The Best Way to Remove Brake Dust From My Wheels

Posted on 16 July, 2018 8:40:35

If you’ve ever seen a car with baked on brake dust you’ll know how unsightly it becomes as the layers of dust build up over time. Not only can brake dust become corrosive if left unattended, but when you do finally clean the brake dust away you can scratch the surface of your rims and even your paintwork by moving the brake dust around if you’re not using the right cleaning products. 

Whilst brake pad wear is unavoidable, the presence of brake dust doesn’t mean that your brakes are in bad condition. When your brake pads are in use, metallic particles of the brake pad surface develop a static charge. Then the metallic dust adheres to the surface of steel and alloy rims, and often the duco around the wheel arch. This can be particularly problematic when the rims are powder-coated or have a clear coat. If the brake dust is left for a long time it may actually be impossible to remove all of the brake dust as the metallic brake dust particles can imbed themselves into the surface of the rim. So how do you ensure the glorious shine of your wheels and avoid brake dust getting the better of them?



The most simple way to avoid a build-up of brake dust is to wash your car regularly. If you choose to wash at home ensure that you give good focus to your wheels during each clean, using a pH neutral soap to ensure proper lubrication in order to avoid the dust particles damaging your rims. Ensure that you use a different sponge for the wheels to avoid transferring the dust onto the paintwork, which can lead to unsightly scratches and swirl marks. If you choose an auto wash that uses brushes or is touch free be mindful that your rims may be overlooked as these methods often focus on the body of the car rather than the wheels. A professional hand car wash will provide you with a more thorough clean, taking care of the entire car for you and ensuring that the wheels are kept brake dust free.



When the baked on dust has become more of an issue and won’t budge with water and soap, it’s time to call in the reinforcements. Tackling brake dust at home can be more of a pain than it’s worth. There are plenty of wheel cleaners on the market, but they are not all created equal. You’ll find many acid-based (pH negative) products, which require caution. As acid is highly corrosive, if you’re using these in your driveway you should consider the potential risk to yourself, your family and pets and also the environmental impact of these products running into stormwater. You must take extra care to ensure you do not inhale the product or get any on your skin. Always follow the instructions to ensure that you don’t risk harm to yourself or cause damage to your rims. You will also find products that are more pH neutral, though they may not be as effective in removing the metallic dust.


When your brake dust is out of hand the best thing you can do is take your car to a professional hand car wash. The team will use appropriate products for each area of your vehicle to ensure the best clean, including products and tools specifically designed to remove brake dust. The staff are trained in how to use the different products effectively and safely to ensure there is no damage to the rim. Professional car washes are also required to send their water to trade waste where it is treated before entering stormwater, so there is less risk to the environment.

Topics:   Car Care,  Car Wash

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