Is Iron Fallout Remover Actually Necessary When Detailing?

If you’re getting into car detailing, then you’ve probably heard a little bit about iron removers. The premise is, that iron fallout and brake dust can bond to your car’s paint and alloys, and iron removes dissolve these iron particles to give your car a smoother and shinier finish. But is this actually necesary?

In this article, I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of iron removers and helping you decide if you actually need to use them on your car or if they’re just a gimmick. So let’s get started.

The Quick Answer

Iron fallout removers are an essential step when decontaminating your car’s paintwork and alloys before paint correction and protection. Iron removers are usually used at least every 6 months on alloys and at least annually on paintwork for best results.

What are Iron Fallout Removers?

Iron removers are pretty self-explanatory. They dissolve iron contamination from your car’s surface. They can sometimes be referred to as “bleeding iron removers” because they react with the iron contamination and turn purple.

Iron removers are part of the decontamination step of detailing. There are several main steps to making your car look it’s best.

  1. Washing
  2. Decontaminating
  3. Paint correction
  4. Paint protection

There are two types of decontamination, chemical and physical.

Iron removers fall into the chemical decontamination step.

Physical decontamination on the other hand, involves either a clay bar or clay mitt. You glide this over the surface of your paint and it helps to remove contaminants bound to the surface.

These contaminants include things like road tar, bugs, tree sap and bird mess that’s bound to the paint so strong that it can’t be removed by normal washing.

It’s pretty easy to check for these type of contaminants. You simply put your hand in a plastic sandwich bag and glide it over your paint’s surface when it’s freshly washed and dried. If it feels rough, then there are contaminants bound to the surface.

Sometimes you don’t even need to use the plastic bag trick. If the contamination is really bad, then you’ll be able to feel it with your hand on it’s own.

Do you Need to Use an Iron Remover?

Okay, so this leads us to the big question, are iron removers actually necessary.

Personally, I think it’s important to use an iron remover to get rid of any fallout on your car because it can corrode the surface over time.

However, some of this iron will be removed by the claying process. Also, there is unlikely to be much iron on your paint, it’s more often found on the alloys because they produce loads of brake dust.

Therefore, I don’t really think it’s necessary to use iron remover on your car’s paint more than once a year.

As long as you are using a clay bar a couple of times a year to remove the contaminants you can feel when you run your hand over the paint, the iron is unlikely to cause a problem.

There are areas of your car that are a lot more prone to iron fallout than others. Namely, behind the wheels as this is where the brake dust is more likely to settle on the paint. So using an iron remover on these areas more frequently can be beneficial.

I do however, think it’s important to use an iron remover on your car’s alloys a lot more regularly. This should be done at least once a month. Brake dust builds up on your alloys very quickly, and if left to sit there for longer periods of time, it can be incredibly difficult to remove and cause corrosion.

So it’s important to keep on top of this by using an iron remover on your alloys regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t worry if you still need some more answers about iron removers. Here are the answers to some most commonly asked questions about iron removers.

Does iron remover remove wax?

Iron removers can degrade the wax on your car and decrease the durability if used frequently. Therefore, I recommend only using an iron remover on the paint as part of a full detail where you intend to apply paint protection afterwards.

Does a clay bar remove iron contamination?

Clay bars can remove some iron fallout. However, iron particles are very small, so can be missed by the car bar. That’s why it’s important to use both chemical (iron fallout and tar removers) and physical (clay bar) decontamination techniques.

Check out my article on this topic to learn more.

Should you use an iron remover before or after claying?

You should use an iron remover before claying your car. Iron removers help to get rid of as much iron as possible before using physical decontamination methods like clay which is safer for the paint.

Clay is an abrasive so you run the risk of scratching your car when using it. This risk is increased when there are more contaminants bound to your paint because the clay bar will get dirty faster and this can get rubbed into your paint inflicting clear coat damage.

Using an iron remover gets rid of as much contamination as possible before you touch the paint with clay, hence it reduces the risk of scratches and swirls.

How do you use iron remover?

Iron removers should be applied to wet paint or alloys. You then leave it on the surface according to the manufacturers instructions (usually a couple of minutes) and then rinse it thoroughly.

It’s important to make sure you rinse the iron remover away completely because it can stain your paint and alloys purple if left to dry. Use it in a well ventilated area, use a protective mask and wear gloves.

What is the active ingredient in iron fallout remover?

The active ingredient in iron fallout remover is thioglycolic acid which turns purple or red when it reacts with iron. Warning though, it smells pretty terrible and you should avoid breathing it in. Use it in a well ventilated area, use a protective mask and wear gloves.

what is the best iron fallout remover?

Bilt Hamber Korrosol is a great quality iron fallout remover that is excellent value for money. There are plenty of other options available as well. I personally have used Auto Finesse Iron Out and AutoGlym Magma as well which are solid quality.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog to learn more about getting your car looking its best.


I first became interested in car detailing around 3 years ago and learnt all the main techniques on my very first car. I spend a lot of time detailing my current car, and trying to keep my family's cars looking presentable too!

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