The Best Wheel Cleaners

While many people enjoy the look of a shiny and clean car, few of us actually like the work it takes to make our rides sparkle like new. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning the wheels, which are a prime zone for trapping dust, dirt, and grime from both the road and brake pads. Thankfully, there are products designed to make this chore easier.

But, finding the best wheel cleaner for your ride means reading reviews, studying product features, and diving into the ins and outs of available formulas and applications. With the right wheel cleaner, this loathsome chore can become a quick, over-and-done-with task.

We reviewed dozens of wheel cleaners to identify the best of the best, based on Amazon reviews, how well they performed in tests, cost, and other considerations. We narrowed our search down to 5 of the top-rated wheel cleaners vehicle owners can purchase to ensure a clean and shiny ride.

Best Wheel Cleaner Overall
Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect
Acid-free, pH balanced formula won’t damage wheels.

We’ve identified Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect as the best wheel cleaner out there. With an acid-free, pH-balanced formula that won’t damage wheels, this wheel cleaner is one that will keep your vehicle looking tip-top shape.

The 5 Top-Rated Wheel Cleaners

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Wheel Cleaner OverallSonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect4.4
Best Heavy Duty Wheel CleanerGriot's Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner4.3
Best Budget Wheel CleanerMeguiar's G-9524 Wheel Cleaner4.5
Best Foaming Wheel CleanerMothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner4.2
Best Gel Wheel CleanerCarGuys Wheel and Tire Cleaner4.3

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best Wheel Cleaner Overall: Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect

The Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect took the top spot on our list of the best wheel cleaners and boasts an acid-free, pH-balanced formula that won’t damage wheels. It is safe for use on a variety of OEM and aftermarket wheel types, including chrome, aluminum, steel, clear coated, PVD, painted, magnesium, and plastic wheel covers. The formula comes ready to use and does not need to be diluted with water.

Those who purchased and reviewed this wheel cleaner appreciated that it was very effective at cleaning their wheels, even if it didn’t offer a scrub-free formula, saying, “It does penetrate the really stubborn brake dust including the yellow staining that accumulates on alloys.” Another reviewer said, “Overall this stuff works fantastic, it’s worth every penny and I’m very happy to have my wheels looking like new again.”

With a price tag of about $16, it’s a bit more of an investment than some other wheel cleaners, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of use more than justifies that price. It has excellent ratings with thousands of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Color-changing formula lets you know it’s working
  • For best results, apply to cool and dry wheels

Best Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner: Griot’s Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner

Best Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner
Griot's Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner
Viscous liquid stays on the wheel to break up and loosen dirt.

The Griot’s Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner took the runner-up spot on our list of the best wheel cleaners and boasts a viscous liquid formula that stays on the wheel to help break up and loosen dust, dirt, and debris. It features a spray-on formula that is pH-balanced, non-acidic, and non-caustic for safe use on all wheel types and finishes. It comes in a convenient 1-gallon refill for added value.

Those who purchased and reviewed this wheel cleaner appreciated that it came with “very specific” and easy-to-follow directions, and found that their “wheels came clean very quickly” after a quick scrub and spray. Many people commented on the retrooled scent, saying it “doesn’t burn your nostrils” the way some other wheel cleaners do.

At a cost of around $21, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of use more than justifies that price. It has very good ratings with hundreds of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

Griot’s Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Color-changing formula lets you know it’s working
  • New, more pleasant scent

Best Budget Wheel Cleaner: Meguiar’s G-9524 Wheel Cleaner

Best Budget Wheel Cleaner
Meguiar's G-9524 Wheel Cleaner
A budget-friendly option with an effective formula.

The Meguiar’s G-9524 Wheel Cleaner is an excellent choice for those looking for a wheel cleaner that won’t break the bank. It boasts an Xtreme Cling foam formula that vigorously clings to surfaces in order to effectively dissolve brake dust and grime with ease. It is suitable for use on all factory painted and clear coated rims, and tires, and comes in a convenient trigger spray bottle for ease of application.

Those who purchased and reviewed this wheel cleaner appreciated that it was easy to use and felt it offered excellent value for the price, saying, “The results were immediately evident. The product removed the grime, brake dust, and grease from both my wheels and tires within seconds of spraying it on. Very little scrubbing was needed to achieve excellent results.” The only real complaint about this cleaner was the design of the bottle, with some saying “When it gets down to about the last ounce or two, it’s hard to get a good spray.”

With a cost of approximately $5, this wheel cleaner is a solid choice for those looking for a wheel cleaner option on a budget. It has great ratings from hundreds of people who’ve reviewed it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners that this budget-friendly pick is just as good at cleaning their wheels as its more expensive counterparts.

