How to Clean Your Car Rims?

Think about the perfect shine that gives you a fresh vibe off the recently washed car. Wow! It takes much of a car owner’s time and hard work to make it look as good as new. This means if you wash your car two times in a week, you are investing at least an hour.

We know that your time is valuable and you must be looking for faster, better and quicker ways to get it done, here we are today with our car toolbox to help you in cleaning car rims properly and efficiently.

Some methods will sound good to go with; however, it can damage the brake system components if you are not carried out with care. This is not a car owner should get after investing an important portion of life in cleaning his favorite thing, especially when it affects car performance. So, let’s read further to save you from the fallouts of rim cleaning hacks.

Easy Tricks to Wash Your Car Rims Effectively

Do it right or don’t do it ever; this is something you should follow while cleaning the car rim. The use of the right tools and methods can make it easier for you.

Here are two quick and easy DIY tricks used for washing car rims effectively.

1. You Can Use Chemical Spray Products

First thing, you can use a chemical spray product, all alone. The chemicals in that spray will settle, and then you can spray it off.

2. You Can Use Automotive Soaps or a Wheel Cleaner Spray

On the other hand, you can use automotive soaps or what you call a wheel cleaner spray with specific brushes and elbow grease. This is, by the way, the best way to do it.

What Are Different Types of Wheel and Rim Cleaning Sprays?

 Every wheel cleaning agent has a different formula and ingredients. You can categorize them as day and night. Here is all about common wheel cleaning agents that car freaks find effective in detailing their cars.  

Acid-Based Wheel Cleaners

A wheel cleaner with ingredients down on the pH scale is the best choice when it comes to removing stubborn stains and other coated stuff of the rims. Although you might think of them as highly acidic products, most of them have a pH of 5.5 to 6. Yes, that’s near to neutral. However, if your wheels are made of alloys or are chrome plated, then you need to be careful while using it.

Dedicated pH Neutral Wheel Cleaners

Most of the wheel cleaners popular among the population fall under this category. Dedicated pH neutral wheel cleaners are typically neutral when we talk about the pH of the formulation. As soon as you spray them on the surface, these agents break down the nasty dirt particles by agitation. This is made possible by foaming agents and surfactants included in the formulation for lifting debris.

Iron and Fallout Removers

Last but not least, here we come to the most awaited iron and fallout removing sprays that need to be discussed. These, like its counterpart mentioned above, are neutral in pH and safe for clear coatings, car paints, rims, and other metallic components. However, these are not safe to use for plastic or vinyl components because of some aggressive ingredients.

The spray is neutral in pH in the manufactured state as mentioned above, but as soon as is gets on contact with iron-based substances such as brake dust, it gets activated, which changes its pH towards an aggressive base. Besides, you shouldn’t apply it standing in the direct sunlight or if the car surface is warm. It should be avoided on slender surfaces as well.

The science behind iron and fallout removing sprays:

 The sign that these sprays have started their action is the change in their colors as soon as it breaks down the iron-based substances. So, how does that happen? The magic ingredient which makes the spray smell like a skunk. We know that’s disgusting but amazing at the same time.

Ammonium Mercaptoacetate or Ammonium Thioglycolate is what this typical colorless ingredient is called. It has a beautiful light pink hue, but the smell is unbearable. We all know it by the name of perm salt. Remember the formula your grandma used to perm her hair at the saloon? It’s the same thing.

So how does a perm salt work? There is no rocket science behind it. The combination of citric acid, ammonia, thioglycolic acid, and iron, present in the make-up of the perm salt, is what makes it’s effective. Iron in the perm salt imitates the chemical reaction, and that is how you see the color change as iron has started eating up the grim. Usually, these sprays are red and purple in color. This mixture results in the formation of ferric thioglycolate, which gives this spray it’s color indicating you about the on-going action. This speeds up the rusting process by oxidizing wustite, a major mineral found in iron ore, into rust, which is a ferric oxide.

Now here is another mystery to unlock. What happens when you spray it onto the rims or iron-based brakes of the wheels?

