How to Clean Car and Truck Rims with Everyday Household Products

Whether your ride is brand new, nearly new, or even if it hasn’t been new for quite a while, you still want your car to look its best. Washing and waxing your car or truck regularly can keep it looking good and help the paint to last longer. Keeping the rims on the tires looking good, well, that’s another story!

It seems like car rims get dirty and grimy twice as fast as your car does. More than just looking dirty, if the rims aren’t cleaned regularly, they can corrode and cause peeling, depending on the finish, and did you know that if the rims corrode badly enough, they can become so porous that the tires will leak air? Avoid this at all costs. 

Of course, you can go to your local auto parts store or even the auto section of your supermarket and buy some expensive rim and tire cleaners. Why do that, though, when you use regular household products that you probably have right in your kitchen cabinet? 

Check out our list of 7 ways you can clean car rims and tires using stuff you already have sitting around the house. Always wash off as much grime as possible using soap and a brush, then spraying with a good stream of water.

1. Aluminum Rim Cleaner

If your vehicle has aluminum rims, try this trick: 

  1. Mix one cup of water, ½ cup of plain white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar. If you don’t have enough vinegar, lemon juice will do the job. 
  2. Put this mixture on the stove and allow it to really boil for about 10 minutes. Stir every couple of minutes. 
  3. Turn off the flame and allow the mixture to cool down until it is merely warm and not hot. 
  4. Put the warm mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on your washed rims. Rub it in using a soft brush or towel then allow it to do its job for about 2 minutes. If you have hard to reach places, try using an old toothbrush. 
  5. Get a clean cloth for buffing and rub the mixture in a circular motion. Most of the residue should come off within a few minutes. Give your rims another buffing with another towel and look at how those beauties shine!

2. How to Remove Rust From Your Rims

Are your rims showing rusty spots or have the lug nuts and screws developed a bad case of rust? You can remove rust easily by using a famous soft drink called Coca Cola. Any cola beverage will do, however. The phosphoric acid and carbonated water will dissolve rust and other types of corrosion from your chrome or other metal alloy rims. 

  1. Add a can or bottle of Coke to a spray bottle. Spray the rims and pay special attention to the rusty areas. 
  2. Let the Coke do its job and leave it alone for about 5 minutes. Use a brush (or toothbrush) to scrub away the rust from the lug nuts and other spots on the rims. 
  3. Mix one cup of dish soap and 1 cup of white vinegar into a bucket of water. Wash the rims with this mixture to remove the sticky soda residue. Rinse well. 

This simple trick can make your rims look nearly new!

3. Use Toilet Bowl Cleaner to Make Your Rims Shine

Be sure you use gloves when you try this recipe as it can burn the skin. 

If your toilet bowl cleaner contains hydrochloric acid (most of them do), then you are ready to rumble! 

  1. Get a spray bottle and fill it halfway with water. Add about 6 teaspoons of baking soda. Shake well and set it aside for a minute. 
  2. Using a glass or ceramic bowl, add a good squirt of the toil bowl cleaner into the glass bowl. DO NOT USE A METAL BOWL!
  3. Dip a toothbrush into the toilet cleaner and choose a small section of the rim to scrub.
  4. Now spray this area with the water/baking soda mixture. Repeat on the other parts of the rim.
  5. Repeat until all the spots are gone and your rims look amazing!

4. Cleaning Chrome Rims

If your car has chrome rims, these are the easiest to keep clean. You can clean these rims with a simple concoction of equal parts of plain white vinegar and water. Add this to a spray bottle and spray the rims.

If you have stains, or this didn’t do the trick, check out our deep dive how-to on cleaning chrome rims. 

5. An Old-Fashioned Rim Cleaning Recipe 

This might be one of the oldest rim cleaning recipes ever. A simple mixture of two tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of warm water. 

  1. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and shake well.
  2. Spray the rims from the inside out. 
  3. Now sprinkle some baking soda onto a microfiber cloth and scrub the paste over the spots and stains you want to get rid of.
  4. Rinse well with water and repeat if necessary. 

It’s that easy! This recipe also works to clean car windows!

6. Using Super Degreaser

If your beautiful rims have a buildup of grease and dust, you can kill two problems with one simple solution. 

  1. Take one gallon of hot water and add about 1 teaspoon of dish soap. If you have that blue dish soap, Dawn, so much the better. 
  2. Soak a rag or sponge in the water, then sprinkle baking soda on the sponge.
  3. Swish the sponge around the rim from the outside to the inside. Repeat this several times. 
  4. You can use a toothbrush to remove grease from hard to reach areas of the rim or on spots that don’t want to come off easily.
  5. Rinse well and then dry with a towel. 

7. Making Your Tires Shine

Here’s an extra pro tip you can use to put a shine on your tires. 

  1. Get a spray bottle and add about 2 ounces of plain baby oil, 1 drop of liquid dish soap, and 1 liter of water. 
  2. Shake this mixture well, then spray an old rag to apply this directly to the tires or spray the tires and rub it in using a rag.

That’s all you need to have clean shiny tires that look new. 

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