Brake Cleaner Substitute (A Guide To A Polished Brake)

Ever find yourself in a position where you’re driving along and you hear a weird squeaking noise? But you don’t remember putting a baby piglet in the back of your car.

Well, chances are you have a faulty or clogged-up brake. So, how do you solve this problem if you haven’t got the means to get a brake cleaner?

Well, that’s where we come in. More precisely, our post on the brake cleaner substitute for your dirty brakes.

Honestly, cleaning the brakes should be a habit for any user, as dirt and grime tend to find a way into the brake pads. So, having a faulty brake pad would be a matter of life and death, especially in slippery conditions. 

Hence, we must ensure that your brakes are always clean.  

But hold up, there are a plethora of things substances that can be used as a substitute. Which one should I pick?

Well, don’t worry we got your back!

To make life easier for you we’ve narrowed it down to a top 5 list of brake substitutes. Believe me, we’ve done our homework on this and we know which type of cleaner would be the most effective for your brake pads. 

We did this so you have to labor through a lot of trial and error to get to this point. However, there’s always a chance that you can’t make up your mind.

In that case, below our review, we’ve added a few info points that will help you choose for yourself.

1. CRC Brakleen Brake Cleaner

At A Glance:

  • Amount: 19.00 Ounces (oz) 
  • Type Of Container: Aerosol Spray
  • Item Weight: 1.5 pounds (lbs)
  • Product Dimensions: ‎2.8 x 2.87 x 9.9 inches
  • Product Type: N/A

First and foremost, we have our top pick of the day: The CRC Store’s Brakleen Brake Cleaner. The CRC is a well-known brand in the Brake Cleaner market and it’s no surprise that they took the top spot on our list.

So what makes the Brakeleen so special?

First of all, the CRC Brakleen Brake Cleaner is an anomaly. It is the only brake cleaner on this list that is completely flame-resistant.

That’s right, the Brakleen is non-flammable which makes it one of the safest brake cleaners to use and store.

However, this is not to say that you should use it as a fire extinguisher or store it somewhere unsafe. It still consists of harmful pressurized vapor in it.

The CRC Brakleen boasts having the strongest Brakleen formula, and it backs it up too! The Brakleen degreases your brakes instantly and renders the solid grime to liquid. This makes it easier to clean up.

Moreover, the CRC Brakleen dries rapidly and leaves no traces at all. Leaving no residue while cleaning is a big plus point when it comes to cleaning your brakes.

The Brakleen takes no prisoners when it comes to cleaning dirt and grime. This removes grease, oil and, even brake fluid too.

However, Brakleen’s cleaning progress may be too much in some cases, as it can strip painted surfaces too. So if you have any trendy decals on, you’ve been warned. 

2. Gumout Parts Cleaner

At A Glance:

  • Amount: 14 oz (ounces)
  • Type Of Container: Aerosol Can
  • Item Weight: 0.88 pounds (lbs)
  • Product Dimensions: ‎9.5 x 3 x 3 inches
  • Product Type: Acetone Base

Moving on from the first name on the list, we have the GGumout Parts Cleaner. This takes the second spot on our list and rightfully so. So, why don’t we go over its features?

For starters, the Gumout was designed for cleaning the deepest pits of your engine, where the main work goes on. This is extremely effective when it comes to cleaning carburetors as it removes deposits within them rapidly.

This also includes clogged choke valves, that might induce idle starts and stalling. The Gumout cleans them all and can easily be used as a substitute for a brake cleaner.

It even comes with a precision spray handle that lets you reach all the nooks and crannies. This is very helpful when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots. 

The Gumout is perfect for unpainted metal surfaces as its cleaning powers are so great that it might strip off your paint coats. This allows it to clean off Gum, excess brake fluid, dirt, and grime with ease.

3. Solimo Isopropyl Alcohol

At A Glance:

  • Amount: 16 Fl Oz (Fluid Ounces)
  • Type Of Container: Bottle 
  • Item Weight: 0.68 Pounds (lbs)
  • Product Dimensions:  2.51 x 2.51 x 6.57 inches
  • Product Type: Alcohol Base (Isopropyl)

Next up we have the third seat on our list. The Solimo Store’s Isopropyl Alcohol takes the last spot on the top 3 list of brake cleaner substitutes.

You might have already heard about Isopropyl Alcohols as they are a pretty common cleaning solvent. The most common of these are the 70 percent isopropyl solvent.

In simpler words the numerical value denotes the percentage of isopropyl there is in the solvent. So 70% means there is 30% water in it diluting the solution. 99% means there is only 1% water in it.

This determines the concentration, and essentially, the cleaning power of the solvent. 99% Isopropyl is one of the most powerful cleaning solvents out there. This is why this takes the last spot on our list.

The Solimo is perfect for tackling excess brake fluid, dirt, grease that might build up on your brakes. It dries the fastest of the bunch and helps degrease excess oils that have formed on your brakes.

However, it may dry a bit too fast as the longer it stays on the more grease and dirt it can break down. So having such high volatility is a double-edged sword for the Solimo.

