How to Properly Clean Your Tires: A Quick Guide

How to Properly Clean Your Tires: A Quick Guide

When it’s time to hit the road, your tires hit it first. This contact makes tires more likely to pick up dirt and grime that put your vehicle at risk.

You can protect your vehicle by adding tire cleaning to your car wash routine. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to clean your tires properly.

Why Tire Cleaning Matters

Cleaning your tires is a valuable step in caring for your vehicle. Keeping them clean prolongs their life and keeps them safe.

When tires aren’t cleaned regularly, they are more prone to cracks and corrosion. The build-up of hazardous materials or debris in your tires breaks them down over time and affects traction, which might put you at a higher risk for accidents.

Tires can also transfer this debris into other vital parts of your car, like your brake lines or rotors.

What You’ll Need

To get started on cleaning your tires, you’ll want to make sure you have the materials and cleaning solutions you need for the job. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bucket
  • Microfiber or terry cloth towels
  • Hose with a spray attachment
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Wheel wax (optional)
  • Waxing mitt (optional)
  • Pressure washer (optional)

Look for cleaning products labeled safe for use on tires. One that works on both the tires and wheels is preferred. For a natural cleaning solution, create a 70/30 mixture of baking soda and white vinegar to use.

How To Clean Your Tires

Once you’ve gathered what you need, it’s time to get cleaning. Follow these steps and your car will be sporting clean tires in no time.

1. Prep

Move your vehicle to a convenient location near your supplies and water source. Choose a time when the tires aren’t still warm from use. Heat can cause the solutions to evaporate and develop a film.

2. Rinse

Next, rinse your tires and wheels with a spray nozzle attached to your hose or with a pressure washer on a light setting. This removes loose dirt and grime from the surface. Rinse from several angles to help work debris from inside the rim.

3. Wash and Scrub the Tires

Take your cleaning brush and scrub the tire using your preferred cleaning solution. For more stubborn grime, apply the solution and leave it to sit for a few minutes. Allowing it to sit makes grime easier to remove by softening it.

Continue scrubbing with your brush and rinsing as needed until the tire looks clean. Make sure to do this step before tackling the wheel, as a mixture of water, grime, and cleaning solution is likely to run down onto the wheel. Rinse often, because if you allow the tire to dry, it will be more susceptible to scratches.

4. Wash the Wheels

After the tire is cleaned, move on to cleaning the wheel. Wet the wheel and rims before repeating the same steps as the tires to scrub clean. For the harder-to-reach areas, you may need to use a smaller brush.

5. Dry

Using your microfiber towel or terry cloth, dry each tire completely. Water spots can put a damper on your shine. Taking care to ensure your tires and wheels are dry keeps them from developing.

6. Optional Wax Application

While a wax application isn’t necessary for clean tires, it can be a beneficial addition to your car-care routine. The wax coating provides an extra layer of protection between your tires and the elements.

A wax application also adds shine and improves the overall appearance of your tires.

If you want to add this step to your cleaning process, use a waxing mitt to apply a cream or paste wax. Follow the steps listed on the wheel wax of your choice and finish with your microfiber cloth.


Regular tire maintenance is key for tires that look and perform at their best. Follow these steps to clean your tires every two to three months for the best results.

When your tires become dirty sooner, don’t wait to clean them. The longer these things like mood or salt sit on your tires, the more damage they’ll do. If you don’t have time for the full cleaning, give them a rinse to remove some of the grime before your next cleaning.

More Tire Cleaning Tips

There are several cleaning tips to keep in mind when washing your tires:

  • Have towels designated for tire cleaning and use them only for that task
  • Clean each tire and wheel one at a time before moving to the next
  • You can use polishing compounds to buff out any scratches
  • Car washes are an excellent place to clean tires because they recycle the wastewater

If you have any questions or concerns about cleaning the tires on your vehicle, consider asking someone at your auto care service for cleaning tips.

Inspect for Damage

Cleaning your tires is also an opportunity to inspect each tire for damage. Some things to look for to protect the health of your tires are balding, cracks, bulges, rot, or excessive wear.

If you notice any damage, it’s likely time to upgrade your tires.

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Tires

While washing our cars is a common item on our to-do list, tire cleaning isn’t often high on our priority list. Cleaning your tires protects them from damage, keeps you safe, and enhances the look of your vehicle.

Enjoy reading about all things car-related? Check out our Automobile section for more.


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