How To Remove Brake Dust From Car Rims?

Authored By Automobile Engineer

How to effectively remove brake dust from car rims without damaging them is a hot issue these days.

The average bi-weekly vehicle cleaning session is anticipated to take roughly an hour to complete.

While some auto owners devote more time to cleaning their vehicles, others seek speedier, more efficient, and more successful methods.

While faster, faster, and more efficient is usually a desirable thing, certain wheel cleaning techniques and chemicals may harm braking system components if done improperly or too often.

And, particularly on a sports vehicle, that’s never a good thing.

This sets the tone for today’s discussion: how to clean car wheels and rims properly. We’ll go over a couple of the best methods for cleaning your vehicle’s wheels in the section below.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove brake dust from car rims:

Start by mixing a solution of water and dish soap.
Use a soft cloth or sponge to apply the solution to the affected areas.
Let the solution sit for a few minutes to loosen the brake dust.
Use a brush to scrub the brake dust away.
Rinse the area with clean water.
Dry the area with a soft cloth.
Repeat as necessary until the brake dust is completely removed.

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We’ll also go through the benefits and drawbacks of utilizing iron and fallout removers to clean your wheels.

What You’ll Need to Get Ready

The wheel cleaner and wheel cleaning brush are two of the main items indicated above for which you must be pickier.

Here are a few things that you should have to start:

A wheel cleaning brush
A wheel cleaner
A high-pressure garden hose
An anti-filth protective coating
Two microfiber towels
A toothbrush (Optional)
Water and car washing soap

Prior to making a final purchase selection regarding wheel cleaners, it is essential to conduct an extensive study.

There are several wheel cleaners on the market. Therefore, it is not difficult to locate them. When choosing the right product, you will need to consider the formula, the convenience of the application, the brand, and the price of the product.

The safest, most effective wheel cleaners are often eco-friendly and biodegradable. In most cases, it is packed in ergonomically designed spray bottles for easy application.

Similar wheel cleaners are also often produced by well-known manufacturers with a long history in the specialist automotive industry.  

Aside from that, the cleaner you choose should come with simple, plain directions for usage and application. If the instructions are vague, select a different cleaner.

Purpose Of Tools

How to Remove Brake Dust From Car Rims

Second, you must choose a wheel-cleaning brush that is particularly designed for working with tires. Once you begin your search for brushes, you may be amazed by how many varieties are available.

Ensure that you have conducted sufficient research before purchasing one from a local store or an online retailer.

A high-quality brush for cleaning wheels should have bristles that are soft but firm and safe for sensitive surfaces such as matte, painted, polished, chrome, etc.

A long handle should also be included in the tool in order to facilitate handling and maneuvering. The average cost of a competent wheel cleaning brush is between $30 and $40. 

Here are the top 5 ways to remove brake dust from car rims.

Here are five easy ways to clean your car rims and remove brake dust from them:

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Turn Off Your Car And Examine The Tires For Dirt

If you are unsure about tire cleaning, then you can follow these steps:

Take a look at the sidewall of your tire. In the event that you notice cracks or cuts, it may be time to replace your tires.
Take a look at your tread depth. If it’s less than and you can see the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, your tread is too shallow and it’s time for new tires.
Insert a penny headfirst into several tread grooves across the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your treads are worn down and you need new tires.
Use the “twenty-dollar bill” test. Place a bill in several different tread grooves across the tire width-wise. If you can see George Washington’s entire head, you have less than tread depth remaining and you need new tires.
Check for uneven wear. Because the front tires do most of the work, they tend to wear down first. Uneven wear can be a sign of alignment or suspension issues that should be fixed as soon as possible.

If your tires are showing any of these signs, it’s time to wash your rims or wheels smoothly and safely by being proactive about your tire maintenance.

Should you clean your wheels first or last?

When washing your car, begin by cleaning the wheels and tires. This should avoid the absorption of spray or dirt from spilling onto panels that have previously been cleaned. If you like to clean your wheels and tires with soap and water, you should utilize a specialized wash and rinse pail and soft brush.

When should I wash my wheels?

The wheels and tires are first on the “hit list” for the exterior wash. Because they’re usually the roughest component of your car, you’ll like to clean them before the paint. Furthermore, if you wait until the conclusion of your washes to clean them, you risk spilling dirt and brake dust back on to clean paint.

How often should you clean rims?

Every time you clean your car, we recommend giving your wheels a basic cleaning with soap and water and a specialized wash mitt (1 to 2 weeks). Every 2 to 3 months, give your wheels a thorough cleaning and apply a layer of protection.

