12 Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaners in 2017

We’re guessing that since you set out in search of the best aluminum wheel cleaner that you’ve either just purchased some awesome new rims for your ride and you want to maintain their showroom shine or – you simply have dirty rims on your car and you want to clean them!

Either way, you’ll find what you need here.

In our list, we’ll highlight the top 12 aluminum-safe cleaners that you can use to remove those layers of dirt, break dust and road grime from your rims.

While we do make it ridiculously easy for you to choose a cleaner below, there are a few important thing you should take into consideration before you decide.

Head down and find out everything you need to know about choosing the right product and then check out the reviews of the top five products.

Top 12 Aluminum Wheel Cleaners Ultimate Table

Design Name Application Quantity Rating (1-5)
   1. Mothers 05100 Mag & Aluminum Polish  With Cloth  5 oz. 4.7
   2. Blue Magic 400 7Oz Mtl Polish Cream  With Cloth  7 oz.  4.5
   3. Chemical Guys SPI_402_16 Vintage Series Heavy Metal Polish  With Cloth  16 oz.  4.4
   4. Sonax (230200-755) Wheel Cleaner Full Effect  Spray On  16.9 oz.  4.3
   5. Wheel Cleaner by CarGuys  Spray On  18 oz.  4.3
   6. Lane’s Car Products New Aluminum Wheel Cleaner  Spray On  32 oz.  4.3
   7. Eagle One 824334 PVD and Aluminum Wheel Cleaner  Spray On  23 oz.  4.2
   8. Car Wheel Cleaner by KevianClean  Spray On  24 oz.  4.2
   9. Griot’s Garage 11106SP Wheel Cleaner  Spray On  35 oz.  4.1
   10. Meguiar’s G3400 Brilliant Solutions Wheel Polishing Kit  Kit Comes With Supplies  4 oz.  4.1
   11. Wheel Cleaner – for Removing Tire Dirt  Spray  18 oz.  4.0
   12. Meguiar’s G14324 Hot Rims Aluminum Wheel Cleaner  Spray  24 oz.  3.7

Bare Aluminum or Coated Aluminum Wheels?

One of the first things you need to be sure about before you choose a wheel cleaner is whether or not the aluminum is coated.

There isn’t just one single “best aluminum wheel cleaner” product for all wheels: bare aluminum can tolerate stronger polishes and cleaners whereas coated aluminum wheels require a cleaner that is safe for the coating itself (these are usually gentler).

You’ll find that we have a wide variety of products in our table, so be sure to read the specifics about each one in order to determine if it is the right match for your wheel surface.

And on that note, you should definitely read the review of our first product below because there is a tip that will help you understand whether or not the product is safe for your wheel!

Pre-Cleaning Tips

You found a cleaner, the sun is shining, the temperature is perfect and you want to clean your car.

Great! Here are a few important tips that you should remember before you head outside and turn the hose on:

  • Never apply cleaner to hot wheel rims. Always make sure they are cool to the touch.
  • Don’t spray cold water on them to cool them down if they are hot! (we are guessing that was your solution to the previous suggestion, but just wait until everything cools down)

The Cleaning Process

  • Step 1 – Rinse away larger debris and the majority of dirt with a hose or pressure washer.
  • Step 2 – Time to apply the cleaner! You’ll all use a different product, so just be sure to follow the user instructions on the bottle. We know how tempting it is to just spray and let it sit, but seriously; read the instructions to make sure you get the maximum results from the product!
  • Step 3 – Use a soft bristled brush to loosen any caked on dirt, grease and grime.

Do not use a hard bristle brush! In your attempt to remove tough grease and dirt from the wheels, you’ll probably end up pushing too hard and with a hard bristle brush, this results in ugly scratches.

We love personally, and highly recommend it to you, too!

  • Step 4 – Rinse the wheels thoroughly with water.
  • Step 5 – Dry them thoroughly with a microfiber cloth. This is important because you don’t want to risk having ugly hard water stains appear if you let them air dry.

You invested the time and money into cleaning them in the first place, so be sure to finish the job!

  • Step 6 – Finish the process with a good polish and buffing to prolong the shine of the wheel!

Top 5 Best Aluminum Wheel Cleaner Reviews

1. Mother’s Mag & Aluminum Polish

This polish is practically indispensable in any home or garage because not only can you polish your aluminum wheels, you can polish most other aluminum surfaces with it, too.

