The Right Tools for the Job
To clean your wheels right, you'll need a variety of tools. Here's a quick list of what we used for the demonstration video above:
- Grit Guard
- 5 Gallon Wheel Bucket
- Wheel Brushes
- Wheel Wash Mitt
- Wheel Soap
- Wheel Cleaner
- Wheel Wax
- Leaf Blower or Vac And Blow Machine
Keep Your Wheels Cool
The first thing you need to do is make sure your wheels are cool to the touch. Washing them immediately after a hard drive will cause the water and cleaning liquids to dry prematurely and make the rims to streak or possibly stain due to the hot brakes, rotors, or rims.
Fill your designated rim bucket with soap specifically designed for removing brake dust. Add 3 or 4 squirts then fill the bucket three quarters full. It's always a good idea to use a grit guard in your wheel bucket to avoid reintroducing brake dust onto your rims after it's been rinsed in the bucket.
Rinse and Soak
Next, rinse the rim with water to remove heavy debris before adding your favorite rim cleaner. Be sure to read the directions for dwell time or the suggested amount of time needed for the product to be effective.
After roughly 10 to 20 seconds, use your wheel brush to clean the back of the rim first starting at 12 o'clock and working your way down the inside of the barrel. Smaller wheel brushes can be used on the caliper or other tight areas. Then, use a wheel brush to agitate the dust in the lug nut holes, center caps, exposed bolts and around the air valve. Finish the process by using a designated wheel wash mitt to clean the face of the rim and behind the spokes by curving your hand inside the mitt in order to reach the front, side and back of each spoke. Rinse the wheel and check your work before moving on to the next rim.
Brake Dust Can Scratch!
Remember, only work one rim at a time and do not allow the water, wheel cleaner, or soap to be applied to any rim that you're not immediately working on. Once all four wheels are clean, dry them with an old microfiber towel along with compressed air, leaf blower, or simply driving around the block could dislodge any remaining water trapped in the lug nut holes. Remember to never use the same towel on the rims as you would on your paint. Brake dust consists of extremely hard and jagged particles that would easily scratch your paint if mistakenly used on your clear coat.
Wax On, Wax Off
Finally, apply a wheel wax jelly to protect the rims from intense brake dust and to help make the cleaning process quicker next time. Rub the product into your gloves, then massage it into the face, lip and spokes of the rim. Allow 3 minutes to cure then remove with a clean, dry microfiber towel. Properly cleaning your rims is just as important as cleaning your paint, especially nowadays as wheels have become even more critical to the style and performance of our cars.