Meguiar’s G-9524 Wheel Cleaner Key Features: 

  • Spray on, rinse off formula
  • Made in the USA
  • 24-ounce size

Best Foaming Wheel Cleaner: Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner

Best Foaming Wheel Cleaner
Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner
Convenient spray on, hose off design.

The Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner is a solid choice for those who prefer a foaming wheel cleaner formula and offers a convenient spray-on, hose off design for ease of use. It is suitable for use on a variety of OEM wheels, including painted, clear coated, color coated, steel, modular, chrome, or factory coated wheels and hubcaps. It quickly works to effectively penetrate, dissolve, and suspend all types of brake dust, grease, dirt, and grime.

Those who purchased and reviewed this wheel cleaner appreciated that it “works great and is easy to use,” although there were some complaints about the foaming trigger taking some time to work effectively. People were happy with the results this cleaner provided, saying “A good soak with the product, quick scrub with a tire brush and all old tire shine and brake dust will come off perfect with a spray of water.”

With a price tag of about $6, it’s a pretty affordable option as far as wheel cleaners go, and the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of use more than justifies that price. It has very good ratings with thousands of people reviewing it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Suitable for use on blackwalls and whitewalls
  • Non-acid formula

Best Gel Wheel Cleaner: CarGuys Wheel and Tire Cleaner

Best Gel Wheel Cleaner
CarGuys Wheel and Tire Cleaner
Super concentrated gel reduces the amount of product needed.

The CarGuys Wheel and Tire Cleaner is a great option for those who prefer a gel wheel cleaner formula and boasts a super-concentrated formula that helps to reduce the amount of product needed for better overall value. It is acid-free, non-toxic, and pH balanced to be safe for use on all wheel and rim types without damaging or staining them. This cleaner is suitable for use on blackwalls and whitewalls, and comes complete with a satisfaction guarantee for added peace of mind.

Those who purchased and reviewed this wheel cleaner appreciated that it worked well, with one reviewer saying, “I’m happy to say that this wheel cleaner is the best one I’ve used so far.” People who used this cleaner said it was effective with and without scrubbing, with the only recurring complaint being that it is a bit on the pricier side as far as wheel cleaners go.

At a cost of around $17, it doesn’t come cheap, but the quality craftsmanship associated with the brand, as well as the ease of use more than justifies that price. It has really good ratings from thousands of people who’ve reviewed it, which we think goes a long way in convincing vehicle owners to make the investment.

CarGuys Wheel and Tire Cleaner Key Features:

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Formulated with professional car dealers
  • Made in the USA

Who Should Buy a Wheel Cleaner

A wheel cleaner is an ideal choice for pretty much anyone who owns a vehicle of any kind. Wheels are a prime zone for trapping dust, dirt, and grime from both the road and brake pads, with this gunk building up over time. By giving your wheels regular cleanings as part of your vehicle maintenance, you can help to ensure they are working at peak performance.

Additionally, a wheel cleaner is also a good choice for those who notice their wheels are especially gunky and could use a nice deep clean.

Finally, some people find that a wheel cleaner helps them get their vehicle to look like new again, and take great pride in cleaning and detailing their car on a regular basis.

And if you’re looking for information on other vehicle cleaning accessories, such as finding the best car wax, the best leather conditioners, or the wheel covers, we have in-depth guides that can help make it easier.

Best Wheel Cleaner Overall
Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect
Acid-free, pH balanced formula won’t damage wheels.

Important Features to Consider

Not all wheel cleaners are created equal. A wheel cleaner should be effective and easy to use. Here’s what to consider when evaluating the options in search of the best wheel cleaner for your ride:

  • Formula. Arguably the most important consideration when it comes to choosing the best wheel cleaner for your needs is the formula. Especially if you’re going to be cleaning coated wheels, you’ll want to ensure that you’re using a pH balanced and non-acid formula. If chemical usage is a concern, be sure to look for wheel cleaners that are made with natural ingredients.
  • Application. The next thing to keep in mind when shopping for wheel cleaner is the application. Most wheel cleaners come in a spray-on format, whether that’s via a squeeze trigger or sprayer tool. The application will likely depend on the formula. Most liquids and gels apply via a squeeze trigger spray bottle while foaming wheel cleaners have their own sprayer system for ease of application.
  • Color changing. There are many wheel cleaners on the market that change color as they interact with dirt and metal contaminants, which is helpful for knowing that they are working, and when they need to be rinsed off.
  • Price point. Finally, consider how much you are willing to spend on a wheel cleaner. Wheel cleaners vary in price from $5-$40 or more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is wheel cleaner and how does it work?

