Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaners of 2020

When it comes to wheels, the best cleaner can go a long way in saving you time and money, while simultaneously making your car or truck stand out from the crowd. Having the best aluminum wheel cleaner is essential for any self-respecting car detailer. Their powerful concentrated formulas should make light work of heavily caked brake dust and road grime. After which, you can clean the wheel off with a hose or brush, revealing a sparklingly clean wheel, good enough to eat off. But, with so many options available, choosing the right cleaner isn’t an easy task. So read on for our round-up of 2020’s best wheel-cleaning solutions.

Comparison Table for Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaners of 2020

Name

Aluminum Specific?

pH Balanced?

Our Rating

Price

Adam's Wheel Cleaner

No

Yes

4.8

Meguire's G14324

Yes

Yes

4.6

Sonax (230200-755)

No

Yes

4.7

Carfidant Ultimate

No

Yes

4.6

Eagle One E301454900

Yes

Yes

4.7

Lane's Car Products

Yes

No

4.7

TUGA Chemie 5712088

No

Yes

4.2

Eco Touch (WHC1G)

No

Yes

4.3

Duragloss 853

Yes

No

4.5

1. Adam's Wheel Cleaner - Overall Best in 2020

Adam’s Polishes has quickly become a trusted name among the automotive detailing community. Their quality products have earned them a reputation for excellence, and their wheel cleaner is no different.

Features & Benefits of Adam's Wheel Cleaner

  • Spray-On, Rinse Off: The simple and hassle-free action of Adam’s Wheel Cleaner is to just spray on, and rinse off, automatically earning a place on the ease of use scale. Adam’s wheel cleaner requires little-to-no agitation and can be safely wash off to reveal a spotlessly clean, showroom-style rim.
  • Breaks Down Iron Particles: Brake dust is largely composed of minute, fine shards of metal that is worn away from brake pads and rotors. These stick on to your aluminum wheels and can be tough to remove. Thankfully Adam’s Wheel Cleaner is effective at breaking this iron down!
  • Safe for All Types Of Wheels: Although ideal for aluminum wheels, Adam's wheel cleaner is also safe for use on all types of wheels. This includes clear-coated, powder-coated, chrome, alloy, and painted wheels.
  • PH-Neutral Formula: Adam's Polishes Wheel Cleaner is specially formulated to offer gentle yet firm cleaning action for your wheels. Not only does it act fast, but it does so with an eco-friendly, acid-free formulation which is certified to be pH neutral.

Pros

  • Fast Acting
  • pH-Neutral
  • Safe for multiple wheel types
  • Color changing
  • Ideal as an iron-remover

Cons

  • May negatively impact custom-finished wheels
  • Odd smelling to some

Verdict:

Adams Wheel Cleaner is a great product from a great brand. Their comparatively short time in the industry is no relation to the quality of their product, and with their color-changing formula, you're bound to be impressed with this wheel cleaner.

2. Meguiar's G14324 Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Meguiar’s is one of the industry’s most trusted names, but when it comes to cleaning wheels, their Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is different from the norm. Instead of being formulated to tackle all types of wheels, this particular wheel cleaner is specially-formulated for custom and delicate wheel finishes.

Features & Benefits of Meguiar's G14324

  • Least Aggressive FormulationWith their least-aggressive formulation, Meguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner has been designed to be gentle and forgiving for a reason. This makes it ideal for uncoated aluminum and other sensitive finishes that may otherwise be damaged by the use of other stronger products.
  • Sensitive Component SafeNot only has Meguiar’s Hot Rims been designed to cater towards sensitive wheels, but it will also avoid damage towards sensitive brake components. This makes it ideal for low-tolerance, high-performance brake applications seen on both show and racing cars.
  • Foams for AdherenceMeguiar’s Hot Rims Aluminum Cleaner has foaming agents to help a few spray squirts go that bit longer, and adhere to any custom rim’s crevices and intricacies. It helps the cleaner cling on to wheels, and act more effectively.
  • Quick ActionWith only a 15-second wait time, you’re ready to rinse and dry your wheels quickly. By using a fast action formulation, Meguiar’s Hot Wheels avoids the added risk of leaving your wheel’s water spotted by quickening the process of cleaning.

