How to Clean White Wall Tires

Stu asked: How do I clean white wall tires? I have a motor bike with white wall tires and find them difficult to keep clean. I have tried many things, including bleach, but nothing will get them back to their new color. Can you please help? Kind regards.

White walls can quickly become discolored from dirt, grime and oils. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to remove the grime and return them to white once again.

You Will Need:

  • Cleaning product:
    • Westley’s Bleach White
    • All-purpose cleaner
    • Purple Power
    • SOS pads
    • Simple Green
  • Stiff brush or Scrubbing pad (ex: Scotch Brite)

Steps to Clean the White Walls:

  1. Begin by selecting your cleaning product. These are readily available in most automotive departments as well as automotive supply stores. Household products are often effective as well, just ensure they are safe for the tires and will not result in early wear.
  2. Spray the cleaner directly onto the white wall or apply it to the scrubbing pad first.
  3. Now, it just takes some elbow grease and time. Scrub the debris from the tire.
  4. Rinse frequently with water to check your progress.
  5. Reapply the cleaner as needed and rinse the scrubbing pad frequently as well.
  6. Once the white wall is clean, rinse thoroughly with water and dry.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Though cleaners such as Comet work well, they can dry out the tire which can lead to early wear. Choose household cleaners carefully and ensure they are safe for the tires.
  • For the easiest cleaning, keep on top of the white walls, cleaning them every week or two. These frequent cleanings will allow for shorter, easier cleaning times.

Comments

  1. Allen says:

    Apply standard liquid caw wax to white walls, then scrub with scrub brush, then wash it off with hot water.

  2. Mitch says:

    Westley’s bleach-white works well with a grill brush.

  3. Dave says:

    As you are hand washing your car or truck spray the white letters as well as the sidewalls with WD-40 or equal. Then scrub them with your hand or brush if they’re really bad. You can`t believe the grime and brake dust that you will remove.

  4. Gary says:

    I use fine dry sand paper, the one you use for sanding wood, NOT wet and dry; works for me.

  5. Peter says:

    Coker tires makes a cleaner called “Wide White,” which does not contain bleach or silicon.

    There is also Vogue Tyre Cleaner, which is also very good.

  6. John says:

    Cleanser like Comet or Ajax and a scrub brush.

  7. Ed says:

    I find “Brillo,” or any other soap pad, to be very effective. Wet the tire, and scrub with the pads. Then rinse off. Repeat for extremely bad curb bruises.

  8. 5 Star Detailers says:

    Buy a bottle of Spray Nine cleaner, also works good on upholstery and carpets when brushed with a scrub brush, spray it on the tires and then moisten a S.O.S soap pad with Spray Nine, scrub the white wall and rinse off. They will be whiter than new.

  9. Nosyguy says:

    Ed is right; S.O.S pads are the best!

  10. Chesko says:

    The best I have found is to use a piece of clay brick. First I grind it flat on a concrete surface and then I rub it on the whitewall tire.

    I wash off the orange residue and the tire ends up brilliantly white.

  11. David says:
  12. Lori says:

    I agree, S.O.S pads work great.

  13. Gary says:

    The only products I have found to clean my Coker Radial wide whites is REMA Tip Top DT-490F Cleaning Fluid available only at Discount Tires. REMA Tip Top #71 Buffing Compound they tell me is the same product, which should be available from any REMA dealer. For my non-Coker white walls, Westley’s Bleache-White works great. The Coker brand white wall cleaner did nothing at all; it may as well have been tap water. I have never been so disappointed in a set of tires due entirely to the inability to clean them.

  14. John in Dallas says:

    I use Westley’s Bleche-Wite and a wire brush. My white letter tires look like new.

  15. Randy says:

    I’ve been detailing for 8 years. I use a production product walled white wall cleaner. Spray it on spray it off. Real bad ones might need a brass brush. I always use a brass brush to save your tires from excessive wear.

    Any type of degreaser and a brass brush works well. Comet or Ajax works, but is harder to work with. Hope this helps.

  16. Mysterioso says:

    Comet sink cleaner works wonders on white walls.

