Can I Use Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning?

By Damon D. Mullins

No, brake cleaner should not be used for gun cleaning as it can damage materials and leave behind residue. It can also be dangerous if not used in a well-ventilated area as it contains toxic chemicals.

Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning:Instead, use solvents specifically designed for gun cleaning, which are safe and effectively remove fouling and buildup. These solvents are readily available and formulated to dissolve carbon, copper, lead, and other materials without damaging gun parts. Proper gun maintenance is important to ensure safe and reliable performance.

Regular cleaning and lubrication can extend the lifespan of your firearm and prevent malfunctions or accidents during use.

Can I Use Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning


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As any seasoned firearm enthusiast knows, regular maintenance and cleaning are critical to preserving the functionality and longevity of a gun. Traditional gun-cleaning solvents are typically the go-to, but alternative cleaning agents like brake cleaner have gained traction among some gun owners. This article will delve into the use of brake cleaner for gun cleaning, exploring its effectiveness, pros, and cons.

Understanding Brake Cleaner:

Brake cleaner, as the name suggests, is a solvent specifically designed to clean brake parts in vehicles. It’s a powerful degreaser capable of dissolving oils, greases, brake fluid, and other contaminants that can compromise brake performance. There are two types of brake cleaner: chlorinated and non-chlorinated. The former is known for its aggressive cleaning properties, while the latter is less harsh and more environmentally friendly.

Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning – Pros:

  1. Powerful Degreasing Properties: Brake cleaners can effectively remove accumulated carbon, grime, and oil in firearms due to their powerful degreasing abilities. They can penetrate deep into crevices and hard-to-reach areas, ensuring thorough cleaning.
  2. Fast Drying: Brake cleaners are fast-drying, leaving no residue behind. This feature allows gun owners to apply lubrication shortly after cleaning, minimizing downtime.
  3. Cost-effective: Compared to traditional gun-cleaning solvents, brake cleaners are usually more affordable and available in larger quantities.

Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning – Cons:

  1. Potential Damage: While brake cleaners are powerful degreasers, their strength can also be a drawback. They may strip away essential oils from metal parts, leading to potential rusting and corrosion. Certain types of finishes, like bluing and Parkerizing, can also be damaged by harsh chemicals found in brake cleaners.
  2. Toxicity and Flammability: Brake cleaners can be toxic and flammable. Exposure can lead to skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. Therefore, they must be used in well-ventilated areas and with appropriate personal protective equipment.
  3. Harmful to Plastic and Rubber Components: Brake cleaner can damage rubber and plastic components of firearms. Therefore, these parts should be removed or protected during cleaning.

Guidelines for Using Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning:

  1. Wear Protection: Always wear gloves and eye protection when using brake cleaner to protect against potential skin and eye irritation.
  2. Work in a Ventilated Area: Brake cleaners can emit potent fumes. Always use them in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors.
  3. Avoid Plastic and Rubber: Before using brake cleaner, remove any plastic or rubber components to prevent them from being damaged.
  4. Thoroughly Lubricate After Cleaning: Given that brake cleaner strips oils from metal, it’s crucial to thoroughly lubricate your firearm after cleaning to prevent rusting and maintain its functionality.

Brake cleaner can serve as an effective, affordable, and readily available alternative to traditional gun-cleaning solvents. However, its use comes with specific risks and potential drawbacks, such as toxicity, flammability, and potential damage to the firearm. It’s crucial to exercise caution and follow guidelines when using brake cleaner for gun cleaning. Ultimately, whether brake cleaner is a suitable choice for your firearm cleaning needs will depend on your personal preferences, the specific requirements of your firearms, and your willingness to take the necessary precautions.

What Is Brake Cleaner?

Brake cleaner is a chemical compound that is typically used to remove dirt, grime, and oil from various surfaces. But what is brake cleaner exactly, and can it be used for gun cleaning? We will take a closer look at the definition and components of brake cleaner, as well as its applications and uses.

Definition And Components Of Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaner is a cleaning substance that is primarily used to clean automobile brake systems, but it can also be used for other cleaning purposes due to its powerful solvent properties. It typically contains a mixture of several organic solvents, including acetone, toluene, and methanol.

These solvents work together to break down and dissolve grease, oil, and other contaminants from brake parts and other surfaces.

While brake cleaner is an effective cleaning agent, it can be dangerous if not used correctly. It is highly flammable and can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Therefore, it is essential to follow proper safety precautions, such as wearing gloves and safety goggles, and working in a well-ventilated area.

