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Brake Dust Cleaning Methods – How to Remove It Effectively?

Maybe you notice that you see some grimy and yellowish dirt on your rims. These are the brake dust. And it can be very annoying if you are giving special attention to your car’s detailing. Here we explain the brake dust cleaning methods and also how to prevent brake dust.

What is Brake Dust?

Brake Dust Cleaning

Lets we can start from the basics. The reason behind the brake dust is very simple. The stator and rotor of your brakes are friction themselves to slow down your vehicle. Heat and small particles of metal are produced in this process. And these small metal particles may be accumulated on your rims. And also with the effect of oxidation, very bad brake dust occurs as you see in the picture.

But, if you are here, you want to remove them immediately from your wheel. Here we will give some tips about it and some application directives. You can choose one of these methods and consider which one is the best to apply to your automotive rims.

Different Methods of Brake Dust Cleaning

You can consider these different brake dust cleaning methods if you get rid of this problem. Because the appearance of the wheels and rims is very bad as you see above. Check the different methods below and apply the best one according to yourself.

Method 1: Brake Dust Cleaning with Vinegar Solution

You know that, the brake dust composes metal inside it. The best solution to get rid of dust is generally acidic solutions. Vinegar comes to help in here. It has a natural citric acid inside it and easily removes the brake dust without any problem.

  • You should know that your rims are also made from metal and other coatings. Directly application of vinegar can harm the appearance and the coating of your rims. It will be better to dilute it with water. You can use half the water and half the vinegar solution for example.
  • Also, it will be better to apply it with a detailing brush. And you need to apply it thoroughly until the brake dust is completely removed from the rims.
  • Do not forget to rinse with lots of water and dry it by using a dry towel on your rims.

Method 2: Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

Lemon juice is another homemade alternative to remove the brake dust. The application principle is completely the same with the vinegar also. But you should not forget that, it is a completely acidic solution and you need to dilute it with baking soda. Also, baking soda has a very good cleaning ability for grime and filth. The combination of lemon juice and baking soda will be very good in brake dust cleaning applications.

Method 3: Home Dish Detergents

Detergents are generally base applications and are not acidic. And if you are not sure about the acid will harm your rims or not, you can use base detergents which are also used as dish detergents. You know that you use dish detergents to remove filth and grime on metal surfaces and pans. So, you can easily use them to remove the brake dust on your wheels.

  • Dish detergents are safer applications than acidic systems. But in general, you need to give much more higher effort to clean the grime and filth from the surface.
  • You just need to add a sufficient amount of dish detergent to a bucket and add hot water inside it.
  • Mix it by using a long-handle rime detailing brush up to foam up.
  • And apply it by using a detailing brush by applying force on the brake dust. First, the dust will get soften and be removed while you are rubbing with the detailing brush.
  • Apply lots of water to rinse all the filth and foam from your rims. And immediately dry them using a towel.

Method 4: Buy Brake Dust Cleaners or Wheel Cleaners

There are also commercial applications available to clean your wheels and brake dust. And there are also direct cleaners of brake dust that you can use on your wheels. They are also very effective systems that you can consider. You can easily find them in typical auto shops.

They are very effective and you need to read the instructions. If you have a specific rim application that is from a specific material, you need to read the instructions and be sure that you can safely apply them.

Apply these products according to the instructions that are written on the package.

Method 5: Brake Dust Cleaning with Mechanical Brushes

This is also a very effective way for brake dust cleaning. In general, these brushes are very useful detailers to remove brake dust without any problem. They are generally attached to cordless drills and electrical mixers, and once you push the trigger, they rotate. It creates a very good and effective way of removing all the grime.

You need to choose the hardness of the brush whiskers that will not harm the coatings of your rims. The average hardness of whiskers is useful to remove grime in general.

These are the various methods that you can apply for brake dust cleaning.

Method 6: Brake Dust Cleaning with Steam Cleaners

Also in automotive detailing and cleaning applications, the use of steam cleaners is very common. The steam will create a very good application of steam on the accumulated brake dust and will soften them. After the application of steam, you can easily remove it by only applying hot water.

This is the most effective and safer way to remove brake dust.

Method 7: Use of WD-40

You know that WD-40 is one of the most used mechanical lubrication fluids in car mechanics. And also these fluids have very good grease dissolve features and oil and dust removal. The application of WD-40 can also remove brake dust.

Different Reasons for Heavy Brake Dust

There are different reasons why you are getting lots of brake dust on your wheels.

The first reason for it is the use of brakes heavily. If you are using the brakes heavily and aggressively, they will create much more brake dust which will create much more contamination on your rims.

Another reason is the stuck caliper piston which contacts the rotor and stator of the brakes every time. This contact is not generally very high or powerful to feel. But the constant contact of the brake caliper and rotor create lots of metal particle that will accumulate on your rims.

In general special coatings are applied to brake rotors. And these coatings generally prevent these kinds of problems. But with time, the coating will be removed and if the rotors are very old, rust will form on the surface. And this will create lots of brake dust. In this case, changing the brake parts will be the solution.

How to Prevent Brake Dust?

The most important way to deal with brake dust is to use ceramic rotors. They are made from a very hard ceramic material that prevents brake dust. You can consider these rotors if you are seeing lots of brake dust on your wheels.

Conclusion on Brake Dust Cleaning

These are the general methods to clean brake dust that accumulated on your rims. And also we give additional information about the general reasons and prevention of that problem. We wish these methods will be useful for you.

If you have additional comments and questions, please leave them below.

Check the related topics about brake systems and auto cleaning;

What is Brake Checking? Is it Legal? How to Prove?

Brake Line Replacement Cost – What are the General Costs?

How to Get Air Out of Brake Lines Without Bleeding? – Without Confusion!

Brake Booster Check Valve – A Complete Guide

Brake Lamp Bulb Fault Problem; Causes and Solutions


What is Brake Dust –

WD-40 – Wikipedia

Uğur Uygun

Hello everyone, I am Uğur. I am a mechanical engineer who has experience in different R&D departments of HVAC companies. With my best friend, I decided to build this website to share out knowledge and experience. And also, I am interested in automotive. So, I am writing about automotive and automotive-related articles here. Sharing my knowledge and experiences on these topics is a very big pleasure for me. I am willing to answer all of the questions people have about these topics.

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