer

Step three is optional. If you don’t have a power washer, there’s no need to worry. You can skip this step. However, if you have one of these nifty gadgets, it’s time to put it to use. Pressure-washing your alloy wheels will help eliminate any excess dirt that has gathered there over time. Give each of the car wheels a quick blast with this tool. Note: Be sure to use a low-level setting, so you don’t damage any of the aluminium.

For more advice on how to clean aluminium, take a look at our other article. 

Step 4: Apply the cleaning solution

After completing steps one to three, the next phase is applying the cleaning solution. As we have covered, you can make a DIY alloy wheel cleaner or buy one. Before you get started, put some latex gloves on so that you protect your hands.

If you have bought a branded cleaning product, read the instructions on the back of the bottle. Each of these products will have a different set of ingredients. In addition, you need to ensure you know how long to leave the solution on the car wheels.

On the flip side, if you’re using your homemade cleaner, you should leave it to rest on the car wheels for between five and 10 minutes. After that, you will start to notice a difference quickly.

Step 5: Rinse away the alloy wheel cleaner

When the time is up, you need to rinse away the alloy wheel cleaner. There are a couple of options you may want to try. First, you can fill a bucket with clean, cool water and splash it on the car wheels. That way works pretty well. If that’s not intense enough for you, you can grab the trusty power washer and give it a blast. Finally, use a clean cloth to dry the wheels. 

Step 6: Polish the alloy wheels

The alloy wheels are already looking clean. The final step is to make them shine. You will need some olive oil and a cloth for this part of the process. Make sure that the wheels are dry before you get started. Then lather them up with the oil to create a thick coat over the aluminium. Leave that for around five minutes.

Next, take the cloth and use a circular motion to rub the car wheels. You should see some of the shine coming back when you do this. The more energy you put into it, the more likely you will get your alloy wheels to glisten. You should rinse the car wheels with cool water when you’re done with that. Be sure to get rid of all of the oil completely.

Cleaning alloy wheels doesn’t have to be tricky. You just need to learn the right knack. This guide has covered how to clean car wheels at home. Chances are, it’s easier than you first thought. Generally, you should try cleaning your alloy wheels when washing your car. When you leave the wheels for too long, they start to look dull. That is the last thing you want. So instead, make this chore a number one priority.

Step 7: Keep the aluminium shiny!

When aluminium is exposed to oxygen, it starts to oxidise, which can lead to corrosion. To avoid this problem and keep your wheels shiny, you must use a coat of clear paint or powder. Of course, you shouldn’t try to do this yourself. Instead, you can go to a workshop and ask them to coat your alloy wheels for you. It’s worth your money!

Step 8: Don't forget the car wheel arches!

We’ve got you covered if you want to learn how to clean car wheel arches. The first thing that you need to know is that you need a special brush for this job. You can buy wheel arch brushes at most hardware shops or garages. When you have that, you can use a solution of clean water and soap on the area. The brush will allow you to get deep into those tricky corners you couldn’t reach before. Simple. When you’re done, rinse away.


Did we miss something along the way? If you have a burning question about cleaning alloy wheels, don’t worry. Here are some answers to help you become a cleaning whiz now.

Can you use the Pink Stuff cream cleaner on alloy wheels?

You may be tempted to grab a handy tub of the Pink Stuff cream cleaner. The all-arounder cleaning product is helpful for many chores. However, you should avoid using it on aluminium as it could cause some damage. When using this product, be sure to patch test it on the surface you place to clean. That way, you side-step any accidents.

Does WD-40 clean alloy wheels?

The short answer is yes! You can use WD-40 to clean alloy wheels quickly and easily. While this shouldn’t be the only product you use when cleaning alloy wheels, you can use some to finish things up. But, again, having a can of the stuff on hand is an easy way to get ahead.

How do you get brake dust off alloy wheels?

What’s best to clean brake dust from alloy wheels? Good question. Brake dust can be challenging to shift, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. One of the best approaches is using a mixture of white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), soap, and warm water.

You can spray this solution directly onto the alloy wheels, leave it for a few minutes, and then wipe it off with a soft cloth. You may find that this removes the dirt.

Will Coke clean aluminium?

You may have heard rumours that you can clean aluminium with Coke (or formally, Coca-Cola). While some anecdotal evidence suggests this approach works, it’s not worth the risk. Chances are, the soft drink won’t clean your metal well. However, you may find it damages your wheels in the worst-case scenario. Give it a miss.

How can you clean dull aluminium?

When aluminium gets old and dull, it can start to affect the way that your car looks. That’s a real problem. This guide has looked at how you can clean aluminium wheels quickly and easily. One of the most effective ways to make your alloy wheels shine is by using olive oil. When the wheels are clean, you can use this product as a quick way to get the shine back. Lather up the wheels and then rinse for the best results.

Got any questions about cleaning alloy wheels? Let us know in the comments below!

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

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