Payment Plans Available At Checkout!

Learn More
Track Your Order
track icon
Get a $25 Gift Card!
For each friend that makes their first purchase
Start Sharing

Caring For Chrome Rims: How to Clean, Polish and Protect Chrome Wheels

By Tire Agent Staff

April 11, 2023


Chrome wheels: instantly recognizable for their mirror-like reflective shine. A chrome wheel generally has an aluminum body and a soft upper coating that’s made up of a blend of metals. These wheels are popular because they make almost any vehicle stand out a little more. But keeping your chrome rims shiny and reflective means some amount of regular maintenance is required. Dust, harsh weather, and salt water can all quickly wear down the luster of your rims. So if you’re thinking of purchasing a new set of chrome rims, you should know a bit about cleaning chrome rims. 

Looking for something else? 

How to Clean Chrome Rims

The chrome coating on a wheel can be very strong and resistant to damage and corrosion, but only when properly maintained. Remember that chrome is a soft metal that can very easily be damaged by hot, corrosive brake dust and dirty water. This can cause chrome wheels to cloud up and lose their shine. The bright side of chrome being soft is that the wheels can very easily be polished in order to restore their reflective appearance.  

Here are some quick tips for the best way to clean chrome rims:

cleaning chrome rims with a hose

Rinse with water

Chrome wheels should all be rinsed with a garden hose after a long period of driving. While you don’t have to do this every time you drive, the more often you do it, the less chance you’ll have of dirt or brake dust corroding the chrome. If you live in an area with harsher winters and the streets are salted down to melt the snow down, you may have to rinse them more often. Regular contact with salt water can also mean rinsing them off more. 

Use non-acidic wheel cleaners and soft brushes

Most wheel cleaners, unless expressly noted on the bottle, will work with chrome wheels. The best wheel cleaner for chrome wheels is non-acidic as it won’t damage the finish. If there are some stains or dirt that aren’t going away during regular rinsing, a soft brush can be used alongside a cleaning solution. With chrome rims, you never want to use harsher brushes or steel wool, as these will scratch and dull the finish.

cleaning chrome rims nooks and crannies

Clean the nooks and crannies

You may be more focused on the broader sections of your chrome rims, but the lug nuts, cracks, and spokes need just as much attention. Cleaning a chrome wheel is a lot like brushing your teeth  not following patterns and cleaning the parts that are immediately visible.

Polishing Chrome Wheels

Beyond regular maintenance, we’ve also mentioned the importance of polishing chrome wheels to maintain their shine. So what does this mean, and how do you clean chrome wheels without scratching them? 

Chrome polish is generally a very thin gloss that’s applied with a cloth or by hand. Then, a polishing tool that looks similar to a car wax tool is used to smooth out and dry the polish. Chrome polish is usually only meant to be used on metals — not paint. If you correctly apply it, the polish will protect the surface of the chrome against corrosion. 

How often you should polish your wheel depends on the climate you live in and how often you clean your wheel. If you’re regularly rinsing your chrome rim with water and brushing it off, you won’t need to polish it as often. If your area is experiencing harsher winters or you’re regularly coming into contact with salt water, you may need to polish your chrome wheels more. 

Protecting Chrome Wheels

Beyond polishing your chrome rims to restore their shine, you may be looking to preserve the reflective appearance of your chrome wheels as much as possible. Over time, your chrome wheel may oxidize as it’s exposed to the air and start to corrode (this is called pitting). Preventing pitting is where waxing will come into play. 

Wheel wax is a solution that bonds to the surface of your wheel and gives it an extra layer of protection. There are specific wheel wax solutions that are intended to be used on wheels. The wax layer protects the chrome and makes it easier to clean in the future. If properly done, spraying and rinsing your chrome rim with water is all you’ll need to do in order to clean it. Wheel waxing is generally performed every 2-3 months.

Photo credits
52689736 / Washing Car Wheels © Nejron |