Pros

  • Safe for virtually all custom wheel finishes
  • Safe for sensitive brake components
  • Formulated for effective removal of brake dust and grime
  • Foaming action for better cleaning

Cons

  • Mild nature means it’s not as strong with its cleaning power
  • Two versions for aluminum or chrome (no universal offering)

Verdict

Meguiar’s Hot Wheels Cleaner is a great way to keep your mind at ease when washing your vehicle’s rims — especially if you have a customized or unique finish. Although not the strongest formulation when it comes to dirt busting, it’s a great solution to cleaning delicate and valuable rims without the risk of damage from strong detergents.

3. Sonax (230200-755) Wheel Cleaner Full Effect

The German-based brand of Sonax is known for their high-quality offerings in the detailing department. Their wheel cleaner is just another card in their automotive solutions deck, promising a sparkling finish to for all wheels, with minimal effort.

Features & Benefits of Sonax (230200-755) Wheel Cleaner

  • Acid-FreeFree from any acidic substances, Sonax’s pH-balanced formula won’t damage your wheels, nor irritate your skin. Thanks to its neutral formula it’s safe on aluminum, chrome, PVD and magnesium.
  • Safe for Wheel Trim: Not all wheels are alloy metal. Sonax’s Wheel Cleaner is Full Effect caters to those wheels too, by being safe for plastic wheel trim as well as conventional alloy wheels.
  • Attacks Brake DustSonax’s Full Effect Wheel Cleaner has been designed to live up to its name, effectively seeking out and emulsifying brake dust with its advanced chemistry. In doing so it dissolves dirt and grime before a powerful rinse makes light work of dirt.
  • Color ChangingSonax's unique color for their advanced Full Effect Wheel Cleaner makes it easy to see the product work and lets you know when it's time to rinse. With a fluorescent yellow spray-on, turning to a deep red/purple as the cleaner eats up iron particles.

Pros

  • Safe for most wheel types
  • Fast Acting
  • Hose-off for speed
  • Specialized for brake dust removal
  • Trusted by detailers 

Cons

  • May require some scrubbing
  • Small quantity bottle may not last long

Verdict

As a brand that has been around for 70 years, Sonax is a trusted name in the detailing world. And, as you’d expect, their Full Effect Wheel Cleaner is more than up to the mark when it comes to providing a showroom shine, although some complain of the small quantity in comparison to the large amounts needed to work effectively.

4. Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner

Carfidant’s Ultimate Wheel Cleaner, as with all their products, is proudly made in the USA. Although a name that may not be as well-known, Carfidant is a great option on the more budget-friendly scale and does an adequate job while sharing many attributes of the premium alternatives.

Features & Benefits of Carfidant Ultimate Wheel Cleaner

  • Suitable for All Rims: Carfidant is confident in that their Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is the best and safest option to be used on all types of car rim. That includes aluminum, magnesium, chromed, painted, polished and even plastidipped.
  • Safe for TiresAlthough many wheel cleaners claim to be safe for the metal rims, what is said about the rubber surrounding them is often missed out. Carfidant claims that their Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is one of the only ones on the market to be safe for use on tires and other rubber components.
  • Specially-Formulated: Carfidant’s specially-formulated solution has been designed to quickly and easily tackle road grime. It’s especially effective against brake dust, and has been created for ease of use as well — just spray on, wait, and rinse!
  • Neutral FormulaCarfidant’s Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is pH neutral and has been designed to avoid any elements that could lead to potential irritation. Not only it is acid-free, but it also avoids the use of any further chemical dyes or scents which can be off-putting in other options.

Pros

  • Great, fast-acting cleaning power
  • Safe for use on tires and rubber components
  • Made in the USA
  • pH neutral and lacks irritants

Cons

  • May require some agitation
  • Multiple applications may be needed for heavy dirt

Verdict

Carfidant has introduced a great, budget-friendly product in the form of their Ultimate Wheel Cleaner. Although there are many other more expensive offerings in the market, the Carfident Ultimate Wheel Cleaner wins on multiple fronts.

5. Eagle One E301454900 PVD and Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Eagle One’s product line-up has always been diverse, with an option for seemingly every scenario. The Eagle One PVD and Aluminum Wheel Cleaner channels that vain, providing an alternative to their more aggressive wheel and tire cleaning formulas. Offered as a part of their extensive wheel care product line, the PVD and Aluminum cleaner is a great offering for those with unique rims.

