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How to Clean Car Tires and Leave them Spotless

how to clean car tires

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When is the last time you’ve done a proper tire cleaning? When washing the car a lot of people struggle to thoroughly clean their tires and rims even though the tires deal with tons of wear and tear every day. Or maybe you’ve tried to clean your tires at home but struggled to remove all the dirt and grime that have built up over time. Wheels vary greatly by metal, finish and elements (based off location), and no matter how hard you scrub sometimes the water spots just won’t come off.

We’ve been there, that’s why we’ve made this article that walks you through how to clean your tires for a sparkling clean finish every time.

How to Clean Car Tires and Wheels

Let’s be clear – tires are meant to get dirty. And if you have the right set of durable tires, daily dirt exposure is no big deal. But if you leave the tires too long without cleaning you could miss a potential hazard like a crack in the sidewall or uneven tread. You should try to clean your tires every few weeks and thoroughly wash them every 2 to 4 months.


To start the tire cleaning process you’ll need a large bucket, some towels (preferably microfiber), a hose, and a brush. If you have access to a pressure washer you can use that on a low setting. You can also invest in a waxing mitt and a wheel brush if you want an extra deep clean.

You will also need dish soap, warm water, and wheel wax (if desired). If you prefer to use natural products on your car you can try using a mixture of 70% white vinegar and 30% baking soda.

If you want to buy ready-made products you can purchase car shampoo or tire cleaner. Once you have all your supplies, you’re ready to get started!

Step 1: Rinse

First, rinse off the tires and wheels using the hose or a low setting on the pressure washer. You want to remove as much loose dirt as you can during this first step. Tires and wheels have small nooks ad crannies that can be difficult to clean. Try to spray from multiple angles to hit all the hard-to-reach spots.

Step 2: Wash

Now it’s time to scrub the surface of the tires and the wheels. It’s easier to start with the tires and then the wheels so that the dirty water isn’t running into the area you’ve already cleaned.

Use the brush to scrub the tire with warm, soapy water. You can apply additional pressure for caked-on dirt or let the soap mixture soak on the tire for a few minutes. You may have to go through a few cycles of scrubbing and rinsing to get a deep clean.

Once the tires are clean, you can wash the surface of the wheel using your brush. Apply water to the wheel face and use your brush with soapy water to scrub the wheel. You can also use your vinegar and baking soda mixture.

For chrome wheels, consider using white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Pour equal parts of water and vinegar into the bottle and spray onto the wheel to remove stains. You’ll be amazed at what this simple solution can do.

If you’re having trouble reaching all the areas around the wheels consider buying a smaller brush too. Once you’re done with the scrubbing you can dry the surfaces with your clean towel. Drying your tires and wheels with a cloth prevents water spots.

Step 3: Wax (Optional)

For an extra shine, consider adding wax to the process. Apply wax using a waxing mitt according to instructions on the package. Finish by polishing with a clean cloth. The wax will give it an extra shine and sparkle. Now that you’ve mastered how to clean dirt off your tires, let’s dive into the tire cleaning process.

How to Clean Your Tire Rims

We couldn’t address how to clean your car tires without specifically discussing how to clean tire rims. There are a few tricks to help you get the most out of the tire rim cleaning process.

First, have at least two sizes of brushes. The larger brush is good for the larger surface areas but tire rims often have smaller hard-to-reach crevices. Having a small brush (even a toothbrush will work) will help you reach those places.

Next, have a clean microfiber towel or terrycloth towel exclusively for the rims. Dry thoroughly to avoid watermarks and streaks.

Protecting Your Tires

You know how to clean car tires at home. But why is it so important? Washing your tires and wheels prevents breakdown and discoloration. It can even extend the life of your tires! You should wash your tires regardless of how much you drive your car. Even a car sitting in a garage needs a little TLC from time to time.

There are other measures you should be taking to protect your tires too – regularly rotating your tires or replacing them when they are worn.

Replacing your tires every 25,000 to 50,000 miles is crucial for your safety and the life of the car. But replacing tires isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Did you know you can enroll in a tire subscription service that will take care of all your tire-related needs? This service can help you with:

  • Tire rotation
  • Tire installation
  • Winter tire storage
  • Tire recall notifications
  • Roadside assistance.

Learn more about convenient tire subscription services from Treads here. Protect your tires and protect your car.

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