Tips and advice

Best alloy wheel cleaners to buy in 2021

The best products to make light work of keeping your wheels clean

Your car’s alloy wheels have a hard life. Every time you drive, they’re subjected to dirt from the road and hot dust from your brakes. Over time, this creates a horrible, tough layer of grime on your wheels. A good alloy wheel cleaner can help remove the dirt and restore your wheels to their former glory. Below, we run through our picks of the best alloy wheel cleaners currently on sale.

Cleaning your car can be a relatively satisfying experience until you get down to the difficult task of doing the wheels. When your wheels are new and in good condition, the toxic mixture of road dirt, grit and dust from the brakes can usually be removed with relative ease. But as your wheels get older, or if they feature a more complex design, getting them clean can become a real chore.

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Rough painted surfaces can act as a magnet for this grime and once dirt penetrates into the pores, it can be very difficult to remove. Where wheel designs are complex – with a cross-spoke effect, for example – muck can build up in places that are very hard to reach. Fortunately, there are a number of cleaning products that you can simply spray on and wipe off, making car cleaning the breeze it should be.

Many of the latest wheel cleaning products loosen the dirt and grime, turning it red or purple as the product works. After allowing a few minutes for this to happen, it’s usually much easier to remove most of the grime before using a pressure washer to rinse everything off.

Below are a number of alloy wheel cleaning products tested to see which gave the best results with the minimum of effort. During the tests, each was given time to work following the manufacturer’s instructions before being gently rinsed to see how much dirt would be shifted unaided. Then, using an equally-weighted brush to ensure consistency, the tests continued to see what the cleaners could remove once agitated to show how much dirt was left to be removed with a pressure washer or mitt – the less dirt, the better.

Here’s our rundown of the best wheel-cleaning products you can buy today.

Bilt Hamber auto-wheel

  • Price: Around £13
  • Score: 5/5

Sticking at number one for two years in a row, the Essex-based Bilt Hamber makes by far our favorite alloy wheel cleaner. The car cleaning and detailing company has enjoyed plenty of success with its alloy wheel cleaner, which turns purple in colour as it works to remove the brake dust on your wheels. It’s a formula that’s been refined over the years, making it faster to use and nicer smelling. It’s easy to use too, as once you’ve sprayed it on, you only have to leave it for five minutes before rinsing off. It easily removes grime without the need for a brush, although Bilt Hamber does provide one as part of the pack.

Wonder Wheels Colour Active Super Wheel Cleaner

  • Price: Around £10
  • Score: 4.5/5

The marginally more affordable Wonder Wheels came closest to toppling Bilt-Hamper off the top spot. However, given the incredible value of the Bilt Hamper pack with that handy brush, we can’t quite recommend Wonder Wheels over it. This is undoubtedly a very solid choice.

Simoniz Ultra Care Alloy Cleaner

  • Price: Around £7
  • Score: 4.5/5

Competitively priced and available almost everywhere, Simoniz Ultra Care deserves a place high on our list. It’s acid-free and promises that it won’t corrode your alloys. It does a good job of removing dust and dirt overall, and the combination of performance and price means it takes our third spot.

Alchemy Chemical X

  • Price: Around £12
  • Score: 4/5

With a name that sounds like a weapon a Bond villain might use, the team at Alchemy has perfected their formula over several years to create what they see as the perfect cleaner. Chemical X is designed to remove iron particles on all types of surfaces - including glass and painted bodywork. Making use of an adjustable trigger to ensure a fine spray, it's only the relatively high price per millilitre that keeps it away from the podium places.

Armor All Wheels

  • Price: Around £13
  • Score: 4/5

A very different approach to many of the products on this list, Armor All Wheels sells wheel cleaning wipes as an alternative to traditional sprays. Simply run them over the dirty surface and you should see decent results. You may need to turn the wipe and finish off with a microfibre cloth to get the best finish, however, and using a spray removes dirt quicker and creates less waste too.

Auto Curators Flawless Cleaner

  • Price: Around £26
  • Score: 4/5 

If you’re looking to pamper your pride and joy, Auto Curators’ solution may just be the one for you. After spraying, leave for two minutes then rinse away to leave a great shine or give the area a good scrub before rinsing if the area is particularly filthy. The catch? This is by far the most expensive cleaner on this list. On a more positive note, you are supplied with a rather large one-litre bottle.

Black Diamond Iron Out

  • Price: Around £10
  • Score: 4/5

One of many pH-neutral cleaners on the market, Black Diamond is a good choice for anyone needing to spruce up their wheels. After only two minutes, this cleaner should make quick work of most of the grime on your alloys. The only downside is a rather unpleasant smell, similar to that of bad eggs.

E-TECH Pro Class Wheel Cleaner

  • Price: Around £10
  • Score: 4/5

Unlike most of the competition, which utilise a pH-neutral formula, the Pro Class series of products adopt an acidic solution designed to get rid of the toughest bits of dirt. This should not be used on wheels that have little to no lacquer on them. Wire, chrome and stainless steel wheels are also out of the question. Despite these limitations however, this is no doubt a brilliant cleaner and even comes close to matching the Bilt Hamper offering in many of our tests.

Gtechniq W6 Iron and General Fallout Remover

  • Price: Around £10
  • Score: 4/5

This cleaner does exactly what it says on the bottle. Points were deducted for its relatively high price per millilitre but Gtechniq’s solution still does a great job in getting rid of any unwanted grime from your alloys. Plus, an anti-corrosion ingredient means this can also be used to decontaminate your paintwork.

Kenotek Wheel Cleaner Ultra

  • Price: Around £15
  • Score: 4/5

Finally, the newest entry from Kenotek rounds off our list. The pH-neutral formula turns purple as it works on removing dirt and iron particles from your wheels. Strangely, the Belgian brand supplies no instructions with this; however, it is still relatively simple to use. After a relatively long wait compared to the competition, merely rinse off and your wheels should look as good as new.

Check out our guides to tyre tread depth and tyre speed labelling.

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