Is Brake Cleaner and Carburetor Cleaner the Same?

In short, they are not.  If you are wearing a pair of nitrile gloves while you’re doing your cleaning, they will hold up just fine to brake cleaner but will quickly turn into goo if you’re using carburetor cleaner. Brake cleaner is for cleaning brakes, while carburetor cleaner is for cleaning carburetors. While yes, we are being sarcastic, it’s important to think about what each component requires when cleaning.  

In this article, we’ll talk about the difference between brake cleaner and carburetor cleaner and when you should use each. We’ll also suggest some PJ1 Products to fit your cleaning job! 

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Your Guide to Brake Cleaner and Carburetor Cleaner | What’s the Difference? 

When cleaning brake parts you want to remove any unwanted dirt and debris, but you especially want to remove oil. Oil on your brakes tends to have the opposite effect of braking and can cause a big problem.  

When you’re cleaning your carburetor, you want to remove dirt, but you also may need to dissolve stubborn build up. However, a little oil left on some surfaces can help your carburetor function properly by freeing up stuck valves or linkages. 

Brake Cleaner 

Brake components require a completely oil-free surface, so it’s important to clean them with a proper brake cleaner. PJ1 Brake Cleaner is a professional formula with a high-pressure spray that will perfectly clean your brake components, leaving them completely oil-free and ready for maximum braking power.  Beware that this cleaneis extremely powerful and may damage rubber, plastics, painted surfaces, or electrical components, so it should be used carefully and only on non-painted metal components. 

If you do have electrical components that need to be cleaned, use PJ1 Contact Cleaner!  This cleaner can remove carbon build-up, dirt, and dust from electrical components without harming them.  

Carburetor Cleaner 

PJ1 Carburetor Cleaner is specially formulated for cleaning varnish and tough deposits out of your carburetor, freeing stuck components, allowing your carburetor to function like new! This cleaner is also safe for rubber, vinyl, and neoprene. If your carburetor has these types of seals or gaskets, you won’t need to rebuild your carburetor after cleaning. While PJ1 Carburetor Cleaner may be less harmful to some surfaces than PJ1 Brake Cleaner, we recommend testing it on a small area first and keeping it away from plastics and painted surfaces. 

Which Product Is Right for Your Needs? 

Now that you know the difference between brake cleaner and carburetor cleaner, it’s time to get to work! No matter what type of cleaning solution you need, PJ1 Powersports has a product for you. You can purchase our Brake CleanerContact Cleaner, or Carburetor Cleaner online or locate it at a local automotive retailer. 

Browse a full inventory of our products to help get your cleaning job done!

14 responses to “Is Brake Cleaner and Carburetor Cleaner the Same?

  1. I sprayed brake cleaner on the outside of the carburetor on my Stihl FS 55 R weed eater and, it never ran correctly again. I adjusted it and got it running a bit better, but, after it set a few days it would not start again. I replaced the carburetor before it would start and, run correctly. Any idea what happened?

    1. Jack,

      Thanks for your question about your Stihl Weed Eater. Sometimes if your carburetor has any sort of debris or build up inside trying to clean it can actually end up clogging it. This is especially true in a small engine carburetor like you’re talking about because the air and fuel passages are so incredibly tiny it is very easy for them to get clogged from debris or gunk.

      Thanks again for your question!

    2. chances are that there was a plastic jet or nozzle and it was destroyed by the brake cleaner. brake cleaners destroy plastic or rubber parts. brake cleaner should only be used on metal parts or brakes. brake cleaner is a very powerful cleaner/degreaser and it easily dissolves organic compounds and oils.

      carb cleaner is designed to clean carbs with plastic jets, it is designed not to destroy plastic parts or wash away “oils”. it does dissolve gas that’s turned into “varnish” or dried up gas. it leaves plastic jets intact and does not leach out the oily plasticizer in plastic parts. once that is leached out, the plastic goes brittle and breaks up.

      lesson: use the products as intended! or else you are taking a chance – you don’t know what they are really designed to do or how they do it and then you get the surprise.

  2. There is a rubber/plastic coated gasket like diaphragm in the carb that will be damaged by brake clean. You can see the edges of it under a steel punched plate. It has a small vent hole. Squirting brake cleaner in that vent hole will ruin it. I made that mistake ONCE.

  3. As intended. I was told to clean my egr tube and valve. I’m guessing either is fine on the tube. Carb might clean out any varnish build up? But the egr itself, i assume may have rubber in it? Perhaps not due to the heat…. Even the gaskets are metal gaskets.

    1. Chris-

      The most common reason for slow dragging windows is a faulty window motor or a worn window regulator. Either issue would explain the decrease in rate of speed of the window moving up/down. Unfortunately, the only remedy for these issues would be to have the motor/regulator replaced.

      Thank you!


    1. Cece-

      You should be able to remove any residue left by the carb cleaner on the brakes by sparying some PJ1 Professional Brake Cleaner. The carb cleaner isn’t super abrasive and will not eat away at the brakes, however, you would want to remove any residue left behind.

      Thank you!


  4. Should I use car or break cleaner to clean my cvt clutch system on my side by side 4 wheeler? I was told to use break cleaner.

    1. Jeff-

      PJ1 Carburetor Cleaner would be the best product to use for cleaning your cvt clutch system. Brake cleaner can cause damage to rubber, plastics and electrical components, and should only be used on non-painted, metal components.

      Thank you!


  5. I’m about to take apart and clean my single cylinder vespa engine. I want to know if I should/shouldn’t use carb cleaner on all the combustion parts (from intake valve to piston and cylinder/head, to exhaust port).

    1. Gary-

      It wouldn’t really be a great idea to use Carburetor cleaner for the parts mentioned above, as you could cause more harm than intended. For carbon deposits/build-up, you should be able to just use a rag.

      Thank you!


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