Last updated: August 6, 2021

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Nowadays, almost every German owns a car. The number of cars registered in Germany peaked in 2020 at around 47.7 million. If this is not the case for you, you probably own at least a bicycle. Because brakes and related components should also be regularly maintained.

The consequences of malfunctioning brakes are fatal, which is why the regular use of a brake cleaner is of great importance. In this article, we explain how to choose the right brake cleaner for you and your vehicle and what you should look out for.




Summary

  • Brake cleaner can be used not only to clean brakes, but also to degrease other parts. This makes it very versatile.
  • Brake cleaner is available in various forms, for example as a spray can or as a paste. The suitability depends largely on the object.
  • Inhaling the vapours can be harmful to health, which is why caution is advised when handling it.

The Best Brake Cleaner: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for brake cleaner

In order to find the right brake cleaner for you, we have worked out some buying criteria that should be taken into account when buying. These criteria should make it easier to compare the individual products.

The criteria that can be used to compare the different brake cleaners include:

Each of the criteria is briefly discussed in more detail below.

Intended use

Most brake cleaners are intended for brake and other components of cars. Many of the products can also be used for motorbikes or even bicycles. However, there are also products available on the market that are specifically designed for the respective application. Therefore, at best, car, bicycle, motorbike etc. should have been mentioned on the label.

This is because e-bikes, for example, have components that must not come into contact with some brake cleaners, as it can attack certain parts. So the most important criterion is first of all to be aware of the vehicle for which the brake cleaner is to be used.

Dosage form

Brake cleaner is available in various forms. Most are liquid. The easiest way to apply these products is with a spray can. Alternatively, a cloth can be used. Some brake cleaners are also available as a paste. This enables thorough cleaning. Pastes are particularly useful for cleaning large areas.

However, a more viscous consistency is usually accompanied by longer exposure times, which should be taken into account. In addition, cleaning with a paste should be avoided on a bicycle, as it is difficult to apply.

Reaction time

The contact time of different brake cleaners varies greatly and ranges from a few seconds to a few hours. It is therefore important to pay attention to when and for what purpose the product is used and how much time should be spent. A short contact time is not better per se, because some ingredients need more time to achieve full effectiveness, but then work particularly well.

Resistance

Resistance is another important criterion when choosing the right brake cleaner. However, since longer durability tends to be always better and thus many manufacturers promise a long shelf life, one should not completely rely on the manufacturer's specifications here. Instead, reviews can be a helpful guide.

Acetone-free

Most brake cleaners contain acetone because this makes it easier to clean and especially degrease the components. It dissolves oil, grease and dirt particularly well. However, acetone is harmful to human health and should therefore not be inhaled intensively for long periods. Acetone-free brake cleaners are therefore much less harmful to health, but often do not have as good an effect as products with acetone.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about brake cleaner answered in detail

In the following, we would like to answer the most important questions about brake cleaner. In this way, we want to give you a deeper insight into the subject.

What is brake cleaner used for?

The individual components of cars, motorbikes and bicycles require regular care and maintenance. The brakes are particularly important because they have to function perfectly at all times. Otherwise you endanger not only yourself but also others.

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Brakes on a bicycle are much smaller, which is why more precise application is required. (Jeremias Radny / unsplash)

However, most brake cleaners can be used not only to clean brakes on different vehicles, but also to degrease other components.

What types of brake cleaner are there?

Basically, brake cleaners can be divided into different types. The most obvious is probably the subdivision in terms of consistency into spray and paste. The main differences between degreaser paste and brake cleaner spray have already been explained in more detail in the section "Form of application".

How to apply brake cleaner?

The application of brake cleaner for brake discs is generally relatively simple. With a spray, you need to spray the affected areas with the brake cleaner and then allow it to take effect. A paste is particularly suitable for large areas and should definitely be applied with a glove or similar.

The application time is usually stated on the label, but most recommend an application time of ten to 15 minutes. Finally, the brake cleaner only needs to be wiped off. If there are still residues of dirt or grease, this process can be repeated.

How much does brake cleaner cost?

The price is mainly determined by the number of litres in the bottle or canister. The prices of brake cleaners can range from low to high. The following table should give you an overview.

Price range Available products
Low-priced (1 - 2 €) single cans, no-name product
Medium-priced (4 - 7 €) individual cans, brand-name product
High-priced (from 12 €) canisters with large filling volumes (mostly from 5 litres)

How dangerous is brake cleaner?

The carbon mixture contained in brake cleaner is harmful to the lungs and skin. Therefore, caution should be exercised when using it. At best, protective goggles, gloves and respiratory protection should be worn.

In addition, the cleaner should only be applied outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. Direct contact with the skin should be avoided at all costs, otherwise the affected area should be cleaned quickly. In addition, brake cleaner must not come into contact with plastic, as it has the ability to damage such surfaces.

Conclusion

For the regular care and maintenance of various vehicles, such as cars, motorbikes or bicycles, brake cleaner is a tool that should not be underestimated. The relevance of a properly functioning brake is probably obvious, which is why it should be regularly cleaned of excess grease and dirt.

There are numerous products on the market, which vary greatly in price depending on the brand. Therefore, the primary consideration should be the suitability of the appropriate item. Caution is advised when applying the product, as the health risk is great.

(Cover photo: Benjamin Brunner / unsplash)

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