Whitewall tires are a novelty. They are excellent for giving your ride that vintage 19 th century look when whitewalls were the craze. While these tires don’t provide any advantage in performance over black-walled ones, they give you a sense of style and individuality. However, whether we care to admit it or not, it is a lot more challenging to keep whitewall tires clean. Here’s how you can maintain the aesthetic appeal of your whitewall tires.

vintage tires

More Frequent Regular Cleaning is the Key

The key to keeping the aesthetic qualities of your whitewall tires is to clean it on a more frequent basis. Many car detailers use powerful cleaners in maintaining their appearance. The problem with such an approach is that these powerful cleaners often contain very harsh chemicals. Sure, they can give your whitewall tires the sparkle that they need, but this is only in the short-term. On the long term, this can lead to cracking and yellowing of your tires.

As such, it is better to clean your whitewall tires with water and mild soap. And if you can observe a meticulous tire-cleaning regimen of at least once a week or twice every 3 weeks, then you’re set. The important thing to remember is to never let your tires get too dirty. Cleaning it every day with a simple wipe of a rag should help remove any debris or particle on the surface. This will help prevent the adhesion of these particles on tires. It also makes it a lot easier to perform a more thorough cleaning.

Related Post: Best Car Wash Soaps

Use Cleaners Specific for Whitewall Tires

There are cleaners that contain bleach or alcohol. They can be harsh on your tires that they can also lead to excessive drying which in turn can result in cracking and yellowing. Other cleaning products can also contain other harsh chemicals. They can degrade the quality and integrity of your tires.

It is better to choose whitewall tire cleaners that contain all-natural ingredients. These will help retain the toughness of your tires while giving them a deep clean. Ask your favorite automotive supply store for the best possible natural tire cleaning product to use on your whitewall.

Prepare Your Other Cleaning Materials

In addition to a whitewall tire-specific kind of cleaner, it is also important to prepare other materials. Most car detailers recommend using SOS pads which are ideal for general cleaning purposes. They are also perfect for removing stains. It’s a cleaning pad with an abrasive texture. The good thing with this product is that it already comes saturated with soap.

If you want to brighten your tires, you may want to use ordinary baking soda. Almost every household has baking soda in the kitchen. If there’s none, you can buy one from the grocery.

A good scrub brush is also needed. If you don’t like using a scrub brush, then a scrubbing pad will do. Don’t use brushes or scrubbers with metal bristles. You may be cleaning the tires, but this is not good for the white rubber. Also it’s inadvertent that you may also touch the wheels. Metal can scrape against another metal and result to scratches, so choose your scrubbers well.

Related Post: Best Wheel Cleaner Brushes

Clean the Whitewall Tires

Douse the tires with water, making sure that you wet every possible surface. Pressure washers can help remove dirt and debris a lot easier. If you don’t have a pressure washer, an ordinary garden hose will suffice. Wet the tires and the SOS pad.

Now if you’re using a commercially-available tire cleaning product, make sure to dilute it in a bucket of water. Follow the instructions on the correct dilution as per manufacturer’s recommendation. You can then dunk the SOS pad into this diluted cleaning solution.

If you’re using a spray type of cleaner, you can spritz it onto the tires itself without diluting it further. As always, make sure to saturate the whole tire.

Once the tire is fully soaked, you can start scrubbing. This can be quite tedious since the cleanliness of the tires will depend on the intensity and duration of your scrubbing. Scrubbing the tire in a vigorous manner can get you fantastic results. Unfortunately, you will also tire very fast. Sometimes, getting the help of a family member or a friend is necessary.

Scrub every square inch of the surface of the tire. It is often best to work in a methodical manner. You can follow the pattern of a clock, working in 1-hour segments at a time. For instance, you can start with the 12 o’clock position, then work your way towards the 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. Or, you can divide the tire into quadrants and tackle one quadrant at a time.

Be sure to rinse the tires often during the cleaning process. This will help remove soap suds and chemical cleaner residues. It will also give you a better look at which areas you may have missed or those that still need some more work. You can rinse the tire after every section. With each rinse, reapply your tire cleaner then get scrubbing again.

If you’re already satisfied with the results, you can give the tire one final rinse. Now do the same with the rest of the tires.

retro car tires

Whiten Your Whitewall Tires

Sometimes, the “white” color of the tires may not look “white” at all. In such cases, you may want to bring out the natural white of the tires. To do this, you’ll need baking soda.

Wet a sponge or cloth and wring out excess water. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the damp sponge or cloth. Wipe this onto the surface of your whitewall tires. Use small circular movements. Every 2 to 3 minutes, rinse the cloth or sponge and reapply baking soda. Work your way around the tire until you’re satisfied with what you see.

Related Post: Best Microfiber Towels

Rinse your tires well and dry them thoroughly.

Keeping your whitewall tires in pristine condition takes a bit more effort than conventional blackwalls. It may be tedious, but everything can be simplified by observing more frequent gentle washing of the tires.


  1. How to Clean White Wall Tires – simple green