Features & Benefits of Eagle One E301454900

  • Gentle CleaningThe least-aggressive in the Eagle One wheel cleaning arsenal, the PVD & Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is specially designed to be safe with aluminum wheels and polished aluminum.
  • Safe for PVDPVD or Physical Vapor Deposition is a method used for durable high-chrome finish wheels. However, it’s essential that the right kind of cleaner is used on such wheels, and, thanks to Eagle One’s extensive testing, this wheel cleaner has been proven to be safe against it.
  • Compatible with coatingWheels that have been coated (for example, with a ceramic coating) can be more susceptible to the harsh effects of wheel cleaners. But with the milder formulation of the Eagle One PVD and Aluminum Wheel Cleaner, the cleaning will be gentle-enough to not strip most coatings.
  • Manufacturer recommendedThe Eagle One PVD & Aluminum Wheel Cleaner has been recommended by both coating manufacturers and wheel manufacturers for use with their more delicate PVD and Aluminum offerings.

Pros

  • Safe for use on aluminum wheels and polished aluminum fittings
  • Proven safe for coatings and PVD wheel finishes
  • The pH-neutral formula is safe against wheels and non-irritant
  • Oven-tested for safety in the hottest of situations

Cons

  • Gentle Formula may need agitation and multiple applications
  • Has been noted to leave a slight haze at times

Verdict

A slightly more niche offering from Eagle One, their PVD and Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is designed to be safe and gentle. As a result, the mild formula may not be enough for a simple spray and forget application, but for those with delicately-finished wheels, this could save you from the damage of harsher products.

6. Lane's Car Products New Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Lane’s New Aluminum Wheel Cleaner may not be a name you’ve heard of before, but that’s because it’s marketed as a product strictly for professionals in the detailing industry. Designed especially for aluminum wheels, Lane's Aluminum Wheel Cleaner makes light work of caked-on grime and leaves a finish that mainstream options fail to achieve.

Features & Benefits of Lane's Car Products

  • Effective for AluminumBy specializing their formula, Lane’s Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is a highly-recommended by those who use it. Formulated for aluminum and aluminum alone, it gets the job done for those looking for a specific solution.
  • Quick ActionLane’s Car Products cleaner is sprayed on to wheels, and claims to work in just a matter of seconds. Requiring only one application to work its magic, Lane’s Aluminum cleaner can be rinsed off after 5-10 seconds.
  • #1 Amongst ProfessionalsWith such a quick and effective solution, it would seem that Lane’s Car Products Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is the secret that professionals use to get aluminum-finished wheels gleaming. Not available widely, it’s designed for those in the industry, but can now be purchased by members of the public.
  • Acidic StrengthUnlike other wheel cleaners, Lane's Car Products do not claim that their Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is balanced and neutral. Instead, its acidic formula makes it one of the strongest products on the market.

Pros

  • One of the strongest wheel cleaners available to buy
  • Trusted by professional detailers
  • Ideal for long-neglected wheels
  • Works in a matter of seconds

Cons

  • Acid-based formula is not pH-balanced
  • Not widely available in retail

Verdict

Lane’s Car Products Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is certainly one for those confident in their ability, as well as the finish of their wheels. Specifically designed for aluminum wheels it’s best to assume it should only be used for those, yet its acid-based formula promises to make quick and easy work of wheels within just seconds — without agitation too!

7. TUGA Chemie 5712088 Green (Grün) Wheel Cleaner

Tuga Chemie is another brand which may be new to most but has quickly developed a strong following owing to their quality products. A German brand with over four decades of producing high-quality cleaning products, Tuga Chemie’s wheel cleaner is worth a look.

Features & Benefits of TUGA Chemie 5712088 Green

  • Gel-like consistencyThick consistency straddles the lane between a spray liquid and gel. It is designed to effectively cling on to the rims, allowing the product to work its magic and dissolve brake dust and grime.
  • Acid-freeTuga Chemie’s Green Wheel Cleaner has been developed as an acid-free solution to wheel cleaning. This makes it safe to use on virtually all wheels, including steel, aluminum and even plastic wheel trim covers.
  • Designed to remove heavily caked dirtTuga Chemie is proud to boast that their Green Wheel Cleaner is the ideal solution for heavier jobs. This includes brake dust that could have been caked on to a wheel for months, dissolving the dirt without the need for agitation.
  • Safe For use on paintTuga Chemie’s Green Wheel Cleaner is safe for surrounding painted areas too, meaning you needn't worry about over spray. It can also be used as an iron-remover for areas of paintwork that may be contaminated with industrial fallout.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Effective cleaning of medium-to-heavy work
  • Safe for use on painted surfaces
  • Requires little-to-no agitation

