Brake Cleaner Ingredients

by Jason Unrau

There are two main variations of brake cleaner: chlorinated and non-chlorinated. Both have similar functions and degreasing properties, but they are composed of very different ingredients.

Tip

  • Brake cleaner is a skin and eye irritant. Don safety clothing and eyewear when using brake cleaner.

    Brake cleaner is toxic. If ingested, contact a poison control center immediately. Do not eat or drink when using this product.

Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

Chlorinated brake cleaner is nonflammable; however, it is harsh on your skin and is known to be a possible carcinogen. It is made of two components:

Tetrachloroethylene

This solvent -- also known as perchloroethylene -- is the primary ingredient in this kind of brake cleaner. It is used to remove materials from metal that are not water-soluble. This includes grease, oil, brake fluid and brake dust.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide is used as a propellant in the aerosol format of brake cleaners.

Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

Comprised of different chemicals than chlorinated brake cleaner, this version is extremely flammable but is less harsh on your skin. It contains:

Heptane

This chemical distilled from oil is used primarily as a solvent to clean contaminants from metal parts and is not water-soluble. It is safe for use on ABS brakes, as well as disc and drum brakes.

Acetone

This solvent is used to clean contaminants from parts. It is particularly useful in removing water-based contaminants, as it absorbs water.

Carbon Dioxide

This gas is used as the propellant in non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

Tip

  • Non-chlorinated brake cleaner is flammable. Use it in a well-ventilated area away from open flames, hot surfaces and sparks. Do not smoke around brake cleaner.

About the Author

Jason Unrau is an automotive writer with 15 years experience in the automotive dealer environment, including 10 years as and automotive service consultant. He is a Certified Technology Expert, a regular contributor to Gearheads.org, and operates AutomotiveCopywriter.com.