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By Jason Siu Jan 31, 2020


Top 10 Best Brake Cleaners





It’s often overlooked, but using a quality brake cleaner from time to time is a cost efficient way to ensure your brakes stay in good condition. Brake cleaners can help extend the life of your brakes by removing harmful debris, grease, oil, and other contaminants that can shorten the lifespan of your brake drums, rotors, or pads. In addition, these cleaners can often fix brake squeals by getting rid of that debris lodged in your brakes.

More importantly, cleaning your brakes is a fairly straightforward task and it can be done from the comforts of your garage or driveway. Almost all brake cleaners are designed to penetrate, which means you don’t have to disassemble your brakes in order to give them a thorough cleaning.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 10 best brake cleaners you can buy, as well as explaining some of the things you should look for when shopping for a quality brake cleaner. For more information on brake cleaners, refer to our table of contents.



Table of contents



1. Editor's Pick: CRC Brakleen Brake Cleaner
crc brakleen brake parts cleaner
CRC’s Brakleen is one of the most popular brake cleaners on the market and it’s our top pick. This chlorinated version is non-flammable and formulated to quickly and effectively remove grease, brake dust, brake fluids, oils, and other contaminants from brake parts, lining, and pads. Keep in mind since this is a chlorinated brake cleaner, it cannot be sold for use in California, New Jersey, or Catalina Island. It is safe to use on all brake systems, including Springs and Wedge brakes.
This brake cleaner comes in a 20-ounce size.
Product features:
  • Extremely reputable brand/product
  • Powerful brake cleaner
  • Chlorinated
  • Non-flammable
  • Quickly removes grease, brake dust, brake fluids, oils, and other contaminants
  • Safe to use on all brake systems
  • Cannot be sold for use in California, New Jersey, and Catalina Island
  • Cleans and dries fast
  • Leaves no residue






2. Best Non-Chlorinated: CRC Brakleen Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
crc brakleen non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner
If you want CRC’s Brakleen but need a non-chlorinated version, here it is. The chlorine-free version of CRC’s Brakleen comes in a green bottle, compared to a red bottle for the chlorinated version. Again, this brake cleaner is designed to quickly remove brake fluid, grease, oil, and other contaminants from brake parts, linings, and pads. It has less than 45% VOC.
It’s our top pick for a non-chlorinated product, cleaning and drying quickly, while leaving no residue behind.
This brake cleaner comes in a 14-ounce size.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Designed to quickly remove brake fluid, grease, oil, and other contaminants
  • Less than 45% VOC
  • Cleans and dries fast
  • Leaves no residue

3. 3M High Power Brake Cleaner
3m high power brake cleaner
Another extremely reputable brand when it comes to the automotive world is 3M. The company’s high power brake cleaner is available in 3 different options on Amazon with varying levels of VOC. The multi-purpose formula removes brake dust, solvents, greases, dust, oil, and tar with a high-pressure, flushing action to clean braking systems with ease.
You can use this cleaner on brake linings, shoes, drums, cylinders, caliper units, disc brake pads, and other related brake parts. 3M includes a small straw so you can target precise locations easier, allowing you to clean hard-to-reach spots. With its unique chemistry, 3M’s brake cleaner has a low odor, dries quickly, and leaves no residue. This product will also help eliminate squeal and chatter from your brakes.
All three versions of this brake cleaner are offered in a 14-ounce size.
Product features:
  • Reputable brand in the automotive industry
  • Available in 3 different options with varying levels of VOC
  • Removes brake dust, solvents, greases, dust, oil, and tar
  • High-pressure, flushing action
  • Can be used on most brake components
  • Includes small straw for hard-to-reach areas
  • Low odor, dries quickly, leaves no residue
  • Helps eliminate brake squeal and chatter






4. Permatex Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
permatex non-chlorinated brake and parts cleaner
Another non-chlorinated option, Permatex’s brake cleaner is offered in a 14.5-ounce size (along with an aerosol variant) and can be purchased as a single unit or in a pack of 12. Formulated to penetrate, dissolve, and remove dirt and oil from brake systems, this brake cleaner is safer for aluminum and leaves no contaminant-attracting residue or chlorinated solvent run-off. It is safe for use on all brake systems, along with various other parts such as C.V. joints, machinery, tools, and even farm equipment.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Available in single unit or pack of 12
  • Penetrates, dissolves, and removes dirt and oil
  • Safer for aluminum
  • Helps manage EPA halide limits
  • Leaves no residue
  • Works on all brake systems, C.V. joints, machinery, tools, and farm equipment

5. Gunk Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
gunk chlorinated brake parts cleaner
Gunk is another popular brand when it comes to cleaners and degreasers and its brake cleaner won’t disappoint. The chlorinated version is available as a single unit or as a 12-pack in a 19-ounce size. Use this cleaner to quickly remove brake fluid, dust, oil grease, and grime to clean brake parts or C.V. joint assemblies. Gunk’s brake cleaner dries quickly with no residue and you can use it with the brake system intact.
Since it’s chlorinated, it’s non-flammable, but you’ll also want to make sure it’s legal for use in your state prior to purchasing.
Product features:
  • Popular brand for cleaners and degreasers
  • Chlorinated brake cleaner
  • Available as a single unit or 12-pack
  • Removes brake fluid, dust, oil grease, and grime
  • Cleans brake parts or C.V. joint assemblies
  • Dries quickly with no residue
  • Non-flammable






