How to Clean Car Tires

Nothing’s worse than dirty dull tires on a freshly detailed car. Tires can often be ignored when washing your car by hand. Sometimes they’ll get a quick wipe down, then a fresh coat of tire dressing. However, taking a few minutes to learn how to clean car tires can go a long way. Trust us, don’t skip out on showing your tires some TLC.

We’ll review tire ingredients to help explain why clean tires are important. We’ll also discuss the benefits of cleaning your tires, products to use, plus a step-by-step cleaning guide.

Why it’s important to keep your car tires clean

Tires kept clean are less prone to drying, cracking, and creases. We all know quality tires aren’t cheap, they’re an investment. Proper maintenance can go a long way to keeping your tires in great shape and extending their life. Also, dressing is much more effective and lasts longer on clean tires.

how to clean car tires

When you deep clean your tires for the first time, you’ll be removing old layers of dressing, dirt, and grime. Afterwards, you’ll have a fresh slate to start with. Also, if you continue to keep them clean during your weekly wash routine, it’ll be less of a pain.

Car tire materials and layers

Modern car tires are essentially made from two parts. The inner cords, that make up the ply, serve as the core structure. The elastomer, which covers the cords, forms the tread and outer shape of the tire. Most tires are made from several rubber compounds, including several chemical compounds.

The typical tire sidewall is basically a rubber material with several additives. Over time, they’ll get dirty and dirt can actually enter the tire due to its porous structure. Meaning, dirt can not only sit on top of the rubber, but also small amounts inside the surface of the rubber.

Products Needed to Clean Car Tires

You’ll need five basic products to effectively clean your car tires. The Auto Care Geek Team has already put together our recommended list to save you time by taking out the guesswork.

  • Stiff brush to agitate the dirt and grime
  • All Purpose Cleanser (APC)
  • Two buckets, one filled with water, the other with the APC
  • Tire Shine Dressing
  • Applicator to apply the dressing

Tire Cleaner – Meguiar’s D10101 Detailer All Purpose Cleaner

 in stock
28 new from $19.50
as of April 24, 2024 3:06 pm

Meguiar’s All Purpose Cleaner is an absolute workhorse. It’s a great all around cleaner that can be use on tons of different surfaces. It’ll tackle dirty carpet, leather seats, vinyl trim, cloth seats, and more. Plus it’s strong enough to lift away tire grime. We recommend a 4:1 dilution for tire cleaning. 10:1 dilution is best for most other applications.

Meg’s APC doesn’t disappoint and is a great tire cleaner.

Tire Shine – Meguiar’s D17001 Hyper Dressing

 in stock
14 new from $64.94
Free shipping
as of April 24, 2024 3:06 pm

Tire dressings come in two forms, solvent and water based. We’re fans of water based formulas. They’re easy to use, plus, super versatile. Meg’s D170 Hyper Dressing is a pro formula and results are superior. It absorbs into rubber surfaces, which means it’s less likely to create a mess on your wheels. It can also be diluted to wipe down your interior vinyl and plastic surfaces.

Applicator – Chemical Guys Wonder Wave Durafoam Dressing Applicator Pad

 in stock
1 new from $6.99
Free shipping
as of April 24, 2024 3:06 pm

The pros at Chemical Guys make a quality applicator pad. The Durafoam applicator pad does a great job spreading dressing evenly across nooks and crannies. It’s really hard to miss a spot using these pads. And the best part, no need to get your hands dirty and greasy.

How to Clean Car Tires Guide

Here’s our easy step-by-step guide on how to clean car tires:

Step 1

You’ll need two buckets. Fill one bucket with clean cool water, the other with a 1:1 dilution ratio of the APC mixture as the tire soap.

Step 2

Hose down and wet all tires. Blast off any loose dirt or mud. The more grime you clean off now, the better.

Step 3

Pre-soak with the APC. Spray the cleaner all over the tire liberally and give it 5 minutes to work itself into the rubber. The APC will work deep into the sidewalls, loosening hard to reach dirt particles.

Step 4

Let the tire scrub begin! Take the stiff brush and begin to agitate the tire soap.  Work all around the sidewall. Rinse the brush in the clean water and keep at it until most of the grime has been lifted.

Step 5

Wash the tire with the soapy water. This will degrease the rest of the caked on dirt.

Step 6

Use the hose to rinse off all remaining soap and residue. Let the tires dry for a few minutes.

Step 7

It’s time to apply the dressing.  Pour the tire dressing onto the applicator and glide across the sidewall.  Apply with thin coats, don’t go too heavy.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to clean car tires isn’t complicated. Why pay a pro, or take your car to an automated wash, when you can easily handle yourself.

Taking these easy steps will not only help brighten and shine your tires, it’ll help them last longer.

Remember to keep your tire cleaning routing going whenever you wash your car!


  1. How to clean tires – Detailing Wiki

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