How to clean aluminum rims with household products
Yes, you read that right. We’re living in interesting times, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want a clean car with shiny rims that sparkle. Plus, dirty rims and wheels can cause damage and destroy your car’s exterior.
The great news is that you don’t need to leave your house to achieve the sparkling aluminum rims of your dreams. You already have the ingredients for shiny success in your kitchen right now.
We’ve done the research and offer these six simple solutions to remove road dirt, tar, grease, and brake dust from your aluminum rims.
Always Rinse Aluminum Rims First
Before you wash your vehicle, clean the wheels’ aluminum rims first.
Pre-rinsing will prevent the rims’ dirty and greasy water runoff from mucking up your clean car.
Rinsing is easy. Grab a regular water hose, screw on a spray nozzle to create water pressure, and spray directly on the rim. The dirt and grime will break up under the water pressure. Warm water works best.
How To Use Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
What a great pairing! Lemon juice is a versatile degreaser that can be used on your car’s rims and tires. But what’s so great about baking soda? Baking soda is a mild alkali cleaning agent that causes dirt and grease to dissolve easily in water for powerful removal. It’s also one of the cheapest, most effective cleaners available. Combining lemon juice and baking soda creates the perfect foil to combat brake dust, road dirt, and grime.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or lemon concentrate
- Spray bottle
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1 cup of warm water
- Microfiber towels
Pour warm water and lemon juice into the spray bottle, screw on lid, and shake well.
Promptly spray the solution on the rims, starting from the inner center outward to the edges by the tires. Make sure the rims are completely drenched with the lemon juice and water solution.
Dampen a microfiber towel in warm water and sprinkle the baking soda on the fabric. Using a circular motion, rub the towel firmly to remove tough stains and further clean the rims.
Using a dry towel, completely dry the aluminum rims.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar To Clean Rims
White vinegar adds a punch when combined with baking soda to power-off oil, grease, brake dust, and grime.
- Baking soda
- Warm water
- White vinegar
- Medium mixing bowl
- Old toothbrush
Pour three parts baking soda into a medium mixing bow. Slowly add 1/2 part warm water, and 1/2 part white vinegar until thick, wet paste forms. Don’t be alarmed; the mixture will bubble up a little after adding the white vinegar.
Apply the baking soda paste to a sponge, rub the sponge directly on the aluminum rims, and cover the entire surface. Tip: you can apply this paste and let it sit for up to five minutes before scrubbing.
Using the sponge, scrub the wheels, then grab a toothbrush to reach tight areas to remove stubborn dirt and grime.
Rinse the wheels with clean water after scrubbing, then dry with a soft towel Repeat Step 3 multiple times if necessary, to make the wheels as clean as possible.The Baking Soda and Dish Soap Method
This DIY aluminum rim cleaner employs more baking soda magic, but combines it with dish soap as a degreaser. Perfect for removing road grease and tar buildup.
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 teaspoon dish soap
- 1 gallon of hot water
- Sponge or rag/coth
- An old toothbrush or soft brush
Pour 1 teaspoon of dish soap into a gallon jug of hot water. Shake the gallon jug to mix the dish soap and hot water.
Soak a rag or sponge in the dish soap solution. Make sure your sponge or cloth is entirely saturated. Then liberally sprinkle the baking soda on your sponge or rag.
Starting from the outside to the inside edge, run the sponge around the rim several times. Grab an old toothbrush and scrub the grease and dirt away in the hard-to-reach areas.
Rinse the wheel wells with water, top to bottom. Then immediately dry with a clean towel.
Cleaning Wheels with Cream of Tartar Paste
What is Cream of Tarter? It’s a kitchen product, also known as potassium bitartrate. Cream of Tartar is the powdered form of tartaric acid. This organic acid is found naturally in many plants. It’s also a byproduct of wine production, the residue left on the barrels.
- Medium bowl
- Cream of Tarter
- Fine-grain buffing pad
- Rag or microfiber towels.
Pour two tablespoons Cream of Tartar into a medium-sized bowl. Next, slowly stir in water until a thick paste has formed.
Dip a rag into the paste, and rub directly onto the aluminum rim surface. Polish with a fine-grain buffing pad.
Wipe with a soft cloth to remove any residue.
Cleaning Aluminum Rims with Oven Cleaner
Yes, oven cleaner! It’s an easy way to clean aluminum rims.
- Oven cleaner
- Sponge or non-abrasive scrub brush
- 1-gallon jug of hot water
Thoroughly rinse the aluminum rims with water. Then spray the oven cleaner directly on the rim. Be sure to spray generously areas that are particularly dirty with built-up grime. When you’re content with the oven cleaner application, take a break. Allow the cleaner to do its magic and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Using a non-abrasive brush or sponge, scrub the entire rim’s surface. Don’t worry if all the grime doesn’t come off the first time. You can reapply the oven cleaner and scrub away until you’re and satisfied the dirt is gone.
Rinse the rim with hot water. Then apply a pressurized rinse from the hose and nozzle to ensure you remove all the oven cleaner.
Promptly dry with a soft towel. Be sure to remove all of the oven cleaner, or a white film will appear when the rim is dry. Nobody wants that.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner for Tough Wheel Grime
Caution! This recipe will clean almost every kind of wheel stains, but, to avoid damage, follow the directions precisely as written.
- Rubber gloves
- Ceramic or glass bowl. Do not use a metal bowl.
- Toilet bowl cleaner with hydrochloric acid (ex. The Works)
- 6 teaspoons baking soda
- Spray bottle filled halfway with water
- Small brush or old toothbrush
You must wear gloves to prepare your acid neutralizer. Fill the spray bottle halfway with water. Then add baking soda. Shake well and set aside. Pour a small amount of the toilet bowl cleaner in the glass or ceramic bowl.
Dip your brush into the glass or ceramic bowl containing the toilet bowl cleaner. Scrub a small area of the rim for no more than 15 seconds. Squirt the spray bottle that’s full of water and baking soda (the neutralizer) all over the rim. Use a garden hose with a nozzle/pressure washer to rinse thoroughly. Repeat scrubbing until all spots are gone.
Rinse the wheels thoroughly and wipe dry with a soft towel.
How to Polish Those Clean Aluminum Rims
This finishing touch is the pièce de résistance!
- White vinegar
- Warm water
- Spray bottle
- Soft cloth
- Fine-grain buffing pad for extra shine
Combine equal parts of warm water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
Spray directly onto the rim’s surface and wipe away with a soft cloth.
For an extra shiny boost, polish using a fine-grain buffing pad made of steel wool that can be found in grocery, hardware, and auto supply stores.
See how easy that was? You got to stay home without risking your health, and now your aluminum rims are gleaming like the jewels they are. Now kick back, take a photo of your vehicle, and send it to your friends. You didn’t even need a mask or social distancing.
Don’t forget to check out our product reviews to learn more ways to keep your car clean.