Will Brake Cleaner Remove Oil? Top Solutions You Need to Know

As a fellow vehicle owner, I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustrating eyesore of fluid leaks on your driveway. The peskiest and most hideous of them all? Oil stains. They not only look unappealing but can also turn surfaces slippery, posing potential safety hazards. Now, here comes the caveat – many auto enthusiasts live by brake cleaner to wipe these blemishes away. But is it actually effective?

Will Brake Cleaner Remove Oil? A Detailed Explanation

The short answer is yes. Brake cleaner is an excellent cleaning solution for removing grease, oil, and dirt from metal or concrete surfaces.

Before going any further, let’s simplify what brake cleaner is and how it works. Brake cleaner is a specially designed solvent that helps to disintegrate grime, dirt and oil. This product contains chemicals like acetone and methyl ethyl ketone.

The acetone and methyl ethyl ketone contained in brake cleaner are excellent solvents for grease and oils because they have low boiling points.

When applied correctly on metal or concrete surfaces covered with oil or grease stains; these chemicals work by breaking down the petroleum-based substances into tiny droplets which then evaporates quickly upon wiping with a clean cloth leaving spotless surfaces.

How To Use Brake Cleaner To Remove Oil

Brake cleaner is an excellent way to remove oil stains that are tough to get out using regular cleaning agents. It’s especially effective on concrete surfaces like driveways and garage floors.

Prior to beginning, ensure you have donned protective equipment such as rubber gloves, goggles and either a mask or respirator. The vapors emanating from the brake cleaner are capable of instigating respiratory complications and skin and eye irritation.

Step One: Spray the Area

Spray the brake cleaner generously over the entire stained area. Ensure that you cover all the oil patches. The idea is to saturate the surface with brake cleaner so that it penetrates deep into the concrete pores, breaking down and lifting out the oil stains.

Step Two: Give it a Good Scrub

After spraying, use a stiff-bristled brush or broom to scrub vigorously in circular motions. Concentrate on areas with heavy stains until they start to lift off. For stubborn spots, apply more pressure and try different angles until you see progress.

Step Three: Rinse Off With Water

Rinse off the surface thoroughly with water after scrubbing away all of the stains from Step Two. This step should wash away any remaining debris or residue left from the brake cleaner.

Repeat If Needed

If some stubborn stains refuse to budge even after repeating Steps one through three, it might take several applications of brake cleaner. Don’t worry; it’s not uncommon for heavy-duty dirt like oil stains to need repeated treatment.

Will Brake Cleaner Remove Oil From Driveway?

A beautiful driveway is an essential part of your home’s curb appeal! However, a single oil spill can stain your precious driveway and take away its beauty. This is where brake cleaner comes in handy, as it can remove oil stains from concrete driveways quickly and easily.

But wait – before you start spraying it everywhere, there are some things you need to know about the wonders of brake cleaner!

The Effectiveness of Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaner is an effective solution for removing oil stains from concrete driveways. The cleaning solution consists primarily of acetone or other solvents that break down the oily residue left behind after a spill. 

As soon as the brake cleaner formula gets into contact with the surface, it uses its potent combination of active chemicals to dissolve and lift the oil stains off from the concrete. With little elbow grease and a quick scrubbing action with a brush or mop, your driveway will look fresh once again.

Not Suitable for Asphalt Surface Driveways

While brake cleaner works like magic on concrete surfaces, it might not be safe to use on asphalt surfaces. Asphalts contain petroleum-based compounds that create an adhesive bond among aggregates such as sand, gravel, and stone chips used for road construction purposes.

The harsh solvent found in brake cleaners creates excessive reaction upon interaction with such asphalt materials due to their similar chemical structures. Thus causing dissolving action that seeps through the protective layer responsible for holding everything together – leading to damages and more significant problems.

Test Before You Clean

To avoid unwanted damages or costly repairs on your driveway during clean-up processes, it’s best to always test brake cleaners before using them for significant cleanup events. Testing on a small inconspicuous area allows you to observe how well this product works without causing any damage.

Safety Precautions When Using Brake Cleaner

Although brake cleaner is effective in removing oil stains, it can be hazardous if mishandled. Always follow these safety precautions when using it:

Wear Protective Gloves

Brake cleaner can cause skin irritation and burns if spilled or splashed onto bare skin. That’s why it’s crucial to wear rubber gloves while using brake cleaner. These gloves provide a physical barrier between your skin and the cleaning solution, ensuring that any accidental spills or splashes don’t come into contact with your skin.

Use in a Well-Ventilated Area

Brake cleaner emits fumes that can be quite dangerous to inhale. It’s essential to use it only in a well-ventilated area so that you don’t inhale the fumes and get sick. If possible, use an extractor fan or open windows to increase ventilation during use.

