How to Clean Brake Calipers on a Bike or Motorcycle?

Regarding bike or motorcycle maintenance, brake calipers are one of the most important things to keep clean. Over time, brake calipers can become clogged with dirt and debris, affecting their performance.

In this article, we'll show you how to clean your brake calipers in just a few simple steps.

What are brake calipers?


Brake calipers are essential to your bike or motorcycle's braking system. They are responsible for gripping the brake pads and applying pressure to the rotor, which slows down or stops the wheel.

Over time, brake calipers can become dirty and clogged with brake dust, grease, and other debris. This can lead to reduced braking performance and increased wear on your brake pads and rotors.

How to clean a brake caliper on a bike or motorcycle?

To access the brake calipers, you’ll need to remove the wheel.

Next, use a wrench to remove the two bolts holding the caliper in order to remove the brake pads. These bolts are usually located at the top and bottom of the caliper.

 Use a brush or rag to clean off any dirt, debris or  rust from the caliper.. Spray mild soap solution on the caliper and let it sit for 30 minutes before wiping them away.

WD-40 can be used as a last resort if other cleaning methods don't work. Apply WD-40 to the brake caliper and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth.

Finally, reassemble everything by putting the brake pads back in place and tightening down the two bolts holding the caliper. Once everything is tight, you can put your wheel back on.

What could happen if someone does not clean their brake caliper for a long time?

The risk of corrosion increases when brake calipers are left unclean and this shortens the life of the brake. In addition, bacteria and mold could grow on calipers that aren’t regularly cleaned which may cause serious health problems such as skin, respiratory, and fungal infections.

How often should I clean my brake caliper?

It depends on several factors, including the material used to manufacture your brake caliper, the amount of brake dust buildup, and the frequency of usage. Generally speaking, brake calipers should be cleaned every two months.

However, if you ride your bike or motorcycle frequently, you might want to consider cleaning them more often.

What are the different types of brake calipers?

There are four main types of brake calipers:

Disc brakes: These are the most common type of brake caliper. They use pads to grip the rotor, which is a disc mounted to the wheel.

Drum brakes: These use shoes that expand when the brakes are applied, pressing against the inside of a drum mounted to the wheel.

Band brakes: These use a band that expands when the brakes are applied, pressing against the inside of a drum mounted to the wheel.

Hydraulic brakes: These use fluid pressure to move pistons in the caliper, which press against pads or shoes.

How do you know when brake calipers need to be cleaned?

Brake calipers need to be cleaned when they become clogged with brake dust or other debris. Uncleaned brake calipers become less effective and may lead to brake failure. If you notice that your brakes are not working  appropriately, it's a good idea to check the calipers and clean them if necessary.

What are the benefits of cleaning brake calipers?

Some benefits of cleaning brake calipers include keeping your brakes in good working condition for efficiency.  Clean brake calipers will also improve the appearance of your bike or motorcycle making it look  presentable if you're trying to sell your bike or show it off to friends.

Are there any risks associated with cleaning brake calipers?

There are a few risks associated with cleaning brake calipers, but they are avoidable. You could damage the caliper seals  using a harsh cleaner or scrubbing aggressively which may cause brake fluid to leak, thus, reducing your braking power or causing  brake failure.

Another risk is that you could get cleaner on the brake pads or rotors, reducing their effectiveness. To avoid this, clean the caliper thoroughly before moving on to the pads or rotor.

Rust to the calipers may arise from cleaning. This can be avoided by ensuring total drying before reassembling the calipers,

What are some tips for cleaning brake calipers?

  • Use a clean cloth to remove any dirt or dust
  • Use a brush to remove any debris from the surface of the caliper
  • Use a mild soap and water solution to clean the caliper
  • Rinse the caliper with clean water
  • Dry the caliper with a clean cloth

Also you may want to read how to clean and lubricate brake calipers on a motorcycle click here

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How often should I clean my brake calipers?

If you've ever wondered how often you should clean your brake calipers, the answer is actually quite simple.

First, you'll want to make sure that your calipers are free of any dirt, debris or other build-up. This can be done by using a cleaning solution and a soft brush. Once the calipers are clean, you'll need to inspect the lash installation for any signs of wear or damage.

If everything looks good, then you're all set! You can repeating this process as needed, but generally speaking, it's a good idea to clean your brake calipers at least once a year.

Q2: Can I just wipe my brake calipers with a rag instead of using a special cleaner?

Yes, you can use a rag to clean your brake caliper.  Don’t use a soapy rag  which could leave residue behind. Instead, use a clean cloth to wipe away any dirt or grime.

Q3: What kind of cleaner should I use to clean my brake calipers if I'm going to use a spray bottle?

You can use any type of cleaner you like. The only thing you need to watch out for is overusing the cleaner.

Overuse of cleaners can actually harm your brake caliper by leaving residues behind. So, try to limit the amount of time you spend cleaning your brake calipers.

Q4: Is it okay to clean my brake caliper with acetone?

Acetone is one of the best solvents to use when cleaning brake calipers. It's cheap, effective, and won't harm your brake caliper. 

However, be careful about what brand of acetone you buy. Some brands contain chemicals that can damage your brake caliper. Read  labels carefully before buying.

Q5: Will cleaning my brake caliper hurt my brake pads or rotors?

Cleaning your brake caliper will not affect the performance of your brake pads or rotors.

In fact, cleaning your brake caliper may even improve its performance. That's because brake pads and rotors tend to become clogged with dirt and grime after extended periods of non-use. By removing these contaminants, you're helping to keep your brakes working properly.


Cleaning your brake calipers is an integral part of maintaining your bike or motorcycle. Brake calipers can become clogged with dirt and debris, which can cause them to stick and not work  properly. You should clean your brake calipers at least once a year, or more often if you ride in dirty or dusty conditions.

Rahat Hossain