How To Use Brake Cleaner

Without the brake, riding a car becomes very detrimental. The airbags and other parts of the car are as good as useless as the brake is the essential component of a vehicle. However, the importance of the brake system makes it paramount to be maintained to ensure proper functioning and safety.

Brake cleaner is one of the maintenance strategies manufacturers have put in place for proper usage and functioning of the brake. The brake has a way of accumulating dust, dirt, grease, etc. which results from daily usage. This is where brake cleaner comes in. Brake cleaners help to remove these accumulations and keep the brake in the right working conditions.

Although this is not the only use of brake cleaner, a lot of people do not know how to use brake cleaner. So, in this article, you will learn some vital information to walk you through a satisfactory vehicle usage and life.

What are the Types of Brake Cleaners?

Brake cleaner can be categorized into chlorinated and non-chlorinated solvent though they are made up of various ingredients; they both have the same functions.


Non-chlorinated Brake Cleaner is the non-flammable ones, and they dry fast when applied.


The Chlorinated Brake Cleaner is the flammable version of brake cleaner, and they are not as fast drying as the chlorinated ones. The flammable brake cleaner has been banned in some states.

How to Use Brake Cleaner


Using the brake cleaner on your car is as easy as spraying paint on any surface. Though the instructions vary from the various producers, the method of application is the same. Here are some steps on how to use brake cleaner on some parts of your vehicle.

1. Brake Pad

After taking off the tire, apply a brake cleaner about two feet from the brake and spray from the top of the brake to the bottom. In other words, use a downward spray method. When using this spray method, the cleaner will clean off dirt, grease, and other materials that are clogged in the brake pad.

It will also loosen and remove oil and other brake fluid that may have clogged in the brake crevices. However, not all areas of dirt or grease will be easily removed. Some areas can be a little difficult to clean off with the first application and require a second application before they come off. After use, allow the brake to dry, or you can clean them with a cloth.

Useful tips

Ensure brakes pads and other brake parts are cold before applying cleaner.

Areas that do not need to be cleaned should be covered to avoid stains.

Ensure to pack wheels on materials that can absorb brake cleaner to maintain a clean environment.

Required Tools

A clean cloth

2. The Brake Caliper and Piston

When brake calipers are dirty or greasy, one of the ways to remove these diets is to use a brake cleaner. Cleaning the brake caliper requires you to remove the caliper; however, there are other ways of cleaning it using brake cleaner without removing the wheels. It is as easy as cleaning the brake pads, here are the steps:

Step One

Remove the caliper by lifting the car with a jack and placing it on a jack stand. Then, take out the lugs and detach the wheel. Open the hood and brake fluid cylinder, add cling film on the surface of the liquid and close the cover. After that, loosen the line of contact of the brake line with the caliper. Do not open it completely and place a tray or container beneath it in case of any spills. With a screwdriver, remove the caliper clip, after which you remove the caliper bolts and rotors. When the caliper is successfully detached, you can then take out the brake pad from it.

Furthermore, when taking out the caliper, ensure that you do not twist the brake lines.

Step Two

Before cleaning, note that the brake caliper has the piston attached to it, which also needs to be washed in the process. However, to remove the piston. Get a source of pressurized air and a nozzle alongside a small wood of about half-inch thick. Insert the wood between the piston on the caliper and the outer surface, then put the air nozzle in the brake line hole and apply the compressed air into it. It will pull out the piston from the brake caliper. Do not place hands close to this part before removing the piston because it removes with a bit of force.

Step Three

When cleaning the piston, use brake cleaner and a hard brush or sandpaper to remove dirt and grease, which may have accumulated over time. For the brake caliper, also use a scrub and brake cleaner. However, when cleaner smaller holes or crevices, use a toothbrush. Dirt may not come off when cleaned the first time but clean again until parts are well and thoroughly. After that, you can clean, recouple, and your brake will be functioning fine and sound.

Required Tools

  • Jack and jack stand
  • Screwdriver
  • Hard brush or sandpaper

Other Uses of Brake Cleaner

Aside from being used for cleaning your brakes and vehicles, brake cleaner can also be used to serve other shops and household purposes. Here are a few other alternative uses of brake cleaner.

1. Fabric Stain Removal

The perchloroethylene contained in brake cleaner is one of the most common chemicals used by laundry persons. However, to remove stains from cloth, including oil, apply a little amount of brake cleaner on the fabric to remove stains. Do not forget to wear gloves before handling as it may irritate the skin.

2. Cleaning Floor

Brake cleaner is handy for cleaning floor surfaces, even carpets, concrete floors, and patios. To remove oil stains, wipe oil with a cloth or any absorbent before scrubbing with brake cleaner.

For carpet, since brake cleaners can penetrate adhesives, ensure it doesn't get to the glue that holds carpet and floor.

3. As Ink and Paint Removal

Non-chlorinated brake cleaner contains acetones, which are an essential chemical in the removal of permanent markers, spills, paints that can be found on tables, walls, or counters.

How to Clean Brakes Like a Boss!

How To Use Brake Cleaner FAQs

Can I use brake cleaner to clean my engine?

Brake cleaners are very reactive with plastics and rubbers, especially rubber hoses. This is because it tends to dry them up, which could lead to cracks in the long run. However, using a brake cleaner could change the color of the engine, giving it a dull effect.

Can I clean my brake caliper without removing the wheel?

Cleaning the brake caliper without removing the wheel can be a bit challenging. A lot of people just prefer taking out the system and doing a thorough clean-up. However, there are several methods on how to clean brake calipers without removing them. You could spray a brake cleaner on the surface and apply a quick brushing and rinsing of the surface. Other brake cleaners form after application and allow you to rinse off, thus removing dust. When cleaning the brake caliper on the wheels and realizing it's difficult to reach other parts, you can also drive the car a little inch to reveal the other parts, then wipe them.

What should you not use brake cleaner on?

To prevent damage and discoloration, do not apply brake cleaners on plastics, rubber, or painted surfaces. However, it is advised to read the instruction and safety information of the product before using to avoid damage.

Which is better chlorinated or non-chlorinated brake cleaner?

The type of brake cleaner one needs to use is dependent on the task at hand. Although the non-chlorinated brake cleaners are very flammable, they are very powerful, especially when dealing with paints.

Does brake cleaner remove rust?

Brake cleaners are made to clean your brakes from specks of dirt, dust, grease, and other substances making your wheel, brake caliper, and other parts of your vehicle free from this dirt. However, brake cleaner does not affect rust.

What is brake cleaner made up of?

Brake cleaners are made up of various chemicals. For chlorinated cleaners, compounds include tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), carbon dioxide( usually found in the aerosol brake cleaner). The non-chlorinated ones are made up of heptane, acetone and carbon dioxide(mostly used as propellant).

Will brake cleaner damage tires?

Tires are made up of rubber, and most brake cleaners instruct users not to apply them on rubber. Rubbers have wax protectors that prevent it from ozone damage. Using brake cleaner on tires may not have direct harm to it but will indirectly affect it by removing the wax, which helps protect the surface from ozone.

Conclusion

Using brake cleaner has proven very useful and helpful to vehicle users. However, some people are skeptical about its usage and the type to use, but this is not a factor as long as you give attention to the information provided and adhere to the manufacturer's safety instructions.

Also, brake cleaner provides users with a smooth application. It also reduces preparing cleaning time and helps to fix dirty brake systems.

John
 

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at brakeshub.com, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.

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