What’s the Difference? Brake Cleaner vs. Carb Cleaner

Cars are manufactured with several parts and components. They all get filthy and squalid while filling their unique purpose. You essentially can’t use the same cleaning solution for all components of your vehicle. Every individual component should be cleansed uniquely, especially with a cleaning solution made for it. For instance, you’ll prefer to clean your brake systems with a solvent specifically made for it. Every cleaner is made explicitly for the component of the car that they are intended to clean.

Using the wrong cleaner for a specific part or component of your car might cause severe damage. Then, you’ll have to spend some dollars on repairing or replacing the damaged components. It is recommended and less expensive to use the right cleaner on the right part. Without further ado, let’s quickly look at brake cleaner vs. carb cleaner.  At the end of this article, you will understand the difference between brake cleaner vs carb cleaner for guns.

Brake Cleaner

brake cleaner

As the name indicates, brake cleaners are specifically manufactured for your car’s brake system.  Brake cleaners are used to remove any materials, Brake shoes and pads Dust, dirt, and debris, whether it is grease, oil, or brake fluid. Brake cleaners are known to dry fast on any surface. Aside from brake systems, brake cleaners can be used on other components of your car – this said, you can clean your brake pads, brake drums, shoe brakes, and other components of your car using this same cleaner. This fluid is designated in such a way that you can use it in form of a spray, making it much safe to use.

Generally, there are two types of brake cleaners in the market, which are known as chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners. Both are recommended for cleaning your brakes and other components of your engine systems. But the chlorinated type is kind of harmful and aggressive to the human body due to its chemical congestion. It is manufactured with tetrachloroethylene, which is harmful to our skin. On the other hand, a non-chlorinated brake cleaner is less active compared to a chlorinated brake cleaner. Yet, it is recommended that you not put on gloves.

While using your brake cleaner, you should avoid applying it on a powder-coated surface. This is to prevent the powder from getting sticky and ruining the perfect finish of your vehicle.

Carb Cleaner

throttle body cleaner vs carb cleaner
Image Credit: Amazon.com

Carb cleaners are mainly used in cleaning carburetors.  A carburetor is a component of your engine system that is responsible for mixing fuel and air in your combustion chamber. The carburetor does not only mix your air and fuel, but the mixture has to be in a balanced ratio so that the combustion process will be effectively undertaken. The precise location of the carburetor will varies from car to car; however, it should be somewhere close to the intake manifold. There should be fuel lines attached to it, so that is a nice way to locate it.

These days, carburetors are gradually being replaced for fuel injection systems in most types of cars. However, some cars, like lawnmowers, actually use them. These new injection systems ordinarily give a more precise fuel and air mixture, just as a more fast response to user input.

If you still have a vehicle that uses a carburetor, it’s a smart thought to keep it very much looked after — and you should figure out how to do that without anyone else’s help since mechanics know how to work on carburetors are gradually aging away. On this note, you may be asking what can I use instead of carb cleaner when you can’t find one. Using throttle body cleaner on your carb is not a bad idea – but you should thread with caution and know when to clean your carb.

When this component gets clogged with dirt and debris, it will require cleaning. At that point, you will need a carb cleaner to remove the dirt, debris, and hardened carbons in it. You have to practice cautiousness while working near painted parts of your car, as this will pill off the paint on your car because of the chemicals used in manufacturing this cleaner.

Carb cleaners are made with aggressive chemical congestion that enables you to easily remove build-ups, carbons, and debris in your carburetor. When your car’s performance reduces, and you notice carbons or some build-ups in your carburetor, it’s time to clean your carburetor with the carb cleaner.

Brake Cleaner vs. Carb Cleaner: What’s the Difference?

S/N Brake Cleaner Carb cleaner
1 Brake cleaners are specifically manufactured for cleaning your brake drums, brake shoes, and brake pads. Carb Cleaners are majorly made for cleaning carburetors and throttle body.
2 Brake cleaner works perfectly fine if you’re putting on gloves during your cleaning process. On the other hand, carburetor cleaners will quickly turn the process into goo.
3 Brake Cleaner is specifically made to remove dirt, debris, and oily fluids leaving the surface of your cleaned component clean and dry. Carburetor cleaners, on the other hand, are made to remove dirt, debris, and brake-hardened carbons which may leave a little oil by the end of the day.
4 Cleaned components are left cleaned and dry, which is not good on seals or gaskets. Carb cleaners leave your cleaned components with little oil, which will expand the lifespan of your seals and gaskets
5 Brake cleaners are not safe with neoprene, vinyl, rubber, seals, and gaskets. Carb cleaner is safe to use on your car components that have neoprene, vinyl, rubber, seals, and gaskets.


Are contact cleaners and brake cleaners the same?

If you are comparing brake cleaner vs. contact cleaner or asking if they are the same, the answer is capital NO. In a situation where there is a brake cleaner available and no contact cleaner, using brake cleaner in place of contact cleaner in quest of trying to improvise will cause severe damage to the electronics and also lift marks off the PCB. On the other hand, a no-residue contact cleaner can serve in place of a brake cleaner; However, it won’t be effective compared to using a brake cleaner, and it will cost more.

Is throttle body cleaner the same as carb Cleaner?

Each cleaner has a specific component that it is made for. However, some of these cleaners are alternatives to one another.  Throttle body cleaner can be used to clean carburetors, however not without making a couple of compromises. … It is like carb cleaner to a degree, yet it is manufactured for cleaning just the throttle bodies.

Can you use a paint thinner to clean the carburetor?

Paint thinner is the solvent used to reduce viscosity and dissolve paints or thins. However, I personally use this solvent to clean many car components. If you are thinking of using this solvent on your carburetor, you have to completely remove all the seals in your carb before cleaning your carburetor, as this will damage the seals if left in your carb during the cleaning process.

Can you use Wd40 instead of carb cleaner?

Carb cleaner vs. WD40 is commonly compared. If you’re wondering if you can use WD40 instead of carb cleaner, yes, alternatively, WD40 can be used to clean all the holes in your carburetor. However, WD40 will be more effective if you make use of its pressurized value.

In lieu of this? Can you use WD40 to clean the carburetor? WD40 is aerosolized and applicable to almost all carburetor types due to its swift-acting carb cleaner that uses a solvent formula to erase any hardened carbons.

What can be used instead of carb cleaner?

If you are asking what can I use instead of carb cleaner, Brake cleaner is another option in contrast to carburetor cleaner. It is safe to use on the carburetor and is figured to break down oil and grime just as carburetor cleaners are. However, you should consider the difference between these two solvent cleaners before using brake cleaner as a substitute for carb cleaners.


This is it. I have referenced most of the essential information about brake cleaner vs carb cleaners. Regardless of what splash on your use, simply don’t disregard the guidelines and cautions. Try not to lean toward easy routes and avoid creating any damage. I likewise recommend wearing gloves while using these solvents, as your life lies in your grasp. Stay safe, and enjoy your cleaning with the right cleaner.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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