Best for
Heavy Grime
Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel and Tire Cleaner

A low-cost, heavy-duty tire cleaner that outperforms the competition.

Best for
Custom Wheels
Meguiar’s G180132 Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

A powerful cleaner safe for custom-painted tires.

Best Value
Chemical Guys Diablo Gel

A concentrated cleaning gel that can be cost-effective.

Best Biodegradable Cleaner
WeatherTech TechCare Wheel Cleaner

A fast-acting wheel and tire cleaner that’s biodegradable.

Best Color Changing
Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner

A high-powered, color- changing cleaner with a strong odor.

What good is a car wash if your wheels are dirty? To have a car that’s clean from top to bottom, it’s important to invest in the best wheel cleaner you can find. The best wheel cleaner depends partially on the types of wheels you’re trying to clean. The most powerful cleaners are good at removing rust, brake dust, and the most stubborn dirt, but they can also remove paint and chrome if you’re not careful.

We tested several of the best wheel cleaners in head-to-head matchups to see which left our wheels the shiniest. We also sorted through Amazon customer reviews to learn how the products performed on other types of tires. Below, we explain the results and recommend our top choices for performance and value.

6 Best Wheel Cleaners

#1 Best For Heavy Grime: Turtle Wax T-18 All Wheel And Tire Cleaner

The Turtle Wax Wheel & Tire Cleaner.

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The Turtle T-18 All Wheel and Tire Cleaner was the cheapest and best-performing wheel cleaner we tested. It’s also biodegradable and phosphate-free.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Cleaning Power4.5 out of 5
CostAbout 17 cents per ounce

Our Experience

We compared the foaming Turtle Wax T-18 wheel cleaner head-to-head with Meguiar’s and Adam’s Polishes wheel cleaners. In both tests, Turtle Wax T-18 removed noticeably more caked-in dirt from the wheel than the competitors.

The Turtle Wax formula is also fast-acting, so you only need to wait about 30 seconds after application before scrubbing and rinsing.

A wheel cleaned by Turtle Wax T-18 wheel cleaner, Meguiar’s, and Adam’s Polishes wheel cleaner for comparison.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 5,000 reviews

Amazon customer reviews confirm our results. A total of 87 percent of reviews rate the product 4 stars or higher. Like us, most customers are surprised at how well this low-cost tire cleaner performs.

“This is seriously the greatest stuff. I use a regular tire cleaner that they offer at the car washing place I go to, and it’s OK, but this stuff works almost instantly. You can see the rust and dirt just come out.”

– Holly & Nicole

“Worked amazingly well. Actually, shockingly well, especially at the price.”

– Tactical Sam

If there is an issue with the Turtle Wax T-18, it’s that it works too well. Some customers say that while it removes grime and brake dust, it can also deteriorate custom paint jobs.

“It did remove the brake dust deposits/discolorations on the aluminum wheels on my SUV without any issues. However, on my truck that has [silver-painted] metal wheels, it did discolor the rim and left it blotchy.”

– S.

“Works okay, but it’s very caustic. Not good for aftermarket, refinished, or painted wheels.”

– Ronald

If you’re cleaning factory standard tires and aluminum wheels, Turtle Wax may be your best bet because it performs at a high level and is relatively inexpensive.

#2 Best For Custom Wheels: Meguiar’s G180132 Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

The Meguiar’s G180132 Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner.

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Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner is acid-free and pH-neutral, making it safe to use not only on aluminum wheels but also on custom-painted rims. The spray changes color as it works and has a pleasant aroma.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Cleaning Power4.5 out of 5
CostAbout 63 cents per ounce

Our Experience

This was the second most effective tire cleaner we tested (left side of tire pictured below). It didn’t work quite as well as the Turtle Wax (right side), but this foaming wheel cleaner appeared to remove grime better than any of the other cleaners.

A wheel that was cleaned by the Meguiar's Wheel Cleaner (left) in comparison to the Turtle Wax cleaner (right).

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 30,000 reviews

Most reviewers note how well the product works, even without scrubbing. While we used a cleaning brush during our test, many reported that simply spraying and washing was enough to fully clean their wheels.

“I would definitely recommend this for luxury vehicles as they tend to have more aggressive brake dust.”

– Alberto C.

“This product, in my experience, takes a lot of the ‘elbow’ out of the ‘elbow grease’ equation. Just spray on the wheels and let it do all the work.”

– RtDK

A few customers mentioned issues if you leave the spray on too long before rinsing.

“Used as directed and left a sticky goo on my rims.”

– Max  M.

Other negative reviews claim the product didn’t effectively clean their wheels, but this is counter to our experience and the vast majority of other reviewers on Amazon.

#3 Best Value: Chemical Guys Diablo Gel

The Chemical Guys Diablo Gel wheel cleaner.

