Thorough wheel cleaning is not only a car detailing essential, it's pretty crucial for safety, too. Harsh contaminants like brake dust, if left for long enough, can eat into the surface finishes and eventually into the metal, compromising the structure of the wheel. That, and filthy, corroded hoops just look rubbish!
It's the very first job in any detail, so it makes sense to start right, as you mean to go on. Here's the quickest and easiest way to clean your wheels and get them sparkling…
First consider your wheel finish. The vast majority of standard and aftermarket cast and forged wheels are painted, powder-coated or lacquered for protection, and that's where the following process is best used. On more specialist finishes (including polished, chrome and anodised wheels), you may have to adapt the cleaning process or products used. A full rundown for specialty wheels can be found in our full Detailers Guide To Cleaning Alloy Wheels.
Do your wheels need full decontamination? Using Iron Out Fallout Remover to chemically dissolve ferrous metal particles isn't a process for every maintenance wash, but great for a monthly decon. For regular maintenance washes simply skip this step, but for full decontamination apply Iron Out liberally over the whole surface.
Iron Out turns blood red as it reacts with metal, when it changes it's done its job, so you can rinse the contaminants away.
This step can be after decontamination, or the first step on a maintenance wash, either way you can pre-wash using Imperial Wheel Cleaner. Spray on yours liberally, leave for a couple of minutes to dwell and break down grime, and then rinse off.
Now it's time for 'brushing-in' with Revolution Wheel Shampoo. Add a decent squirt to a bucket of water, and foam up with your pressure washer.
Reapply some Imperial and, using a Barrel Brush, brush the wheel soap into the inner barrels, working your way all around the wheel.
Now use a Hog Hair Brush, or a Detailing Brush to agitate the soapy shampoo solution into the more intricate areas - around lips, bolt holes and each spoke.
Finally use a wash mitt or wheel wash mitt to clean the faces and, once again, between the spokes. If your wheel design allows you to reach behind the spokes, clean there, too.
Now rinse away the soapy residue, along with any remaining contaminants.
And, always dry your wheels using an Ultra Plush Microfibre Cloth, to prevent watermarks.
Now you're done, and your wheel is perfect, you can move on to the other three. Easy, eh?
Bucket & Grit Guard
Wheel Cleaning Brush
Acid Free Wheel Cleaner
Detailing Brush (Pair)
Microfibre Buffing Towel
Microfibre Wheel Brush
Lambswool Wash Mitt