A wheel cleaner is a type of cleaning product that has been specifically designed to clean wheels. Wheels are a prime zone for trapping dust, dirt, and grime from both the road and brake pads. Wheel cleaner products have been specially designed to make the task of cleaning this gunk off easier. Generally speaking, a wheel cleaner works by spraying onto the surface of the wheel, where its chemical components work to break up and break down any buildup. Some require an amount of scrubbing in order to thoroughly clean, while others require no scrubbing. There are some wheel cleaners that even change colors in order to let you know they are working and are ready to be removed from the wheel. Most cleaners can be rinsed off with a spray from the hose, while some will require a wipe with a cloth.

Are wheel cleaners safe?

Generally speaking, most wheel cleaners are safe for at-home use. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that many of them do still contain some harsh chemicals, and proper safety procedures should be observed. For example, you should always wear gloves and safety goggles when using a wheel cleaner in order to protect yourself. Use them in a well-ventilated area if you’re concerned about inhaling fumes. There are many wheel cleaners that are pH balanced or made with natural ingredients, in order to be a little safer around humans.

What is the best way to clean alloy wheels?

The best way to clean alloy wheels is with a wheel cleaner that is specifically designed for alloy wheels. Alloy wheels do tend to be more durable and easy to maintain compared to their metal counterparts, but they still require maintenance. You’ll also need to select a cleaner depending on whether or not your wheels are coated or bare. If you’re unsure, you can refer to your vehicle’s manual or contact the manufacturer of your vehicle’s wheels. For coated wheels, select a cleaner that is non-acidic or pH balanced.

How do you remove heavy brake dust from rims?

The best and easiest way to remove heavy brake dust from rims is to use a pressure washer (or even your garden hose) to blast as much of the dust off the wheel as possible. Once you’ve cleared off as much as you can, apply a cleaner to the wheel. Let this sit for as long as recommended, and then use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub any remaining dust off the rims. Rinse clean and let the wheels dry. Regularly cleaning your wheels will help prevent brake dust from building up to a heavy level.

Other Wheel Cleaners We Reviewed

Best Wheel Cleaner Overall
Sonax Wheel Cleaner Full Effect
Acid-free, pH balanced formula won’t damage wheels.

We looked at 20 other wheel cleaners. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best wheel cleaners list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for cleaning your wheels. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Foaming Wheel Cleaners

Eagle One Triple Cleaning Foam Spray

Eagle One Triple Cleaning Foam Spray

This foaming wheel cleaner is safe to use on all factory coated wheels and helps to effectively remove grease, grime, and brake dust.

Key Features: 

  • Hose sprayer included
  • Restores wheels to black
  • No scrub formula

Cost: $14

Black Magic Foaming All Wheel Cleaner

Black Magic Foaming All Wheel Cleaner

This foaming wheel cleaner boasts a powerful formula that works to quickly clean wheels and tires without the need for scrubbing.

Key Features: 

  • pH-balanced formula
  • Spray on design
  • Safe for all wheels

Cost: $4

AUTO FANATIC Professional Wheel & Tire Cleaning Foam

AUTO FANATIC Professional Wheel & Tire Cleaning Foam

This foaming wheel cleaner boasts a concentrated formula that is suitable for use in a foam cannon, foaming sprayer, or pump up foamer.

Key Features: 

  • Makes up to 4 gallons of cleaner
  • Non-acid formula
  • Suitable for all types of wheels

Cost: $30

McKee’s 37 Foaming Wheel Cleaner 

McKee's 37 Foaming Wheel Cleaner 

This foaming wheel cleaner changes color as it cleans so that you can see it working, and is made with environmentally friendly advanced surfactants.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Won’t damage wheel coatings
  • Suitable for all types of wheels

Cost: $20

Black Magic Tire Wet Foam

Black Magic Tire Wet Foam

This foaming wheel cleaner boasts a three in one formula that effectively cleans, shines, and protects your wheels in one convenient step.

Key Features: 

  • Won’t leave a residue
  • Lasts up to 2 weeks
  • No scrubbing or wiping required

Cost: $4

Heavy-Duty Wheel Cleaners

Shine Society Wheel Cleaner

Shine Society Wheel Cleaner

This heavy-duty wheel cleaner boasts an easy to apply spray formula and effectively removes brake dust, dirt, and grime from most wheel types without the use of water.

Key Features: 

  • Ready to use formula
  • Leak-proof bottle
  • 18-ounce size

Cost: $14

Turtle Wax Heavy Duty All Wheel & Tire Cleaner 

Turtle Wax Heavy Duty All Wheel & Tire Cleaner 

This heavy-duty wheel cleaner comes complete with two bottles of cleaner and a microfiber cloth for a complete cleaning solution in a value-driven package.

