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How To Get Baked-On Brake Dust Off Wheels - Works Brilliantly!

It’s Sunday afternoon, and it’s time to wash the car. You get the whole thing squeaky clean, except for some pesky gray dust on the wheels. You scrub and scrub, and even when it fades, it comes back in a few days or weeks. Congratulations! You have brake dust.

The good news is that brake dust doesn’t mean your brakes are failing. It’s a common issue that many vehicle owners deal with, and more dust is created whenever you apply the brakes. That said, you still want to keep your wheels clean.

So, how do you remove baked-on brake dust from your wheels? Here’s a quick guide.

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Decon Soap Eats Break Dust For Breakfast

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Video Above: The Best Way To Remove Contaminants And Why You Should

What Is Brake Dust?

Brake dust is a dark gray or charcoal-colored dust that builds up on a wheel’s rims. This dust comes from a few sources. First, it comes from your rotor as the outer surface is worn down. Second, a lot of the dust comes from your brake pads themselves.

Most modern brake pads are made of a ceramic material that’s impregnated with iron. In fact, a “ceramic” brake pad can be made up of as much as 30% iron. When these brake pads are used, the iron dust collects on your rims, along with carbon residue and iron particles from the rims themselves.

Why Is It Important To Get Rid of Brake Dust?

As we mentioned at the outset, brake dust is not a symptom of failing brakes. However, built-up brake dust and grime can cause problems over time if it’s not dealt with. Not only is it ugly, but it can eventually corrode the protective coating on your rims. At that point, it’s just a matter of time before your wheels are permanently damaged, whether they’re steel or aluminum wheels.

If you’re not careful, brake dust can also damage your paint job. Because it’s made mostly of jagged metal fragments, it can wear away your paint if it’s caught in a rag or sponge and dragged across the surface. As you can imagine, this is bad for your clear coat, and can eventually expose the rest of the car’s body to rust.

In addition to the risks to your vehicle, brake dust can also pose a danger to your health. The same jagged iron fragments that can scratch your paint can also cause significant damage to your lungs. Admittedly, this isn’t something you can fix with a better cleaner, but it’s something to be aware of nonetheless.

What Are Wheel Cleaners? Are They Safe?

If you’ve looked into wheel cleaners, you might have heard some conflicting reports. Some people say they’re safe, while others say they’re dangerous. Which is it?

In most respects, it depends on what type of cleaner you use.

Acidic Wheel Cleaners

We’re all familiar with what acid does. It eats away at a surface and “burns” through it, right? To some extent, that’s correct, but that’s not the whole story.

Acids are extremely effective at dissolving ferrous metals. However, they’re not as effective at dissolving most plastics. This is why you see powerful acid cleaners sold in simple plastic jugs. Hydrofluoric acid can burn through a cast iron plate if given enough time, but it won’t burn through a proper plastic storage jug.

This is the cause of some confusion regarding acid wheel cleaner safely. Old-school rims were made of steel, which could easily get damaged by an acid cleaner. Most modern rims, on the other hand, are made of a coated aluminum alloy. Between the coating and the non-ferrous metal, the rims are relatively safe. Meanwhile, iron dust is quickly dissolved.

That’s not to say that acidic wheel cleaners are totally safe, though. For one thing, they can eventually damage your wheels if they’re left on for extended periods.

It’s essential to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions. It might be tempting to leave your acid cleaner on the surface for a few extra minutes for extra effectiveness, but don’t. If the bottle says to let stand for five minutes, start rinsing after five minutes.

Similarly, you need to be very careful with your skin. Always use heavy-duty nitrile gloves when working with acid, and wear a pair of safety goggles to protect yourself from splashing.

Just as you’d follow the instructions in every other regard, stick with the manufacturer’s mixing instructions. Most acid cleaners are sold as concentrates, and should never be used without first being diluted. Undiluted concentrate can cause serious damage to your wheels, and can also cause severe chemical burns.

Non-Acidic Wheel Cleaners

There are plenty of non-acidic wheel cleaners available on the market. However, you need to know what you’re looking at. The main reason people buy a non-acidic wheel cleaner is because they’re looking for something non-corrosive.

However, most non-acidic wheel cleaners are instead highly alkaline. They’re still corrosive, just on the other end of the pH spectrum. These chemicals can be useful for some specialized applications, but they’re just as hazardous to bare skin.

