Top 8 Best Wheel Cleaning Brushes
By | Last updated: September 25, 2020
Aleksandr Kondratov/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve skipped over all the DIY posts we’ve made in this series these last few weeks, perhaps this one will be more to your liking. While not everyone needs or wants to wrench on their own ride, there’s a solid chance that most gearheads like to have a few cleaning tools on hand.

Attacking your car’s wheels with a general use brush isn’t the best of ideas, since they may contain bristles that may be stiff enough to cause scratches – not to mention that the brush may have held some dirt from the last time you used it on … something. The best solution is to pick up a specific wheel cleaning brush and keep it reserved for hoop duty.

 

1. Editor's Choice: Griot's Garage Micro Fiber Wheel Wand

This two-pack of brushes feature a microfiber brush head that’s just the ticket for getting in and around the intricacies of some wheel designs. In fact, they would have been fabulous for the turbine-style wheels on your author’s 1989 Lincoln Mark VII, a remnant from this site’s Panther Love days that only a few long-time readers will remember.

These brush heads attached by ultrasonic welding which is likely a common practice in reality but nevertheless sounds very cool. At least there’s little chance of it detaching during a vigorous cleaning session and scratching up your car’s wheels.

Pros/Respected brand name, compact size
Cons/Some complaints about handle quality
Bottom Line/Tuck a couple in your detail kit

2. Mothers PowerCone 360 Metal Polishing Tool

Here is a tool that isn’t specifically marketed as a wheel cleaner but can certainly be used as one. Its patented spherical cone extends polishing ability and effective surface area, proving the point that companies – even ones singularly focused on a particular sliver of the car world – benefit from an R&D budget.

Mother’s says this tool shines a wide range of automotive surfaces including billet, chrome, stainless steel, and aluminum. In other words, most of the stuff of which wheels are made. A quick swap bit permits easy and fast installation into the power drill of your choice

Pros/Thoughtful design, easy-to-use
Cons/Drill not included
Bottom Line/Saves yer elbow grease

3. Chemical Guys Short Handle Wheel & Tire Brush

Not every wheel brush needs to be a long and thin unit or one that is mounted on the end of a power drill. This cleaning tool blends old-school design with modern technology from a company that knows what they’re doing when it comes to car care.

Feathered ends of bristles are said to deliver a safe and gentle cleaning to your car’s wheels, removing caked-on grime and grease from those filthy and disgusting hoops. A heavy-duty non-slip handle offers a good gripping surface while the large brushing area should make quick work of wheel surfaces.

Pros/Big brush surface, tapered bristles
Cons/Difficult to get in small areas
Bottom Line/Pairs well with fine detail tools

4. Liquid-X Original Wheel Woolies

I mean, really – we’d be heartless autobots to not include a product called Wheel Woolies. That’d be like ignoring someone’s new puppy or failing to pet a fluffy cat as it walks past. Pet metaphors aside, this is a three-piece kit that includes 8-, 12-, and 18-inch brushes.

The smallest is an all-purpose unit, while the foot-long is an angled caliper spoke brush canted at a 45-degree angle, allowing you to clean dirt and grime from behind the wheels. The largest brush measures 18″ and is perfect for cleaning large areas like wheel barrels and fender liners.

Pros/Pro-grade set with pro-grade features
Cons/Expensive
Bottom Line/The good stuff always costs more

5. Brush Hero Wheel Brushing Set

If you have multiple surfaces of different toughness to clean, then the crew at Brush Hero asserts that their multi-brush set fits the bill. Their smaller packages come with just one replacement brush but this set includes three, all of which serve a different function.

A soft black brush is good for sensitive surfaces, while a tough white brush is better for serious muck. There is an even tougher blue brush for the most resistant stains and a tall black navigator brush for those hard to reach spots. No batteries or electricity required: the Brush Hero connects to a garden hose and is powered by water pressure alone.

Pros/Works on water pressure, quartet of brushes
Cons/Proprietary system means Brush Hero replacement costs
Bottom Line/A unique take on an old problem

6. LucklyJone Wheel & Tire Brush 7-Piece Kit

Occupying the oddball off-brand corner is this kit that includes seven different items for a very reasonable price. The main star is a 17-inch wheel cleaning brush intended to take care of grime and crap on your car’s wheels. There is also an old-style wheel brush with a short handle.

Also included are five detail brushes of varying sizes, good for farking crud out of the wheel’s lug nuts areas and other intricate space. They can also be used for interior and exterior detailing but, as mentioned up top, don’t cross-contaminate your wheel brushes by using them for other duties.

