Car Care / Tech

Tire Care Secrets Part 1: Cleaning

thumbnail1“I spent hours detailing my car. Everything looks great except the tires, which are still brown and grungy. What can I do to make them look as good as the rest of the car?”

Great question (and one I hear often). The answer breaks down into two parts, which I’ll cover in detail today and tomorrow… Part 1, Tire Cleaning!

Tire care is one of the least understood aspects of detailing. Most people are just not certain how to properly clean and protect their tires. For cleaning, there are two main products; Rubber Prep and Rubber Cleaner, each with its own procedure for proper use.

Rubber Prep pulls silicones, sealants, waxes, oils, and greases out of the pores, to the surface of the rubber. These contaminants commonly come from old tire dressings and other grime that gets built up in your tires over time, and are what cause brown coloring. If the tires are properly dressed and protected you should only need to use Rubber Prep every few months. Here’s how…

1: Apply Rubber Prep on the included applicator (yellow sponge).

2: Wipe sponge onto tires, and allow the product to dissolve and dry.

Rubber Cleaner is your regular tire cleaner. Think of it as the car wash for your tires. It’s designed to clean off dirt, brake dust, and road grime (all that stuff you clean off your wheels is in your tires too). Here’s how to use it…

1: Mist the Rubber Cleaner onto the tire (a little overspray onto the wheels wont hurt).

2: Agitate with the appropriate tool. My favorite combination is our 3″ Random Orbital with the Yellow Scrubber Pad. You can also use the Yellow Scrubber Pad by hand (with a Pad Holder), or use the Tire Scrubbing Brush.

3: Try to not allow the Rubber Cleaner to dry, and rinse it well with water.

Learn More:
Rubber Prep | Rubber Cleaner | 3″ Orbital | Yellow Pad

Read Tire Care Secrets Part 2: Dressing

1: Apply Rubber Prep to applicator

Apply Rubber Prep to applicator

2: Wipe Rubber Prep onto tires

Wipe Rubber Prep onto tires

3: Mist Rubber Cleaner onto tire

Mist Rubber Cleaner onto tire

4: Agitate Rubber Cleaner and rinse

Agitate Rubber Cleaner


  1. I have a problem with the black stripping around the windows (not the felt, but the hard plastic/rubber frame) rubbing off and getting on my drying cloth. Can I use this for the window framing to condition it?

    • I know exactly what you are talking about, and yes, these can be used on your window framing. If I had to pick on of the two products, I’d probably lean towards Rubber Prep.

  2. Regarding the rubber window trim, would this product and procedure work too? I noticed the window trim turning brown and having water spots on it. I can hide them with off the shelf products, but they return after a few days in the sun.

    • Keaka, these products and procedures would work on any rubber surface on your car, so it would be perfect for your rubber window trim. I would also recommend following up with our Bumper & Trim Reconditioner to repair some fading that mave have occured over time.

  3. Gary Russell says:

    With the Rubber Cleaner, you say that “a little overspray on the wheels will not hurt”. From my experience anything on the market that is strong enough to remove grime or brake dust has always mared the finish of the wheel. From the statement, is it reasonable to assume that over time this can or will mar the finish? Is it safe for clear coated caps?


    • Gary, I think the difference between Rubber Cleaner and some of the cleaners you may be talking about is that Rubber Cleaner requires agitation to remove the grime and brake dust (it’s not just a spray on, hose off). Rubber Cleaner overspray will not damage the finish of any wheels (immediately or over time), so it is safe on clear coated caps.

      I will point out, technically, if you were to spray it onto the wheels and allow it to fully dry, it could leave water spots that would need to be polished out. But, assuming a normal wash process, it would have to be pretty intentional for anything like that to happen.

      I hope this clears it up! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  4. So, on initial usage, would I apply Rubber Prep and then immediately follow up with Rubber Cleaner? Would I apply with the tire wet or dry?

    • I think numbers on the photos may have been captioned wrong (I’ll correct it). The two products are really a separate and different process.

      I generally clean my tires with Rubber Cleaner first. This happens during the wash process while the wires are wet. Spray the cleaner onto a wet tire, agitate, rinse clean.

      When I use Rubber Prep I do it after the wash (and use of Rubber Cleaner) when the tires have dried. Rubber Prep just needs to be wiped on; it’ll do the rest. 😉

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