If you want a non-corrosive (or minimally corrosive) cleaner, look for one that’s pH-balanced. However, keep in mind that pH-balanced cleaners can vary in quality. An ordinary soap isn’t going to remove brake dust. You need one with special catalysts for ferrous metal particles.

How To Get Baked-On Brake Dust Off Wheels (Alloy Wheels, Aluminum Wheels, Chrome Wheels, And More)

Now that we know a thing or two about wheel cleaners, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Here are four ways of eliminating unwanted brake dust.

The Best Method: Decon Soap + Ceramic Shine

Torque Decon Wash Pack is a pH-balanced wheel cleaner or “lube” that’s less corrosive than traditional cleaners. Instead of eating away iron particles with acid, it contains special catalysts that dissolve brake dust, and it turns purple when it’s done cleaning.

Using Decon is easy. Just spray it on, wait for a few minutes, scrub it off, and rinse it clean. The whole process takes only a few minutes, and you can wait for it to work while you’re cleaning other parts of your car. The kit even includes a safe, reusable scrubbing pad that’s good for 100 washes.

To help bring out extra shine in your wheels, use a ceramic shine coating to finish things off. This is a glossy, protective coat that sprays on in seconds. It can also be used on the rest of your car for water repulsion and a mirror-like gloss. Read our full guide here on how to ceramic coat your vehicle.

Method #2 - Wheel Cleaners

Of course, there are plenty of traditional wheel cleaners on the market as well. If you choose an acid cleaner, make sure to follow all the manufacturer’s safety rules. Wear proper protective equipment, and never apply cleaner that’s mixed more strongly than is recommended.

After application, an acid wheel cleaner works similarly to Decon soap. You wait a few minutes, follow up with a stiff nylon brush to break up any deposits, and rinse clean. The same goes for non-acidic corrosive cleaners. When talking about the best wheel cleaner, there are so many options you can go with depending on the job at hand. For most people, we’d just recommend picking up our Decon Soap. It’s a general-purpose decontamination car soap that’ll let you hit many, many birds with one stone.

Method #3 - Iron Removers

Iron removers are a good follow-up treatment - not for your wheels, but for your paint job. If there’s brake dust on your vehicle’s body, you don’t want to use a cleaner designed for rims. Instead, you want to use a paint-safe iron remover.

Iron removers work similarly to Decon lube. They use catalysts to remove iron deposits, and usually change color when they’re ready to rinse off. The difference is that these iron removers are safe for paint and aren’t designed for scrubbing. Instead, they gently loosen iron that’s deposited on the surface, to the point where it can be rinsed away.

Method #4 - Pressure Washer

Iron removers are a good follow-up treatment - not for your wheels, but for your paint job. If there’s brake dust on your vehicle’s body, you don’t want to use a cleaner designed for rims. Instead, you want to use a paint-safe iron remover.

Iron removers work similarly to Decon lube. They use catalysts to remove iron deposits, and usually change color when they’re ready to rinse off. The difference is that these iron removers are safe for paint and aren’t designed for scrubbing. Instead, they gently loosen iron that’s deposited on the surface, to the point where it can be rinsed away.

The 5-Star Rated Car Soap
Decon Soap Eats Break Dust For Breakfast

★★★★★ "This product is NO JOKE! My car looks better today than the day I drove it off the lot. We can't wait to use it on our other cars. We used F-11 in the past, but will be using this product from now on. 100% Recommended" - Rebecca Lynch

GET DECONed

Brake Dust: Can You Prevent It In The First Place?

There are a couple of things you can do to prevent brake dust. The first is to use Kevlar brake pads. These pads don’t wear down as quickly as ceramic brakes. Moreover, when they do, these “organic” brake pads don’t leave dust on your wheels.

On the downside, they’re expensive, and are generally only found in performance cars. However, if you can pick up a pair for your vehicle, you won’t have to worry about brake dust again.

In addition, you can apply a Teflon coat to your wheels. This won’t entirely prevent brake dust, but it can significantly slow the rate of brake dust build-up.

Summary

As you can see, brake dust is no joke. You need to keep your car clean, not just for aesthetics but also for safety. Moreover, not just any old cleaner will do. You need something that’s specially formulated to handle brake dust.

Decon Soap is the easiest and safest on the market, so why wait? Order a bottle, and you’ll see the difference in your rims right away.

  • Published on Feb 05, 2021
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