How to Polish Chrome Wheels

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Chrome tire (Photo: @chara_stagram_ via Twenty20)
You’ve washed, waxed, polished, and buffed the body of your car, but no vehicle is truly clean until its chrome wheels are shining.
We don’t have to tell you, the chrome on your wheels gets dirty fast. It seems like you can’t even take a quick drive to the grocery store and back without your wheels getting noticeably dirtier. The plight of the chrome tires is one part brake dust and other parts mud, dirt, and oil.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent your wheels from getting dirty in the first place, chrome wheels will always require maintenance and polishing to stay clean and shiny. That being said, a good clean goes a long way. Here’s how to polish your chrome wheels.

Materials

First, make sure you have the proper equipment and materials:
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Sponge or a foam pad
  • Gentle dish soap
  • Soft cloth (bonus points for the microfiber variety)
  • Chrome wheel cleaner
  • Chrome wheel polish or metal polish

Wash with soap and water

Before polishing your chrome wheels, you need to start with a clean surface. Add 1-2 tablespoons of gentle dish soap to a bucket full of water. Saturate a sponge with the mixture and use it to scrub off any dirt or debris. Don’t worry about any marks that are hard to remove. Rinse your wheels with water.

Chrome wheel cleaner

After your wheels have completely dried, you are ready to use the chrome wheel cleaner. Spray on the cleaner, taking care not to get any on the car’s paint. Let the cleaner sit on the chrome for about a minute and then rinse it off with water. Use the soft microfiber cloth to wipe the wheel clean before moving on to the next step.

Apply chrome polish

There are several chrome wheel polishes available on the market. The easiest of these is a “wipe-off” solution. Apply a quarter-sized amount of polish to your microfiber cloth. Spread it evenly over the chrome wheel. It may take a few applications before you cover the wheel completely.

Wipe off the polish

After the polish completely dries and turns into a powdery coating, it’s time to wipe it off. You can test to see if it is ready by running your finger through it. If it comes off in a powder, then it’s ready. If not, wait a few more minutes.
When ready, wipe off completely with a clean microfiber cloth until your chrome wheels are shiny and clean. Polishing should also remove any of the tough marks that were not removed by the initial wash with soap and water.