Applications And Uses Of Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaner has several different uses and applications, including:

  • Automotive brake cleaning: Brake cleaner’s primary use is for cleaning automobile brake systems. It can quickly dissolve and remove brake fluid, brake dust, and other contaminants from brake systems to improve their performance and extend their lifespan.
  • Industrial and household cleaning: Brake cleaner can also be used to clean other industrial and household surfaces, such as engines, machinery, tools, and appliances. It is a powerful solvent that can dissolve and remove oil, grime, and other contaminants from surfaces quickly.
  • Gun cleaning: Although brake cleaner was not designed for gun cleaning, some gun owners have found that it works well as a gun-cleaning solvent. Its powerful solvent properties can break down and dissolve gunpowder residue, rust, and other contaminants from gun parts. However, it is essential to use caution when using brake cleaner on guns and to thoroughly clean and lubricate gun parts afterward to prevent damage or malfunction.

Brake cleaner is a powerful cleaning agent that can be used for multiple cleaning purposes. However, it is essential to follow proper safety precautions and use it only for its intended purposes to ensure safe and effective use.

Can Brake Cleaner Be Used As A Gun Cleaning Solvent?

When it comes to gun cleaning, many people wonder whether they can use brake cleaner, a readily available solvent, as a viable alternative. While it is true that brake cleaner may remove gun fouling and debris, it is essential to consider its compatibility with gun parts and the potential advantages and drawbacks of using brake cleaner for gun cleaning.

We will address the question: can brake cleaner be used as a gun cleaning solvent?

Pros And Cons Of Using Brake Cleaner On Guns

Using brake cleaner as a gun cleaning solvent may have its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some noteworthy points that you should consider before using brake cleaner for gun cleaning:

  • Pros:
  • Brake cleaner rapidly evaporates, leaving little to no residue behind, which makes it an excellent option for degreasing and removing stubborn debris such as carbon buildup or gunpowder.
  • Brake cleaner can penetrate hard-to-reach areas and crevices of guns, making it easy to remove fouling, dirt, and contaminants.
  • Brake cleaner is readily available, inexpensive and can be purchased at local hardware stores conveniently.
  • Cons:
  • Brake cleaner contains chemicals that may damage the polymer, plastic, and rubber components of guns.
  • Brake cleaner is highly flammable and may be dangerous in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Brake cleaner poses a significant health risk if inhaled and can cause respiratory problems or other health issues.

Compatibility Of Brake Cleaner With Gun Parts

Before using brake cleaner as a gun cleaning solvent, you should consider whether it is compatible with the various parts of the gun. Some of the gun parts may be adversely affected by the chemicals present in brake cleaner. Here are a few examples:

  • Plastic and polymer components:

Brake cleaner may damage or dissolve plastic or polymer parts of a gun. If your gun’s grip or magazine is made of polymer, it is advisable not to use brake cleaner.

  • Rubber components:

Brake cleaner can cause the rubber components such as o-rings, seals, and gaskets to swell or degrade, leading to malfunction or failure.

  • Coatings:

If your gun has any coatings or finishes, using brake cleaner may damage or remove the coating, leaving the metal surface exposed to rust and corrosion.

While brake cleaner may remove debris and fouling from firearms, it has some potential disadvantages and compatibility issues when used as a gun cleaning solvent. When it comes to the safety of you and your firearm, it is always best to choose a gun cleaning solvent that is specifically designed for the job, and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

The Impact Of Brake Cleaner On Gun Parts

Can I Use Brake Cleaner For Gun Cleaning?

Are you running low on gun cleaning supplies and wondering if you can substitute them with industrial products? One of the options that might come to mind is brake cleaner. Brake cleaner is a powerful solvent commonly used for removing brake dust and other contaminants from automotive parts.

While it may seem like a quick fix, using brake cleaner on guns comes with some risks that every gun owner should be aware of. We’ll explore the impact of brake cleaner on gun parts and coatings.

Effects Of Using Brake Cleaner On Gun Coatings And Finishes

One of the biggest concerns about using brake cleaner on guns is the effect it can have on their finishes. Many modern guns are covered in protective coatings that can become damaged by solvents like brake cleaner. Some of the effects of brake cleaner on gun coatings and finishes include:

  • Stripping off protective coatings: Brake cleaner can dissolve protective coatings applied to gun surfaces to improve their durability and resistance to wear and tear.
  • Discoloration: The harsh chemicals in brake cleaner can cause discoloration or fading of the gun’s surface. If your gun has a unique paint job or custom finish, you might want to avoid using brake cleaner on it.
  • Dulling of the surface: Brake cleaner can cause a dull finish on gun surfaces that have a matte or satin finish.