As soon as it gets in contact with the surface, it breaks the iron components on the pads, rotors, and other components, just as it acts on brake dust and other iron-containing substances present on the wheel.

Spraying fresh water on the spray slows down the on-going process, but it doesn’t end it. To make it happen, an automotive soap or shampoo should be used on the spray to remove it.

So, don’t forget to follow this trick of using a car shampoo or degreaser after applying an iron or fallout removal spray on wheels to stop this reaction at the right time before it damages the brake components.

Cleaning Wheels and Rims – The Right Way To Do It

Now, coming to the business, the right way to clean wheels and rims to use the right product in the right way, which would lead you to the result you want, reducing the chances of damage.

Getting Your Supplies

First off, you need to prepare your supply, and finding them is the main task here. While every wheel is made up of a unique material, you can get some general cleaning supplies that work for all the types.

For this, you will need a microfiber wash wand. It will help you to clean the nook and corners very easily. The second thing is a dedicated wash bucket. After that, you need the primary stuff used for coating for every type of iron-containing substance, such as brake dust.

To make it easier for you, here is a list of supplies that you need to collect:

  • Wash bucket
  • Microfiber wash mitt
  • Scratch-Proof soft bristle wheel brush
  • Dedicated wheel cleaner spray (non-acidic)
  • Degreasing or Wax-Stripping Automotive Shampoo (with a non-ceramic wheel coating)
  • pH Neutral, Wax-Free Automotive Shampoo (for Ceramic Coated Wheels)

After getting everything on the list, all you need is to get this done following four simple steps for cleaning every type of wheel. Yeah, the one with the custom alloy or powder-coated, both can be treated similarly.

Step 1: Wash the Wheels

Start with high-pressure wash spraying water all over the wheels. The pressure helps in loosening the baked-on contaminants making it easier to wash.

Don’t have a high-pressure washer? Not a problem. All you need is a spray nozzle to attach with your garden hose, and you have a good pressurized washer to remove as much loose stuff as possible.

Step 2: Get the Wheel Cleaner Spray

Now, spray the wheel cleaner on every wheel following the exact instructions written on the packing of the cleaning agent. Don’t miss anything from start to finish, including spraying off the chemical. However, you have to be careful because some sprays rinse off easily, while for others, you need agitation with a wheel cleaning brush. Check the supply list. Thank us later!

Step 3: Shampoo the Wheels

Obviously, you wouldn’t want those spraying chemicals to stick on your wheels and rims even if they are safe for it, especially if they are made of chrome or alloys. Just like you get soap or a body wash, you would need an automotive-specific car washing soap or shampoo, and those wheels are good to go.

Here are some points you need to remember. Use a pH neutral wax-free shampoo for ceramic coated wheels. These shampoos are specifically formulated for ceramic coated surfaces. As these shampoos are wax-free, they don’t leave the wax film behind after the wash, which doesn’t affect the hydrophobic effect of the coating.

In case you don’t have a  ceramic coating, you are free for a wax-stripping or decontamination car wash shampoo, and you will get as clean as possible wheels left behind after the wash.

Step 4: Rinse It and Wash the Vehicle Completely

After all that you have completed above, you just need to push the last gear. Yeah! Rinse it off, all inside and out, the rims and the wheels. Some of the soap might dash onto the suspension, body paint, or brake parts.

Once you are done, get your hands on your car body. Remember to keep a different set of supplies for them.

It’s a Wrap!

Wash your wheel every time you wash your car body. This makes it easier to reduce the brake dust build-up. If you have aggressive cleaners in the supplies, then remember to use a high-quality car washing shampoo to save your wheel from potential damage.

Here is a tip. You can apply a DIY nano-ceramic coating to reduce brake dust sticking to the rims. It also acts as a protective layer for your wheels against the chemical cleaners.

After you are done with the car completely, take some steps back and look at your perfectly shining ride standing in front of you, flaunting its clean rims as girls do it with their new pair of stilettos. Ah! The hard work is worth it.