What's an easy, yet effective product/method of cleaning and polishing alloy wheels?
Here's what I use to do with my mag (yes real magnesium) wheels (oh god am I showing my age)...
For polishing- I liked (and still use) a product called Flitz. It is a paste (like toothpaste) that has jewlers rouge in it. I used a cotton buffing pad with a carriage bolt to attach the pad to a drill and it would take about 10 minutes to bring the wheels to a chrome shine. the new foam-cone from Megquire's would probably work better than the cotton buffing pad for reaching into crevices. Jewelers rouge can also be purchased in a stick form and used to polish the rims up beautifully as well- just a preference.
What I do with all my chrome & aluminum wheels to day is after I get them cleaned & polished up, I spray them with a urethane clear with hardener in it. Clear powdercoating works well too but is a little more $. For spray can application, I have previousy used a product called "Wheel-Lac", that is a fast drying clear specifically for wheels (works very well)
For general maintance I like to apply a little spray on wax once a month or so and clean using a 50/50 mix of simple green with a drop of dish soap in a squirt bottle.
Kind of like Beechkid pointed out, it depends on the finish. Clear coated alloys with a good clear coat clean up pretty well with a cleaner wax. I use Mother's Carnuba or Reflections on mine. If your wheels are bare, then the aluminum probably needs to be polished. There are a lot of good polishes available but start with the least abrasive and work up. Chrome plated should clean up with cleaner wax, but you may need to use a chrome polish.
They are bare metal. Aluminum I presume. I priced one of those Meguire ***** and dam! . . . pretty pricey.
I was hoping there was a majic formula out there that would take the place of good old elbow grease.