scotch-brite pad for the rims. That is how I cleaned up my old spare wheelset for my brother last summer when I built him a bike out of a new frame and all the parts I had laying around. Scrubbed the braking surface lightly to get rid of pad residue, then cleaned with denatured alcohol. Rims looked BRAND NEW when I was done.
I like to go through my bike completely once a year, using old toothbrush to get hard to reach spots, and clean the whole thing up. I re-grease wheel bearings every year or two depending on how much I ride. I have a 1lb tub of Park grease, might as well use it
I keep it clean throughout the year, but before spring I give it a good cleaning. Headset bearings are cleaned and repacked every 2 years or so, again, grease is cheap. A few times a year I brush off derailleurs and apply a drop of tri-flow to every pivot point on the derailleur, and take the idler wheels off the rear, clean out and re-oil. Gives me something to do on a rainy weekend
Every week or more I wipe the bikes down with Pedro's Lust bike shine... Keeps them looking nice and shiny new