Potential Damage Brake Cleaner Can Inflict On Gun Components

Another factor to consider is how brake cleaner can potentially damage certain components of a gun. For example:

  • Plastic and polymer parts: The harsh chemicals in brake cleaner can cause damage to plastic and polymer gun parts. These can become cracked or brittle over time, making them more prone to breakage or failure.
  • Rubber parts: Some rubber components of your gun can also be damaged by brake cleaner, specifically those made from synthetic rubber. These exposed to brake cleaner may become hard or brittle, causing them to lose their seal and start to leak.
  • Safety mechanisms: The quick evaporation of brake cleaner can cause lubricated parts to become dry. This may inhibit the proper functioning of the gun’s safety mechanisms, making it less reliable when you need it most.

While brake cleaner might seem like a quick fix for gun cleaning, it is not recommended as it can cause significant damage. There are many specialized cleaning products on the market that are specifically designed for cleaning and protecting gun surfaces and parts.

Ensure that you use only those safe and effective cleaning solutions, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

Alternative Gun Cleaning Solvents Besides Brake Cleaner

While brake cleaner is a popular choice for gun cleaning due to its ability to cut through grease and grime, it’s not the ideal solution. Brake cleaner is a harsh solvent that can damage the firearm’s finish and strip away lubrication, leading to mechanical failure.

Fortunately, there are numerous alternative gun cleaning solvents readily available.

Overview Of Common Gun Cleaning Solvents

Cleaning solvents for guns come in a variety of formulations. Each product is designed to tackle specific types of fouling and residue left behind by gunpowder. Some of the most common types of gun cleaning solvents include:

  • Gun oil
  • Gun solvent
  • Gun cleaner and degreaser
  • Gun lubricant
  • Carbon remover

The Advantages Of Using These Solvents

Using solvents specifically designed for guns has numerous advantages, including:

  • Preventing metal corrosion
  • Dissolving fouling that builds up in the bore and action
  • Protecting the gun’s finish
  • Improving accuracy by ensuring the barrel is free from debris
  • Lubricating moving parts for smoother operation

Using brake cleaner for gun cleaning is not a viable option. There are plenty of alternative cleaning solvents available that are specifically formulated for firearms. By using one of these solvents, you can clean your gun safely and effectively while also extending its lifespan.

How To Clean Guns Properly

Can I Use Brake Cleaner For Gun Cleaning?

Many beginners in shooting believe that using standard household cleaning products to clean their firearms is adequate. However, using the wrong cleaning solution can be dangerous for the gun and the person handling it. For instance, using a brake cleaner can damage the metal surface of a gun.

Recommended Measures For Safe Gun Cleaning

It is crucial to choose the right cleaning solution when cleaning firearms. Using the wrong solvent can lead to catastrophic accidents and damage to the gun’s surface. Here are some recommended measures to follow when cleaning firearms:

  • Always read the cleaning solution’s label before purchasing it.
  • Only use cleaning products that are specifically designed for firearms.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as gloves and goggles to prevent inhaling cleaning solvents or accidentally ingesting them.
  • Ensure that there is enough ventilation in the room when cleaning firearms to prevent inhaling dangerous fumes.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded and the barrel pointed in a safe direction during maintenance.

Step-By-Step Guide For Effective Gun Cleaning

Cleaning firearms is a crucial aspect of owning a firearm, and it should be done as frequently as possible. Here is a step-by-step guide to properly clean your firearm:

  • Disassemble the firearm: Before cleaning the gun, ensure that it is not loaded and that the magazine is removed. Disassemble the firearm as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean the barrel: After disassembling the firearm, clean the barrel using cleaning patches, bore brushes, and solvent. Use a cleaning rod to push the cleaning patches through the barrel until they come out clean.
  • Clean the gun’s exterior: Wipe the metal surface of the firearm using a cloth dipped in cleaning solvent to remove any dirt or grime. Scrub any stubborn stains with a nylon brush.
  • Lubricate the gun: After cleaning the firearm, apply an appropriate amount of gun oil on the metal surface. Use a clean cloth to remove any excess oil.
  • Reassemble the firearm: Once all the parts are cleaned and lubricated, reassemble the firearm as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store the firearm: Storing the firearm properly is equally important. Store it in a cool and dry place away from children and unauthorized persons.

These guidelines outline the importance of proper gun maintenance and highlight the procedures that should be followed to clean a gun effectively. By following these measures, gun owners can maintain their firearms’ functionality and ensure their longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Can I Use Brake Cleaner For Gun Cleaning?

Can Brake Cleaner Be Used To Clean Guns?

Yes, brake cleaner can be used to clean guns effectively. However, ensure that the brake cleaner does not contain acetone, as it can damage the plastic and rubber parts of the gun.