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Chemical Guys Diablo Gel Wheel Cleaner is sold in a concentrated form, making it effectively the cheapest wheel cleaner we tested. While the gel costs around 81 cents an ounce at most, the instructions require that you mix it with water before using at a ratio of 1:3. So you ultimately pay around 20 cents per ounce of cleaning fluid (less if you purchase by the gallon or half gallon). Some customers even report effective results after mixing the gel at a ratio of 1:6.

Diablo Gel is pH-balanced, and the manufacturer claims it’s safe for powder-coated and chrome wheels.

Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
Cleaning Power3.5 out of 5
CostAbout 44 to 81 cents per ounce

Our Experience

Diablo Gel worked but not quite as well as some of our other cleaners. On our especially-rusted wheels, it took two passes with Diablo Gel to remove the thickest rust. Still, the product was effective, especially for the cost.

A side by side comparison of a wheel that was cleaned by Adam's Polishes (left) and Chemical Guys Diablo Gel (right).

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 6,000 reviews

The most powerful wheel cleaners dissolve brake dust even without agitation. Based on our experience and customer reviews, you’ll need to scrub a bit to clean your tires with Diablo Gel. However, this product is considerably less caustic than other wheel cleaners and represents a solid choice for custom wheels.

“This is a safe but effective wheel cleaner. Diablo safely cleans your wheels. It does not contain strong acids that could damage delicate parts and surfaces.”

– Citan-uzuki

“Absolutely amazing product. This stuff is hands-down the best wheel/brakes/suspension cleaner out there that is 100 percent safe for all finishes and waxes/sealants.”

– Thumper

If looking for a more powerful formula, you might find Diablo Gel disappointing.

“My Armor All works insanely better for the price at cleaning wheels and tires. That being said, [Armor All] has a tendency to eat away at the finish of my old Toyota wheels. So yes, the Diablo Gel is not as good but [is] a less harsh cleaner.”

– David

“If I have to scrub with a brush and get on my knees to scrub, then I don’t need this.”

– Eli

#4 Best Biodegradable Cleaner: WeatherTech TechCare Wheel Cleaner

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WeatherTech TechCare offers two wheel cleaners, an acid-free wheel cleaner, and a heavy-duty wheel cleaner. We tested the acid-free wheel cleaner and it worked very well to remove dirt and grim without much scrubbing. While a little more expensive than other cleaners, this product is biodegradable as well as acid-free. It is safe to use on any tire and works quickly.

Overall Rating4.0 out of 5.0
Cleaning Power4
CostAbout $1.20 per ounce

Our Experience

The TechCare wheel cleaner works quickly and effectively. The foaming action began immediately upon application and it allowed us to easily remove the dirt and brake dust that coated the tire of our test vehicle.

The formula is virtually odor-free and so may be an excellent choice for those sensitive to chemicals. We noticed no streaking when we polished the wheel after applying the TechCare cleaner.

By its nature, this wheel cleaner is less corrosive than other options. This makes it safer to use (for the user and the environment), but also limits its ability to destroy the thickest grimes. It worked perfectly on our test vehicle, but may not have quite the cleaning ability of Turtle Wax or Meguiar’s products

An image of a wheel before using the WeatherTech TechCare wheel cleaner.

An image of a wheel after using the WeatherTech TechCare wheel cleaner.

What Customers Are Saying

There are fewer than 20 ratings for the WeatherTech TechCare acid-free tire cleaner on Amazon and even fewer ratings on RealTruck. Those who have bothered to write reviews of the product say that it works great and they are pleased with their purchase.

#5 Best Color-Changing: Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner

The Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner.

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Adam’s Polishes Wheel Cleaner is another acid-free, pH-balanced wheel cleaner that should be able to dissolve grime while leaving your wheels intact. Designed for use by detailing professionals, Adam’s Polishes is available in a 16.0-ounce spray bottle or 5.0-gallon container (buying the latter greatly reduces the cost per ounce).

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Cleaning Power4 out of 5
CostAbout 39 to 73 cents per ounce

Our Experience

Adam’s Polishes (left side of tire pictured below) performed similarly to Turtle Wax and Meguiar’s. While it didn’t quite beat out Turtle Wax in a matchup, it was a close comparison. This is one of the few sprays that experienced color changing as it worked, which is a handy indicator of when it’s time to wash the cleaner off.

One feature of Adam’s Polishes that stood out is the odor, which was much stronger than the other wheel cleaners we tested. It smells very strongly of artificial cherry – not a terrible smell but something some consumers may find unpleasant.

A wheel that was cleaned by the Adam's Polishes wheel cleaner (left side).

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 4,600 reviews

Most reviewers corroborate our experience: Adam’s Polishes works really well, but it doesn’t smell very good.

“[Adam’s Polishes] wheel cleaner is good enough to react with the iron particles on the caliper and loosen them to the point it can be sprayed right off, with little to no agitation only if you use a pressure washer with a 40-or-less degree nozzle.”

–Bilal F.

“[Adam’s Polishes wheel cleaner] has a pretty nasty smell to it, probably from the iron removing component, but the combination of that with the scent they chose to mask it is nauseating, to say the least.”

