We applaud the fact that you take pride in the appearance and upkeep of your car. If you're serious about it, and you enjoy the surprisingly therapeutic process of car cleaning, a dedicated cleaner for your car's alloys is a great product to add next to the general car shampoo on the shelf.
Why do I need a specialised alloy wheel cleaner?
Wheels are often the dirtiest part of your car and are constantly subject to both dirt and mud from the world and dust and grime from your brakes. The stuff that comes off your brakes is mostly iron unless you have fancy carbon-ceramic brakes (these are only on serious performance cars, and even then it's often a four-figure optional extra). Iron gains a static charge when heated and clings to the wheels in a more determined fashion than regular dirt.
You guessed it, specialised wheel cleaners are better at ridding your wheels of this determined muck than a general cleaner. At least, the good ones are. Our favourites below are some of the best wheel cleaners you can get.
The best alloy wheel cleaners from the Parkers experts:
Bilt Hamber Auto Wheel Cleaner (1L)
Simply spray it on, wait for the solution to change colour (agitating with a brush if the wheels are heavily soiled), and then rinse it off. The result is beautifully clean alloys in less than five minutes. A pH-balanced formula makes it safe to use on all wheels, even chrome and magnesium rims.
Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner Complete Kit (1L)
If this is your first time showing your wheels some love then a cleaning kit should give you everything you need to do a good job. This kit from Autoglym contains two wheel brushes alongside a wheel cleaner spray, the ideal starter kit. The spray contains a blend of biodegradable surfactants, solvents, and alkalis meaning it's safe for chromed, anodised and polished aluminium wheels.
Pro-Kleen Dragon's Blood Extreme Iron Contamination Fallout Remover (5L)
Best for deep cleaning
The name Dragon's Blood sounds dramatic, and it looks equally striking too. An iron fallout remover reacts with brake dust to turn your alloys bright purple. Then, you simply rinse them clean with water. This five-litre product is great value and pH neutral, making it safe for all types of wheels. A word of warning, though: it doesn't smell pleasant. 'Be prepared for a smell you'll never forget!' says maker Pro-Kleen. Indeed. But you need a sprayer to use it.
Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wheel & Tire (710ml)
Best waterless wheel cleaner
A wonderful 2-in-1 product. It cleans wheels and shines tyres without the need for water, so is ideal for a spruce-up away from home. Just spray it on, then wipe your wheels clean. It even offers UV protection to shield them from sunlight. This product isn't suitable for very dirty alloys, but it is suitable for all wheel types and we love how quick and convenient it is.
Autoglym Wheel Cleaning Mousse (500ml)
Best cleaning mousse
Mousse is both a delicious dessert and an effective way to clean your car's alloys thanks to this product from Autoglym (need we say don't eat it?). A neutral pH level means it's safe for all wheel types and thanks to the foam's expanding nature it sticks to the alloys with ease. The foam will even turn red when it's time to agitate it with an alloy wheel brush. A nice lemon scent is a nice bonus.
Meguiar's Mirror Bright Wheel Cleaner (650ml)
Best for chrome wheels
Another Meguiar's product, this time for polished alloys. Its pH-balanced Mirror Bright cleaner also works on painted and aluminium alloys, but those with shiny wheels (the kind you can see your face in) should get the best results. The gentle formula dissolves brake dust, allowing you to rinse it away.
Autoglym Clean Wheels (1L)
Good for plastic trims
Autoglym has been around since 1965 and holds two royal warrants. Clean Wheels is an acid formula, so isn't suited to chrome or anodised wheels, but it does a sterling job on everything else, even plastic wheel trims. Spray it on, agitate with a brush and then rinse it off. The job takes minutes and will leave your car looking refreshed.
Armor All Wheel &Tire Cleaner (500ml)
Best budget option
This we recommend to those who will clean their car's wheels from time to time and would rather not spend too much on it. Granted, it doesn't offer quite the impressive cleaning power of the Bilt Hamber or Pro-Kleen products but it does reasonably well. If what you're after is a great price and something that cleans your wheels (of all types) to a good standard, this is for you.
What to consider when choosing a car alloy wheel cleaner
Budget: Prices vary widely, although you don’t need to spend a lot for good results. You simply need to find the best products. That work has gladly been done for you by us.
Frequency: If you address the cleanliness of your wheels every once in a while, you may need a more intensive cleaner.
Are your wheels chromed or anodised? If so, choose a pH-neutral product that won’t damage their delicate surface. Each cleaner advises what types of wheels they are suitable for.
For heavily soiled wheels: Use a wheel brush to scrub with in order to loosen and remove any particularly stubborn grime.
To protect your hard work: You can apply a wheel sealant or protector to wheels having cleaned them. The best of these products make it harder for brake dust and road grime to stick and accumulate on your wheels. Depending on the product, they can last from a matter of weeks to even a year or more.
Final note: before you set to work with your new wheel cleaner, read the product instructions!