How To Clean Matte Black Rims

Matte black rims add a sleek and modern touch to any vehicle, but they require special care to maintain their appearance. Unlike glossy rims, matte finishes are more prone to showing dirt, brake dust, and water spots. To keep your matte black rims looking their best, follow these steps for proper cleaning and maintenance.

Materials You’ll Need


Follow these steps to clean your matte black rims effectively:

1. Gather Supplies and Prepare

Start by parking your vehicle in a shaded area. Cleaning matte black rims under direct sunlight can cause cleaning products to dry too quickly, leaving streaks. Gather all your cleaning supplies near the wheels.

2. Rinse the Rims

Begin by rinsing the rims with a hose or a pressure washer. This step helps remove loose dirt and debris from the surface.

3. Apply Wheel Cleaner

Spray a matte wheel cleaner onto the rim’s surface. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the product label. Avoid spraying the cleaner on a hot rim, as it may dry too quickly.

4. Gently Scrub

Using a soft-bristle brush, gently scrub the entire surface of the rim. Pay special attention to crevices, spokes, and the inner barrel. Avoid excessive pressure, as aggressive scrubbing can damage the matte finish.

5. Rinse Thoroughly

After scrubbing, rinse the rims thoroughly with clean water. Make sure to remove all traces of the wheel cleaner.

6. Dry with Microfiber Towels

Use clean, dry microfiber towels to wipe the rims dry. Ensure that there are no water spots left behind. Drying your rims prevents water spots from forming and maintains the matte appearance.

7. Apply Wheel Sealant or Wax (Optional)

To add an extra layer of protection and enhance the matte finish, you can apply a matte-specific wheel sealant or wax. Follow the product’s instructions for application. This step is especially useful if you live in an area with harsh weather conditions or if your rims are exposed to road salt.

8. Regular Maintenance

To keep your matte black rims in top condition, make regular cleaning and maintenance a part of your car care routine. Clean them at least once a month, or more frequently if you drive in dusty or dirty environments.

Additional Tips

  • Avoid Automatic Car Washes: Automatic car washes often use harsh chemicals and brushes that can damage matte finishes. Hand washing is the best option.
  • Use Matte-Specific Products: Stick to cleaning products designed for matte finishes. Matte-specific cleaners and sealants are formulated to protect and enhance the appearance of matte surfaces.
  • Inspect for Damage: Periodically inspect your matte black rims for any signs of damage, such as scratches or chips. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

Dealing with Stubborn Contaminants

In some cases, you might encounter stubborn contaminants like tar, brake dust, or road grime that regular wheel cleaner alone cannot remove. Here’s how you can tackle them without harming the matte finish:

1. Tar and Road Grime Removal: If you notice tar or road grime on your matte black rims, you can use a specialized tar and adhesive remover. Apply a small amount of the remover to a microfiber cloth and gently rub the affected area. Be sure to rinse the area thoroughly afterward to remove any residue.

2. Brake Dust Removal: Brake dust can be a common issue, especially on the front wheels. Use a soft-bristle brush or a dedicated wheel brush to agitate and loosen the brake dust. A mix of gentle wheel cleaner and water can aid in breaking down the dust. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.

Preserving the Matte Finish

Matte black rims have a unique aesthetic, and maintaining their appearance requires some precautions:

  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Acidic or harsh chemicals can damage the matte finish and lead to discoloration. Stick to products specifically formulated for matte surfaces.
  • Use Soft Tools: Always use soft brushes, cloths, and towels to prevent scratches. Abrasive materials can dull the matte appearance over time.
  • Immediate Cleanup: If you notice bird droppings, insect remains, or other contaminants on your rims, clean them off as soon as possible. These substances can be corrosive and damage the finish if left unattended.

Common Cleaning Supplies

SuppliesPurposeUsagePrecautionsRecommended Brands
Microfiber ClothRemoving dust and debrisGentle wipingAvoid abrasive useMeguiar’s, Chemical Guys, Griot’s Garage
Mild DetergentBreaking down grease and grimeDilute in waterTest on a small areaDawn, Chemical Guys, Adams Polishes
Soft BrushAgitating and loosening dirtGently scrubbingAvoid stiff brushesDetail Factory, Chemical Guys, EZ Detail
Wheel CleanerRemoving brake dust and stainsSpray and rinseAvoid prolonged useSonax, Meguiar’s, Griot’s Garage
WaterBasic cleaning and rinsingRinse the rimsUse clean, soft waterN/A

Cleaning Steps

Step 1Rinse the rims with water to remove loose dirt and debris.
Step 2Mix mild detergent with water to create a soapy solution.
Step 3Apply the soapy solution to the rims using a soft brush or microfiber cloth.
Step 4Gently scrub the rims, paying attention to any stubborn spots.
Step 5Rinse the rims thoroughly with clean water.
Step 6If necessary, use a specialized wheel cleaner for brake dust and stains.
Step 7Rinse again to remove any remaining cleaner residue.
Step 8Dry the rims with a clean microfiber cloth.
Step 9Apply a matte wheel protectant if desired.
Step 10Buff the protectant with a separate microfiber cloth for a matte finish.

Frequency of Cleaning

WeeklyRegular maintenance
Bi-WeeklyIf rims are exposed to harsh conditions regularly
MonthlyModerate usage and cleanliness
SeasonalStorage during winter
As NeededFor heavy soiling or neglect

Matte Black Rim Cleaning Tips

Avoid harsh cleanersThey can damage the matte finish.
Use separate clothsOne for cleaning, one for drying.
Clean when coolAvoid cleaning hot rims to prevent soap drying too quickly.
Inspect for damageLook for chips or scratches regularly.
Wax protectionApply a matte wheel wax for added protection.

Recommended Matte Wheel Protectants

ProductTypeFeaturesBrandPrice Range
Chemical Guys Wheel GuardSpray-On ProtectantProvides a protective barrierChemical Guys$20 – $30
Griot’s Garage Matte Wheel SealSpray-On SealantAdds hydrophobic propertiesGriot’s Garage$15 – $25
Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel CleanerSpray-On ProtectantLeaves a durable barrierMeguiar’s$10 – $20
Adams Polishes Matte Wheel SealantSpray-On SealantProvides long-lasting protectionAdams Polishes$15 – $25
Sonax Wheel Rim ShieldSpray-On ProtectantResistant to high brake temperaturesSonax$20 – $30

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use regular soap to clean matte black rims? A: It’s recommended to use a cleaner specifically designed for matte finishes. Regular soap might contain additives that can affect the appearance of the matte surface.

Q: Can I use a pressure washer to clean matte black rims? A: Yes, you can use a pressure washer, but be cautious with the pressure setting. Use a lower pressure setting to avoid damaging the finish or pushing water into areas that are difficult to dry.

Q: Can I polish matte black rims for added shine? A: It’s generally advised not to polish matte finishes, as this can alter the surface texture and result in uneven appearance. If you want added protection and some enhancement, consider using a matte wheel sealant or wax.

Q: What should I do if the matte finish becomes glossy in some spots? A: If you notice areas where the matte finish appears glossy, it’s possible that the finish has been compromised. Consult a professional detailer who specializes in matte finishes to assess the damage and recommend appropriate restoration steps.


Cleaning and maintaining matte black rims requires a delicate touch and the right products. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your matte black rims remain a standout feature on your vehicle, exuding the sleek and modern look that you love. Regular cleaning and proper care will help you enjoy their unique appearance for years to come.


How To Clean Matte Black Rims

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