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Definitive Guide on Cleaning Tires

May 26th 2021

Definitive Guide on Cleaning Tires

While washing your tires and wheels can be a laborious task, it does not need to be complicated. With a few simple steps, you bring back the tire shine and prevent browning along the tread area and the sidewalls. Unclean tires are more prone to damage, dry rot, oxidation, stiff tread area, and the like. Regularly cleaning the tires and wheels with good quality products will help prevent such issues.

We have created a list of instructions, that provides a step-by-step process of the best tire cleaning method. We recommend using natural products, without harsh synthetic ingredients to ensure the tire's longevity. Some cleaning products with hydrocarbon silicone can sit on the tread area and accelerate dry rot and tread damage. To prevent this, natural and gentler sprays and dressing are recommended. We hope that we will make cleaning your tires less of a headache the next time you wish to wash your tires and wheels.

Things You Need for Cleaning Tires

Clean wheels and tires do not just belong to new vehicles. Clean tires might seem to be the least achievable thing, as they are in constant contact with dirt, mud, and brake dust. Tire spray, coating, and dressing might seem hard to use, but following a few instructions will leave you cleaning your tires like a pro.

Tools Required

  • Bucket
  • Microfiber towel
  • Sponge
  • Brush

Materials Required

  • Tire cleaning spray
  • Soap

The Best Way to Clean Your Tires

  1. Rinse the tires with water using a hose or a bucket.
  2. Scrub the tire thoroughly, using lathered-up vehicle soap or shampoo and a sponge or brush. Rinse the foam off the tires using clean water.
  3. If grime is still visible on the tires, you can spray the tire with a gentle tire cleaner and scrub with a brush, sponge, or cloth to remove it. Rinse the tire off.
  4. If the tire is still dirty, repeat the previous step with the tire product until you achieve the desired outcome.
  5. Apply the tire shine or coating and finish the job.

Cleaning tires with a sponge.

Step by Step Guide for Cleaning Tires

Rinse Tires with Water

This is the first step in the tire cleaning process. Clean water will help loosen up the grime stuck to the tires. You can either use a high-pressure hose for extra cleaning power or a sponge in order to help remove dirt and browning from the tire's area. Be sure to not use harsh bristled brushes, as they can scratch up the tire's surface.

Scrub with Car Shampoo

Car shampoo is gentler than some tire cleaners and it will help to finish the job without issues. These cleaners work by removing the majority of dirt located on the tires. Such products will help you remove sand and mud that sit on the models, without scratching up the tire. By scrubbing the shampoo into the tire's surface area, most of the grime will be removed. On regularly maintained tire and wheel combinations, this is enough to completely wash them. Be sure to rinse off the car shampoo before moving to the next step. You could use dish soap as a substitute for vehicle shampoo.

Apply a Tire Cleaner

If the grime is too much for regular car shampoos, as the next step you will need to bring out stronger tools. Still be sure you choose a brand that is least damaging, as commercial-grade chemicals can accelerate the tire's oxidation and dry rotting, by breaking down its outer layer. However, washing the rubber with specific products will allow you to remove unnoticed grime and oil with a little elbow grease. You need to spray or wipe the cleaner onto the tire and scrub it in with a towel, sponge, or brush. This step will help you remove blooming or browning. No harsh cleaning products should be used on the tire's rubber area, as they will dry out the compound and lead to premature damage.

Tire Shine

Tire shine or tire dressing will bring back the slick, black appearance of car tires. Tire shine does not damage the white paint on white wall tires. Even if some brown parts remain on the tire, it will not be an issue as removing all oxidation is near impossible. The market is flooded with different types of tire dressing available, but the main types are water-based and solvent-based.

Water-based Tire Shine

Water-based tire shine gives the tire a matte finish, which resembles a new tire. This type of dressing is of a better quality as it absorbs into the tire, with some brands offering a coat of UV protection as well. This combination prevents the dry rotting, cracking, and stiffening of the tread area. The drawback of water-based shines is their short life span, as they only offer protection for a few weeks.

Solvent-based Tire Shine

Solvent-based shines give the tire a plastic-like appearance. They utilize a hydrocarbon silicone in their chemical structure, which results in a greasy image and in the shine sliding off the tire surface onto the strip and paint. They tend to last longer than water-based shines. Unfortunately, this type of tire shine can be degrading to the tire life.

How to Clean White Wall Tires?

Whitewall car tires can easily get dirty, as the white area is prone to get grimy - just like white clothes do. You can follow the aforementioned steps to clean your tires. However, be sure to purchase special whitewall tire cleaning sprays as most of them are made for black wall tires. Also, do not use harsh sponges or brushes to scrub the paint, as they might leave scratches. If the job you did does not seem to clean the models correctly, you can use baking soda for extra help.

Cleaning White Wall Tires

Whitewall Tire Cleaner

Whitewall tire sprays are manufactured specifically for use on whitewall models. They offer a gentler washing ability and do not use ingredients that could damage the paint on the sidewall, while further enhancing the cleaning of the sidewalls.

Baking Soda

To remove the grime from the white wall of the tire, you can use regular baking soda. Place some baking soda onto a damp towel or a gentle sponge and wipe the white wall surface with it in a small, circular motion. Rinse the tire and repeat this process after a few minutes.

Things to Avoid When Cleaning Whitewall Tires

Make sure to avoid any dangerous household cleaning products when cleaning your whitewalls models. Alcohol or chlorine bleach might be the easy and quick solution on the over-saturated market of tire products, but they will definitely damage the tires in the long run. When you apply such products to the tire, their stronger ingredients will dry out the tire's rubber materials, resulting in a stiff tread area and tread damage.

How often should you clean your tires?

While you should not clean your tires too often, giving them a thorough wash and applying protective layers every 2 to 3 months will make tire maintenance easier. A soapy wash can be done every time you decide to wash your vehicle - which is recommended every 1 to 2 weeks, but coating and dressing should not be applied that often.

Woman cleaning tires with a sponge and tire cleaner.

Regular upkeep of models will not allow grime build-up. As a result, fewer damaging chemicals will need to be applied to the rubber area to clean off mud or brake dust, which will help prevent them from shortening the service life. However, all tire cleaners can cause tread stiffness, it is important to not overuse them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is tire cleaner bad for tires?

No, tire cleaners are not bad for your tires if you choose the correct brand. While there are bad quality tire cleaning sprays with harsh ingredients which can damage the tire, most better quality products will help you clean the tires without causing issues.

Is Simple Green good to clean tires?

Yes, Simple Green is good for tires. Cleaning tires with this product will not cause you issues. Scrubbing the product on the tires and rinsing it off will make your job easier. Furthermore, it is not harmful to the aluminum wheels or the vehicle either.

Can you clean tires with dish soap?

Yes, you can use dish soap to clean the tires. You can mix dish detergent with water to remove the worst of the grime that sits on the tread area and the sidewalls of the tire. While it will not clean the tires completely, it will provide you with a great start and make the rest of the process easier.

Should you wash tires first or last?

Wheels and tires should be washed first, before the rest of the vehicle. By cleaning them first, you will prevent grime and overspray from leaking onto the already washed tires. In case you are wiping them clean at home, it would be best to use two buckets: one for washing water and one for rinsing.

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