Will Brake Cleaner Remove Paint? A Guide on the Use of Brake Cleaners

While several brands of brake cleaners are made up of different ingredients, they all contain acetone. So, will brake cleaners remove paint? Yes, in addition to acetone, brake cleaner also has other solvents that remove paint. For this reason, spraying brake cleaner on your car can remove its paint.

Brake cleaners are essential in the effective maintenance of vehicles. Since car brakes are at times exposed to contaminants found on roads, brake cleaners are a must-have to ensure that these contaminants do not hinder the performance of the brakes.

Not only do brake cleaners help in the removal of dirt build-up on brakes, but they also help to degrease engines. They are also potent cleaning agents that can remove stains on wheels. Of course, these products carry out various cleaning purposes, but they were designed to clean brakes, not to clean car paints, wheels and engines.

How Does Brake Cleaner Work?

Brake cleaners work by dissolving and absorbing dirt, and after that, the dissolved dirt evaporates to leave a clean surface. The brake cleaners contain a potent formula and, therefore, are unsafe to use on car paints. You should note that not only are modern brake cleaners dangerous for car paints, the older brands were also pretty harsh.How Does Brake Cleaner Work

Chlorine compounds were used to make the old brands that affected car paints and the environment. Specifically, the old brake cleaners induced ozone layer depletion. Furthermore, the new formula contains acetone, methanol, ethanol, which will affect car paint negatively. Hence, spraying a brake cleaner on car paint removes the color once the ingredients react with the paint.

Can I Use Brake Cleaner on Car Paint?

You can use a brake cleaner when you want to remove paint on certain parts of your car. The product reacts with paint immediately and removes paint, ink, or any form of blemish on the surface of your vehicle. For this reason, if you want to avoid spraying your whole car’s paint with brake cleaners, it would be best to spray in a well-ventilated area. When you do this, you reduce the odds of spraying other parts of your car.Can I Use Brake Cleaner on Car Paint

However, if you have accidentally sprayed your car’s paint, you do not need to worry. If you try to fix the situation in an unorganized manner, you can smear the cleaner and spread it to more areas. First, you should get a clean towel and gently pat the area. Remember that wiping worsens the situation, so you should dab the area to ensure the cleaner is not rubbed into the wax. Next, you should rinse the area with water. After washing with soap and rinsing again, you can dry with a clean cloth.

You can then inspect the seriousness of the damage. If the paint is etched, you certainly need a repaint. However, if it has only affected the wax, you do not need to worry about repainting.

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How Fast Will Brake Cleaner Remove Paint?

A seemingly accidental brake cleaner spill on the paint can damage your otherwise shiny paint job. Notably, your car needs brake cleaner, but if you mishandle it, your car paint might bear the brunt.How Fast Will Brake Cleaner Remove Paint

Brake cleaner can be harmful because of its chemical makeup. The glycol attacks coatings and works aggressively on car paints. Furthermore, the fluid breaks down the coating layer of the color if you leave it on the car paint for some time. It leaves stripes or vertical lines along the car’s body as it flows down. Consequently, the metal of your car body is exposed after the paint has been eaten away.

On the positive side, your car can be safe from damage if you clean the brake cleaner immediately. If the fluid sits on your car paint for less than five minutes, it does not damage it. However, leaving the brake fluid on for five minutes and more dull marks. If it stays on for ten minutes, you begin to see visible stains, which ruins the clear paint coat. Lastly, leaving the brake fluid on the car’s paint for 30 minutes will cause total paint damage.

Moreover, cars with low-quality paint or no wax protection face more extensive damage. If the brake cleaner has left marks on your vehicle, you should go to a well-reputed car body shop to assess the damage. You must remember that if you leave the damaged area as is, it might spread and cause permanent problems.

What Should You Not Use Brake Cleaner On?

Due to the extreme harshness of brake cleaners, you should not use them on plastics and rubbers. Additionally, it would be best not to use brake cleaners on painted surfaces that you want to maintain as these products can damage paints. Aluminum is also something you should not use brake cleaner on. The product will eat through the aluminum coating on wheels and cause white streaks. Although you can not remove these marks, you can repair or hide them.where Should You Not Use Brake Cleaner

Furthermore, brake cleaners can dissolve some car components. As a result, you should only use these products on brake components or bare metal parts that you want to clean. There are specific safety measures and information on the product’s container that you should read.

The two types of brake cleaners, chlorinated and non-chlorinated, are dangerous to human health. Non-chlorinated brake cleaner is flammable, and therefore, you should be careful not to use it near a fire. Similarly, chlorinated brake cleaner is also dangerous. It gives off fatal fumes when used in heat or with specific chemicals. Usually, it occurs during welding. Moreover, vapors released from chlorinated solvents can disintegrate into phosgene gas, which is toxic and can cause emphysema, heart failure, and death.

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How to Clean Your Car and Still Protect the Paint

To keep your car shiny, you should protect the car’s paint. If you do not maintain the car’s paint well, it gets discolored easily and looks old. Many factors affect the durability of your car’s paint. For instance, if you expose your vehicle to dirt or sun continuously over a long period, the paint layer gets affected. Also, if you wait until your car gets too dirty before you clean it, the paint can get damaged by dirt and other compounds.

When you clean your vehicle, you should use the correct cloth. The car can lose its original paint color when using the wrong cleaning cloth. Moreover, if you wash your vehicle while it is hot, the soap will stick to its body and reduce the quality of its paint. Since the car’s paint peels easily, you should also not use a faucet with high pressure. Lastly, you should avoid rubbing too hard while washing and only wash briefly to protect your vehicle.

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Is it okay to spray brake cleaner on brake pads?

You can use brake cleaners on the entire brake system. You can clean the brakes’ drums, linings, and pads directly. However, it would help not to spray the painted brake calipers to avoid damaging the paint. Generally, when you want to use brake cleaners, cover the areas that can get damaged if they come in contact with the cleaner.

Is brake cleaner a degreaser?

Yes, brake cleaner effectively removes oil, grease, and brake fluid from brakes. You can use it to dissolve grease without having to disassemble the brakes.

What can I use brake cleaners on?

You can use brake cleaner to clean grime off hinges, nuts, screws, and other metal components. You can also use brake cleaner to remove grease stains from carpets, floor, and kitchen surfaces.


Brake cleaners are very effective cleaning agents, and you may be wondering, will brake cleaners remove paint? Yes, they contain acetone and other paint-removing ingredients. The chemicals in brake cleaners soften the coating of the paint, ruining it.

In addition to removing paint, brake cleaners can damage other materials. You should, therefore, not use brake cleaners on rubber, plastic, and aluminum. It would be best to be careful when using brake cleaners and liquids to prevent paint damage.