Wash the wheels before the rest of the car. If the wheels are hot, spray them down with water to cool them, as the heat will evaporate the cleaner and cause spots. You can use regular car wash soap, but a dedicated wheel cleaner makes the job easier.
We sprayed the cleaner directly onto the wheels and tires, then used a soft brush to scrub them down. A brush is the best way to clean wheels, but if you are going to use a mitt or a sponge, don't use the same one you'll be using on the rest of the car! It will pick up dirt from the wheels that can scratch the paint. Use an old, dirty wash mitt or sponge instead, and a detail brush or an old toothbrush for small openings. Rinse thoroughly. Once you're done, take a step back -- it's amazing how much better a car looks with just clean wheels!
A note on cleaners: The product we used was designed for newer wheels. For older wheels, which may have scratches, weathering, or other compromises to their finish, Mothers recommends a more gentle product such as their Aluminum Wheel Cleaner.
- Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner (compare prices)
- Mothers Aluminum Wheel Cleaner (compare prices)
- Mothers Wheel Brush (compare prices)
- Mothers Detail Brush (compare prices)