How Brake Cleaner Works

How to Use Brake Cleaner
Be sure to properly collect and dispose of the used brake cleaner.
Be sure to properly collect and dispose of the used brake cleaner.

If you've ever used a can of spray paint then you probably won't have any problems using brake cleaner on your vehicle. Some instructions may vary by manufacturer, but in general the application process is the same. Once you've removed the tire, hold the can about a foot to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 meters) away from the brakes. Then start spraying at the top of the brake parts moving downward. This will wash the dust, dirt and other contaminates down and away from the brake part.

As the cleaner gets into the crevices of the brake parts the grease, oil, leaked brake fluid and any other grime that shouldn't be on the brakes will be loosened up by the cleaner and start to wash away. Stubborn areas may need a second application to ensure that everything has been removed. Once you're done spraying, you can let it air dry or wipe with a clean cloth. As we mentioned on the last page, be sure to properly collect and dispose of the used brake cleaner.

Some brake cleaners may claim to reduce brake noise because excess noise can be caused from contaminates on the brake. Some people may feel uncomfortable applying brake cleaner because of its ability to remove loose friction material, the thought being that the friction material is there to stop the vehicle when the brakes are applied [source: Allen].

Regardless of some brake cleaner skeptics, applying brake cleaner can be effective in eliminating dirt and grease that could inhibit your braking ability. With its easy application and minimal amount of preparation and clean-up time, it can be a quick fix for a dirty braking mechanism.

For more information about brake cleaner and other related topics, follow the links below.

Related Articles


  • 3M. "3M High Power Brake Cleaner." March, 4, 2010. (Oct. 20, 2010)
  • Allen, Mike. "How To Fix Squeaky Brakes: DIY Auto." Popular Mechanics. Dec. 18, 2009. (Oct. 20, 2010) mwsId=SSSSSu7zK1fslxtUO8tvPY_Sev7qe17zHvTSevTSeSSSSSS--
  • Marshall, Vin. "Brake Cleaner Can Kill: When to Take Safety Warnings Seriously." Popular Science. Dec. 23, 2009. (Oct. 18, 2010)
  • NYC Department of Sanitation. "Reducing Workplace Toxins." (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Wynn's. "Wynn's Brake Cleaner Material Safety Data Sheet." March 2008. (Oct. 19, 2010)