Brake Cleaner vs Carb Cleaner: Don’t Mess It Up!

Every vehicle comes with many components and parts. Unfortunately, as these components and parts perform their unique purposes, they tend to become filthy.

Although these components are in the same car, you can never clean them with one cleaning solution. Instead, each of them has its particular cleaning solution, which you must use.

If you mistakenly use a cleaning solution made for brakes to clean carburetors, it will lead to severe damages. As a result, you will have to spend more dollars on a replacement.

In this article, we are only concerned with brake cleaners and carb cleaners. However, after reading them all, you will also know their differences which you must know.

Carb Cleaner

The main purpose of carb cleaners is to clean dirt on carburetors. Your car’s carburetor is part of the engine system. Its work is to mix air and fuel in your vehicle’s combustion chamber.

A carburetor mixes the air and fuel as well as ensures that their ratio balances. That is the only way for the process of combustion to work effectively.

If your car's carburetor becomes dirty, you will need to clean it. Also, if your vehicle's performance is not up to par and you suspect that it has carbon build-up, carb cleaner is needed.

That is the only way your car can function efficiently. When you are faced with this dilemma, your best option is to apply the carb cleaner.

However, you will need to exercise caution during the cleaning process. The reason is that you will be cleaning close to the painted components of your vehicle. Moreover, the chemicals used in producing the carb cleaner can wipe off the paints.

 The things you need to clean around the carburetor are clogged debris and dirt. As a result, carb cleaners are a bit aggressive due to the strong chemicals used in their production.

With this chemical congestion, you can easily clean out any debris and carbon build-up within your carburetor.

Brake Cleaner

This particular cleaner is specially made to clean a car's brake system. You can use brake cleaners to clean materials like; pads, dust, and brake shoes. It also comes in handy if you want to remove brake fluid, grease, debris, oil, and dirt.

This cleaner dries fast no matter the surface you apply it to. Therefore, you can use brake cleaners on many other parts of the car apart from the brake system.

In addition, you can easily use brake cleaner on shoe brakes, brake drums, brake pads, and other car components. The design makes it easy and safe to use, even as a spray.

Brake cleaners come in two types, namely, non-chlorinated and chlorinated brake cleaners. You can use any of them for brake cleaning and any other part of your car.

However, chlorinated brake cleaner is quite aggressive and dangerous. It is not friendly to human contact because of its chemical components. The tetrachloroethylene, which is part of its production, is harmful to the human skin.

But non-chlorinated cleaner is not as dangerous as chlorinated. Moreover, you can use it without a hand glove. Any type you may use, don’t use it on a surface coated with powder.  

Brake Cleaner vs Carb Cleaner

The differences between the brake cleaner and carb cleaner are quite numerous. However, for this article, we will categorize them into;

  • Function
  • User-friendly
  • Specialty
  • Finishing
  • Safety
  • Function

Carb cleaner’s function is to clean the car’s throttle body and carburetors. On the other hand, brake cleaners can clean every brake-related part of the vehicle. For instance, it can clean brake pads, brake shoes, and brake drums.

  • User-friendly

Brake cleaners are user-friendly. For example, you can use the non-chlorinated brake cleaner without covering your hands. But for a chlorinated brake cleaner, you must protect your hands with gloves.

With the gloves on, you will not have any problem with the chemical contents. However, carb cleaners are dangerous and harmful.

  •  Specialty

Brake cleaner is specially formulated to wipe out oily fluids, debris, dirt. It can thoroughly clean the particular car component you are cleaning very well.

 Furthermore, the surface it cleans remains neat and dry, while carb cleaners are specially formulated to remove hardened carbons on the brake, debris, and dirt, respectively.

But unlike the brake cleaner, carb cleaners can leave a small amount of oil after cleaning.

  • Finishing

The finishing of a carburetor cleaner is efficient. It cleans thoroughly while allowing a small amount of oil to remain on the cleaned parts. As a result, the lifespan of the gaskets and seals will increase.

On the other hand, after cleaning with the brake cleaner, the components are left neat and dry. This finishing is not advantageous to the gaskets or seals at all. It reduces their lifespan.

  • Safety

If you are cleaning gaskets, seals, rubber, vinyl, and neoprene, brake cleaner is not safe to use at all. You need to look for another alternative for your cleaning.

However, you can safely apply carburetor cleaner on gaskets, seals, vinyl, and neoprene. It cleans them effectively. Also, it allows for a little residual oil to expand its lifespan.


Both the carburetor cleaner and the brake cleaner are good tools for cleaning. They are effective in cleaning dirt and debris on car components, respectively. However, brake cleaners are more aggressive than carb cleaners.

Thus, carb cleaners cannot clean effectively on brakes. The major difference between them is that brake cleaners are dry and oil-free, while carb cleaners are not oil-free.

Overall, it is not advisable to use brake cleaners on carburetors as a cleaning agent. Neither is it advisable to use carb cleaners on brake components at all. It is better to use brake cleaners for any brake cleaning task.

However, for any car component with metallic construction, you can use a brake cleaner. Due to the harsh formula in its production, a brake cleaner can do the job perfectly.

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