4. CRC Store 05103 QD Cleaner

At A Glance:

  • Amount: 11 Oz (Ounces)
  • Type Of Container: Aerosol Spray
  • Item Weight: 0.69 Pounds (lbs)
  • Product Dimensions: 2.63 x 2.63 x 7.75 inches
  • Product Type: Alcohol Base

Next up, we have another common brand on the list: CRC Store. The CRC store’s QD cleaner specializes as an electronic cleaner.

This is a petroleum distillate and has an alcohol base. This is a perfect alternative for CFC-based cleaning solvents because it’s much better for the environment.

This makes it an easy solvent to use, that won’t kill your conscience. So, when you’re spraying the brake cleaner you won’t feel guilty about damaging the environment too.

However, it is important to note that the QD is flammable and should be handled with care and not misused.

The QD sacrifices its raw cleaning power for a variable range of use. In simpler words, it’s plastic-safe and won’t strip away any paint.

This means you can wash off dirt and grime but keep your tribal decals near your brake pads too!

5. Oil Eater AOD1G35437 Cleaner 

At A Glance:

  • Amount: 152 Ounces (Oz) {1 Gallon} 
  • Type Of Container: Bottle
  • Item Weight: 9.5 Pounds (lbs)
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 3 x 12 inches
  • Product Type: Water-Based Solvent

Lastly, we have the affectionately named Oil Eater. This is the last entry in our list of top brake cleaning solvents and it’s not wise to write it off just because it’s the last pick.

After all, it did beat a lot of worthy competitors to get the last spot. So why don’t we see what makes the Oil Eater so special?

For starters, the Oil Eater is ironically a water-based cleaning solvent. So I guess it’s time for us to re-think that phrase about oil and water being un-mixable. Turns out, water beats oil.

It is a non-toxic and corrosive type of solvent, which means it’s safe to use for all surfaces (except non-food surfaces). 

It is important to note that it is an extremely concentrated substance and needs to be diluted before use.

But fret not, the proper dilution instructions are mentioned in the labels including which surfaces need what amount of dilution.

The Oil Eater is extremely effective in getting rid of the excess dirt and grime buildup in your brakes.

And once you’ve gotten used to the dilution chart at the back, it should be extremely easy to use when it comes to cleaning your brakes.

Should Brake Cleaners Be Handled With Care?

Brake cleaners contain chemicals that are hazardous to humans and, in the case of chlorinated alternatives, may also pose a threat to the ozone layer. Brake cleaners are potential health hazards in both storage and use.

Thus retailers, distributors, and end-users take measures by putting labels on the canisters.

Brake cleaners must be used or stored in places where there aren’t any explosives due to their extreme flammability. You should also avoid storing brake cleaners in high-temperature places for the same reason. 

The use of brake cleaners near open flames, such as in the kitchen, is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all times.

It is vital to wash your hands and any other parts of your body that were exposed to brake cleaners after using them. Also, brake cleaners should never be consumed, as they are toxic.

When exposed to UV light or high temperatures, chlorinated brake cleaners decompose (beyond 260 Celsius or 500 degrees Fahrenheit).

When they decompose, they produce two hazardous compounds: hydrogen chloride and phosgene. These two chemicals are toxic to the human respiratory system as well as other organs.

When brake cleaners come into close contact with rubber or plastic, they dissolve or break down the materials, resulting in permanent damage. 

The components that bind the plastic materials together are targeted by brake cleaners, which causes them to break down and disintegrate.

The plastic surfaces would appear to be in good condition at first, but eventually, they would become brittle. Fractures and cracks will be noticeable within a few months.

To summarize we’ve jotted down a few guidelines on how to handle brake cleaners properly-

  • Avoid contact with sensitive regions such as the eyes, skin, and nose. 
  • When using brake cleaner, wear a protective mask or put on your safety glasses. 
  • If it gets into your eyes, rinse them well with water for a few minutes. Make sure you take off your contact lenses in case they got splashed on your contacts. Continue to rinse until the irritation reduces significantly, if not see a physician immediately.
  • Always apply brake cleaners in a well-ventilated area. If it’s inhaled by mistake go out into an open space for fresh air. If you’re still facing difficulty breathing then see a physician immediately.
  • Keep away from the grasp of children
  • Always store brake cleaners in a well-ventilated environment. Make sure the place is dry and cool.
  • Keep the brake cleaners away from explosives and fire as they are flammable. Never spray brake cleaners on an open fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use WD 40 as a form of brake cleaner?

No you most definitely should not use WD 40 as a brake cleaner. This is because it is essentially oil. Adding oil to a high-friction surface is suicide. It will never clean your brakes and if you’ve applied it you either have to replace your brake pads or clean them thoroughly.

What is denatured alcohol made of?

Denatured alcohol has an ethyl alcohol base with toxic or foul-tasting additives in an attempt to make it unsuitable for consumption. The most common of these additives is 5-10% Methalo which is highly toxic to humans.

What’s the drawback of brake cleaners?

Brake cleaners are good at removing stains and dirt, however, this extra cleaning power comes with problems. Brake cleaners can also damage the soft plastic and rubber parts and even painted surfaces too.


Well, that’s all we had on the brake cleaner substitute today. We sincerely hope that we provided you with enough information so that you can easily choose which one to use.

If you’re still confused about which one to pick, then we strongly suggest picking our top pick of the day. 

Anyway, we are certain you’ll make the right choice. So till then, stay safe and good luck!

Rob Dahm

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