How To Clean And Shine Tires


There’s nothing that looks worse than a freshly cleaned vehicle whose wheels and tires were neglected. Don’t be that guy who cleans their vehicle every week and without fail forgets to wash the tires.

Your tire is the actual black rubber part of your wheel. A lot of car owners tend to neglect the washing of their tires when they clean their vehicle and this is a huge mistake. The tire is what actually makes contact with the ground and is one of the parts that collect the most dirt and loose bits. 

You want to make sure that you clean your tires for a couple of reasons. First of all, it just looks bad to have dirty tires when the rest of your vehicle has clearly just been cleaned. Next, if you want your clean car to last you will want to make sure that you wash your tires. As you drive, especially when it has been raining, your vehicle kicks up whatever is on the tires onto your fenders.

Finally safety concerns, the more dirt inside your tread the less traction you will get when stopping. Now that we’ve covered the importance of touching up your tires, let’s talk about the best methods for washing and shining. 

What you use on your tires will absolutely give you varying results, but before you go running out to the auto parts store check out or section on DIY cleansers and shines that you can make at home. 

How To Wash

You can wash your tires in a few easy steps using one of two methods! 

The Tire Cleanser Method

Before we get started, there are several things that you will need: 

  • A tire specific cleanser
  • A tire brush or some form of soft scrub brush 
  • A rag or washcloth
  • Water (a spray bottle or a hose)
  • A jack 

Step 1: You’re going to want to put your vehicle on a jack and lift it just enough that the tire you are trying to clean will spin. Keep in mind you will have to put the vehicle on the jack in different locations for each of the four tires. 

Step 2: Spray the tire cleansing product on the tire. 

Step 3: Scrub the entirety of the tire being sure to clean out all gunk from the tread and crevices in the wheel. 

Step 4: Rinse clean with water and repeat as necessary

Step 5: Dry with a microfiber cloth

Step 6: Finish with a tire shine

Tire Cleaner Products

Tire cleaners are especially formulated to leave your black rubber looking luxurious and glossy. There are a lot of products on the market and it is important to pick the right one. Here are a few of our staff favorites. 

Car Guys Wheel And Tire Cleaner

This is one of the best tire cleaners on the market, leaving your tires a rich and creamy hue. This product is a favorite because not only is it an awesome product to use on your car, it’s also an environmentally friendly formula. 

TriNova Rim Cleaner And Tire Spray

This tire cleaner is one of the staff favorites because it does such a great job repelling water. It’s a very simple formula that happens to be acid free, but it does a killer job restoring the shine and luster of your tires. Check out current prices here: 

The Car Wash Soap Method

In this method we will utilize a car wash soap for cleansing the tires. Here are several things that you will need:

  • A car wash soap meeting criteria (see below)
  • A tire brush or some form of soft scrub brush
  • A rag or washcloth
  • Water (a spray bottle or a hose)
  • A jack 

Step 1: You’re going to want to put your vehicle on a jack and lift it just enough that the tire you are trying to clean will spin. Keep in mind you will have to put the vehicle on the jack in different locations for each of the four tires. 

Step 2: Wet down the tires then apply the soap using the scrub brush.

Step 3:  Scrub the entirety of the tire being sure to clean out all gunk from the tread and crevices in the wheel.

Step 4: Rinse and repeat as necessary. 

Step 5: Dry the tire using the microfiber cloth.

Step 6: Finish with a tire shine

Picking A Great Car Shampoo To Use On Your Tires And Rims

You want to pick a soap based on a couple of factors:

  • pH balanced
  • High foaming properties
  • Biodegradable
  • Reputable brand that is not a 2 in 1 wash and wax product
  • Concentration and value
  1. You can clean tires in the same way that you clean other parts of your vehicle, using an esteemed car shampoo. It is very important when picking out a soap to ensure that the formula is pH balanced and won’t leave behind a harmful residue. A balanced car wash shampoo will have a pH of 7 which is the same pH that water has!
  2. Other important things to look out for is the foam factor and lubrication of the soap. The more sudsy the soap gets, the higher the lubrication rating. It makes sense because soap bubbles are just little pockets of air. What happens when you go to press the sponge into the dirty parts of your car is you end up pressing and scraping those undesirable dirt particles into your paint, rims and tires. This effect results in micro scratches that are smaller than what the human eye can see. 

