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What’s the difference between non-acidic and acidic wheel cleaners?

When it comes to maintaining the appearance of your car, attention to detail is very important. At Autobrite Direct, we are passionate about all things cars, and ensuring that your...

When it comes to maintaining the appearance of your car, attention to detail is very important. At Autobrite Direct, we are passionate about all things cars, and ensuring that your vehicle looks its absolute best. Preserving paintwork, and effective cleaning is vital because well… looks are everything! 

One of the areas that require regular cleaning and care is your vehicle’s wheels. As they are constantly exposed to road grime, brake dust, and other contaminants. But to effectively clean wheels, it’s essential to choose the right product for the job. That means choosing between an acidic and non-acidic wheel cleaner. 


The power behind acidic wheel cleaners 


Acidic wheel cleaners are known for their potent formulas and therefore great cleaning capabilities. They can commonly include powerful acidic ingredients such as hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, or sulfuric acid. They are included because they are excellent at breaking down stubborn brake dust, iron particles, and other types of ingrained dirt you can find on your wheels. Acidic wheel cleaners are effective at removing rust stains and any heavy contaminants that are deeply embedded in the wheel’s surface. Their powerful formula allows them to dissolve these tough residues, leaving behind clean and gleaming wheels.


Autobrite Direct Acidic Wheel Cleaner 


Acidic wheel cleaner


Taking caution with acidic wheel cleaners 


It’s important to exercise caution when using acidic cleaners. Due to their strong and powerful formula, acidic cleaners can potentially cause damage to certain wheel finishes, such as bare metal, anodised aluminum, or chrome. Plus, they can also cause damage if left on surfaces for extended periods of time. On all of our acidic wheel cleaning products, we provide instructions on how to use the products. Strongly recommending that the user tests the product on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire wheel. We also would strongly recommend using gloves and wearing protective eye protection to ensure your safety whilst using an acidic wheel cleaner. 


The gentle yet effective alternative of the non-acidic wheel cleaner


Non-acidic wheel cleaners offer a more gentle alternative to the acidic wheel cleaner. Perfect for those who want to protect their wheels, and any special finishes they may have, without compromising on cleanliness and appearance. These cleaners rely on surfactants, detergents, and specialised cleaning agents to break down dirt and grime on the wheel’s surface. While they may not have the same aggressive cleaning power as their acidic counterparts, they still provide great results for regular maintenance of your wheels. 


Autobrite Direct Very Cherry Non-acidic Wheel Cleaner


Very cherry non acidic wheel cleaner


The versatility of non-acidic wheel cleaners 


Non-acidic wheel cleaners are generally safe to use on a wide range of wheel finishes, including chrome, clear-coated, painted, and alloy wheels. Making them an excellent choice for daily cleaning routines, and when dealing with delicate wheel surfaces. These formulas are also more user-friendly, meaning they are perfect for car detailing beginners, as they are less likely to cause harm if accidentally splashed on your skin or clothing.


Choosing the right wheel cleaner for you 


Determining the right wheel cleaner for your abilities, wheel finish and the frequency that you clean your car involves considering…


  • The amount of dirt and grime on your wheels. If your wheels are heavily soiled, have rust stains, or require deep cleaning, an acidic wheel cleaner may be the more suitable option. For regular maintenance and light dirt, non-acidic wheel cleaners should be adequate. 
  • The wheel’s finish. It’s important to consider the type of wheels you have. Acidic cleaners should be used with caution on sensitive finishes, while non-acidic cleaners provide a safer choice for various wheel types.
  • Your personal abilities. Always prioritise your personal safety. It’s important to follow the instructions and recommendations from the manufacturer. But it’s also important to consider your own abilities and whether you are able to follow the instructions using the correct tools and equipment. 


Wheel cleaning equipment and tools 


At Autobrite Direct, we offer a range of tools and equipment specifically designed for cleaning your wheels. Ensuring that each time you clean your car, you get excellent results!


  1. Wheel Brushes: We have a variety of wheel brushes with different bristle types and lengths to suit various wheel designs and finishes. These brushes are designed to reach into tight spaces and effectively agitate dirt and grime for thorough cleaning.
  2. Wheel Mitts: Our wheel mitts are designed to be gentle on your wheels while still effectively removing dirt. Made from a soft microfibre material, ensuring scratch-free cleaning.
  3. Spray Bottles: Most of the AD products come in a spray bottle already. This allows for easy and precise application of the wheel cleaning product to the specific area. Designed to deliver the correct amount of product with each spray. 
  4. Microfibre Towels: We recommend using microfibre cloths or towels for drying the wheels after cleaning. These soft and absorbent materials help prevent water spots and leave the wheels with a streak-free finish.


Contact Us 


Both acidic and non-acidic wheel cleaners have their place in the detailing world. Each offers a multitude of advantages and provides effective cleaning in its own way. Acidic wheel cleaners boast powerful cleaning powers, making them ideal for tackling stubborn contaminants. Whereas non-acidic wheel cleaners offer a gentler approach, perfect for regular maintenance, and preserving delicate wheel finishes. 

Want to discuss cleaning your wheels with an AD expert? Get in touch via phone on 01782 315 632, email us at, fill in a contact form or connect with us on socials!


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