Remove Loose Dirt From Your Car’s Rim, Using A Hose

If you want to remove loose dirt by using a hose, then you can use these steps to do so:

Rinse the area around the car rim with a hose to remove any loose dirt or debris.
Use a soft brush or cloth to wipe away any remaining dirt.
Rinse the area again with clean water to remove any soap residue.
Dry the area with a clean towel.

By taking these simple steps, you can avoid scratching your car’s paint when cleaning your rims.

Why do car wheels have vent holes?

Car wheels feature holes for a variety of reasons, including weight and cost. Each hole represents a portion of material that isn’t wasted and isn’t dragging the wheel down. The perforations also aid in the cooling of the brakes by enabling air to pass between the interior and outside.

Are wheel cleaners necessary?

Your wheels come into contact with all sorts of brake dust, grime, and dirt. Over time, this build-up can cause your wheels to become dull and discolored. A good wheel cleaner will help remove this build-up, restore the shine to your wheels, and protect them from further damage.

How do you remove stubborn dirt from rims?

A wheel or axle facilitates movement and transportation in machines while supporting loads or performing labor. In addition to ship wheels, steering wheels, potter’s wheels, and flywheels, wheels can also be used in other applications as well.

Spray Wheels Using Water

High-pressure washing is the best approach to cleaning Honda Civic car rims in an idealistic situation. This is because the increased water pressure aids in the removal of baked-on contaminants.

This procedure works best with a soft paintbrush and a little elbow grease. It is imperative that you thoroughly clean the wheels afterward to ensure that no detergent residue remains on them.  

Spray Wheels Using Water

Use a spray nozzle linked to your hose to deliver large quantities of pressured water to remove the same or more lost items as possible if you don’t have a high-pressure washer.

If you would like to learn more about the many kinds of spray wheels used for car wheel cleaning, go to the next section.

What can I spray on my rims to clean them?

Use a sanitizer and cleaners like dish soap and baking soda to get rid of road debris, grease, and tar! Clean your rims but use a soft cloth and a mixture of dish detergent and water. Then, using the rough side of a sponge, sprinkle baking soda over your rims and go over them again before rinsing.

How do you clean rims without scrubbing?

The best way to clean rims without scrubbing them with water is to use a product called Wheel Cleaner. This product is designed to remove the build-up of grime and dirt on your rims without the need for scrubbing. Simply spray the cleaner onto your rims and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth. You’ll be amazed at how easily the grime comes off, and your rims will look like new again!

Wash Rims With Soap And Detergents

Washing Your car rims with soap and detergents is actually quite simple.

It may be “safe” to use wheel household cleaners, but you don’t want them to remain on the wheel surface, particularly if you have chrome or alloy wheels.

As a result, we suggest using a shampoo or detergent designed specifically for cleaning automobiles.

Some with ceramic-coated wheels should use a shampoo that is pH neutral, wax-free, and designed to clean ceramic-coated surfaces without leaving a wax film.

Numerous vehicle washes that include wax will lessen the hydrophobic effect of the coating dramatically.

In order to avoid any kind of damage to your rims, it is important that you follow certain steps while washing them.

  • Rinse the rims with plain water in order to remove any loose dirt or deb
  • Make a solution of soap and water and apply it to the rims with the help of a sponge.
  • Scrub the rims gently in circular motions.
  • Rinse the soap off the rims with plain water.
  • Dry the rims using a clean towel or rag.

If your vehicle does not have a ceramic coating, apply a wax-removal or decontamination shampoo. This will assist in removing any remaining chemical residue from the wheels, making them as clean as possible.

Can I clean my rims with dish soap?

Remove road grime, grease, and tar using a solvent and cleansers such as dish soap and baking soda! Utilize a soft towel and a mixture of dish detergent and water to clean the rims. Then, add baking soda on the rough side of a sponge and scrub the rims once more before rinsing.

Can you use Dawn soap on chrome rims?

Yes, You Can Use it!
You’re not going to be able to chemically harm chrome. That being stated, applying dawn on your wheels should be no issue.

Is dish soap good for wheels?

It can be difficult to enjoy a ride when your rims and wheels are dirty. We are fortunate to have Dawn® to clean everything from baked-on messes to braked-on messes. Make sure your tire rims and wheels look as good as new by stopping for a quick pit stop to clean your brake dust.

Protect From Future Dirt By Coating

The cleaning and maintenance of car rims can be accomplished in a number of ways, but taking steps to protect them for future use is the only way. 