Micro scratch prevention is the reason that we use soap when we clean our cars, to prevent them from happening as often. Soap does two things to help with micro scratches. 1. The effect of a high foam will do part of the scrubbing and removal for you without you even placing a sponge or cloth to the car. 2. Soap bubbles provide a barrier between your vehicle’s paint and the cleaning tool you are using, this is the lubrication we refer to. The dirt will slip off the car with less abrasion and therefore less damage. 

  1. Make sure your soap is also eco friendly and biodegradable. Remember that when you wash your vehicle, all that water and soap will run off into your lawn, the gutter, or a nearby body of water. There are so many soaps on the market that are absolutely terrible for the environment. They don’t break down and they are toxic to fish and birds. Be sure to pick one that you can feel good about using. 
  2. Pick a reputable brand of car shampoo and whatever you do, avoid 2 in 1 wax products! We’ll discuss all our favorite brands in a bit, but first let’s talk about those 2 in 1 style products. Soap is by nature a degreaser and wax is an oil.. These products do not work! If it sounds too good to be true.. It probably is. If you want to wax your vehicle you are going to have to do it the old fashioned way. 
  3. The final thing you want to look out for when picking out a car soap is concentration and volume for the money that you are spending. A concentrated soap simply means that a little will go a long way. Keep that in mind when evaluating the value of the product for the price.

Car Wash Soaps That You Can Use On Your Tires And Wheels

Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss

We love this soap because it first and foremost boasts it’s environmentally conscious design. Made of a citrus base, this shampoo is free of the harsh sulfates that some of its competitors may offer. 

The soap is also highly concentrated and comes in a large size making it a friend of your wallet as much as it is to the environment. You are only going to need about a cap full in a five gallon bucket to wash up to two vehicles. Not bad! The formula is also pH balanced and is completely safe to use on your vehicle’s paint and won’t leave behind an acidic residue that can corrode the paint. 

In terms of the foaming factor this car shampoo also meets our criteria for soaps that suds up nicely to create a washing lubrication. What this is going to do is lift a lot of that dirt without you having to scrub. The minimal scrubbing you will do will give your car comparatively less micro scratches than that of a less foaming variety. 

All and all this is the number one choice in my opinion for a middle ranged car soap. Check it out on Amazon. 

Adam’s New Car Wash Shampoo

This brand has been on the market for 20 years. In this time Adam’s has formulated many soaps and tested them against each other for things like cleaning power, lubrication and conditioning. Their goal is to provide consumers with the best product for protecting their vehicles. 

This wash is a foaming shampoo and is designed to really make that car gleam and shine. The soap is ultra concentrated and just a cap full in ten gallons of water will produce a lot of suds. Put into a foam cannon and spray down your car for an even better  lubricated cleaning. 

This shampoo is pH balanced and is gentle enough for those who wish to wash their car regularly. Purchase this soap over others that are not given this formulation care. 

For those of you who are environmentally cautious which I hope is all of you. This car wash soap is also biodegradable and environmentally friendly. You don’t need to worry about it washing into your lawn or the gutters and into bodies of water. 

Wheels, Rims and Tires DIY

Your wheels and rims are the metal parts within the black rubber of your tires. Your rims can get very dirty as you drive, accumulating dirt in the small crevices

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a killer way to clean those wheels and rims. I like to add some to a scrub brush or a tooth brush and evenly coat the tire and wheel making sure to get into all the little grooves. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then to really pack a punch spray it down with some vinegar. The reaction between these two ingredients will leave a frothy layer which will bubble up and remove all of the gunk that you may have missed with your scrubbing. Let this mix sit for another 5-10 minutes and then simply hose off.


Vinegar is a great cleaning agent in general and it does a fantastic job when used on the rims of your wheels. Simply mix 2 parts vinegar with 1 part water and add your mixture to a spray bottle. Now spray down your tires and use a soft scrub brush, a tire brush or a toothbrush to clean the rims invigorating the vinegar formula into the grime. Rinse and repeat as necessary then dry the wheel thoroughly. 

