The 9 Best Iron Removers for Car Detailing in 2024

The 9 Best Iron Removers for Car Detailing in 2024

Decontamination and iron removal is an important part of the detailing process. Whether you are trying to deep clean wheels or prepare paint for a ceramic coating or PPF it is crucial to decontaminate your paint with an iron remover.

What is an Iron Remover?

An iron remover is a chemical that uses chemicals to help breakdown iron and rust contaminants embedded in paint, glass, wheels, and trim. Iron removers loosen iron and metal particles by dissolving them slightly so they detach easier from the vehicles surfaces. Washing your vehicle can't remove these particles by themselves so an iron remover is definitely needed in your detailing cabinet. Iron removers can be some of the most expensive products you can purchase so you want to use them efficiently.

What causes Iron stains on cars?

Iron stains and contamination largely comes from the brakes on your vehicle and other vehicles on the road and also industrial sources like trains. These metallic particles cling and embed into your vehicles clear coat, paint, wheels, glass, and more. On light colored vehicles you can see brown and orange specks which is the ferrous metals rusting on the surface.

Why do Iron Removers smell?

Iron removers smell because they contain sodium thioglycolate (TGA), which reacts with iron particles to create ferric thioglycolate. This compound is acidic and must be neutralized with an alkaline wheel cleaner. Many iron removers also contain sulfur-like substances like iron oxide, which reacts with the iron remover, releasing volatile sulfur compounds.

Why does Iron Remover turn purple?

Iron removers turn purple when they react with iron particles, causing a chemical reaction that loosens and dissolves ferrous metals. This reaction is often described as "bleeding". The purple color is a result of the product after the chemical has reacted with the iron and the timing of this varies from brand to brand. Recently Stoner released an iron remover that changes to orange because of a unique chemistry that does not use the typical sodium thioglycolate.

Can you use an Iron Remover on paint, trim, and glass?

Iron contaminants can embed themselves in pretty much any surface on a vehicle including paint, chrome, glass, plastic, and more. Some iron removing chemicals are safe on all surfaces including glass and raw aluminum and some are designed to work on finished wheels only. We try to use an iron remover that is safe for all surfaces as they are great for paint decon and of course cleaning wheels. We also do not want any mishaps if we get the chemical on plastic trim or glass, stained trim and glass can ruin your day. Some iron removers like DIY Detail and Turtle Wax Rapid Decon work in combination with a clay towel making it the ideal way to both mechanically and chemically decontaminate paint. By combining both steps into one you can save a lot of time.

Here are some of our favorite iron removing products:

Turtle Wax All Wheel Cleaner + Iron Remover

Turtle Wax Rapid Decon

Price: $15.00 - $50.00

Size: 23 Ounces & 1 Gallon

Pros: The most cost effective iron remover in our list. Works on all surfaces including raw aluminum which is great for polished billet wheels. The smell is lessened but is still stinky.

Cons: None besides the smell.

Armour Detail Supply Iron 16 Ounces

Armour Detail Supply Iron

Price: $18.99 - $69.99 

Size: 16 Ounces & Gallons

Pros: Powerful and low odor that is really well made and works amazing. In the wise words of Eddie Colon, "It doesn't smell like cheeks."/

Cons: None

Code: GLOVEBOX for 15% off

DIY Details Iron Remover

DIY Detail Iron Remover

Price: $22.49 - $111.99

Size: 16 ounces & 1 Gallon

Pros: Works great and is safe on paint and kills two birds with one stone when using it with a clay towel.

Cons: A little more expensive per ounce then most of the others on the list.

Code: GLOVEBOX for 10% off 

P&S Iron Buster 16 Ounces

P&S Iron Buster Wheel & Paint Decon Remover

Price: $20.60 - $80.80

Size: 16 Ounces & 1 Gallon

Pros: Works well and can be paired up with Brake Buster for a one, two, punch on wheels. Works on paint as well as it is pH neutral and not acidic.

Cons: This one really has a nose on it and is slightly higher priced than others on our list.

Code: GLOVE15 for 15% off

PURE:EST W1 Wheel Cleaner & Iron Remover 500ML

PURE:EST W1 Wheel Cleaner & Iron Remover

Price: $19.99 - $99.99

Size: 500ML & 5L

Pros: A truly powerful wheel cleaner with iron removing properties. It works outstanding even with no agitation and is almost a touchless wheel cleaner. It is also safe for paint!

Cons: None, it just works!

Stoner Car Care Iron Remover and Wheel Cleaner

Stoner Iron Remover & Wheel Cleaner

Price: $22.49 - $349.00

Size: 22 Ounces, 1 Gallon, 5 Gallon

Pros: One of the only non-smelling iron removers on the market that is changing the game. Available in many sizes and without color changing indicators. Safe on paint, wheels, and even glass. When we saw it at SEMA we were in aww.

Cons: The formula with the color changing technology has been reported to stain unsealed concrete which is not ideal when working in your garage or driveway or worse yet on a client's driveway. Thankfully they made the option to not change colors!

CARPRO Iron X 16 ounces

CarPro Iron X

Price: $19.99 - $107.99

Size: 500ML, 1L, 4L

Pros: One of the original iron removers on the market and still a work horse today.

Cons: Not as competitively priced as it could be in today's market.

KCx Magic Wheel Cleaner 500ML

Koch Chemie Magic Wheel Cleaner

Price: $19.99 - $134.99

Size: 500ML & 5L

Pros: New to the scene and really making some noise with a lot as it works well.

Cons: Safe on wheels but really expensive and does not work on other surfaces.

Code: GLOVE15 for 15% off

Jax Wax Iron Decon

Jax Wax Iron Decon

Price: $14.95 - $58.95

Size: 16 Ounce & 1 Gallon

Pros: Priced well for pros and DIYers alike and works on all painted surfaces.

Cons: None

Code: GB20 for 20% off

Keep in mind all of these iron removers work well and really can complete your details and decontamination projects. We believe testing different products will help you figure out what works for you and your environment and then you can purchase larger quantities if needed. When testing an iron remover we recommend reading the directions thoroughly and testing your product in a small area. We also recommend not working in direct sun light but if you have to keep the area wet and flush the area with water as soon as you can. Now go grab an iron remover and make some iron bleed!