Is Brake Cleaner Safe To Use On A Gun?

Brake cleaners are safe to use on guns provided it does not contain acetone, as it can cause damage to the plastic and rubber parts of the gun. Ensure proper ventilation while cleaning.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Brake Cleaner For Gun Cleaning?

Brake cleaners are excellent solvents that can effectively dissolve oils, grease, and dirt from guns. They dry quickly, which reduces the chances of corrosion and protect the gun’s health.

What Precautions Should I Take When Cleaning Guns With Brake Cleaner?

Ensure that you wear protective gloves and eyeglasses when cleaning with brake cleaners. Ensure proper ventilation and avoid using it near a heat source. Avoid spraying near the face and mouth area.

What Type Of Brake Cleaners Should I Use For Gun Cleaning?

When selecting a brake cleaner for gun cleaning, choose one that does not contain acetone, as it can damage plastic and rubber parts of the gun. Use brake cleaners that are specifically for brake cleaning.

Can Brake Cleaner Damage My Gun?

Brake cleaner can damage your gun if it contains acetone or if it is not used properly. When used correctly, it can clean effectively and protect your gun from rusting and corrosion.

Buying Guide Of Brake Cleaner for Gun Cleaning

Maintaining a firearm requires routine cleaning to ensure its functionality and longevity. While there are specific gun cleaning solvents available, some gun owners use alternative cleaning agents, like brake cleaner. This guide aims to help you choose the right brake cleaner for your gun cleaning needs, considering its effectiveness, potential drawbacks, and safety measures.

  1. Understand the Product:

Brake cleaners are primarily designed to clean brake parts in vehicles by effectively dissolving oils, greases, brake fluid, and other contaminants. Two types of brake cleaner are available on the market: chlorinated and non-chlorinated. The former has a more aggressive cleaning property, while the latter is less harsh and more environmentally friendly.

  1. Cleaning Efficiency:

When choosing a brake cleaner for gun cleaning, consider its cleaning efficiency. The product should be able to remove accumulated grime, oil, and carbon from the firearm effectively. Look for reviews and recommendations about the product’s effectiveness as a gun cleaner.

  1. Drying Time:

One of the benefits of brake cleaners is their fast drying time, which leaves no residue. This allows you to apply lubrication shortly after cleaning. Ensure that the product you choose has this quick-drying feature.

  1. Cost-effective:

Brake cleaners are generally cheaper than traditional gun-cleaning solvents and come in larger quantities. When selecting a product, balance its cost with its effectiveness and safety.

  1. Safety Considerations:

Safety should be a paramount concern when choosing a brake cleaner for gun cleaning. The product can be toxic and flammable, and prolonged exposure may lead to skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. Therefore, ensure you are willing and able to use the product in a well-ventilated area with proper personal protective equipment, including gloves and eye protection.

  1. Potential for Damage:

Some brake cleaners may strip essential oils from metal parts, leading to potential rusting and corrosion. Certain types of finishes on guns may also be damaged by the harsh chemicals found in brake cleaners. If your firearm has a special finish, it might be better to stick with a traditional gun-cleaning solvent.

  1. Impact on Plastic and Rubber Components:

Brake cleaner can damage rubber and plastic components of firearms. If your firearm has these types of components, make sure you can remove them before cleaning or choose a product that is safe for these materials.

  1. After-Cleaning Care:

After cleaning your firearm with a brake cleaner, it’s crucial to apply lubrication to prevent potential rusting and ensure functionality. Choose a high-quality gun lubricant to use after the brake cleaner.

Choosing a brake cleaner for gun cleaning can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional gun-cleaning solvents. However, it’s crucial to consider factors like the product’s cleaning efficiency, safety, potential for causing damage, and impact on plastic and rubber components. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision, ensuring you choose a product that is effective and safe for your firearm cleaning needs.


After thorough research and analysis, the answer to the question, “can i use brake cleaner for gun cleaning? ” Is both yes and no. While brake cleaner can successfully remove grime and residue from firearms, it also contains harmful chemicals that can corrode the metal and damage the plastic parts of the gun.

Therefore, it is always recommended to use a gun-specific cleaning solution that is designed to clean without causing any harm to the firearm. However, if you do decide to use brake cleaner, make sure to take proper precautions such as wearing gloves and doing it in a well-ventilated area.

Ultimately, the safety and longevity of your firearm is worth investing in a high-quality gun cleaner. Regular and proper maintenance will not only keep your firearm functioning correctly but also extend its lifespan. So, choose wisely when cleaning your firearm and always prioritize safety.






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