Tire Shine Options: 

Now that your tires are clean let’s give them some shine! Many people use car detailing kits, wheel cleaners, waxes, polishes and all other car accessories but never consider that tires need protection too. Tires are expensive, and you can protect them while making them look good! Tire shine is to tires what wax is to paint, essentially a shiny and luxurious protective layer. There are tons of products on the market for this which we will get into and some of them may surprise you. 

Lemon Pledge Furniture Polish

Yes you read that right! Pledge is an awesome option for shining your tires the same way it is an excellent choice for taking care of polishing the surfaces and furniture in your house. I didn’t believe it either so I tried it myself. Here is what I did. 

After washing my car and tires and allowing them to dry, I applied a moderate coating of pledge to the outward facing side of my tires and allowed them to rest for at least five minutes. The pledge will foam up a bit, the same way that it does on your furniture. After allowing the polish to rest for five to ten minutes, take a clean cloth and rub in the pledge using small circular motions. 

You will be left with a tire that shines in the sun but isn’t greasy to the touch and doesn’t look wet like some tire shines can. You also won’t have the issue where the tire shine flicks up onto your fender like can happen with some improperly made tire shines. 

I am all about minimalism in the home and the fact that I can combine a furniture polish as a tire shine and have one less product under my sink at home really sells this deal for me. That and it’s incredibly cheap to use. Check out current prices here:

Carfidant Ultimate Tire Shine Spray

This is a product to buy if you like the dark, wet look for the rubber of your tires. Unlike most wet look tire shines, this product won’t rub off greasy and it won’t kick off as you drive. Even better, you are in control of just how much shine you add to your tires as this product is buildable. 

 This company based out of the United States has been around for some time and as always backs their products with a money back guarantee. Check out their current prices here:

TriNova Tire Shine Spray

This product is guaranteed to give your tires a slick and protective finish that will last. This is one of the longest lasting tire shines on the market and you won’t have to apply it several times a week to continue to see results. 

This product allows you to add as much or as little shine as you want simply by varying the length of time you allow it to set. Check out current prices here:

Tire Brushes And Other Products

Wheel And Tire Brush Duo

This brush set is ideal for detailing your rims and wheels and for scrubbing the heck out of your tires. This kit comes with two brushes, a large stiff bristled brush for scrubbing off that hard to remove dirt and debris from the rubber tire and tread, and a small detailing brush which is ideal for the hard to reach details in your rims. Check out current prices here:

Microfiber Cloths: These super absorbent towels are a must have for any sort of autodetailing, around the house.  Microfiber cloths are insanely absorbent and can hold up to 7x their weight in liquid. They are also soft and safe to use on surfaces that may scratch easily. You can typically buy microfiber cloths at big retailers like Target and Walmart either in the cleaning or automotive section. Alternatively you can find excellent prices for microfiber cloths online. 

All In One:

If you are looking for kits that have a combination of wheel foams and soaps, brushes, and tire shines this section is for you. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite kits that have everything you need for your wheels and tires. 

Eagle One: 4 Piece Car Care Kit For Wheels And Tires 

This is one of the best selling products on the market and the reviews show people just absolutely raving about this kit. First off the tire foam produces a ridiculous amount of lubrication which is very important when choosing a soap. More suds equals more lubrication which is vital for protecting your wheels from micro scratches. Essentially the more bubbles you have the less actual scrubbing you have to do and the elbow grease that you do put in has a protective barrier between the dirt and your car. 

Next up is the tire shine which performed admirably in our testing. This tire shine doesn’t leave a greasy residue the way some other products on the market do. Simply apply using the convenient aerosol can, allow to sit for five minutes and rub in. It couldn’t be easier. 

The final product in this kit is a set of two reusable tire sponges. The design of these sponges is superb and they fit nicely in the users hand. They are strategically designed to access all of the small components of your wheel well. The durability of this product leads me to believe that this sponge will be good to use for several years without major deterioration. All and all this is a fantastic product kit. 

Check out current prices:

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