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 Why "Brake Cleaner"?

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edlithgow
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PostSubject: Why "Brake Cleaner"?   Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:27 pm

Don't understand the attraction of "brake cleaner". I have some, but it doesn't seem to be particularly useful for cleaning brakes.

Its (a mixture of?) volatile organic solvent(s). Volatile organic solvents are for cleaning oily things. Your brakes shouldn't be oily and if they are you've got problems that aren't going to be solved by a squirt of brake cleaner.

Brakes are usually dusty and they may be contaminated with brake fluid, if you've got a leak. Both these contaminants can be removed with a miracle product called water, which you can buy if you really want to, but the free stuff works too.

Its superior because it isn't very volatile, is good at wetting and washing away dust, and because its a good diluent for brake fluid, which mixes with it readily. Also its available in huge quantities.

I put a bowl under the brakes and pour or spray water over them. The dust-blackened water goes in the bowl, which I then tip directly down a street grating.

If I had very contaminated brake shoes I might try taking them off and boiling them. (Don't try boiling brake cleaner). For light contamination you could pour hot water (optionally with washing up liquid added) over the intact brakes.

Water could theoretically promote corrosion but it dries off very quickly so that doesn't seem to be an issue. If it were I would spray on some alcohol to remove the water.
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greendefender123
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PostSubject: Re: Why "Brake Cleaner"?   Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:48 pm

Iv used it for cleaning other things. Never bought a can tho. Maybe it's to clean oil out of drums from a leaking axle seal? That would be my guess.
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edlithgow
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PostSubject: Re: Why "Brake Cleaner"?   Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:52 pm

greendefender123 wrote:
Iv used it for cleaning other things. Never bought a can tho. Maybe it's to clean oil out of drums from a leaking axle seal? That would be my guess.

Well, that'd make sense, if you'd fixed the leak, but people seem to use it for routine brake cleaning, which shouldn't involve any oil.

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Justwatching
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PostSubject: Re: Why "Brake Cleaner"?   Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:02 pm

Consider the following points...

-Your brakes ought to be greased. Water won't remove old grease.

-Water followed by alcohol is two stages; brake cleaner is one.

-Alcohol is more expensive than brake cleaner (UK, anyway).
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edlithgow
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PostSubject: Re: Why "Brake Cleaner"?   Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:02 am

Justwatching wrote:
Consider the following points...

-Your brakes ought to be greased. Water won't remove old grease.


OK, maybe some utility there, but if you're re-greasing, you probably have to disassemble, and then you can wipe off the grease with a rag/paper towel anyway.

Petrol/white spirit/diesel could then be used on the rag for a final clean, though that probably isn't necessary.

This point works better in reverse. If you want to remove brake dust (which seems to what people mostly use brake cleaner for, though it isn't very effective in that role) and you aren't disassembling/re-greasing, then you want a cleaner that will leave your grease where it is.

Like water.

Justwatching wrote:


-Water followed by alcohol is two stages; brake cleaner is one.

-Alcohol is more expensive than brake cleaner (UK, anyway).

Two easy, non-toxic stages. Hardly registers on the DIY PITA-o-meter.

But in any case, I don't find alcohol to be necessary. Just mentioned it as an option. Here I think 95% ethanol is slightly cheaper than the 3M brake cleaner stuff I bought, though I'd have to put it in a hand sprayer which is a bit of extra fiddling about.
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