How To Clean Your Aftermarket Wheels

car wheels

You can quickly upgrade the appearance of your car or truck with a sharp set of f1R wheels or similar alloys. If they reduce unsprung mass and let you use lower aspect ratio tires, they’ll improve performance and handling too. You’ll want to keep them in top condition because nothing suggests you don’t care like dirty, corroded aluminum.

In this blog we’ll review the best way to clean your aftermarket wheels and how to keep your f1R wheels looking perfect. Before doing that, however, let’s begin by discussing what that dirt is.

Dirty Alloys: What Are You Removing?

use soap to cleen wheel


Wheels will get dusty when you’re parked under cover, but things go downhill when out on the road or track. That’s where they’re going to collect a film of road dirt, which is a mix of tire rubber, exhaust contaminants and general muck. On hot days they might also pick up some sticky and unsightly tar spots too.

The biggest problem though is brake dust. This looks like brown specks over the spokes and rim and it’s usually worse on the front wheels as those brakes do the most work. If not removed quickly, you risk this corrosive material staining the aluminum and creating microscopic pits that dull the shine.

Wheel Cleaning Equipment

Things you’re going to need are:

  • A hose or watering can (if using a bucket, make sure it has a grit guard at the bottom)
  • A stack of microfiber towels
  • A soft brush
  • Car wash soap or pH-neutral wheel cleaning solution
  • Optionally, brake dust remover

Recommended Procedure for Cleaning Alloy Wheels

First, you’re going to work on one wheel at a time, from start to finish. No moving from wheel to wheel for each step. This is to avoid cleaning agents or water drying and leaving unsightly spots.

Also, if you can, clean your wheels while they’re off the vehicle, which you could do when swapping between summer and winter tires. Laying wheels flat eliminates the influence of gravity which can result in bottoms being cleaner than tops. It also makes it easier to work around the hub, spokes and valve stems and over the full width of the rim.

Next, make sure the wheels are cool (in temperature)! Hot surfaces dry soap and other cleaners before they’ve had time to work and water leaves hard-to-remove spots as it evaporates. This means parking out of the sun and not driving the car for some time before starting the cleaning process.

clean aftermarket wheel


Begin by rinsing away loose dust with water. Then wipe over the wheels with a clean, soft cloth or sponge and soapy water. It’s very important that what you use to apply the soap and water is clean. For stubborn spots and brake dust, try a soft brush (a toothbrush can work well) that won’t scratch the aluminum. Only switch to the chemical cleaners if soap and gentle scrubbing doesn’t do the job.

Rinse with water to clear any soap and remaining dirt, then wipe dry with a clean microfiber towel before water can leave spots on the surface. Move to the next wheel and repeat the process, but make sure to use clean water and a fresh microfiber towel.

Appearances Do Matter

Aftermarket alloy wheels are a great way to personalize and improve the look of any car or truck. They can give you a performance advantage too, by reducing sprung mass and letting you run wider, lower aspect ratio tires.

To create the best impression, it’s important to clean wheels regularly. An additional benefit is to prevent the unsightly stains resulting from a build-up of corrosive brake dust.

A thorough clean should take 30 minutes to an hour. The compliments and admiring glances you’ll get will make the effort worthwhile.

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