How to Clean Your Car's Rims

by Jenny Carver

The rims on your car get covered in road grime and brake dust every time you go for a drive. Brake dust is made of tiny metal shavings, carbon fibers and adhesive material from the brake pads. Letting brake dust sit on your rims leads to corrosion, pits and rust on the surface. Car soap gets some of the road grime off, but it won't remove stubborn stains caused by the brake dust. Clean the car's rims correctly by adding just a few minutes to your regular car-washing schedule.

Wet the rims with water and spray them with wheel cleaner made specifically for them. Let the wheel cleaner soak according to label directions.

Scrub the rims with a soft-bristled wheel brush or a clean, unused household paintbrush. Loosen the top layer of brake dust and road grime with the brush and rinse the rims and the brush until clean.

Spray a second coat of wheel cleaner onto the rims and let them soak again. Scrub the rims with the brush again and rinse the rims until all of the cleaner and dirt disappear.

Dry the rims with a chamois cloth to prevent water spots from forming on the vehicle's rims.


  • check Clean your rims and tires before washing the car's body to prevent dirt and grime from the rims splashing onto the paint. Clean the rims one at a time from start to finish so the cleaner doesn't dry on them.


  • close Don't use wheel cleaner not made specifically for the type of rims on your vehicle or it could cause stains.

Items you will need

About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Jupiterimages/ Images