Add A Clear Coat And Extend The Life Of The Wheel

You need a clear coat. A clear coat will provide a protective layer against future dirt and grime. It is important to apply the clear coat evenly and smoothly.

You can use a brush or a spray can to apply the clear coat. Once you have applied the clear coat, you need to let it dry completely before driving your car.

Protect From Future Dirt By Coating

If you do not let the clear coat dry completely, it will not be as effective in protecting your car rims.

Should you put clearcoat on rims?

It should help keep the vehicle’s look for a few years before you need to polish the wheels again. Clear coatings offer a little luster but no color. The majority of drive-through vehicle washes will rinse dirt off clear-coated wheels with little effort.

Can you put a clear coat on aluminum rims?

On aluminum wheels, clear coat paint is used to prevent corrosion and preserve them. When you reapply the clear coat, your wheels will appear new and shiny again.

How do you prevent corrosion on rims?

Ensure that your wheels are properly cleaned, polished, and plated in order to slow down corrosion. Ensure that your wheels are regularly cleaned to prevent iron contamination or the accumulation of brake dust. Ensure the wheel’s clear coating is not stripped away by using a cleanser that has a pH balance.

Spray Wheel Cleaners For Car Rim Cleaning

Wheel cleaning products do not all have the same composition in their bases. In point of fact, many of them take place throughout the night and the day.

Spray Wheel Cleaners For Car Rim Cleaning

Let’s go through some of the most prevalent kinds of wheel cleaning products that are utilized by professional detailers and do-it-yourself auto enthusiasts.


Iron And Fallout Removal

Iron Removal Spray is the most specific type of spray-on wheel cleaning.

A neutral pH makes this product suitable for use on paint-clear coatings, wheels, and other metallic surfaces.

As a result of the abrasive nature of certain of its components, it must not be used on plastic or vinyl components under any circumstances.

The spray starts to transform into an aggressive base despite the fact that its pH level is neutral before it is activated by ferrous-based compounds (such as brake dust) (or the right side of the pH scale).

As a consequence of this, the product in question must not be applied in areas where there is direct sunlight, on heated surfaces, or most importantly, on any trim components.

Does iron fallout remover remove rust?

Metal particles can be safely removed using this product. It can also be used for shampooing, cleaning rims, removing rust, and lubricating clay.

How often should you use iron remover on wheels?

The only exception is if you live or work near a railroad. You should use it about as frequently as clay (one to two times a year). There is a 50% reduction in your LSP as a result of this. The frequency may be slightly higher if you are talking about wheels that dust really badly.

When should I use fallout remover?

Once you have washed and rinsed your car, you should use a fallout remover. After shampooing and rinsing your car, you should use fallout remover. As a result, all dirt is removed, and the only thing left is potential fallout particles that need to be removed.

Dedicated pH Neutral Wheel Cleaners

Dedicated wheel cleansers account for the majority of wheel cleaning products used by customers today. These usually include pH-neutral Wheel Cleaning chemicals in them.

After being sprayed on the surface, they break down brake dust and road filth via agitation. The majority of them contain detergents and synthetic detergents that lift and remove material.

The pH-neutral wheel cleaner is the best option if you want to avoid damaging your wheels or causing corrosion.

A pH-neutral cleaner not only feels gentle on your wheels but is also biodegradable and non-toxic.

PH neutral cleaners are also highly effective at removing brake dust, dirt, and grime from your wheels. And because they don’t contain any harsh chemicals, they won’t leave behind any streaks or residue.

Is Autoglym wheel cleaner pH neutral?

As long as the product instructions are followed, it is safe to use on chrome wheels, split rims, and painted wheels as long as the product is pH neutral.

Is brake buster pH neutral?

Make quick work of dirty wheels by picking up the Brake Buster Non-Acid Wheel Cleaner today! Suitable for all types of washing applications, eco-friendly, pH balanced, and 100% biodegradable.

Are alkaline wheel cleaners safe?

All types of finishes may be adversely affected by strong acids and strong alkalis. It depends on the type of acid and alkalis used, as well as the overall blend, use, and dilution in question. Both types of products can be very safe, regardless of how strong they are

Acid-Based Wheel Cleaners

It’s common knowledge that wheel cleaners with formulations on the left side of the pH scale are quite effective at removing grime and other contaminants from wheels.

They aren’t particularly acidic, with most of them ranging between pH 5.5 and 6. (with 7 being pH neutral).

Even a pH of 5.5, on the other hand, might be detrimental or cause serious damage to some types of wheels, such as alloys or chrome-plated wheels.

Can you use brick acid to clean wheels?