Pros/Seven piece set, affordable
Cons/Some reports of damaged brushes on arrival
Bottom Line/One can rarely have too many detail brushes

7. Takavu Master Wheel Brush

This is essentially the long brush from the kit listed just prior, complete with polypropylene bristles and an easy-grip handle. It is about half the length, though, so the seller promotes it as a wheel cleaner for motorcycles or other thin-rimmed rides (the back tire on a superbike doesn’t count, pedants).

Still, this brush will make for a good cleaning tool, needing just a bucket of hot water and your favorite automotive cleaner to go to work. A hilariously named ‘rubber ring protector’ means you can clean your car’s wheels with wild abandon without worrying about hitting your knuckles on bare metal.

Pros/Just a brush and nothing more
Cons/What's that brand again?
Bottom Line/Basically a giant pipe cleaner

8. Viking Wheel and Rim Brush

A completely metal-free construction should ensure a scratch-free wheel cleaning experience, something that’s always in the back of your author’s mind while using a brush that’s attached to a power drill. Here, a heavy-duty microfiber sponge compresses for flexibility and reach.

The colors of red and blue are available; long-time readers will have no confusion as to which one your extroverted author would select. The seller says this brush is clear coat and paint safe, shipping with a sure-grip TPR handle.

Pros/No metal parts
Cons/Some reviews mention the brush and handle coming apart
Bottom Line/Read the feedback carefully

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: Aleksandr Kondratov/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

16 Comments on “Wheel Clean – Best Wheel Cleaning Brushes...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I suppose the one argument I could make for black wheels is that it gets you out of cleaning silver ones, which is a MAJOR pain in the behind. The alloys on my car have a major talent for collecting brake dust in the hardest-to-reach places.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Perfect article for the upcoming winter wheel swap. “removing caked-on grime and grease from those filthy and disgusting hoops” I find a narrow soft brush works best for washing, then a cloth to polish off.
    P.S. It’s Punctuation Day, so I used some.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    If stiff bristles harm a car’s wheels— wtf are rocks and road debris going to do to them?!

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Being naturally lazy, I rule out wheels that look like a PITA to clean. Thinking about changing to *low* performance brake pads to reduce brake dust too ;)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Meguiars Wheel Clean and a medium stiff brush from the Dollar Store and you’re good to go. No need to make this any more complicated then it needs to be

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    One of the worst things about car maintenance, especially if you’ve got a German ride with their insane brake dust.

    I really enjoy washing my car, I sometimes help out to keep family member’s cars clean for them. My mother’s BMW has about 2 million spoke alloys, always covered in brake dust. I bet I can wash the entire exterior in about the same time it takes to clean all these stupid spokes. I got something like #8 and it helps but it still doesn’t get into the deep corners all that great, which means you have to use more force to jam it in there or you still need to use some sort of rag or something.

    God I hate cleaning wheels.

    I honestly have been attracted to buying certain cars if they just have a nice, basic, 5 spoke design or something. Look at the rims and think yup, i can clean that whole thing in about 30 seconds.

    I’ve not found any wheel cleaners or anything that works other than just getting in there with a rag. Otherwise you’re gonna miss spots.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I recently learned that power washers are great at pre-washing a lot of the grime off of wheels. Makes the scrubbing part a bit less messy.

    Now how do I clean the inside of the wheel effectively without removing it? That’s my bugaboo.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Hey, news I can use. With the exception of the Miata, every vehicle I own has wheels with fussy nooks and crannies I can never quite get clean. If I buy by clicking Shop Now, TTAC gets a little $$$, right?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I have the #3 Chemical Guys brush, which I have been using with CarGuys Wheel Cleaner. Would recommend both, but can’t stop thinking about a better mechanized approach.

    The #5 Brush Hero is appealing, but wonder about a) torque and b) always rinsing the cleaner away, when you’d like to scrub with the cleaner still on the wheel.

    Business opportunity (maybe):
    a) OEM: Paint the wheels the color of brake dust and be done.
    b) See the “RotoScrub” wheel cleaning brush – something like that but with a longer, pointy brush – using a drill for rotary motion.
    c) Check out the “Spyder Products Nylon Brush Attachment” – the brush attaches directly to a reciprocating saw. If you substituted a longer, pointy brush you could get a very useful (perhaps?) ‘in and out’ motion.
    d) Ultrasonic wheel cleaner (like a giant oscillating toothbrush).

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Ceramic brake pad compound minimizes brake dust and works fine for street use. My track car’s race pads, on the other hand, produce lunar quantities of dust.

    I just use a power washer — no brush required, very effective.

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