Best alloy wheel cleaners to buy in 2020
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.
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
By far our favourite product is Bilt Hamber's auto-wheel cleaner from an Essex-based maker of car cleaning and detailing products. Bilt Hamber has enjoyed some 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.
Simoniz Ultra Care Alloy Cleaner
A very competitive price has helped the Simoniz Ultra Care cleaner to second place in our tests. It’s acid-free and promises that it won’t corrode your alloys. It does a good job of removing dust and dirt overall, coming closest to matching the Bilt Hamber cleaner during our tests. Combine the performance with the low price, and it takes second spot.
Kenotek Wheel Cleaner Ultra
Kenotek is another cleaner making its first appearance in our winners list. Like the Bilt Hamber, it turns purple as it lifts the grime from your wheels. Its makers say that its pH-neutral formula is safe to use on the majority of wheels, although it doesn't come with any actual instructions on how to use it. You wait a short period for it to work, after which it proved to be very effective at removing dust and dirt. It comes in a one-litre size, which helps to justify the high price.
Wynn’s Wheel Cleaner
Rounding off our top four is US brand Wynn’s. This red cleaner is a result of a refresh of the firm’s line-up, and is safe to use on all types of wheel surfaces, which are helpfully listed on the packaging. It’s far thicker than its rivals, which helps it cling to the wheels as it removes the dust and dirt. Only the slightly high price prevents it from finishing higher.