Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
9/2/21 5:35 p.m.

I think Armor All used to make a fantastic, probably acid based, wheel cleaner that was super easy to use. Just spray it on and hose it off. If I recall correctly, some kid took a big gulp of this stuff and they made them stop selling it. 
 

I haven't found another decent wheel cleaner since. 

Our Accord has 10(?) spoke wheels that are a real PITA to clean. I tried power washing them a while back, and it didn't really even touch the stuff. 
 

Now the wheels are off the car awaiting new tires, so it would be the perfect time to clean them with any super nasty product that could conceivably damage the tires, since they're coming off anyway and I don't really care about them. 
 

So....waddaya got?

 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa PowerDork
9/2/21 5:47 p.m.

Honestly, the best one I've run across is Turtle Wax's Tire and Wheel Cleaner, I'd bet it would get 90% of that off in one or two cleanings.

https://www.amazon.com/Turtle-Wax-T-18-Wheel-Cleaner/dp/B00IOBSYB4/

preach (fs)
preach (fs) HalfDork
9/2/21 6:00 p.m.

I just go with brake dust...

mslevin
mslevin New Reader
9/2/21 6:42 p.m.

Sonax Full Effect has always worked very well for me. There's Plus and Full Effect...the latter is the good stuff. Bonus, it sprays on yellow/clear and turns purple/red, which is kinda fun. Buy the big gallon container and put it into spray bottles, its cheaper.

tomtomgt356 (Tommy)
tomtomgt356 (Tommy) Reader
9/2/21 8:53 p.m.

Get a nice even coating of brake dust, then clearcoat.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
9/2/21 9:14 p.m.

The super nasty stuff works okay on raw aluminum, but those wheels are painted or powder coated so you have to be careful with what you use or it could damage the finish.  Whatever you use make sure it says it's friendly for painted wheels.

Personally, I'd start out with dish soap in warm water, along with a nylon scrub brush - it's always best to use the mildest cleaner you can.

benzbaronDaryn
benzbaronDaryn SuperDork
9/2/21 10:20 p.m.

There is BMW wheel cleaner for aluminum rims that you spray on, it changes color, you hose it off.  Works real good, just wear rubber gloves.  

chandler
chandler UltimaDork
9/3/21 6:25 a.m.
stuart in mn said:

The super nasty stuff works okay on raw aluminum, but those wheels are painted or powder coated so you have to be careful with what you use or it could damage the finish.  Whatever you use make sure it says it's friendly for painted wheels.

Personally, I'd start out with dish soap in warm water, along with a nylon scrub brush - it's always best to use the mildest cleaner you can.

Some of that stuff specifically says NOT to use on unfinished aluminum, it will turn it white. BTDT

adam525i
adam525i Dork
9/3/21 7:51 a.m.

I was pretty impressed with the amount of brake dust and general nastiness that the Meguiar's Hot Rims Wheel & Tire Cleaner took care of relatively easy. I had to scrub but a light scrub took grime off that had been there for years that normal car wash wouldn't touch (junkyard wheels turned into track wheels so original grime under aggressive brake pad dust). I believe this stuff is not for bare aluminum though.

hunter47
hunter47 Reader
9/3/21 9:39 a.m.

Honestly, I'll go with whatever is on sale at Oreilly. I just check to make sure it's safe on painted wheels and away I go. Scrub it down with a wheel brush and it's ready to get coated in brake dust again.

Pretty much no cleaner you get will be spray on, hose off. I've heard good things about IronX, but I would still go with some sort of agitation. It's somewhat similar to how you cannot fully clean your car by just spraying it, you need to get in there and agitate it. I cleaned all 8 of my wheels swapping from my autocross set to my daily set last week, the swap + cleaning took an hour in total, that includes lifting each corner individually, zipping the wheels on/off with an impact, torquing on the ground, spraying the wheels, and agitating the brake dust loose with a brush.

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
9/3/21 10:57 a.m.

I have had to resort to Brake cleaner, spray a small section, scrub with a brush then rinse off.  Takes ages but works.

thewheelman
thewheelman Reader
9/3/21 11:58 a.m.

Meguiar's Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is good, and my latest favorite is Griot's Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner. 

It's been my experience that there is no true spray on-hose off wheel cleaner. You need to agitate the surface to effectively remove brake dust, espeically baked-on brake dust that's been through a few wet/dry cycles beecause of rain, puddles, etc. 

Look for a soft bristled wheel brush at your local parts store or Walmart to make your life easier.

 

If you want to go hardcore, pick up a Speedmaster brush or some Wheel Woolies from Amazon (I have both). 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
9/3/21 2:42 p.m.

I was looking for Iron-X but couldn't find any. It would have been a week from Amazon, and tires are getting mounted on Tuesday.

I found a bottle of Griot's locally, so I will give that a shot.

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
9/3/21 7:40 p.m.

So...update on the Griot's wheel stuff:

Based on the directions and the warnings about not letting this stuff dry before rinsing it off, I was expecting better (harsher) results. 
 

I was kind of disappointed. 
 

I rinsed the wheel, sprayed the stuff on and waited 3-5 minutes as directed,  but it never turned purple like the label said it would.  I started scrubbing between the spokes  with a toothbrush, but it wasn't getting everything off. The big scrub brush on the backside fared no better. 
 

Eventually, I soaked the wheels down with the cleaner again and then went after them with some gray Scotchbrite pads, which seemed a little aggressive, but that was all I could find. Eventually, most of the brake dust came off. 

Two fingers and a gray Scotchbrite pad vs. Forty spokes and forty slots. 

My fingers haven't had a workout like this since college.

At least they smell like oranges this time.

 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) MegaDork
9/3/21 8:06 p.m.

amerson
amerson Reader
9/5/21 10:01 p.m.
mslevin said:

Sonax Full Effect has always worked very well for me. There's Plus and Full Effect...the latter is the good stuff. Bonus, it sprays on yellow/clear and turns purple/red, which is kinda fun. Buy the big gallon container and put it into spray bottles, its cheaper.

This. I used this stuff for years on my chrome American truxx wheels with no adverse effects. It smells horrible but works really great.

84FSP
84FSP UltraDork
9/6/21 9:53 a.m.

The sonax plus a quick ceramic coat is my go to.  Then usually it just takes a quick soapy wipe when you handwash normally.  Typically I don't do a sonax (wheels off) clean more than once a year.

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