How to Clean Your Car Tires

Your tires make first contact with the ground, so anything you've driven through — whether it's mud, sand, or grass — has likely collected on your car's wheels. So, it helps to have a plan for thoroughly cleaning your car rims and the tires themselves. Again, cleaning wheels doesn’t have to be a difficult chore. You can ensure your tires look as good as new with the proper techniques and products.   

How to clean your car tires

Getting started 

Before you start, you must ensure your tires are at a cool temperature. Often, your tires can collect heat as you drive, making them hard to clean. So make sure you’re cleaning your wheels when they’ve been stationary. Additionally, look out for any potentially harmful debris attached to your tires.  

For example, you may have rotor shavings or other metal debris attached to your tires. You don’t want to run over anything like that with your hands as you’re cleaning. So, make sure you clear anything like this away before starting.   

The right materials for the job 

Materials needed to wash tires

Whether you’re cleaning white wall tires or a more standard grade of rims, you need the right tools to get the job done. Here is the list of materials you’ll need to thoroughly clean your wheels and enhance the look of your car:  

  • Tire cleaning spray 
  • A bucket  
  • New towels and rags 
  • Warm water  
  • Wheel wax or tire shine 
  • Bristled brush 
  • Baking soda 
  • A mild degreaser 
  • Spray nozzle  

Use new towels and rags to keep any substances from previous cleanings getting on your wheels or rims. Additionally, if you’re wondering how to clean white wall tires, be sure to have baking soda on you, as it can help you restore the whiteness of your tires without damaging them.  

Start with rinsing 

Use your spray nozzle to rinse your car’s tires thoroughly. This can allow you to clear out initial dirt and grime. To get an even thorough rinse, you may want to remove the car’s tire. Doing this lets you more easily clean the inside of the rims and ensure your tires are wet enough to avoid scratching them as you wash.   

Wash and scrub the tire 

Here, you’ll need your bristled brush and a tire cleaner to start the cleaning process. The Armor All Extreme Wheel and Tire Cleaner Spray 24oz and Armor All Heavy Duty Wheel And Tire Cleaner Foam 22oz are two of our highly-rated and best cleaners for tires to consider for washing your tires. Use warm water and tire cleaner to gently wash your tires with the bristled brush.  

Alternate between letting the tire cleaner sit on your tires for a few minutes and then rinsing. This tactic will make it easier to clear away grime effectively. 

Chemical Guy’s Diablo wheel cleaner

Additionally, you can also use Black Magic Bleche-Wite Tire Cleaner Spray 32oz and Meguiar’s Hot Rims Chrome Wheel Cleaner 24oz to wash the rims. Again, you may have to remove the tire to wash the rim thoroughly. Once complete, use a towel to dry the wheel and tire.  

Apply tire shine 

Meguiars Tire Shine

Now, it’s time to complete the look of your car. Use a product like Armor All Extreme Tire Shine Spray 22oz or Meguiar’s Hot Shine Reflect Tire Shine Spray 15oz to add a mirror gloss to your tires. These products not only improve your tire’s look, but they can also add an additional layer of protection to your tires. Be sure to look at the instructions of the tire shine product for more specific directions.  

But typically, it will consist of using a clean rag or foam pad to apply the tire shine to the wheel and tire and then remove it to leave a gloss. It’s a good practice to do this every three or four months to ward off dirt and grime and add ease to future cleanings.  ‘

If you have white wall tires, don’t forget the extra step of using baking soda. You would create a paste with warm water and baking soda and then apply it to the white wall tire. Then, leave the paste on the white wall tire for several minutes to lift the dirt and grime.  

Cleaning your tires is a great way to ensure they add to the look of your car while preserving their quality. However, sometimes cleaning isn’t enough, and you may need to look into replacing your tires. Also, don’t forget that while cleaning and preserving your main tires is crucial, it’s also important to maintain your spare tires. Your tires are an essential component of car safety, so be sure to take care of them.  

Lastly, if your entire car needs cleaning, skip the professional car wash by checking out our guide to DIYing your next car wash.  

Are you wondering how to clean a tire or how to clean rims? It starts with using the right tire cleaning products. Restore your tire and wheel’s look by purchasing cleaning products at AutoZone. We have a variety of brands to choose from. 

FAQ/People Also Ask 

What household products can I use to clean my car tires?

You can use a mild detergent and warm water to help clean your tires, along with baking soda for white hall tires. However, to ensure that you get a thorough clean, it’s best to invest in products made for tire cleaning.

How can I make my tires look new again? 

A thorough tire and wheel cleaning can do the trick. Use warm water to rinse your tires, a tire cleaning spray to clean away grit and grime, and a tire shine product to add a clean gloss.

How do you clean old rubber tires? 

Alternating between rinsing and cleaning can help to clean old rubber tires. You might have to let the tire cleaning solution sit on the tires for a few minutes to allow it to lift the grime.

How do you clean tires naturally?

You can create a homemade tire cleaner solution. You can blend water and white vinegar in a spray bottle to help clear away dirt. There are also some biodegradable tire cleaners out there to choose from.

Does dish soap work on tires?

While you can use a small amount of dish soap on tires, over time, it could break down rubber and the paint on your car.

How do I make my tires black?

After cleaning your tires, a tire shine product can help restore the glossy blackness of your tires.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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