Key Features: 

  • Suitable for all types of wheels
  • Biodegradable formula
  • Streak-free

Cost: $13

Chemical Guys Decon Pro Iron Remover and Wheel Cleaner

Chemical Guys Decon Pro Iron Remover and Wheel Cleaner

This heavy-duty wheel cleaner boasts a pH-balanced formula that helps to effectively neutralize the reactions that cause rust and paint failure from hot brake dust particles.

Key Features: 

  • Suitable for all types of wheels
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Color-changing formula

Cost: $17

Auto Magic Wheel Magic Heavy Duty Wheel and Tire Cleaner

Auto Magic Wheel Magic Heavy Duty Wheel and Tire Cleaner

This heavy-duty wheel cleaner boasts a formula that is VOC compliant in 50 states and effectively removes road film and brake dust from your wheels.

Key Features: 

  • Not suitable for painted or powder-coated wheels
  • Non-acid formula
  • 1-gallon size

Cost: $40

Gel Wheel Cleaners

Masterson’s Car Care Wheel & Rim Cleaner Gel

Masterson's Car Care Wheel & Rim Cleaner Gel

This gel wheel cleaner is suitable for use on all OEM and aftermarket wheels, and effectively removes brake dust, dirt, grime, and road filth without damaging wheels.

Key Features: 

  • Safe for all wheel finishes
  • Concentrated formula
  • Safe for decals and vinyl wrapped wheels

Cost: $12

P21S Wheel Cleaner Gel

P21S Wheel Cleaner Gel

This gel wheel cleaner boasts an extra-strength spray-on formula that effectively removes dirt, dust, and grime from all wheel types.

Key Features: 

  • pH-controlled formula
  • Non-acid formula
  • 16.9-ounce size

Cost: $20

Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel and Rim Cleaner 

Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel and Rim Cleaner 

This gel wheel cleaner is suitable for use on all OEM and aftermarket wheels and can be applied with either a brush or sprayer for added convenience.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Safe for painted and powder-coated wheels
  • Concentrated formula

Cost: $18

Chemical Guys CLD10516 Sticky Gel Citrus Wheel Cleaner

Chemical Guys CLD10516 Sticky Gel Citrus Wheel Cleaner

This gel wheel cleaner boasts a rinse-free formula that effectively removes brake dust, dirt, and grime from chrome, painted, powder-coated, polished, or wrapped wheels.

Key Features: 

  • Contains all-natural citrus extracts
  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Made in the USA

Cost: $10

Wheel Cleaner Sprays

Adam’s Wheel Cleaner

Adam's Wheel Cleaner

This wheel cleaner spray boasts advanced chemical technology that works to quickly, safely, and effectively remove dirt, dust, and grime from almost all wheel finishes.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Made in the USA

Cost: $14

TriNova Wheel Cleaner Rim Cleaning Spray

TriNova Wheel Cleaner Rim Cleaning Spray

This wheel cleaner spray boasts a premium formula that works to remove dirt and grime from your wheels, while also helping to prevent the accumulation of brake dust.

Key Features: 

  • Made in the USA
  • Concentrated, acid-free formula
  • Non-toxic

Cost: $13

Meguiar’s Hot Rims Chrome Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar's Hot Rims Chrome Wheel Cleaner

This wheel cleaner spray boasts a specialized formula that is suitable for use with chrome-finished wheels and effectively dissolves stubborn grime and brake dust.

Key Features: 

  • Easy-to-use trigger spray
  • Child-safe lockout
  • 24-ounce size

Cost: $5

Wheel & Tire Cleaners

3D Yellow Degreaser Wheel & Tire Cleaner

3D Yellow Degreaser Wheel & Tire Cleaner

This wheel and tire cleaner boasts a highly concentrated formula that works to effectively remove grease marks and brake dust. It is safe to use on all tire types.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • VOC compliant
  • Made in the USA

Cost: $26

Nanoskin SPEEDY BRITE Organic Wheel & Tire Cleaner

Nanoskin SPEEDY BRITE Organic Wheel & Tire Cleaner

This wheel and tire cleaner boasts a spray-on formula that works to quickly remove grease, road grime, and brake dust.

Key Features: 

  • Organic formula
  • 16-ounce size
  • Safe for glass and paint

Cost: $9

Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner Spray

Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner Spray

This wheel and tire cleaner boasts a spray-on formula that quickly and easily cleans dirt and brake dust off wheels, and is safe for all rims.

Key Features: 

  • pH neutral formula
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Highly concentrated, acid-free formula

Cost: $17

Adam’s Wheel & Tire Cleaner

Adam’s Wheel & Tire Cleaner

This wheel and tire cleaner helps to remove dirt, brake dust, and browning from your wheels and tires, and is safe to use on clear-coated, powder-coated, chrome, alloy, and painted wheels.

Key Features: 

  • Available in a choice of sizes
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Made in the USA

Cost: $11

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