Avoid Flammable Sources

Brake cleaner is highly flammable, making it important not to smoke or have any open flames nearby while using it. Keep in mind that even a tiny spark can ignite the solution and lead to disastrous outcomes.

Follow Instruction Label

As simple as this might sound, be sure always to read the instruction label thoroughly before use. Different brands may require different techniques for application; hence following all instructions carefully can guarantee safety.

Store Out of Reach of Children and pets

Even if brake cleaners come with child-proof caps and labels stating danger warnings prominently placed on them – they still remain quite dangerous substances if accessed by unsuspecting children or pets at home. Hence store them securely away from children and your pets’ reach.

Alternatives To Brake Cleaner For Removing Oil

So you’re on the hunt for some other options besides brake cleaner to tackle those pesky oil stains, huh? Well, not to worry because I’ve got your back! I’ve compiled a list of methods that use common household objects and won’t harm you or the environment.

  1. Cat litter – First up, cat litter. Yes, you read that right! Just sprinkle some over the oil spill and let it sit overnight. It’ll absorb most of the grease, making cleanup a breeze once you sweep it away in the morning.
  2. Baking soda – Mixing it with water to create a paste can effectively remove stains. Allow the mixture to sit on the stain for several hours before rinsing it off with water. Baking soda’s inherent absorbent abilities play a vital role in lifting oils from surfaces.
  3. Dish soap – Grab your trusty dish soap and mix it up with some hot water before generously applying over the stained area. Then, take a stiff-bristled brush and scrub away before rinsing off with water.
  4. White vinegar – A magic potion often found in cleaning recipes, white vinegar mixed with hot water is another great alternative for oil stain removal. Apply the solution over the stain and let it soak for a few minutes before scrubbing with a brush and rinsing off with water.
  5. Coca-cola – Surprisingly enough, Coca-cola works wonders on oil stains as well! Pour some coke over the stain and let it sit for a few hours. The acid in Coke breaks down oil and grease, making cleanup easier than ever.
  6. Cornstarch – Cornstarch is an excellent absorbent material that can help eliminate oily spots from surfaces easily. Sprinkle cornstarch over the stained area for 30 minutes before vacuuming or brushing away.
  7. WD-40 – While technically still a chemical, WD-40 is known to break down oil quickly and safely. Simply spray WD-40 onto the stained area, wait a few minutes, then wash away with soap and warm water.
  8. Club soda – Grab some club soda and pour it onto the stain before blotting with an old towel or rag until most of the oil has been lifted out.
  9. Lemon juice – Mix lemon juice with hot water and apply to the stain, letting it sit for several hours before scrubbing firmly with a stiff-bristled brush. Then rinse off with water.

When Should You Not Use Brake Cleaner?

The efficiency of brake cleaner in eliminating a variety of components including grease, oil, brake dust, dirt, and other impurities in your brake system is remarkable. Its multipurpose nature makes it ideal for general cleaning tasks such as degreasing engine parts, cleansing car wheels, and adhesives removal.

However, if not used properly, brake cleaner can cause damage to some surfaces that may lead to costly repairs. Here are the various scenarios where you should avoid using brake cleaner.

Sensitive Surfaces

The potent chemical composition of brake cleaner makes it unsuitable for use on sensitive materials such as electrical equipment. The harsh chemicals in brake cleaner can corrode the protective coating on wires and result in short circuits or other electrical malfunctions. Additionally, painted surfaces may also get damaged due to the abrasive properties of this solution.

Plastic Parts

Brake cleaners generally contain acetone or mineral spirits which can dissolve certain types of plastics unless they are resistant to these solvents. Using brake cleaner on plastic parts or finishes that are not durable enough may lead to discoloration or cracking.

Aluminum Parts

While aluminum is used extensively in automotive manufacturing due to its light weight and corrosion-resistant properties, it is highly reactive with many solvents including those found in brake cleaners. Brake cleaners can cause damage by creating tiny cracks that permeate through the surface, allowing corrosion to set in over time.


In conclusion, brake cleaner is an effective solution for removing oil stains from metal or concrete surfaces. Its chemical composition makes it a potent solvent for breaking down petroleum-based substances such as grease and oil into tiny droplets, which evaporate quickly on wiping with a clean cloth, leaving spotless surfaces. 

However, it is important to use brake cleaner safely by following strict safety precautions and only using it as directed on the label to prevent mishandling accidents. Alternatively, there are several safe and environmentally friendly methods such as cat litter, baking soda, dish soap, white vinegar, Coca-Cola, cornstarch, WD-40, club soda and lemon juice that can be used to remove oil stains without causing harm or damage to any surface.


Brake cleaner

What is brake cleaner and where to use it?

Similar Posts