Cons

  • Not as widely available as other brands
  • Odor has been reported to be off-putting

Verdict

Tuga Chemie Is a great all-round solution for your average wheel-cleaning needs. Although it doesn't have any stand-out attributes that set it apart from the competition, it'll still do a great job at eating up brake dust and clearing your wheels of dirt and grime.

8. Eco Touch (WHC1G) Wheel Cleaner

The Eco Touch Wheel Cleaner is very much a bulk-purchase option, and ideal if you have multiple vehicles or perhaps are looking at moving into the detailing industry as professional. The Eco Touch wheel cleaner is not only effective at removing dirt from wheels but is also an easy-to-use product.

Features & Benefits of Eco Touch (WHC1G) Wheel Cleaner

  • Available in Bulk QuantitiesAvailable in a 1-gallon bottle, Eco Touch's Wheel cleaner is an ideal and cost-effective way of getting the most bang for your buck. If you're looking for smaller quantities then the Eco Touch Wheel Cleaner is also available in 24 ounces.
  • Cleans Tires tooEco Touch Wheel Cleaner is safe for use on rubber as well. This includes tires, meaning that it’s a great way of keeping the sidewalls of your tires clean and back to the deep “new” look.
  • High-FoamingGreat for use in your foam gun or even straight from the 24-ounce spray bottle, Eco Touch’s Wheel Cleaner will give your cleaning a good lather, enabling more effective cleaning, especially when using a wheel brush to reach crevices.
  • Natural IngredientAs the name implies, Eco Touch's wheel cleaning solution is environmentally friendly. Not only is it free of harsh acids and other toxic chemical compounds, but Eco Touch's solution to wheel cleaning also involves the intrinsic cleaning properties of natural citric acid.
  • Safe for All Wheels: A truly gentle, mild and universal product makes Eco Touch’s Wheel Cleaner safe to use on a variety of wheels. This includes alloy, steel and plastic covers.

Pros

  • Multiple sizes available
  • Eco-friendly without toxins
  • Safe for multiple wheel types
  • Safe for tires

Cons

  • Requires some agitation
  • It is not recommended to hose-off the product

Verdict

Eco Touch’s wheel cleaner is a very different proposition to the mainstream. Although it does what most other wheel cleaners do, the eco-friendly element of the product does enough to distinguish it from the crop of traditional wheel cleaners. If that appeals, then it may just be for you!

9. Duragloss 853 Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

Duragloss has been ever-expanding their range of automotive, marine and RV offerings for those looking at doing their detailing work. With a heavy emphasis on creating heavy-duty applications, Duragloss’ aluminum wheel-cleaning solution is one that has many uses.

Features & Benefits of Duragloss 853 Aluminum Wheel Cleaner

  • Acidic BlendDuragloss’ Aluminum Wheel Cleaner is an acidic blend designed to act as a powerful cleaning agent. It easily removes brake dust, oil and road film from dull and semi-dull aluminum wheels.
  • Bodyshop SafeIdeal for use in environments that may require chemical product sensitivities, the Duragloss Aluminum Wheel Cleaner has been certified as bodyshop safe.
  • Universal Aluminum ApplicationNot just for wheels, Duragloss’ Aluminum Wheel Cleaner can also be used on a wide variety of aluminum surfaces. This includes truck, RV and even marine applications, ensuring that all surfaces can enjoy the same shine.
  • Available in bulkDuragloss 853 Aluminum Wheel cleaner comes in a variety of bottle sizes, all the way up to a 1-gallon quantity — ideal for professional detailing applications.

Pros

  • Easy to use and apply
  • Bulk quantities available
  • Can be used on multiple aluminum surfaces and applications
  • Acidic blend for tougher jobs

Cons

  • Not pH balanced
  • More suited for specialist applications

Verdict

Duragloss and their products will continue to have a loyal following. Their aluminum wheel cleaner has the distinction of being a cleaning agent for a variety of applications. Overall, it’s a great option for those looking for a quick solution, but bear in mind it may not be suitable for non-aluminum applications.

