How to Use a Carburetor Cleaner

by Teeter Allen MorrisonUpdated June 28, 2023
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Vintage Car Engine image by itsallgood from

Items you will need

  • Safety glasses

  • Work gloves

  • Dust mask

  • Pliers

  • Air filter element

  • Shop rags

  • Vacuum cleaner

A carburetor cleaner is designed to remove heavy varnish and gunk from the inside and outside of a vehicle's carburetor. If the carburetor is not cleaned periodically, it will begin to affect the vehicle's mileage and performance. The carb should be cleaned a couple of times a year to prevent buildup and keep the engine running smooth.

How To Clean Your Carburetor

Here’s a helpful step-by-step DIY for how to use a carburetor cleaner to clear out any blockages, grime, and additives that have been taken in through the air intake or fuel line and then reassemble. These clogs affect fuel flow, especially in a small engine, so having a parts cleaner and solvent to help clear this out will make a big difference.

Remove the air cleaner unit from the engine by unscrewing the wing nut. You might need pliers to turn the wing nut if it is very tight.

Vacuum off the top of the engine area to prevent dirt and debris from being sucked into the engine while the air cleaner is not in place.

Spray the entire carburetor inside and out with carburetor cleaner to loosen the gunk and varnish. Use shop rags to wipe up any heavy grease and gunk loosened by the carb cleaner.

Start the vehicle. With the vehicle running, spray carburetor cleaner down the throat of the carburetor and around the outside. The engine will pick up a bit as the vehicle burns the carburetor cleaner. Wait a few minutes and shut off the engine.

Spray the outside and inside of the carburetor again heavily. Start the vehicle again and spray more carb cleaner around the outside and inside while the engine is running.

Spray the entire air cleaner inside and out with carburetor cleaner. Wipe the air cleaner dry with shop towels. Install a new air filter element and re-install the air cleaner unit onto the carburetor.

With the engine off, remove your air filter housing so that the carburetor is accessible. Get your rags together, along with your spray lubricant and carburetor and choke cleaner. Also locate the throttle control attached to the carb, which allows you to manually operate and run the engine faster while doing the cleaning.

Place some rags around the base of the carburetor, because the chemicals may harm any nearby painted surfaces, and the rags will stop any runoff.

Put on your safety goggles and spray the "outside" of the carb with your lubricant, or the carb and choke cleaner. Be sure to spray the connections and attached moving parts, such as the throttle area linkage. Let the fluid set a moment or two and wipe up. If you have a heavy buildup of sludge and oils, clean with a small wire brush before the spray dries.

Before you start the car, spray a small amount of carb cleaner directly into the carb. Then remove your rags and any tools from the engine area and start the engine. Do NOT spray the lubricant into the carb. Start the engine and use the throttle control, since you want to be able to run the motor at a higher rpm while you spray in more carb cleaner fluid. This will help push the cleaner through and will also avoid stalling out the engine. Spray in short spirts, run the engine faster and then slow it down to normal idle and respray again. Do this a few times.

Let the car run for a few minutes at normal idle. Then turn off engine and re install the air filter and housing. Now drive the car for 10 to 15 minutes or until hot ,allowing the carb cleaner to completely run through the system. Even if you don't feel any increase in performance, you can rest assured that you are doing all you can to care for and preserve the carburetor. In some cases, if the carb was dirty with carbon buildups, you will feel increased power and save fuel at the same time.

In Conclusion

A clean carburetor is important to ensuring the safety and efficiency of the fuel system, gaskets, and the automotive as a whole. Following these instructions for disassembly and using these cleaning solutions for the carburetor parts will allow you to fix your dirty carburetor and give you the know how to turn it into a clean carb that will function beautifully.


You can also brush the top of the carburetor with a small wire brush. Be sure the brush is new and that the bristles are not coming out of it. Vacuum after brushing.


Always wear eye protection when working on or around automobiles. Stand over the fender to stay clear of the fan and fan belts while the engine is running. Wear gloves when using any solvents. Wear a dust mask when using solvents, and stop frequently for fresh air

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