How to remove brake dust from alloy wheels

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have a nice set of alloy wheels, you probably want to do everything you can to keep them nice. The best way to do this is by cleaning them whenever you wash your car. If it gets cold in your area during the winter, it is usually not practical to wash your car regularly; however, during the rest of the year, clean your wheels using a special wheel cleaner and brush. If you swap out winter and summer wheels and tires, take that opportunity to clean each set of wheels thoroughly as you take it off the car.

Spray wheel cleaner on your alloy wheels according to the manufacturer's application instructions. Do this prior to washing your car. Let the wheel cleaner sit on your wheels as you wash your car, so it has a chance to work through the brake dust build-up.

Mist the wheel cleaner on the first wheel lightly with an adjustable sprayer attachment on your hose. Do this only until a light foam forms. Do not rinse the wheel cleaner away. Do not mist all the wheels at once. Mist only as you work on each wheel.

Use a wheel brush with moderately stiff nylon bristles to work the wheel cleaner into a thick lather on your first wheel.

Brush away brake dust and grime from every crevice you can see and reach with your brush. This may take some time, especially if your alloy wheels have more intricate designs.

Rinse the brush with your hose periodically if the wheels are really dirty. Do not rinse the wheels until you are sure you have successfully dislodged all the dirt.

Spray the wheel clean with a higher-powered setting on your adjustable sprayer attachment for your hose. If you spot additional grime that you missed, apply a little more wheel cleaner and scrub it away.

Repeat this process for the remaining three alloy wheels on your car.

Jack up your car and mount it securely on jack stands. Remove each wheel, one at a time, using the torque wrench and sockets. Your owner's manual may have information as to what size socket you need. If it does not, use trial and error to find the correct size.

Fill a bucket with water and car soap so that it is sudsy. Wash away as much brake dust and grime from the inside of each wheel as you can with this soapy water and an auto sponge.

Apply wheel cleaner to really stubborn spots and scrub with a wheel brush. Rinse and dry each wheel before putting it away for the season. Repeat for all four wheels as you swap them out on your car.


Wheel cleaner is too harsh for automotive paint, which is why it is only meant for use with wheels. Be careful not to get any on your paint, or you could cause damage to it.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheel cleaner
  • Wheel brush
  • Auto sponge
  • Bucket
  • Car soap
  • Hose with adjustable sprayer
  • Torque wrench with assorted sockets
  • Owner's manual for your car
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
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About the Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker and writer who has written for several online publications, including Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.