Degreaser On Brakes? (Including Engine Degreasers Checked)

Over time, your car’s brakes will accumulate dirt and dust, affecting its performance. Therefore, cleaning these parts is advisable; however, you need to know the right products for the job.

So, can you use degreaser on brakes? You can use a degreaser on brakes, but most manufacturers do not recommend it. This is because using the engine degreaser will leave some residue on your brakes, which can be harmful. Instead, manufacturers recommend the brake cleanser; however, many prefer the degreaser as the former is relatively expensive.

The degreaser and brake cleaner are cleaning alternatives for the brakes, and users confuse them for their close resemblance. These products have different performances when you use them on your brakes. Brake rotors are mostly self-cleaning. However, they can accumulate grease or dirt, necessitating cleaning. Read on to know whether you can use a degreaser on brakes.

You can use a degreaser on your brakes, but this is not advisable. Using a degreaser leaves residue on the brakes, which could damage its parts. However, some people continue to use the degreaser on brakes as it is more affordable.

Therefore, if you choose the degreaser for your brake cleaning, you should use it with a brake cleaner or denatured alcohol. The latter ingredients will remove residue, including dirt, oils, and grease, before reassembly. This residue, if ignored, will cause your pads and discs to wear out faster.

Before diving further into the workability and effectiveness of a degreaser on your brakes, it is worth understanding what a degreaser is. A degreaser is a petroleum-based, affordable cleaner used to clean oil spills, engine parts, and engine bays.

Degreasers are available in two forms, petroleum-based and water-based. Petroleum-based degreasers are more affordable than water-based. In addition, since petrol is a natural cleaning agent, you require less preparation time when using this degreaser. However, when working on painted objects and aluminum, be cautious as this degreaser can be messy, reacting to the metals and shedding off the paint.

Water-based degreasers, on the other hand, are mild, gentle, and environmentally friendly. Their enhanced formulation ensures easy removal of grease. You need not be cautious with petroleum-based degreasers on metals and plastics, as they will not react when in contact. However, they cost more than petroleum-based degreasers. With different types of degreasers in the market, your choice will depend on preference and availability.

Given the residue limitation in degreasers, it is advisable to use brake cleaners. Brake cleaners wipe off brake fuel and layers of oil and grease without leaving residue. You can use a brake cleaner on your engine parts and brake disks.

Cleaning your brakes improves your car’s performance, increasing your driving safety. Unlike the degreaser, a brake cleaner will prevent debris and grime from accumulating on your brakes as you drive.

Using a brake cleaner instead of a degreaser is advantageous for several reasons. First, a brake cleaner is easy to use. Using a brake cleaner requires you to put minimum measures and preparation. This cleaner also takes a short time to evaporate; hence, no need to worry about the residue left behind.

Second, a brake cleaner can help detect car leakage without harming the parts. This fluid will be a degreaser in moving parts, reducing the wear rate. Lastly, you can use a brake cleaner on all parts of your brake system and other unrelated parts, such as the calipers, clutch parts, fuel pumps, and oil parts.

Brake Cleaners

Cleaning your brake system with a brake cleaner is affordable and requires little preparation or removal of major parts. You can achieve this within a few minutes with the right equipment. Ideally, if you can change a car tire, using a brake cleaner should be easy.

When you remove your tire, check the brakes for any excess dirt build-up. Applying a brake cleaner after you have removed the tire will make it easy for you to clean the system and enable you to see the parts clearly in case of a repair job.

Most brake cleaners in the market are available in spray form, and you do not need to disassemble the brake parts. Brake cleaners include chlorinated and non-chlorinated solutions. The chlorinated brake cleaner is the oldest type on the market.

Motorists prefer it for its non-flammability and fast dying. However, given its chlorinated atoms, some countries prohibit its use. The non-chlorinated brake cleaner, as the name suggests, does not have chlorinated solvents. However, it has environmentally unfriendly substances. Unlike chlorinated, non-chlorinated brake cleansers take time to dry up and are highly flammable.

Whether applying chlorinated or non-chlorinated brake cleaner, you do not need many tools to accomplish the job. You only need to remove the tire, which means that a wrench and a set of jack stands will come in handy to hold your car.

As you apply the brake cleaner, the debris and excess cleaner will drain from the brakes; therefore, having a pan to contain them is necessary. Once done, dispose of the cleaner as necessary, depending on the restrictions in your locality.

Cleaning Brakes

While cleaning your brakes, wear protective gear, as most cleaners contain harmful chemicals like tetrachloroethane and acetone, which can irritate your eyes and skin. Prolonged exposure to these elements can cause headaches, dizziness, vomiting, or unconsciousness. Hence, wear gloves and eyewear while working in a well-ventilated area. You should always read the instructions beforehand for additional safety information.

Besides harming your body, the components in a brake cleaner could harm some parts of your car. This includes the paint and the plastic parts. Hence, before spraying, cover such areas with a proofing material.

You should also avoid spraying in a windy environment, as the spray could rest on uncovered yet sensitive parts and wear them out. Other safety precautions include ensuring the brakes and surrounding parts are cool. Avoid cleaning your brakes immediately after a drive, as the parts are hot. Spraying the brake cleaner can be dangerous as the ingredients may burn and release toxins.