– Shadows

While the smell is certainly pronounced, we didn’t find it that unpleasant, and some reviewers even like it. However, it does not smell like something you want to inhale, so be sure to wear a mask when using any chemicals, including Adam’s Polishes.

Adam’s Polishes wheel cleaner is designed to only remove rust and brake dust while keeping your paint and exteriors intact. However, at least one user says this product damaged his chrome tires.

“This stuff pretty much etched the finish and ate the finish off the center caps. I’ll give 2 stars because it did remove the brake dust, but I’m deducting 3 because it took the chrome with it.”

– Second Nature Customs

#6 Also Consider: Duragloss 821 All Wheel Cleaner

The Duragloss 821 All Wheel Cleaner.

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Duragloss 821 All Wheel Cleaner is formulated for use on any type of wheel, including painted, polished, or clear-coated metals. This cleaner is one of the costlier products but may require more effort to fully remove deeply embedded grime.

Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
Cleaning Power3.5 out of 5
CostAbout 68 cents per ounce

Our Experience

While we found Duragloss 821 to be less effective than the other cleaners on this list, it still did a decent job restoring shine in our test tire despite not fully removing the thickest rust in a single pass. Though the product is less caustic to rust, it’s safer for the finish of your wheel.

An image of a wheel that was cleaned by the Duragloss wheel cleaner (left) in comparison to Adam's Polishes wheel cleaner (right).

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on around 50 reviews

This is the least-reviewed of the cleaners we tested, but customer reviews are mostly positive. Several note that Duragloss 821 is effective and safe.

“[I] have used this product for over 20 years, and it works very well on chrome wheels.”

– Mypops

“Over the years, we have tried a number of wheel cleaning products. This is the best we have found, and we have used it exclusively for the last 10 to 12 years.”

– Curt

Duragloss 821 has few negative reviews, but we believe the product doesn’t work as well as advertised.

“It’s nothing special, which is somewhat disappointing, as Duragloss products are very good.”

– Airgas1998

Other Wheel Cleaners We Recommend

There are more than six good wheel cleaners out there, and you may need to try more options to find your favorite. While we weren’t able to test the following recommendations, they do come highly reviewed on Amazon.

P&S Brake Buster Wheel Cleaner

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Cost: Around $30

Sold by the gallon, this heavy-duty wheel cleaner can take care of grease, dust, you name it. Brake Buster is acid-free and safe for use on nearly any type of tire. Many on Amazon are impressed with how well this cleaner works, even with little scrubbing.

Black Magic No Scrub Wheel Cleaner

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Cost: Around $5

Black Magic offers a low-cost, spray-on wheel cleaner that doesn’t require scrubbing. Many Amazon reviewers are surprised that this cleaner actually works without scrubbing, but that appears to be the case. Nearly all reviewers think this cleaner is $5 well spent.

Wheel Cleaner Testing Process

Five of the best wheel cleaners pictured outdoors with other cleaning materials including a water hose.

We tested each wheel cleaner according to the instructions on the package. In each case, this meant applying the cleaner, waiting one to five minutes, scrubbing the wheel (using a ProElite wheel and spoke brush or a car wheel brush), and afterward rinsing the wheel with water.

We tested the wheel cleaners head-to-head on the same tire, applying each product to half of the wheel for a direct comparison. After each test, it was easy to compare cleaner performance side-by-side.

The WeatherTech TechCare acid-free wheel cleaner was tested separately from the five other cleaners in this list in order to update and expand our recommendations. While we were not able to use it on the same tire as any other wheel cleaners on this list, we did test it under similar conditions as the other cleaners and found it to be worthy of recommendation based on our experience.

Best Wheel Cleaner Buyers Guide

The main things to consider when purchasing a wheel cleaner are price and function. The best wheel cleaner can easily remove brake dust and road grime, leaving clean wheels that sparkle like new.

However, even with the best wheel cleaners, you must take certain considerations into account. For example, some wheel cleaners are PH-balanced and specifically designed for custom wheels and paint jobs. Also, the most effective wheel cleaners for aluminum wheels may eat through paint. Be sure you select a wheel cleaner that’s right for your rims.

You might also consider how much wheel cleaner you use. The best choice for an automotive detailer may not be the best option for someone who only occasionally cleans the wheels of their vehicle. Some wheel cleaners are available in bulk quantities or as concentrated gels you must mix with water before use.

Our Review Standards

The purpose of a good wheel cleaner is to remove the collected dirt and grime from your car’s tires, hubcaps, and wheel wells. Most every wheel cleaner works the same – apply the cleaner, wait, scrub the wheel, and spray the wheel with water. To determine the best wheel cleaner, we looked at which cleaner left behind the shiniest tire after use. Every product we tested was equally easy to use, but the results differed.

Cost is another important factor we considered. A low-cost tire cleaner isn’t worth it if you need to use twice as much solution for the same results. We compared cost by ounce, and most of these products sell in varying quantities. You can buy some in bulk for extra savings.

Frequently Asked Questions

*Data accurate at time of publication.