Is Carburetor Cleaner the Same As Brake Cleaner?

Every part of a car or vehicle needs a different cleaning solution. For instance, you can not clean your brake system with any solvent formula. You’ll have to use a proper brake cleaner. Furthermore, you’ll find that every part of your vehicle is compatible only with a particular cleaning solution.

So, brake cleaners and carb cleaners are two different cleaning solutions. Let’s examine both types in detail and list their differences.

Brake Cleaner

Unlike carb cleaners, brake cleaners remove debris and other dirty components from your brake systems.

Sometimes, your car’s brake system gets dirt and soil particles stuck in it. Then, removing the brake shoes and pads dirt and the other brake components becomes very difficult.

Brake Cleaner

In general, brake cleaning is an easy process. If you want to do the cleaning job yourself, start by removing all filthy components. The brake cleaner comes in a spray bottle, and all you need to do is spray it on the shoe brakes, brake drums, and the nearby parts.

Have a look: Will Brake Cleaner Remove Paint?

Types of Brake Cleaners

Break cleaners come in two types, depending on their content. So, we have the chlorinated brake cleaner and the non-chlorinated brake cleaner. The chlorinated brake cleaners are highly-toxic sprays and remove adamant dirt. However, the other one, i.e., non-chlorinated cleaner, is not as potent and removes regular dirt.

Types of Brake Cleaners

Using a chlorinated one will be a terrible idea if you try the cleaning process for the first time. For example, the chemical might hurt your eyes if you mishandle it. So, pay extra attention to the amount of liquid you intend to apply.

Cleaning Rubber and Plastic Parts

Brake cleaners feature the correct formula to effectively clean rubber and plastic surfaces. The non-chlorinated brake cleaners do not contain Acetone, which is harmful to plastic and rubber.

Hence, the non-chlorinated brake cleaners are harmless for these parts. However, before using the brake cleaner or contact cleaner on such products, read the composition properly. If it contains Acetone, the cleaner will likely damage any rubber or plastic part.

Carburetor Cleaners

As the name implies, you use carb cleaners to clean the carburetors of vehicles. The chemical congestion is perfect for cleaning rigid dirt particles and varnish, allowing the carburetors to work as intended. Moreover, the carb cleaner can remove oily fluids or any residue stuck in the engine or carb.

Carburetor Cleaners

The chemical composition of carb cleaners includes an adequate proportion of Methyl ethyl ketone and Ethyl Benzene.

What Is A Carburetor?

The carburetor is the part of your engine system where the mixing of air and fuel inside an internal combustion chamber takes place. In that way, it’s the part that balances this ratio and ensures a proper functioning vehicle.

You will find the carburetor near the intake manifold. However, since the location can vary in different cars, follow the fuel lines in your vehicle to identify it.

What Is A Carburetor

Yet, modern models may feature a fuel injection system instead of a carburetor. Why? The fuel injection systems provide a more refined mixture of air and fuel. While in carburetors, some carbon deposits get stuck on them during the ignition process. These unnecessary carbon deposits create the need for frequent clean-ups and trips to a mechanic’s shop.


The essential thing to note about car cleaning is that it might end up damaging your car’s paint. So, avoid using the cleaning solution directly on a painted surface.

Moreover, unlike brake cleaners, carb cleaners leave residues after being sprayed. So, you need to clean the oily residue with dirt-free clothe later on.

Difference Between Carb Cleaners and Brake Cleaners

Although there are cleaning solutions for different parts of the vehicle, certain factors make one cleaner better than the other in some areas.

Brake cleaner will work potently if you use proper preventive measures, such as wearing Nitrile gloves. However, carb cleaners will turn muddy if you leave them unattended.

However, a brake cleaner will leave the surface utterly dry and spotless. It seems convenient at first, but it might decrease the lifespan of all the seals. On the other hand, a carb cleaner will leave the surface with oily residue, suitable for gaskets.

Brake Cleaner vs. Carb Cleaner – Which One Is Better?

Both the cleaners have their benefits and problems. Where brake cleaner removes dirt and oily fluids, carb cleaner breaks hardened carbon particles.

Brake Cleaner vs. Carb Cleaner

However, brake cleaners are considered better than carb cleaners. The reason is that a brake cleaner can perform more than one task. Along with brake cleaning, it can take care of other plastic and leather parts.

The carb cleaner will slowly diminish the quality of brake rotors. The oil stuck on the surface will cause oily dirt on brake pads. However, a carb cleaner comes in only one variety.

Hence, both mechanics and technicians prefer brake cleaners over carb cleaners.

Safety Measures

Whether you are cleaning with carb cleaner or brake cleaner, the chemical congestion makes the cleaners harmful. It is necessary to follow all precautionary measures to avoid any severe damage.

Cleaning carburetors or brakes might seem an easy process if you are focusing enough on each part of the process. However, these products are highly flammable, and the cleaners feature toxic chemicals. So, you can hurt yourself if not careful. At the very least, protect your eyes when using chlorinated brake cleaner. Similarly, keep these chemicals away from kids.

Frequently Asked Question About Brake and Carb Cleaners

1. Can I use carb cleaner to clean the brake system?

No, avoid using a carb cleaner for components of brakes. A carb cleaner leaves little oil on the surface, and these oily residues are not compatible with the brake system.

Cleaning brakes require an oil-free cleaner that does not leave an oil base. Moreover, the carb cleaner removes hardened carbons; hence the chemical composition is stiffer.

So, it is recommended to use the proper product for a particular part of the vehicle. Any mix-ups, such as using throttle body cleaner or carb cleaner on brake systems, can cause rust or damage the surface where it was applied.

2. Can I use a carb cleaner as a starting fluid?

Yes, you can use a carb cleaner in different ways, and it can work on a throttle body as a starting cleaner. However, this too is not the best option.

For instance, you can find throttle body cleaner or starting fluid in the shops. The products designed for a particular purpose feature the correct formula that supports only that function. So, substituting one for the other can lead to complications. However, carb cleaner will work perfectly fine if you do not have to start fluid.


Though they appear similar, carburetor and brake cleaners both have specific usages. They differ in content, and as a result, they can’t take each other’s place. Even if you’ve run out of one, it’s better to re-stock than end up damaging some part of your vehicle.

So, we highly recommend using carburetor cleaners to clean the carburetor and brake cleaner for the brake system. In other words, they sport measured acidity levels to perform their supposed tasks. Hence, take all the safety measures and begin to clean your carburetor and brake pads with the right chemical.

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