How To Remove Baked On Brake Dust From Alloy Wheels DIY

Brake dust is composed of metal shavings from the brake pad that attach to the wheels of your vehicle. And as you would expect, these metal shavings can make the wheels look dirty and old. Thus knowing how to remove this kind of stain will be essential to keeping your wheels clean.

Several options are available for removing caked-on brake dust from alloy wheels. Some are more effective than others. Let’s take a look at some of the common ways of removing brake dust from wheels.

How To Remove Baked On Brake Dust From Alloy Wheels

Proven Process Of How To Remove Baked On Brake Dust From Alloy Wheels

Using Wheel Cleaners

One of the easiest ways is using wheel cleaners to remove baked on brake dust. These cleaners are designed to remove brake dust and other dirt from wheels. They typically do this by reacting with the dirt and turning color.

Use Wheel Cleaners for removing baked on brake dust from alloy wheel

Most cleaners will turn purple when they come in contact with wheel dirt, brake dust included. You can then hose off the cleanser to reveal brake dust-free wheels. It is recommended to use acid-free and Ph-balanced cleaners for alloy wheels.

A wheel cleaner such as the Meguiar's G180132 Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner - 32 Oz Spray Bottle * (#ad) will be effective on alloy wheels.

Iron Remover

Another option you have is using iron removers. These are products designed to remove iron particles stuck to a vehicle surface. These products can be used on wheels and any other surface.

We recommend the GYEON Quartz Q²M Iron 4000 ml for removing brake dust on alloy wheels. This product works well and leaves a nice glossy finish on the wheels. It is also Ph neutral, which is what you want for your alloy wheels.

Soap And Water

If you do not have a wheel cleaner or an iron remover, there is a DIY remedy you can try for your wheels. This option works well if the wheels do not have too much caked-on brake dust. All you need for this solution is dish soap, warm water, a bucket, a brush, and a garden or car washing hose.

Use soap and water for removing baked on brake dust from wheel

First, spray the wheels thoroughly using the garden hose. This helps loosen the dirt and grime. Then fill a bucket with warm water and add a few drops of detergent. Mix the solution with your hand. Then apply it with a sponge on the wheels.

You can use an automotive brush or an old toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach areas. For this method to work, we recommend avoiding a stiff brush as it may scratch the wheels. After cleaning, rinse the wheel with water.

The downside with this approach is that it may require lots of scrubbing to remove all the grime and brake dust. But if you are up for it, it can be a good option if you do not have access to wheel cleaners or iron removers.

Use White Vinegar

We recommend trying white vinegar if you want a more natural solution to your brake dust problem. This substance is used to clean all sorts of this, including alloy wheels. We find that vinegar is an excellent choice for aluminum surfaces.

Use white vinegar for removing brake dust from wheel

So it should work on alloy wheels. To get the best results:

  • Use distilled white vinegar.
  • Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray your wheels.
  • Let the vinegar sit for about 12 minutes—use a fine brush to clean the wheels.

Steam Cleaning or Using A Powerwasher

Something else you can try is steam cleaning. Steam will power through any dirt, including brake dust. Also, this option is suitable for alloy wheels as it is safe on alloy wheels and does not stain them.

Use a steam cleaning machine to deliver pressurized steam to remove brake dust from the wheels of your vehicle. You can use a handheld steam cleaning machine.

If you can access a powerwasher, it will also work. A gas-powered washer should be able to get the brake dust off. This kind of washer will use high-powered steam to remove the caked-on brake dust.

The best thing about this option is that it is non-toxic. Also, in our experience, some wheel cleaners smell bad and can be uncomfortable to use. Steam cleaning does not have these side effects and is just as effective as some cleaners.

Use An Oven Cleaner

A more DIY opinion you can try is using an oven cleaner. This works well on aluminum wheels. We recommend using the cleaner after rinsing the wheels. Apply it as the wheels are drying. Spray it generously on the wheels, focusing on areas with more dirt and brake dust.

Once you apply it, let it sit for about 30 minutes. Return and brush the wheels using a soft brush. Avoid using any abrasive brush as it can scratch the rims. Finally, You can repeat the process if all the dirt and grime have not come off.

In some extreme cases, you may have to do this several times to get all the dirt and grime completely removed. However, this can be a great alternative if you do not have a wheel cleaner product or iron remover.

Iron Off or Iron X Cleaner

These two cleaners are designed to clean ironing boxes and remove surface rust. However, they can also work on brake dust. The products react with the brake dust and turn red. This should work for less serious brake dust stains.

This is another DIY option you can try for your wheels if you do not have a wheel cleaner or iron remover to use.


Brake dust staining your aluminum wheels is inevitable. However, removing the unsightly stains caused by this by-product of driving is not all that difficult. There are lots of wheel cleaner products available in the market you can use.

Alternatively, if you do not have access to some of these products, several home remedies, and DIY solutions can also get the job done. Alloy wheels are sensitive, so we recommend staying away from acid cleaners.

Some people have recommended using starting fluid as a cleaner, but in our view, this may damage your alloy wheels.

Last Updated on March 17, 2024 by Rifen

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