Over time, semi-metallic brake pads create dust that sticks to your wheels. This can dull the shine of your wheels or turn them black.
If you want to clean the brake dust off of your wheels, you’ll need some wheel cleaner. You should also wear some latex, rubber, or nitrile gloves to protect your skin if the wheel cleaner says to avoid skin contact on the label. You should also wear safety glasses in case of splatter. While the wheel cleaner will break down some of the dust and buildup on its own, you will likely need to scrub your wheels with a scrub brush. Brake dust can take a little elbow grease to clean off. Be sure to get a scrub brush with plastic bristles to avoid scratching your wheels.
How to clean brake dust off your wheels with wheel cleaner
First, spray the wheels with the wheel cleaner and let them sit for a few minutes to soften up the brake dust. Next, scrub them with your scrub brush and rinse them off. You may need to repeat this a few times to get your wheels clean. Depending on how hard you are able to scrub, and what kind of wheels you have, you may not be able to get all of the brake dust off of your wheels.
Once your wheels are clean, you can also clean some of the brake dust off of your brake parts by spraying some brake cleaner on them and pumping the brakes to get the cleaner into all of the parts. Spray into every crack and crevice you see on the brakes. Let everything drip dry for an hour or two to get the moisture out of your brakes. Your brakes may stick, slip, or squeal a bit at first, but once they are dry and the residue from the brake dust is gone, they will be back to normal.
To clean the back sides of your wheels and to clean your brakes more easily, you can remove the wheels. This may take a bit more time, but you’ll get more of the brake dust off and your car or truck will look much cleaner.