We recommend that wheels are washed using a microfibre wash mitt and a gentle shampoo in conjunction with the two bucket method.
Note that you should never attempt to wash your wheels when they are still hot from driving. This is because products will dry too quickly and leave stains, and you could also crack the discs if you cool them too quickly by hosing them down with cold water. You should start the washing process by hosing off any loose dirt and grime using a hose or a pressure washer, being careful not to knock sticky balancing weights off if you have alloy wheels. You should then scrub the tyres and rims using the wash mitt, being generous with the suds and taking the time to get into all of the nooks and crannies and remove all of the brake dust (if you continually miss some wash after wash it will become more firmly bonded, making later removal more difficult). If your wheels are very dirty you can also scrub them first using a soft tipped wheel cleaning brush. After washing all of the wheels, rinse them off with the hose and then move on to washing the insides of the wheel arches, rinsing your mitt regularly. Finally, rinse everything off again and dry the wheels using a microfibre drying towel.
You might be questioning at this stage whether brake dust can be successfully removed using just a wash mitt and a gentle shampoo. In our experience the answer is yes, providing that the wheels are regularly protected with a high quality wheel sealant. Such products form a barrier on the surface of the rim, staving off any corrosive effects and dramatically reducing the ability of brake dust to bond to the rim. However, such coatings are themselves eroded over time and should be replaced every few months if adequate protection is to be maintained. If you haven’t protected your rims before and you are finding that normal washing is not removing all of the brake dust bonded to your rims, then you may need to initially use a more aggressive cleaning product to solve the problem. Such products are sold en masse in many high street stores, and comprise sprays and foams that promise to remove all traces of brake dust without any effort. In our experience, many of these products do not work, and those that do are often so aggressive (acidic) that they themselves can etch rims if used on a regular basis. We therefore recommend that such products are used infrequently and ideally only if absolutely necessary.