  17. Super Carwash says:

    I spray a d-limoline based detergent and then I pressure wash (1500 psi), but I get the nozzle really really close and scrape the black/dirt off. Tip: don’t get rim acid on the whitewall, it makes the dirt harder to remove – especially on hot days.

  18. Buzz says:

    Actually I have found that, in a pinch, toothpaste works wonders. Just a little on a stiff brush and it makes the white walls brilliant white.

  19. Mark says:

    Westley’s is the best I’ve found. Also have great results with Lysol Tub & Tile cleaner (believe it or not)!

  20. Bob says:

    I bought a set of Coker tires for my VW. After the tires where mounted, while transporting the tires back to my shop, the tires rubbed against each other and left some BAD stains. I called Coker, who told me I should have read the label; TUFF LUCK.

    Does anybody out there have any ideas on how to remove these BAD stains?
    I have tried Comet, lacquer thinner, Westley Wite, bleach, lemon juice, wax and grease remover, and baking soda.

    PLEASE HELP if you had this problem. COKER TIRES says they have a lot of calls about this problem, and their only reply is YOU SHOULD READ THEIR label. It’s in BIG letters? Does anybody have any ideas?

  21. Steve says:

    What product would you recommend me to use to remove the blue coating from my new white wall tires? I really don’t want to use a bleach if possible.

  22. Dave says:

    I highly recommend Simple Green – their new extreme product. It is kind on whitewalls, which cannot tolerate bleach products. Sooner or later, a cleaner with a bleach agent in it will cause yellowing/cracking/porosity. Good luck!

  23. Joe says:

    Dudes – there is a much less harsh and very effective solution that works amazingly. Orange hand cleaner takes it off extremely easily and isn’t putting white wall cleaner or bleach all over the black wall, and you don’t get chemicals all over your hands.

  24. Bill says:

    This sounds really strange, but a buddy mentioned this to me and I tried it last night. If you (not kidding) urinate on the white walls or lettering and wait about 20 seconds and rinse with beer, they will look like new! Must be the acidity – I was amazed.

  25. Rod says:

    Tried white spirit, white wall tire cleaners, but found Vim for cooking hobs works well; non-abrasive on a scourer and a little water, little bit of rubbing, wipe off with a clean cloth, good as new. Used it on Harley bike tires. Everyone commented on how white they were.

  26. Rene says:

    Just buy the stain remover that you use for stains on your clothing.

    I live in the Netherlands, so I use the product: Oxy stain remover.

    Just rub in on the white (straight out of the bottle), then take a scrub sponge (not metal) and clean it with warm water.

  27. Mary Findley says:

    Hi, I’ve written a book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning.” I hope you don’t mind me tossing in a few of my greener thoughts. First of all, delimoline is found in orange cleaners and has been linked to cancer and other health issues. Is this something you really want to use?

    Simple Green and the rest of these liquid cleaners all get washed into the storm systems, which usually end up in a stream and eventually a river. Please don’t use this stuff, as it’s very toxic to marine life.

    Use an S.O.S pad or the Mr. Clean Eraser. Clean the tire, then wipe it off with a shop towel and dispose of the shop towel. After you have wiped the tire, then rinse it off. This way most of the toxic chemicals are kept out of the streams.

    The S.O.S pads actually do double duty as they remove the naturally occurring oxidation of rubber to keep them looking good so a tire treatment (not recommended) is not necessary.

    If you do use a cleaner, spray it on, let it set a few minutes, then it wipe off and dispose of the cloth. Also keep your spare tire aired, as these cleaners can dry and crack a tire over time making it susceptible to blowing out!

    Please be kind to Mother Earth when you are cleaning your car. Very little if any cleaner is needed to wash your vehicle. Generally, food grade distilled white vinegar is sufficient. The natural but mild acid neutralizes the alkaline in the water to help prevent water spots from forming.

  28. Philip says:

    I tried all ways and tricks to get those white walls clean for the next car meet and. They were always dirty white even though the tires were new. Found an advert. on Google about this guy with a motorbike with gleaming white walls and all he said was: Simple Green. I did and both me and my car are mighty happy. It was a valid tip. Thanks.