Despite the fact that the acid will work very well, it is far too harsh for even occasional use. You should seal your wheels with a good sealant so you can clean them with standard shampoo. Brick acid can be used without problem, however, specialist wheel acid contains additional ingredients.

When should I use acidic wheel cleaner?

The product can be used on plastic wheel trims, clear-coated and painted alloy wheels, as well as clear-coated wheels. Even the most neglected wheels can be transformed with their ability to effectively remove rusty buildup, dirt, and heavy brake dust. For heavier contamination, VCA can be diluted up to 20-1.

Is Meguiars Hot rims acidic?

With Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner you can get powerful cleaning without damaging your wheels. In order to prevent damaging the wheels or aftermarket brake components, it is acid-free and pH-balanced.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Iron And Fallout Removal Spray

Iron and fallout removers are powerful cleaning agents that can be used to clean your wheels. Although these products have some advantages and disadvantages, there are also some disadvantages.

Here are some things to consider before using iron and fallout removers:

Pros Of Iron And Fallout Removers
  • Iron and fallout removers can quickly and easily remove brake dust, grime, and another build-up from your wheels.
  • You can find iron and fallout removers at most auto parts stores.
  • When used correctly, iron and fallout removers can leave your wheels looking new.
Cons Of Iron And Fallout Removers
  • If not used properly, iron and fallout removers can damage your wheel’s finish.
  • Compared to other wheel cleaning products, iron and fallout movers are generally more expensive
  • If used incorrectly, iron and fallout removers can damage your tires.

If You are still unsure about that how to clean your car rims then this video will help you to get ideas about rims cleaning.

Source: YouTube

Final Words

Brake dust is a common issue for car owners and can be difficult to remove. Now that you know how to remove brake dust from car rims, it’s time to get started!

Keep your rims looking good by using a quality polish and cleaner. 

As you’ve seen, washing automobile tires entails more than squirting them with high-pressure water.

There are items that must be prepared and actions that must be followed carefully.

All of these methods are relatively easy and can be done with common household items.

Keeping your car clean and free of debris is the best way to prevent brake dust build-up.

Regularly washing your car will help reduce the amount of brake dust that accumulates over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fastest way to remove brake dust?

Wash all four wheels and hubcaps with soapy water using a sponge and brush. Use a brush to loosen the dirt and grime on all wheels and hubcaps. Brake dust usually gets lodged on rims, where it gets stuck. Once the grime has loosened with the brush, scrub it away with a sponge.

Will wd40 remove brake dust?

The spray dissolves grease, oil, and dust from brakes and parts with a fast-drying, super-powering formula. By dissolving residual oil, grease, and brake fluid, WD-40 Brakes & Parts Cleaner leaves your brakes shiny and clean.

Does brake dust damage rims?

Your wheels may be damaged by brake dust, but some of it is normal. A wheel’s aluminum alloy surface will eventually be eroded by brake dust. The damage can jeopardize your safety and cause expensive repairs and replacements.

Does WD 40 clean alloy wheels?

WD-40 is a safe and effective way to clean wheels. If you follow the proper steps, it is safe. As an addition to your alloy wheel cleaning collection, it is not recommended to replace alloy wheel cleaners with specific wheel cleaners.

How can I clean my rims at home?

Degreasers and cleaners like dish detergent and baking soda will get rid of road dirt, grease, and tar! Use a soft cloth to clean your rims with dish detergent and equal parts water. Use a sponge with a rough side and apply baking soda to your rims again, and finally rinse them.

Will simple green remove brake dust?

A brilliant shine or deep, clean finish is achieved with Simple Green All Wheel & Tire Cleaner, which easily removes brake dust, grease, and grime.

Will a pressure washer remove brake dust?

In the event that a wheel brush is not able to remove all the spots, a pressure washer will not be able to help. It is essential that you directly contact the high-pressure spray in order to remove brake dust – obstructed areas will still remain in the way.

Can I use oven cleaner on my rims?

Yes, Your wheels will be cleaned thoroughly and stains will be removed, but you can also strip them off.
Don Sutton
Don Sutton has had a long and varied career in engineering, spanning four different countries. He began his apprenticeship in New Zealand at Paeroa Motors in 1965 before moving to the United States where he studied at Paeroa College before accepting a job as an engineer with Bendix/Kirby/TRW/Tristar. His work involved designing components for the automotive industry for over thirty years, including brake pads, power steering pumps, and fuel injectors. In 2005 Don left automotive design to pursue other interests but maintains an interest in all things related to automobiles. He is currently retired from engineering but continues to consult on issues relating to vehicle testing and manufacture when needed!