8 Steps To Use Brake Cleaner To Improve Vehicle’s Performance

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. Unfortunately, the brake accumulates 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, many people do not know how to use brake cleaner. So, in this article, you will learn vital information to walk you through satisfactory vehicle usage and life.

What is A Brake Cleaner?’

Brake cleaner is an aerosol solvent designed to break down and remove dirt, grease, and brake dust from car brakes. This powerful product is easy to apply and can quickly clean the brakes without having to disassemble any of the car’s parts. The combination of chemicals used in brake cleaners helps break down various components and easily eliminate excess contamination. Not only will brake cleaner leave brakes clean, but it can also improve braking performance.

The content of a typical aerosol box includes various compounds such as hydrocarbons, petroleum distillates, halogenated hydrocarbons, or polyglycerol ethers that are capable of dissolving oil, grease, and grime. Brake cleaner cautions people to use eye protection when applying this product and to avoid contact with the skin or eyes for prolonged periods of time. By following these safety instructions, you can be sure your car’s brakes will be efficient and effective after using brake cleaner.

What are the Types of Brake Cleaners?

Brake cleaners are essential for removing dirt, grease, and other debris from automotive brake systems. This can greatly reduce the risk of damage caused by dirt and worn-out brake components. Brake cleaners come in two types: chlorinated and non-chlorinated solvents. Chlorinated brake cleaners are flammable and require special handling, while non-chlorinated ones are nonflammable but do not dry as quickly on application. And each of the uses for brake cleaner is different.

Both types of cleaner contain potentially harmful chemicals such as acetone, methylene chloride, and tetrachlorethylene, which can irritate skin and eyes, cause dizziness or headaches, and, when inhaled over prolonged periods of time, can lead to serious health problems like chest pain, unconsciousness or vomiting. Therefore it is important to take appropriate safety measures, such as wearing gloves and a face mask when using brake cleaner.

How To Use Brake Cleaner

How to Use Brake Cleaner: In 8 Ways

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 application method is the same. Here are some steps to use brake cleaner on some parts of your vehicle. Those ways can also be answers to how to use brake cleaner without removing tire questions. So, follow those steps and use cleaner like a pro:

  1. Choose a well-ventilated area: Park your car in an open and well-ventilated space, preferably outdoors or in a garage with good airflow. This is important because brake cleaners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be harmful if inhaled in confined spaces.
  2. Prepare the brake cleaner can: Remove the cap from the brake cleaner can and locate the attached tube or nozzle. Insert the tube securely into the nozzle opening. This helps prevent any accidental spillage and allows for more precise application.
  3. Safety precautions: Before spraying, wear protective gloves and safety glasses to avoid direct contact with the cleaner and protect your eyes. It’s also advisable to wear a mask or work in an area with good air circulation to minimize inhalation of the cleaner’s fumes.
  4. Position the can and nozzle: Hold the brake cleaner can with the nozzle pointed downwards and away from your face and body. Position the nozzle close to the target area (brake discs, calipers, and pads) but maintain a safe distance to prevent overspray.
  5. Spray the brake cleaner: Press the nozzle to release the brake cleaner in a controlled manner. Begin spraying on and around the brake discs, calipers, and pads. If your car’s wheels have accumulated brake dust, you may also spray the wheels. Apply enough to ensure thorough cleaning, and repeat if necessary to remove stubborn dirt and grime.
  6. Wipe away excess cleaner and debris: After spraying the brake cleaner, wait for a few moments to allow it to penetrate and dissolve any grease, oil, or brake dust. Then, gently wipe away the excess cleaner and loosened debris using a lint-free cloth or shop towel. Do not apply excessive pressure that could damage your car’s paint or other components.
  7. Allow the wheels to dry: Give the cleaned areas time to air dry completely. This is important because the VOCs in the brake cleaner can be harmful if inhaled, so allowing proper ventilation during the drying process is essential.
  8. Wash your hands thoroughly: After cleaning, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This will help remove any residue or chemical traces from the brake cleaner and ensure your skin is clean and safe.

