Due to how dirty the alloy wheels can get, it’s important to clean them as often as possible. In terms of the equipment needed, I always use the following products below.
- A dedicated wheel bucket
- A dedicated microfibre mitt
- A selection of soft bristle brushes
- A brush to clean the barrel of the alloy wheel
- A cleaner of choice
When cleaning the wheels, I always use a dedicated wheel bucket. This stops the potential for contaminants from the wheel damaging the paint work. Likewise, I also use a dedicated cleaning mitt. Depending on the size of the spokes on the alloys, I will also use a microfibre cloth. These will never be used during a wash of the main body. I also ensure that it is still a quality mitt/cloth that is used to prevent scratches on the wheels. This is particularly important if they are black and glossy.
Removing the surface dirt
When I’m cleaning the wheels, I always pre soak them with a hose. This will help to remove any surface dirt away from them. The next step is to use a cleaner that will help to break down the dirt on it. If the wheels are wheel protected with a wax or similar, then I will tend to use a normal body shampoo. If however the protection is starting to wane, I will use dedicated wheel cleaners. A firm favourite of mine when it comes to cleaning the wheels is Autoglym Magma. This is an iron fallout remover, and it does a great job of cleaning the wheels. I give a light misting of the Magma of the wheels, before rinsing it off. This will get some of the surface dirt off the face of the alloy and the barrel of it.
Cleaning the alloy wheel
Now that the loose dirt and debris has been chemically removed, the next step is to carry out the contact clean on it. I like to use a high quality shampoo when doing this. I have previously mentioned that I use Autoglym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner on the wheels if they’re not totally caked in dirt. If there is still a significant amount of dirt on the wheels, then I use a higher foaming shampoo. Autoglym Pure Shampoo is a great option for this.
I also at this stage use soft bristle detail brushes in order to clean the intricate areas of the wheel, including the lug nuts. A microfibre mitt is also perfect at this point for cleaning the face of the wheel. In addition to this, it can also be used to clean the back of the spokes on the alloy. In cases where it is tough to get the mitt behind the spokes, I use a microfibre cloth to clean this area in a flossing type action. If the wheels aren’t overly dirty, this is the end of the procedure for me. If I’m preparing the car though for protection, I will carry out the following additional stage.
Decontaminating the wheel
There will be situations where the wheel will need a full on decontamination. This is normally the case after a harsh winter, and in situations where any protection on the wheel is starting to fail.
As mentioned above, I will normally use a small amount of Magma to remove the iron deposits from the wheel. However, there will still be other contaminants as well, such as tar. I have found that a great product to really give a deep clean to the wheels is G3 Body Prep Shampoo. This is a product that can be used to strip older wax from the paint. It also works as a great way to decontaminate the wheels. I use this instead of clay since I don’t want to have to polish the wheels afterwards, and clay can cause micro scratches in the wheels finish.
G3 Body Prep Shampoo can also greatly soften any tar spots that are on the alloys, meaning that I don’t need to use a large amount of tar remover to get the tar spots off. To check if the alloys are iron free after using G3, I will give it another light mist of Magma. It will remove any final iron particles from the wheel. I use 40ml of G3 in 10 litres of water and clean the wheel as detailed above.
After that, all that is left is to dry the wheel off and move onto the next one!