There are multiple ways to go about cleaning your wheels. You can spray the wheel generously with a cleaning product for speedily shining it up. Or you can put on a slippery clay lubricant in order to get rid of any bonded contaminants on the hubcaps or rims without scratching them.
It's also possible to take a quarter of a clay bar, flatten it into a patty with your fingers, and then use it to rub all over your wheel. This can safely remove brake dust, dirt, road salt, splattered bugs, and so forth between spokes and wherever you see black spots or pitting.
Using Clay Bars and Other Products for Cleaning Wheels
- Wheel Cleaner: Cleaning products like KevianClean Wheel Cleaner can deal with the initial and final cleanup of your wheel sans contaminants that have bonded with the surface of the wheel material itself. Regardless, you can also use the product in order to avoid contaminant bonds in the first place by cleaning your wheels off of them and heading off that problem at the proverbial pass. It's better to prevent problems than to deal with them later.
- Clay Bars: Clay bars are effective in getting rid of sticky or bonded contaminants on your paint finish without ruining it with scratches from loosened grit. Just remember to use the bar correctly. Fold the clay first to reveal a clean side as it becomes soiled by removing contaminants on the other side. The clay makes the dirt bond onto it instead of on your wheel while at the same time keeping them from scouring through the wheel surface.
- Quick Detailer or Clay Lubricant: After loosening all that contamination from your wheel, you can use either a clay lube or quick detailer in order to get rid of the clay residue that had caught all that dust and dirt unto itself. These products will also allow you to wipe your wheel clean before you even get to polish it to a nice clear shine. Do this for all four wheels. The lubricant essentially allows you to get rid of the clay you used to remove the bonded contaminants. Clean everything up with wheel cleaner for good measure.
- Wheel Polishing: You also need to pick your wheel polish based on the surface of your wheel alloy. A wheel with a clear-coat like your car finish requires a polish that's less aggressive and gritty than a bare aluminum wheel. You should also make sure to get rid of every last speck of brake dust on your wheel in light of its corrosiveness. You'll have to pay for new wheels outright if you don't take care to rid yourself of this dust.