6. Gunk Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
gunk non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner
This is Gunk’s non-chlorinated brake cleaner, also available as a single unit or a 12-pack in a 14-ounce size. Formulated to instantly dissolve brake fluid, grease, and oil, this variant has no chlorinated solvents. A powerful spray pattern helps clean faster, while drying quickly with no residue. Since this is non-chlorinated, it is extremely flammable.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated brake cleaner
  • Available as a single unit or 12-pack
  • Instantly dissolves brake fluid, grease, and oil
  • Powerful spray pattern
  • Cleans faster
  • Dries quickly
  • No residue
  • Extremely flammable

7. Throttle Muscle Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
throttle muscle non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner
From Throttle Muscle is a non-chlorinated brake cleaner offered in a 13-ounce size. With an ultra low VOC, this brake cleaner is 50-state compliant, although it is not SCAQMD compliant. This high power spray removes brake fluid, grease, road grime, and oil instantly, leaving no residue behind. It dries extremely fast and can be used on brake linings, cylinders, drums, rotors, clutches, C.V. joints, and more.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Ultra low VOC
  • 50-state compliant (not SCAQMD compliant)
  • High power spray removes brake fluid, grease, road grime, and oil
  • Leaves no residue
  • Dries extremely fast
  • Safe to use on brake linings, cylinders, drums, rotors, clutches, C.V. joints






8. MAG 1 Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
mag 1 non-chlorinated brake parts cleaner
MAG 1 offers a non-chlorinated brake cleaner that is specially formulated to dissolve and remove brake fluid, oil, grease, and other contaminants from brake components. It evaporates quickly and won’t contaminate recyclable fluids. Offered in a 14-ounce size, this high-powered spray cleans fast and degreases instantly. Along with being non-chlorinated, it’s non-carcinogenic, and non-ozone depleting.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Specially formulated to dissolve and remove brake fluid, oil, grease, and other contaminants
  • Evaporates quickly
  • Won’t contaminate recyclable fluids
  • High-powered spray cleans fast
  • Degreases instantly
  • Non-carcinogenic and non-ozone depleting

9. Johnsen's Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
johnsen's non-chlorinated brake cleaner
Johnsen’s non-chlorinated brake cleaner can be purchased as a single unit or in a pack of 12 in 14-ounce sizing. This premium aerosol product removes oil, grease, brake fluid, and other contaminants quickly, with no residue. It is safe to use on all ABS, disc, and drum brakes. This particular version is OTC compliant and is for sale in areas that restrict the VOC content to 45%.
Johnsen’s also offers other types of brake cleaners: Original Formula Non-Chlorinated, 50 State Formula, Non-Flammable, and SCAQMD.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Available as a single unit or 12-pack
  • Removes oil, grease, brake fluid, and other contaminants
  • Leaves no residue
  • Safe on all ABS, disc, and drum brakes
  • OTC compliant (45% VOC)
  • Other versions available






10. Penray Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner
penray non-chlorinated brake cleaner
Our final brake cleaner option is from Penray, available as a single unit or a case of 12. It comes in a 14-ounce aerosol can and is a non-chlorinated brake cleaner designed to quickly and effectively remove grease, oil, brake fluid, and other contaminants. It’s safe to use on brake shoes, drums, cylinders, rotors, disc brakes, C.V. joints, and clutch components, degreasing instantly while leaving no residue. When using it on brakes, no disassembly is required and it will help stop brake squealing and can even improve braking performance.
Product features:
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Available in a single unit of case of 12
  • Quickly and effectively removes grease, oil, brake fluid, and other contaminants
  • Safe to use on brake shoes, drums, cylinders, rotors, disc brakes, C.V. joints, and clutch components
  • Degreases instantly
  • Leaves no residue
  • No disassembly required
  • Helps stop brake squealing
  • Can improve braking performance
Chlorinated vs. Non-Chlorinated: What's the Difference?
If you’ve looked over our list of recommended brake cleaners, or have done some shopping on your own, you’ve likely noticed that there are two major types of brake cleaners: chlorinated and non-chlorinated. The first thing you need to know about chlorinated brake cleaners is that they are not legal in every state in the U.S. So if you’re shopping for a brake cleaner, you’ll want to check with your local laws to make sure you can use a chlorinated product prior to purchasing. If you’re unsure, the safer bet is to go with a non-chlorinated brake cleaner. Most chlorinated products will say which states they cannot be sold, mainly California and New Jersey.
Chlorinated brake cleaners contain chlorinated solvents, which are non-flammable and extremely fast drying. Some say that chlorinated cleaners provide the best cleaning for brake parts, but you may live in a state that doesn’t even allow you to use them.
Non-chlorinated cleaners do not contain chlorinated solvents but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are safer to use or more friendly for the environment. That’s because some non-chlorinated products use other chemicals that could be just as or more harmful as chlorinated solvents.


What is VOC?
You’ll notice that some brake cleaners will advertise that they have low VOC, or a certain % of VOC. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and you’ll find them in both chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners. Some chlorinated cleaners use perchloroethylene, methylene chloride, and trichloroethylene, all of which are considered VOCs, that are worse for the environment and have strong fumes. Some non-chlorinated cleaners will replace those chemicals with low VOC chemicals that are less toxic and are better for you and the environment.
Since some states are banning the use of chlorinated cleaners, your best and only option may be non-chlorinated cleaners. Look for low VOC products when shopping, so that they’re safer for you to use when cleaning your brakes.


 
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