How To Clean Your Tires and Rims?

Proper maintenance of your vehicle’s tires depends upon a regular cleaning regimen. Here’s how to clean tires using a simple, inexpensive process.


At the point where the rubber meets the road, your vehicles’ wheels and tires grab a lot of dirt and grime not to mention collecting layers of brake-pad dust and fine shavings from the rotors. Of these, road salt and brake dust represent particularly caustic threats that can pit your wheels and steal life from your tires.

Both tire manufacturers and installers recommend cleaning your tires and wheels at least every other week to keep them looking great and performing their best.

Environmental Tip: You may be tempted to clean your car in the driveway, and we can’t argue the convenience and time savings associated with that. However, car washes are legally required to collect gray water from their washing bays, recycle the water, and dispose of the cleaning agents in the proper way. We recommend working there whenever possible.

Tools Required

  • Bucket
  • Clean & dry towels
  • Hose and spray nozzle
  • Lug-nut brush (optional)
  • Pressure washer (optional)
  • Soft/medium-bristled brush
  • Waxing mitt or foam pads (optional)
  • Wheel brush (optional)

Materials Required

  • Baking soda (for whitewalls only)
  • Dish soap or mild degreaser
  • Warm water
  • Wheel cleaner (optional)
  • Wheel wax (optional)
How to clean car Tire

Here’s How to clean car tires step by Step

1. Prep for the Job

  • Gather all your equipment and materials before starting the job.
  • For the best results when cleaning tires and wheels, work each one through the entire process before moving to the next.
  • Above all, make sure your tires and wheels have cooled before washing them and/or applying any cleaning products.
  • Dedicate a specific cleaning rag and drying towel to this task. As previously mentioned, tires pick up a lot of dirt and grit from the road as well as collecting caustic brake dust. Keep these contaminants away from the other surfaces of your vehicle.

2. Start With a Rinse

  • Rinse off as much loose grime as possible using a spray nozzle or pressure washer.
  • Work the water from several angles and try to remove as much from the interior of the rim as possible.
  • Keep the tire wet as you clean it because the moisture provides lubrication and prevents scratching.
  • Pro Tip: For a deep cleaning or for extremely dirty rims, you may choose to remove the wheel for cleaning. If you do, work from the back of the tire to the front so that rinsing the back doesn’t re-soil the front.

3. Wash the Tire

  • Starting with the tire prevents tire grime from running down over a cleaned wheel face.
  • Scrub the surface of the tire with warm water, a mild detergent and a medium- to soft-bristled brush.
  • Allow the detergent to sit on the tire for a few minutes to soften the grime, then rinse.
  • Repeat scrubbing and rinsing as necessary, being careful to not allow the tire to dry during this part of the process.
  • Always finish by rinsing out the brush.

4. Wash the Wheel

  • Wet the surface of the wheel.
  • Use the brush to scrub with warm, soapy water.
  • Use any additional brushes to get into tough spots.
  • Repeat wash/rinse as necessary.
  • Thoroughly dry both the tire and the wheel with a cloth.

5. Wax Application (Optional)

  • If you apply wheel wax to your aluminum wheels, plan to do it every three to four months, which may turn your regular cleanings into a simple high-pressure rinse-and-dry process.
  • Apply cream or paste wax with a mitt or foam pad.
    • Defer to the instructions provided on the wheel wax you choose.
  • Remove/finish with a clean cloth.

6. A Final Step for Whitewall Tires

  • Keeping your whitewalls pristine requires an aggressive cleaning routine, including weekly cleanings at minimum that end in this process.
  • Apply a 1-to-1 paste of water and baking soda to the whitewall, then leave it to work for several minutes.
    • Most of the products available to clean the grime from whitewalls actually shorten the life of the tire.
  • Scrub gently with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Rinse.

Now, How To Clean Tire Rims And Wheels

Dirty rims and wheels can take the joy out of any ride.

1. Play It Cool.

Before we start cleaning, make sure your vehicle is completely off and the rims are cool to the touch.

2. Hose ’em Down.

Hose down any large pieces of grit or dirt on the wheels and rims. This will save you some time scrubbing later.

Hand holding hose spraying wheel and rim and hand scrubbing rim with a soapy sponge

3. High-Performance Cleaning.

To create your cleaning solution, fill up a gallon bucket of hot water and add 1 teaspoon of a concentrated dish liquid like Dawn.

4. Start Your Scrubbing.

Use a rag or sponge to clean the outside edge of the rim. Scrub until all the grease has been removed from the metal surface. Next, clean the interior of the rim. Try using an old toothbrush to reach those tough-to-reach spots.

5. Rinse Down.

Rinse out the wheel wells starting from the top to the bottom. This ensures that all the soap is removed. Excess residue may lead to etching on certain materials.

Rinsing tire clean with a hose and drying rim with towel

6. Dry Time.

Immediately dry with a soft, clean towel. Now hit the road with your clean rims and wheels.