Things to Consider Before Buying Wheel Cleaners

Wheel cleaners have long been loved by detailing professionals and home-detailers alike. They’re able to remove brake dust and dissolve the unsightly soot-like dirt far more effectively than soap or shampoo. But there are several things worth considering before choosing which wheel cleaner is best for you.

Time Taken & Agitation level

Looking for something to get you on the move quickly? Most options require you to wait at least a few minutes before either agitating or skipping straight ahead to rinsing the wheel cleaner off. Wheel cleaners that don't require agitation may save you seconds but are typically acidic. Furthermore, some long-baked-on dirt may need some time for the wheel cleaning agents to work.

Type of Wheel

You're going to select a wheel cleaner that's proven to not damage the finish of the wheel you already have. As wheels can vary, from aluminum to chrome to even magnesium, the wheel cleaner must be effective enough to clean, yet gentle enough not to harm the finish.

Safe On Rubber?

Not all wheel cleaners claim to be safe for rubber. This can be especially problematic if you’re not careful when applying the wheel cleaner, as it can easily get on the tyres. Over time, wheel cleaner can build up and “attack” the tyres if you’re not careful which could result in premature cracking.

Is it pH balanced?

Not all aluminum wheel cleaners are pH balanced. This may be less of a concern if you're not planning on coming in to contact with the product directly or will be using gloves, but pH-balanced wheel cleaners eliminate the risk of irritation, plus are often kinder to the environment. They may not be as effective at removing the heaviest of grime though, with some extreme cases of caked-on brake dust requiring a degree of acidic remover to get the job done.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a specialized wheel cleaner?

While you can theoretically clean your wheels with car wash or other detergents, some contaminants tend to be tough to remove. Therefore, you may require the specialized cleaning power of a wheel cleaner. Not only are wheel cleaners great at tackling this, but they also save you time and in many cases, reduces the effort you have to put in to get the same finish.

Can I use any wheel cleaner for aluminum wheels?

While many wheel cleaners claim to be safe for use on all wheels, aluminum wheels require a level of caution as their finish can be considered delicate. If unsure, it’s best to test on a small inconspicuous part of the wheel. But, to avoid all of that, you could just use a specialized aluminum wheel cleaner. These are traditionally gentler in their nature, to account for the finish of aluminum wheels.

Can I use my wheel cleaner to clean my tires as well?

Although most wheel cleaners do not specifically mention use on tires, it's important to bear in mind that some wheel cleaners can have adverse effects on rubber and rubber components. They can "eat away" at your rubber if left to sit, and can also contribute to cracking and discoloration. Therefore, unless it is specifically mentioned that they're safe for use on tires, we'd recommend steering clear, and rinsing the product off the rim thoroughly.

Do I need a wheel brush?

A wheel brush can be a great tool in your detailing arsenal. Its hairs can get into the intricate designs, cracks and crevices that exist in modern alloy wheels, and can help agitate and loosen dirt. But whether you need one may be down to the product you use, how often you wash the wheels, and whether you want the perfect finish. Many wheel cleaning products are advertised as not needing to agitate—simply spray on and rinse off. That said, a wheel brush to ensure wheel cleaner is effectively applied to the wheels rarely goes amiss, and will likely enhance the overall finish.

Can I use iron-remover instead of wheel cleaner?

Many iron-removers are indeed slightly tweaked formulations of wheel cleaners. They both use a chemical reaction to eat away at brake dust, while many wheels are often painted too, meaning that wheel cleaners have to be gentle enough not to harm these surfaces .The main differences boil down to two key factors: cost and consistency. A wheel cleaner is often the cheaper of the two products (although brands may vary). This is in some part down to the fact that a wheel cleaner is more likely to be used during every wash. An iron remover, on the other hand, may not be used for as long as six months at a stretch.Iron removers tend to be “runnier”, and foam less. Their application is on paintwork, so the need for it to sit on the surface is not as great.

Wrapping Up

There are quite literally hundreds of wheel cleaners on the market, but not all claim to be safe nor suitable for use on aluminum wheels. But if aluminum wheel cleaners are what you’re looking for, this list features some of the best out there. Whatever you chose, you’re sure to be pleased with the results, as wheel and aluminum wheel cleaners will save you a lot of time, effort and money in the long run.

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