How to Remove Brake Dust from Aluminum Wheels

by Bree Johnson

Snazzy aluminum alloy wheels have been all the rage for the last couple of decades, but they tend to make for a self-defeating conundrum where brake dust is concerned. The whole point of polished aluminum, aside from the fact that it's lighter than steel, is that it looks good while shiny. However, the brakes get powdered black stuff on everything nearby. It's small wonder that keeping alloy wheels clean is the bane of car enthusiasts everywhere.

Remove Brake Dust from Aluminum Wheels


Move your car to an area where it will be out of direct sunlight and give your brakes some time to cool down. Heat makes brake dust stickier and harder to remove, so the colder the wheels, the better.


Spray your aluminum wheels with a water hose to wash away any loose brake dust and cool the rims. As brake dust becomes heated, it can seep into the polish and stain your wheels.


Apply a non-abrasive cleaner specially designed for aluminum wheels onto the rims of your car. Spray the rims thoroughly and allow the cleaner to work one to two minutes before proceeding to the next step.


Scrub away the brake dust using a soft-bristled brush. Pay special attention to any nooks and crevices to remove any brake dust that may have settled into these hard-to-clean areas.


Dip your soft-bristled brush into a bucket of clean, soapy water and scrub the wheels thoroughly once again.


Rinse the wheels with a water hose to remove any cleaning residue. Make sure that the water that falls to the ground is clean and clear before moving on. Dry the wheels using a soft, cotton cloth.


Apply an aluminum wheel polish to your rims to protect them from future brake dust deposits. Polishing the wheels now will make removing brake dust easier the next time by smoothing the surface and filling in the tiny surface pits where brake dust deposits.


  • check If, after polishing, you want to keep your wheels clean and prevent constant cleanings, you've got three basic options. Brake-shielding discs inside the wheel can help, but not everyone likes the way they look, and a certain amount of dust will get around them anyway. They can also inhibit brake cooling. Your second option is a specialized polymer wheel wax that keeps brake dust from sticking, and makes it easy to spray off with a hose. These waxes work, but they require reapplication once or twice a month.
  • check The best option for many may be a set of ceramic disc brake pads. In terms of stopping, they function about as well as most other stock replacement pads, but they're quieter, smoother and the dust they produce is white. Ceramic brake dust will still dull the wheel's look a bit, but it won't darken the wheel as much, and ceramic dust washes off more easily than regular black brake dust.


  • close Using steel wool or household cleaners to remove brake dust can scratch the polish and damage your wheels.

Items you will need

About the Author

Bree Johnson began writing professionally in 2004, penning articles for Internet SEO companies before breaking into copywriting in 2008. Since then, she has written ad copy for some of the world's most lucrative Halloween costume retailers, including Halloween Adventure and New York Costumes. Johnson majored in medical sonography at Forsyth Technical Community College and real estate while living in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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