How Brake Cleaner Works?

A brake cleaner is an essential tool for any car owner. It helps to keep the brakes clean and free of dirt, dust, and other contaminants that can build up over time. This buildup can interfere with the braking system’s ability to function properly, leading to decreased performance and even dangerous situations on the road. Brake cleaner is a simple and inexpensive way to ensure your brakes are always in top condition.

Using brake cleaner is easy and straightforward. All you need is an aerosol spray can of brake cleaner, some rags or paper towels, and a few minutes of your time. Simply spray the brake cleaner onto the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away any excess dirt or grime with a rag or paper towel.

After cleaning, inspect the brakes for any signs of wear or damage before reworking them. With just a few simple steps, you can help keep your brakes in great shape and ensure they’re always ready when needed.

After cleaning, inspect the brakes for any signs of wear or damage before putting them back together again. With just a few simple steps, you can help keep your brakes in great shape and ensure they’re always ready when needed.

Which Parts Are Suitable to Use Brake Cleaners?

Knowing which parts are suitable for brake cleaners is important when working on your vehicle. Brake cleaners are powerful solvents that can quickly and effectively remove grease, oil, dirt, and other debris from various components found in car brakes. However, due to its flammability and strong odor, it is essential to ensure that you only use brake cleaner on parts that are designed to withstand the solvent.

Common components that can be safely cleaned using brake cleaner include brake shoes, brake calipers, wheel cylinders, and other metal or plastic parts that make up your car’s braking system. It is important to avoid contact with rubber parts such as hoses and seals as the strong solvent may damage these. If you’re unsure which parts you should use brake cleaner on, consult your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Here is Some Brake Cleaner Alternative:

Brake cleaner is sure a great thing to use, but if there are any emergencies where you can’t find brake cleaner, then you use this as an alternative to brake cleaner:

1. Acetone

Acetone is a powerful chemical solvent commonly used in brake cleaner formulas. It effectively breaks down grease, oil, and other contaminants on brakes and other automotive parts. Acetone also evaporates quickly, leaving little to no residue behind. When using brake cleaner with acetone, it’s important to make sure you take the proper safety precautions before use.

2. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a versatile and natural alternative to harsh chemical cleaners like brake cleaners. Lemon juice contains citric acid, which makes it an effective cleaning agent that can break down dirt and grease. You can easily use lemon juice to clean your brakes safely with a few simple steps.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is often used as an ingredient in brake cleaners. It acts as a solvent, helping to break down dirt, grease, and grime on the surface of the brakes and surrounding components. Alcohol can also clean other components, such as rotors and drums. It evaporates quickly, leaving no residue behind. Here’s how to use alcohol for brake cleaning:

Add some rubbing alcohol to a rag and gently rub the brake surfaces. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away any excess with a clean rag. Inspect the brakes for any signs of wear or damage before reinstalling them.

4. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another natural alternative to chemical brake cleaners as it can help break down grease, oil, and other contaminants. Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with some warm water to create a paste, then apply it to the affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away any excess with a clean cloth.

5. Vinegar

Vinegar is another effective cleaner that can be used instead of brake cleaners. It contains acetic acid, a powerful solvent that can help break down grease and oil. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then spray the affected area before wiping it away with a clean cloth.


How To Use Brake Cleaner FAQs

1. 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.

2. Can I clean my brake caliper without removing the wheel?

Cleaning the brake and cleaning your brake’s caliper without removing the wheel can be a bit challenging. As a result, a lot of people prefer taking out the system and doing a thorough clean-up. However, there are several methods how to clean brake calipers without removing them. For example, 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.

3. What should you not use brake cleaner on?

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

4. 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 non-chlorinated brake cleaners are very flammable, they are very powerful, especially when dealing with paints.

5. Does brake cleaner remove rust?

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

6. What is brake cleaner made up of?

Brake cleaners are made up of various chemicals. For chlorinated cleaners, compounds include tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene) and 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).

7. Will brake cleaner damaged tires?

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


Hope you get How To Use Brake Cleaner; 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 pay 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 D. Archer

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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