Since this is designed for non-coated wheels, you should do a test patch first if you have any doubts about this (we know not everyone interested in purchasing a wheel cleaner knows everything about cars and cleaning products, so the test patch will help those of you who have any doubts).

As suggested by Mothers, just apply a small amount of polish to a cloth and then rub it on the wheel. If a black residue appears on the cloth, then you know that it is safe to use. If there is no black residue, then you might have coated aluminum wheels and should switch to a product that won’t damage or strip the coating.

We like that you can apply this by hand (with a cloth) or with specially power drill attachments that help speed up the polishing and buffing process.

Those of you with a drill will find the attachments you need here!

It really is an awesome aluminum polish, but if you’re looking for something to use that will help remove the majority of the debris before you polish, then you should have a look at numbers 4 and 5.

2. Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream

Blue Magic has a great alternative polish for those of you who want a product that is safe for a variety of surfaces and not just aluminum.

You can use this polish on chrome wheels, aluminum wheels, mag wheels and even other surfaces such as plastic and fiberglass.

This also leaves a protective silicone coating on your wheels that helps prolong the shine, which is especially great if you happen to use this polish on other metal surfaces around the house (i.e. copper, brass, sterling silver items, gold, etc.)

A great alternative to the previous product if it didn’t meet your polishing needs!

3. Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish

This Heavy Metal polish from Chemical Guys is definitely marketed more for use on your car or motorcycle, but it is safe for precious metals like silver, gold or platinum. We prefer it for wheel cleaning purposes, ourselves!

It is safe for aluminum wheels, chrome wheels and stainless steel surfaces on your vehicle, so really, you could use this on the bumper, the wheels, exhaust tips and trim pieces, too.

Just like the previous two products, this is going to help you remove the contamination and tarnish from the metal surfaces after you’ve removed the majority of the dirt and break dust in the washing phase.

It really is a high-quality polish and as such, it has a higher price tag. This is probably a good choice for car nuts who dedicate a lot of time and manual labor into cleaning their car. If you’re looking for a multi-use polish for the home and garage, then we’d suggest you stick with one of the previous two products.

4. Sonax Wheel Cleaner

Here is it: one of the best aluminum wheel cleaner products on the list! We wanted to highlight a few polishes first since they also help you keep those wheels clean and shiny, but before the polish, you’ll need to use a product like this when you’re ready to wash the wheels.

This is a gentle acid-free formula that is also pH-balanced. When you spray it on, it looks like you’re applying a layer of anti-freeze since it has that same signature bright-green color, but once it reacts with the iron in the break dust on your wheels, it will turn to a dark wine red color.

This product is probably one of the most popular ones on our list because it targets the layer of dirt and grime that builds up on wheels: burnt-on brake dust, rubber residue and anything else that accumulates from the road as you drive off into the sunset.

You should definitely have a bottle of this in your cleaning kit!

5. Car Guys Premium Wheel Cleaner

If you prefer to support a product that was proudly made in the U.S.A. and would like to save a few dollars in the process, the Car Guys Premium Wheel cleaner is a great alternative to the Sonax product we just looked at.

In terms of performance, we must admit that Sonax is pretty amazing, but Sonax is a German brand and Car Guys is American.

This wheel cleaner is also pH-balanced, acid free and removes the same type of brake dust, but what we liked about it was the fact that it is safe for clear-coated aluminum rims as well as painted and bare aluminum rims.

Those of you who are conscious about your impact on the environment will also love that this is an environmentally friendly product that is free of harsh chemicals.

So many reasons to love this and definitely a great alternative to Sonax!

Final Thoughts?

We definitely have some great products on our list and they all have their strengths and their weaknesses.

If you’re interested in a great polish, product numbers 1-3 are all great choices. Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream and Mother’s Mag & Aluminum Polish are great if you’re looking for something that you can use on wheels and other items around the home/garage while the Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish is probably best for garage/vehicle use.

Before you polish, you’ll need to clean, and products 4 and 5 are both great choices for the washing phase.

Choose Car Guys Premium Wheel Cleaner if you would like to support a product made in the U.S.A. or Sonax Wheel Cleaner if you’re looking for a dependable cleaning product that is trusted by thousands around the globe!