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How to Clean Chrome Rims

by &BAM Collaborator on September 03, 2020

Your car reflects your personal image, whether you like it or not, and your chrome rims make the same type of statement as well. This is just one reason to maintain your car’s interior and exterior, from the dash to the hood all the way down to your tires and chrome rims. 

If you’re new to chrome, there is nothing wrong with not knowing how to clean chrome rims. Being uninformed only becomes a problem if you don’t make the effort to seek out the answer, even if it means finding out that cleaning chrome rims that are pitted can be even more of a challenge. But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through!

 

What You Will Need

Here are the main items you’ll need for cleaning your car wheels

  • Bucket of water
  • Synthetic bristle brush
  • A soft, large sponge 
  • Chrome-specific wheel cleaner and polish
  • Microfiber cloth 
  • Rubber gloves (optional)

Be sure that you are cleaning chrome wheels with a wheel cleaner specifically meant for chrome rims and not for aluminum rims. Additionally, take note that rim-cleaning products are different from tire cleaning products or tire shine gels, which you can of course use beforehand to protect your tires and make your tires look good, too--they just don’t do much for the chrome. 

Using the wrong chemicals can corrode the metal and leave behind permanent markings. If you are also washing your car on the same day, clean your car wheels after washing your car because the dirt and debris from the chassis can drip down onto your wheels, forcing you to have to clean your wheels all over again.  

 

Cleaning Chrome Wheels

Chrome is known to be a very soft metal, which makes it a common choice to finish or coat other metals, and is also what allows it to respond very well to buffing and polishing. When cleaning your chrome rims, be sure to maximize the process by putting in some extra effort when polishing at the end. The same goes for any chrome trim on the rest of your car. 

To clean your chrome rims, follow these easy steps!

  • Wash the wheels with a hose. Remove all of the debris by washing the wheels down with water. If the dirt is particularly firm in its position, use a large wet sponge to gently scrub it away.
  • Spray on wheel cleaner. Use a cleaner that is appropriate for your wheels, apply an even layer to your rim and tires. Allow the wheel cleaner to soak up the dirt and dust for several minutes prior to gently removing it with a sponge--soak times can vary depending on the product, so make sure you read the instructions carefully. Automotive soaps also work well if you don’t have a wheel cleaner on hand! Put a pair of gloves on and use a bristle brush to scrub any mud off the tires.
  • Remember to clean between and behind the spokes of your chrome rims. With the use of the synthetic bristle brush, clean behind the spokes and the fender wells because they also collect dirt while the wheels are moving. 
  • Rinse and dry the wheels. Now that the spray cleaner has been wiped away, properly rinse the wheels with clean water and dry them using a microfiber cloth.
  • Go over stubborn stains. If there still is any dirt or dust on your wheels, go over the strained areas again before washing and drying them for a second time.
  • Wax your chrome rims. After drying your wheels and tires, keep your chrome rims shining by applying a chrome rim wax or a ceramic coating, and buff with a cloth until shiny. Wipe away the excess wax with a microfiber cloth and you are done for the day!

 

Chrome Rims That Are Pitted

You may find cleaning chrome rims that are pitted to be a struggle. But, it has to be done just the same. Luckily, to make things a little less stressful, there are only really four main things that you need to clean your pitted chrome rims: 

  • #0000 fine steel wool
  • Cotton cloth
  • Warm water
  • Automotive soap

When chrome rims are exposed to the air, they can pit easily. The ideal method to clean pitting from the chrome rim is to sand it down. But, there could possibly be a need for repair if the damage is beyond basic pitting. To prevent things from going bad, be sure that you take the time to maintain your tires and chrome rims by monitoring them for damage or damaging substances on a regular basis.

Use automotive soap and warm water to wash the chrome rims. Dry the rims by using a cotton cloth, and then use #0000 fine steel wool to reduce the pitting by rubbing in a circular motion. 

Some pitting cannot be completely removed since it’s oxidation of the chrome, but doing this can certainly help make it smoother!

 

Oxidized Chrome Rims

Oxidation is a common occurrence when it comes to chrome rims, which causes them to rust. If you are concerned about rust becoming a troublesome factor, get rid of the oxidation from the chrome rims by using:

  • Water 
  • Steel wool pad
  • Automotive soap

Here are the steps to follow in order to clean oxidized chrome rims:

  • Make a mixture of soap and water and clean your chrome rims. This mixture also is helpful in getting rid of dirt and grease if there happens to be some on your chrome rims.
  • With a steel wood pad along with water, scrub in circular motions to remove the rust on the wheel. 
  • Get rid of any remaining mess with clean water and dry. 

 

Make Your Chrome Rims Shine

Make sure to take some time to restore the gleaming beauty of your chrome rims. Isn’t that what you bought them for in the first place? During the winter months in regions of the world where snow and ice are combated with rock salt to keep roads safe, your chrome rims are susceptible to being damaged by the salt. 

Keep your eyes on your chrome rims, clean them weekly by using: 

The steps to restoring chrome rims are as follows: 

  • Buy automotive soap and mix with warm water 
  • Clean the chrome rims with a clean sponge
  • Dry your chrome rims with a cleaning cloth and apply the required amount of chrome polish to the chrome rims with the use of another cleaning cloth that is free from lint for the desired shine (microfiber cloths are a great option as they don’t leave behind stray fibers)
  • To top it all off, you can use automotive spray wax or ceramic coating to wax protect the chrome rims from damage 

Closing Reminders

  • Be sure that you know whether you have alloy or chrome wheels. 
  • Wash your wheels with water.
  • Spray on a proper cleaner for your type of wheels.
  • Clean between the spokes with a synthetic brush. 
  • Rinse and dry off your wheels.
  • Wax and polish!

Knowing how to clean your chrome rims is an important investment in their longevity. Who wants to pay all of that money for those eye-catching chrome wheels on your vehicle just to have them ruined with rust? 

Once you get yourself into the regular routine, you will be able to become motivated by the gorgeous results that you receive, the compliments you are sure to hear, and the knowledge that you are preserving your chrome rims, allowing them to live another year without having to be totally rechromed altogether! 

SOURCES:

https://www.cleanipedia.com/in/en/out-of-home/how-to-wash-shine-car-wheels.html

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Polish-Old-Rust-Stained-Chrome-Wheels/

https://thegaragely.com/how-to-clean-chrome-rims/

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