    PS: I’ve passed this info to other car nuts and it brought out lots of many thanks to me. I live in Brazil, and we are not served by many of your good products, but simple green is here and doing a good job.

  29. Mary M. says:

    Hi Bill, Please do not use Simple Green on your tires unless you like to replace them after they blow out. Simple Green is a degreasing agent, which breaks down heavy oil and grease. Over time it will break down the rubber on your tires and cause them to blow out.

    I work with the RV industry and have had great success with having RVers and boaters remove oxidation from decals and stripping with Lysol Tub and Tile Cleaner or Dow Tub and Tile cleaner. It’s very toxic, which I do not like, but it does work. Might be worth a try on the yellow tires. Keep the Simple Green and other heavy cleaners off the tires. They will eventually dry and crack. It takes time but it’s going to happen.

  30. Dave says:

    Hi Mary,
    Have you actually used those caustic agents on whitewalls before? It is predictable that they will kill the whitewalls. Never heard of a tire blow-out due to Simple Green. Do you have a documented example? How was it determined the cleaner caused a blow out? There are many reasons why a tire can blow out besides using a mild cleaner on the whitewalls.

  31. Mary says:

    Hi Dave,

    No, I have not used them on whitewalls. Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve used the bathroom cleaners on regular tires to remove oil on them without problems. I just did not think that it might have a different reaction on whitewalls. I’m grateful you pointed this out.

    No, I do not have documented proof that Simple Green will cause blowouts. However, I talk to the tire manufacturer reps at the RV rallies I attend. Everyone of them has said repeatedly over the years not to use strong degreasing agents to clean tires because the chemicals in them are hard on the tires and can cause tires to blow out.

    I have told people in my seminars over the years to use mild cleaners like organic powdered laundry detergent to clean their tires.

    Thank you again for your insights about the tub and tile cleaners.

    Mary

  32. Mike says:

    I had the same thing happen as above, I had my new whitewalls mounted at a shop. When I went to pick them up, I saw them leaning against one another blackwall against whitewall. I was pissed, they were stained with the tread pattern. What ended up working pretty good for me was a product called SuperClean (made by Castrol); I bought it at Autozone. Spray it on and use a green Scotch-Brite pad to sand at it. It took out most the staining. It seems like this will work great as a way to routinely clean the tires as well. If it does not work with a scuff pad you might try stepping it up to some sand paper. I would start with a 300 grit.

  33. Brett says:

    I’ve found that methylated spirits works very well, wipe it on the dirty areas of your white walls, leave it for about ten seconds, then simply wipe the marks off.
    I found this out after much trial and error, as I have Atlas 1 1/2″-wide white walls on my ’38 Pontiac and even just sitting in the shed, the tires ‘bleed’ a dirty brown edge right around the trims.
    I just wish there was a way of keeping them from getting this ‘dirty’ stain in the first place!
    Brett (South Australia)

  34. Joe (in Saskatchewan) says:

    To clean tires and whitewalls and make them like new again, go to a GM or Chevy dealership and pick up a can of GM Engine Shampoo Part# 992878. Spray it on when the tire is dry, wait 5–10 minutes and wash off with a pressure washer or car wash. Done deal, and no elbow work. Don’t leave it on more than 10 minutes, it tends to not work as well. Won’t hurt tires or rims. Never scrubbed a tire for 37 years.

  35. Martin says:

    Brillo Pads! Fantastic, and cheap to buy. Try it!

  36. Jeremy says:

    I used ZEP brand aerosol vinyl cleaner. Pretty sure that stuff is safe for rubber, since it’s meant for vinyl. I just sprayed it on, scrubbed it with a general purpose Scotch-Brite pad, then wiped it off with a shop towel. Then, bling bling!

    Simple Green does work, but it’s not good for rubber. If you chose not to care about everyone’s warnings, you should at least dilute it a lot.
    I’m sure S.O.S pads work. It’s a strong detergent in a Scotch-Brite.

    *Orange Hand Cleaner works; I’ve tried it.
    *Obviously, specific white wall cleaner works.
    *My vinyl cleaner worked.

    Wouldn’t try much else because you’ll ruin your tires.

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