6 Proven Steps To Get Rid Of Brake Dust And Get Wheels Looking New Again

6 Proven Steps To Get Rid Of Brake Dust And Get Wheels Looking New Again


If you see charcoal-colored dust on your car’s wheels, chances are, they’re not just road grit. Even if your car’s body is as spick and span as it could be, the brake dust sitting on the crevices of your wheels will ruin your car’s overall aesthetic. 

Worse, brake dust can etch into your wheels' finish causing scratches or corrosion. You’ll either need to have them refinished or replaced. 

In this post, we’ll talk about getting rid of that pesky dark dust. We’re going to cover: 

  • An overview of what brake dust is and what causes it
  • Why it’s important to get rid of it
  • If it can be prevented
  • 6 easy steps to get rid of brake dust from the wheels

If you’re interested in keeping your wheels as clean and as long-lasting as it can, this post is for you. 

Read on to find easy actionable ways to get rid of brake dust from your car’s wheels.

What Is Brake Dust?

Brake dust is the charcoal-colored or dark gray dust particles building around the car’s wheels. It comes from either the brake pads or rotor wearing down when grinding each other. 

brake pad and rotor disk produce brake dust


When you step on the brakes, brake pads squeeze against the brake disc. The friction that erodes the surfaces causes tiny particles from it to fly off. 

The most recent brake pads are mainly made of ceramic material but still have as much as 30% iron in them. So it still throws off debris that ends up sitting on the car’s wheels. 

You might think this is just regular dust that gets blown away by air, but it’s not. 

The braking action of the pads and disc make the metal and carbon particles heat up and produce a static charge. This charge results in a magnetically powered bond on the dust particles sitting on the wheel surface. 

Simply said, when this happens, the dust clings stronger to the wheels making it a torment to clean off. 

Why not just leave it on and tolerate the “ugly wheel syndrome”?

Because cleaning of the brake dust isn’t just for aesthetics, there’s another equally important reason. 

Recommended Reading: How To Cut Your Exterior Detailing Time In Half

Why Is It Important to Get Rid of Brake Dust?

Brake dust isn’t just unsightly on wheels. The rough dust particles can etch on the surface and cause marks and stains. Worse, it can cause corrosion and in turn permanent damage needing major repair or replacement.  

Think too what the brake dust can do to the car’s body. 

When washing the car, you’ll probably be using the same towel to clean the wheels and the body. The jagged fragments of the brake dust can stick to the towel and scratch your clear coat or paintwork as you drag it across the surface. 

It exposes the car’s body to rust and thus causes it to look more aged than it should. 

brake dust on wheels


The wheels won’t be the only ones that need fixing, the paintwork.

In rare cases, it can also pose health risks. For some types of brake dust, inhaling it for long periods can lead to cancer

Knowing this might get you a little more cautious and wonder if you can prevent it, check out the answer in the next section. 

Can Brake Dust Be Prevented?

As much as we’d like to give you an extra confident yes, we can’t. It’s just not possible to avoid brake dust completely because it’s a by-product of your car’s braking system. 

But you can come close. Here are 3 things you can try:

  1. Use high-grade organic brake pads like Twaron or Kevlar - these kinds of brake pads are made of fiber so it’ll kick out lesser debris. They’re also forgiving on the rotor disks too. The downsides are that they can be too pricey and not available to many types of cars.
  2. Install a brake dust shield - as the name suggests, it's a shield that prevents the dust from sticking to the wheels. It also has vents allowing your brakes to cool. 
  3. Apply Hydrosilex - it’s a silica soap that makes the dust particles slide off the wheel’s surface. It doesn’t just protect the wheel against brake dust but with other orad contaminants as well. But there’s a downside to this too, it’s also pricey.

If you don’t have the budget for these solutions, you might ask how you can clean brake dust off of wheels. You can try an 8-step wheel washing process that’s guaranteed to get rid of brake dust. 

6 Simple Steps to Get Rid of Brake Dust

1.Use High-Pressure Water to Blast Wheels

Brake dust doesn’t just stick on the outward part of the wheels, there are particles on the backside too. Many of us don’t have the luxury of a weekend-long wheel wash, to get the job faster and to be able to reach those tight spots, use a car cleaning gun to wet the wheels and soften the contaminants.

Recommended Reading: 3 Key Benefits Of Using A Car Cleaning Gun You Should Know About

Also, make sure the wheels are cool before you start washing it. You don’t want to get burns while cleaning your wheels. 

Parking Tip: If you can, avoid parking your car where there’s a storm drain to avoid polluting the water supply with the cleaning chemicals you’ll use. It’s best if you can wash the lawn so the grass can absorb the water you use for cleaning. 

2. Spray On An Appropriate Brake Dust Cleaner

You might ask, “what is the best cleaner for brake dust?”. Different kinds of wheels have different cleaners. Find the right one for your wheels so you won’t cause unnecessary stains or damage. 

You can easily find alloy, steel, or chrome-safe wheel cleaners on your local hardware.  

Read the instructions to find out the dilution ratio and how long you should leave it on. Use a car cleaning gun to apply the cleaner so it can agitate the dust on the wheels’ nooks and crannies and so that you won’t need to brush off the dust afterward. 

3. Check If The Dust Broke Down

After letting the cleaning solution sit for a while, check the wheels if the solution was able to remove the dust. Use the car cleaning gun to blast away remaining contaminants on the wheels. 

4. Rinse 

Use the car cleaning gun again, now with just water on the container to rinse the wheels. The purpose of using this is so that you can triple check if there are no more contaminants left on tight spots of the wheels while rinsing off the cleaner at the same time. 

5. Wipe It Dry

When already dust-free, use a microfiber towel to wipe the wheels dry. 

6. Apply Protective Wax

When the wheels are clean and dry, apply an appropriate wax product to bring back the gloss and protect the surface. 

The brake pads and rotors will definitely grind dust particles once you use the car again, applying wax will limit the dust sticking to the wheels. 

Keep Your Wheels Safe From Brake Dust

While it can’t be completely avoidable, a weekly car wash using the 6 steps outlined for wheel cleaning will ensure brake dust won’t sit and ruin your car’s wheels. 

Taking these 6 actionable steps will help your wheels look as great as it can get for a long time. 

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