Wash Wheels With GBL

Alloy wheels get filthy over time from brake dust, dirt and will eventually corrode due to salts on the road. There are plenty of alloy wheel cleaners on the market but there is one cheap solution that is overlooked: Gamma-Butyrolactone, or GBL for short.

I found GBL many years ago when I used to be a self-employed valeter. I tried many different alloy wheel cleaning products in the time I spent cleaning cars. I just wanted to make cleaning wheels easier on myself and as you may have found out, cleaning dirt from complex wheel designs can be hard work due to curves and contours on the wheel.

You will not find GBL offline easily so it’s best to buy GBL online where there are many reputable companies around offering it at various prices. The bottle sizes start at 125ml and go up to 100 litre barrels. The prices drop considerably with bulk buys.

A 125 ml bottle will last a great deal of time as I find diluting GBL with water in a 1:5 ratio produces the best results. You don’t want to use concentrated GBL on your alloy wheels as it will remove the finish from your wheels exposing them to corrosion.

Make sure you take appropriate precautionary measures whilst using GBL as you are dealing with a powerful solvent. Use gloves and be very cautious with regards to your eyes.

The results below are from a customers car a while back, usually built up brake dust is extremely difficult to remove, especially on this particular wheel design. I managed to remove almost all of it, using just a small amount of diluted GBL, a cloth and a soft brush.

Before
Before

After
After