Carb cleaner vs. brake cleaner

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Some carb cleaners contain MEK. If you use these, make sure it won't strip the blueing off (test in an area that's usually hidden) and for darn sure remove the stock/grips/etc to avoid damage to the finish.

Otherwise they make excellent cleaners and really speed things along. Just make sure you lube the gun up afterwards as the brake/carb cleaner will remove any lubricants along with the gunge.
Carb cleaner is a much more aggresive solvent and will damage a lot of finishes and plastics.

The only place I'll use carb cleaner on a gun is with a fouled gas port on a gas operated action.

Don't use the carb cleaner, in most forms it is VERY aggressive and harmful to your skin. The fumes are also hazardous.

Brake cleaner comes in two forms, chlorinated and non-chlorinated. Chlorinated is much more aggressive, will eat plastic (and paint), and the fumes can be harmful. Non-clor is less aggressive, won't eat most plastics and paints, and the fumes are less harmful. Neither are good for your skin, but won't hurt you like carb cleaner will.

Stick with non-chlor brake cleaner.
I though the clorinated brake-cleaners were pulled from the market a few years ago.

In anycase, +1 to the only use non-clorinated brake parts cleaner.

I usually take my gun parts out to where the recalcitrant weeds grow and let the overspray/runoff attack them -- kills faster and longer than Roundup week killer :)

I was always taught that carb cleaner contains oil and leaves a residue of same. Brake cleaner, obviously, can't leave oil on your brake parts. If you clean a gun with brake cleaner, oil it well or it'll rust.
If you clean a gun with brake cleaner, oil it well or it'll rust


Brake clean is designed to absorb contaminates (oils) and evaporate rapidly. It will strip the metal of any petroleum substances and leave it bone dry. On a side note, it is best to wear nitrile gloves (Latex gloves will be dissolved) when using brake clean. It is mildly carcinogenic, but more importantly it will extract moisture form your skin so quickly that it is actually painful. Be careful using it on polymer guns, as it can permanently damage certain plastics, either discoloring or even eroding the material. I have a gun with a couple fingerprints in the grip because I was holding it when I hosed it with brake clean.
Brake cleaner and Gun Scrubber are essntially the same thing as far as I am aware; that is except for price. While Gun Scrubber warns against using on certain plastics and polymers, I have yet to see it damage any guns made with such. I am not saying it does not happen, i think the previous poster can attest that it does happen, I am just saying I have never sen it. Then again I only use it on newer guns. I have used it on Glocks, Remington 870s and HK MP5's. It gets that MP5 really clean, really easily. It smells though, like a quick trip to the morgue. I recommend using it with excellent ventilation and maybe a protective respirator used for sprays and mists if you use it a lot. One thing about it, if you clean a Glock with it for the first time, you may get really worried when the finish of the metal turns powdery gray looking. Nothing to worry about, just a drop or two of oil rubbed in a bit and it looks as good as new again.

As for carbeurator cleaner, I was always told to stay away from it for use on guns. I have never used it on a gun but, I remember using it on some cars. Another: smelly, horrible & irritating thing.
Best regards,
Glenn b
Gun Scrubber or Brake Parts Cleaner will soften the plastic used on CZ83 and CZ75 grips. So far its the only plastic/rubber/polymer material I've found that is damaged by it -- including a cheap plastic picnic tablecloth I use to protect the table I use while cleaning guns.

I've had Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner melt the plastic trigger guard on a Marlin Model 60.

I only noticed it after I started leaving fingerprints in the plastic. I actually had to use more Brake Cleaner just to remove the fingerprints... :rolleyes:
I melted the finish right off my mother's 870 with break cleaner. Be careful.
There's a new Gun Scrubber out that is designed to be used on guns with synthetic stocks. At the shop, I have used it on about a half dozen synthetics, plus about the same amount of wood stocked guns, and it hasn't harmed the synthetics. Out of force of habit, I keep it away from the wood. I use Gunk Super Spray on my own weapons, it smells better and is cheaper than Gun Scrubber. I keep it away from both synthetic stocks and wood.
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wally said:
Brake Parts Cleaner will soften the plastic used on CZ83 and CZ75 grips.
I found that out the hard way. I used brake cleaner the last time I cleaned my CZ-75 and now there are permanent white splotches all over the grips. Oh well, it gave me a good excuse to order a set of walnut grips. :)
The difference is that one just kills your brain cells, the other does that as well as kill your liver and kidneys. There are many different formulas of Brake-clean, mainly brought out to get rid of MEK and 1,1,1 Trichlorethane. The replacements are just as bad. For degreasing I like one of the orange smelling cleaners, basically(bad pun) a strong soap. Slip 2000 Gas piston cleaner fits the bill for say decruding an AR-15 bolt. I really find that 90% of cleaning can be done without pulling all the oil out of your gun, I most often use a light oil or clp, Toothbrush, rag and Q-tips. I am working on the theory that all of your gunmetal is porous(it is) and the way to get long term corrosion protection is to keep that metal loaded up with oil. I don't mean leave the thing dripping, I mean why strip away a layer of protection everytime you clean? If gun guys brushed their teeth the way they cleaned guns we'd all need kevlar gums or major dental surgery. So, like medicine, when cleaning, "first do no harm".
Non-clorinated brake cleaner will indeed harm plastic. I had it happen on a Marlin Camp 9.

I've used the clorinated brake cleaner on a Marlin Camp 45 and it didn't do anything to the plastic.

My solution is to not use either around plastic. Pity, Camp Carbines are a bear to clean.
Personally I have tried this a couple of times with brake cleaner, and I find it too harsh for most applications. If it is all metal and very gunked, I could see using it - but avoid it hitting nice items or painted items.

CLP, a good copper solvent at times, and some lube or grease where needed will do most all I ever need and protect the finish.
Carb cleaner is a much more aggresive solvent and will damage a lot of finishes and plastics.
+1. It'll eat the pretty blue paint off of your edelbrock intake manifold (I learned this the hard way).
Freeholder, read my post 3 above yours. GunScrubber now makes a version that will not harm synthetics. I have tested it in the shop and it works as such. I have found many guns harder to clean than Marlin Camp Carbines. ;)
I used to use Gun Scrubber and brake cleaner interchangeably (on the car too!), until owning my first H&K USP where either would strip the white and red paint off of the adjustable sights and safety.

I'm guessing everyone that uses a pressurized spray like that does so to give the gun a final rinse after cleaning.

What I've found that's FAR better is a 5-gallon bucket filled halfway with odorless mineral spirits. You can dunk your gun in there and give it a good rinse, the odor of the mineral spirits is relatively gentle, and it won't eat your gun.

It's not as good a CLEANER as, say, Hoppe's or just about any other powder solvent, but as a rinse it's tough to beat.
Carb Cleaner is Very Aggressive!

During a block of instruction for ASE certification, our instructor told us how he had soaked a particularily dirty aluminum carbeurator in carb cleaner overnight in a sealed container. The next morning the carb was not recognizeable as a carb: It had been mostly dissolved!!! :eek:

Disclaimer: I did not witness this phenomenon myself, but have no reason to disbelieve a very credible person.

Hence, I will leave the chemical research to people with larger budgets than I have access to! (Chemists or gun owners that can afford to damage a weapon or two and then pass along their hard-earned wisdom!) :D
I know this sounds like common sense, but wear eye protection when spraying this stuff. Tust me it hurts.
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