Applying the spray brake cleaner is more or less like spray painting. With the above setup and safety measures in place, hold the can about two feet off the brakes and spray from top to bottom.

The dust and dirt will drain from the brake parts with the excess spray, and as the cleaner penetrates the crevices on the brake parts, oil, grease, and leaked brake fluid that should not be on the brakes will loosen up and wash away. You may need a second application with stubborn areas for proper cleaning. Afterward, leave the system to air dry or wipe with a clean, dry cloth.

Once the application is complete and your parts are dry, replace the wheel and lower your car from the jack. However, you can also clean your brake parts with the wheels on and without lifting the car, but this cleaning will not be thorough.

Applying a brake cleaner remains the most effective method of removing grease and dirt that could be affecting your brake performance. In addition to the brake system, you can use the brake cleaner to clean grime from screws, hinges, nuts, and other metal components of your car that are difficult to scrub.

A brake cleaner can also be useful in grease and oil removal on the car’s carpet, driveway, and garage floor. However, you should be careful when using brake cleaner on carpets, as it can easily discolor what you are cleaning. In small amounts, the brake cleaner can work wonders. Spot testing is necessary when using your brake cleaner on other surfaces.

Can You Use Engine Degreaser on Brakes?

Automotive brakes are among the important parts of an automobile and require constant maintenance. In addition, brakes can become dirty from continued exposure to dust, grime, grease, and road debris, necessitating cleaning. Read on to know whether you can use the engine degreaser on your brakes.

You can use an engine degreaser on your brakes, but this is not advisable as it leaves residue behind. Also, when using the engine degreaser, keep it off painted parts as it can wear off the paint. However, you can use it on your pads to remove up to 90 percent of the contaminants.  Usually, as long as the water is not too wet, you need not worry about your discs when using the degreaser on the brakes.

Your car’s brakes will accumulate dirt from certain parts and deposits from the wheel. This occurs when the brake pads heat up, breaking off the metal debris. While this is a normal process, this build-up can negatively impact the brake function and shorten the brake pads’ lifespan. These issues affect the braking and, without regular cleaning, force you to replace the rotors and brake pads frequently. To prevent this, consider regular cleaning with the right products.

Brake Cleaner vs Engine Degreaser

The brake cleaner and engine degreaser are different components with unique functionalities. You can use either, to clean your brake system. The brake cleaner is more expensive, explaining why motorists use it sparingly. However, it is a more effective cleaning agent, courtesy of its isopropyl alcohol component that ensures fast evaporation of the liquid, leaving your brakes spotless after cleaning.

On the other hand, the degreaser leaves an oily residue that can harm the brakes. For such reasons, manufacturers recommend brake cleaner instead of engine degreaser to service brakes.

If you choose the engine degreaser to clean your caliper and disc brakes, start by establishing the cause of cleaning, whether dirt or oil. If your discs have rust, it shows a high content of cast iron in the material.

Discs made of cast iron show rust spots when in contact with water, but this gets off the next time you use them. Fortunately, modern bikes feature stainless discs and will last longer; hence, there is no need to worry about replacement. Ideally, the rotor of your disc brakes will clean up as you brake the wipes.

Any parts on the disc that remain dirty with this action may not be in proper contact with the pad. You can use a good quality degreaser from your nearest store in case of oily discs. Spray, wipe and allow time to dry.

Using soap and water to clean your discs is feasible if you lack access to a greaser or other cleaners. However, you should do proper rinsing to avoid problems. Just like when using the degreaser or brake cleaner, avoid cleaning your disks after a drive, as they could be very hot and burn you. Putting water on your hot disks could also warp them, affecting functionality.  Instead, wait for the disk to cool down.

While you can clean your brake rotors using the friction surface method, this is unnecessary as they will stay clean with the scouring by the friction pads. Still, if cleaning is necessary, consider a brake cleaner or alcohol solvent.

Cleaning your brake rotors with an engine degreaser will leave a residue, which is why a brake cleaner will come in handy. You will know cleaning is necessary when you hear strange noises or see stains.

To clean your brake rotors, move your automobile to a well-ventilated area and raise it on jack stands. While taking precautions, shake the brake cleaner thoroughly and apply it to the brake area to treat the discs and pads. Next, allow the cleaner to evaporate and wipe the excess liquid with a clean cloth.

A brake cleaner will also be useful in cleaning the calipers, pads, and pistons. The pads, in this case, are the most critical if contaminated with oil or brake fluid. You cannot fully clean your contaminated pads but can remove them, bake them in the oven at 200 degrees for twenty minutes, soak them in brake cleaner or isopropyl alcohol, and then reinstall them.


Cleaning your brakes with the right product is an important maintenance practice for better performance. The degreaser is an effective cleaner with the capacity to rid your car brakes of oily stains, grease, and dirt.

However, if you want your car engines to be spotless and without residue, consider a brake cleaner. A brake cleaner costs more than an engine degreaser but has better functionality.

Using the brake cleaner leaves, no residue, saving time removing them after cleaning. A brake cleaner also requires minimal preparation time, giving you a fast fix for a dirty brake system. Either way, the degreaser and the brake cleaner have unique places in your car, and your choice will depend on availability and preference.

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