Posted on: July 27, 2009 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 2

Everyone wants to have that clean car that looks and performs just like the day they bought it. People spend a lot of time and money making the car body look and feel brand-new, but the unsightly appeal of brake dust can reduce the value of your car. Here are some ways to clean your wheels and get rid of brake dust.

What is Brake Dust?

Most modern brakes and brake linings are composed of metal alloys and carbon fiber bound and assembled with adhesive materials. When you engage your car’s braking system, parts of the brake wear out due to friction and heat. Brake dust is the combination of high-temperature metal, fiber, and adhesive that sticks to your car wheels.

Brake dust is a by-product of your brakes under normal operation. While small amounts of brake dust do not do much harm to your wheels or to the tires, they are agents of corrosion. The compounds of brake dust are highly acidic, and can cause corrosion on unprotected metal surfaces. Hot brake dust can wear your wheels and make them susceptible to rusting and corrosion. The high-temperature corrosive can also make its way to the rubber wheels, causing punctures, wear, and other forms of damage.

If you have too much brake dust, your car may be unsafe to drive at high speeds. Having a lot of brake dust on your wheels and rims can also mean that you need to replace your brakes, or that you may only need to clean the wheels.

Conventional Cleaning

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money cleaning up your car, but you do have to put in a bit of elbow grease. Here’s how you can clean your wheels free of brake dust with conventional cleaning methods.


To remove brake dust from your wheels, you need the following tools:

  • High pressure hose
  • Nylon brush with soft bristles
  • Stiff nylon brush
  • A bucket of hot water
  • Liquid soap
  • Cold water


Residue from brake dust can cause skin irritation when touched, or can cause respiratory problems when inhaled. The powder can form a corrosive acidic substance when mixed with water, so you have to take extra precautions to protect yourself from injury or illness. Always wear rubber gloves and protective goggles when working

To clean brake dust the conventional way, follow these steps:

  1. Start with a dry wheel.
  2. Clear away all the brake dust that you can from the wheel using the soft nylon brush.
  3. Spray the wheels with cold water from a high pressure hose. Make sure the pressure is not too strong to avoid damaging the finish of the wheels, or risk puncturing the tires from high-pressure water or brake dust.
  4. Using soap and water, gently scour the surface of the tires to remove the brake dust. You may need to use a toothbrush to get to spokes or hard-t0-reach areas.
  5. Clear out the brake dust by rinsing out the soap and water from the wheel. Make sure to drain the rinse immediately to avoid the acidic substance from forming a corrosive substance.
  6. Follow the same steps for all four wheels.
  7. For more information on cleaning the car’s wheels, learn how to clean mag wheels.

Commercial Cleaning Agents

Many commercial cleaning products are available from an auto supply store. Most wheel cleansers can get rid of baked-on brake dust. The cleansing products may come in concentrates that you can mix with water to make a cleaning solution. Some cleaning agents may be applied from spray bottles. Most of these cleaning products can be applied on a dry or rinsed wheel. Make sure to follow the package instructions before using commercial wheel cleaning products.

Professional Cleaning

For baked-on or caked-in brake dust, you need to take your car to a professional auto detailing service. Auto detailers have the equipment and cleaning tools needed not only to clean wheels from brake dust, but also to restore your wheels and rims to their original shine. You should also have your brakes inspected to see if they are still in good condition. If not, you need to have them replaced. If your wheels are very corroded, you may want to have them replaced or plated with a new coating. Some detailers may apply a special layer of wax to protect your wheels from the corrosive effects of brake dust.

The clean, showroom look does not have to fade away the day you drive your car out of the showroom. The value of your car lies in cleanliness and good maintenance, from the car body right down to the wheels. With these steps and tips to get rid of brake dust, you can maintain that brand-new look on every inch of your car.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of brake dust.

2 People reacted on this

  1. You can also reduce break dust by using brake pads that are designed to be low dust or dustless brake pads. These can be purchased through an autoparts store. Look for a bigger store online store and you will most likely see ratings on how dustless they are and possibly user comments.

    These dustless brake pads may be a bit more costly but they may also have better stopping power which is definitely a benefit on the safety side of things.

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