[Explored] Will Brake Cleaner Damage Plastic or Rubber?

Brakes are the most essential part of any vehicle, well, right after the engine. Without it, it’s a one-way trip to heaven. Jokes apart, you have to maintain and clean your brakes regularly. 

Apart from checking the braking fluids, you’ll also have to clean them thoroughly. And you might be going to pick a brake cleaner for it. Which is fine by all means. A dedicated cleaner for every part of the car cuts down on a lot of hard labor. But the question might come to your mind like us, will brake cleaner damage plastic or rubber?

Well, the answer is Yes it will damage plastic or rubber parts of your car. Especially tires and plastic details on your car. Why? We’ll need to dive into the cleaner for that. So let’s get started on that. 

will brake cleaner damage plastic or rubber

Why Brake Cleaners Damage Plastic and Rubber?

The reason is obvious, chemicals. The chemical composition of a brake cleaner is made out of causes any rubber or plastic surface to deteriorate over time. Some are more potent than others.

Here is a list of what chemicals you will find in a brake cleaner.

  • Acetone.
  • Methylene chloride.
  • Alcohols.
  • Toluene.
  • Hydrocarbons.
  • Chlorinated hydrocarbons.

While hydrocarbons and chlorinated hydrocarbons don’t do any harm at all. Other elements do. Depending on the brand, the potency can be high or low, so it might not dissolve your tires, but will definitely damage them in the long term. 

When brake cleaners come into contact with rubber and plastic surfaces, they can cause several undesirable effects. Here are some specific actions and their explanations:

1. Removes Protection Layers

The first thing any chemical like acetone or toluene does is removes the outer protective layer. So if you have any sealant or wax protecting your tires, it goes out of the window. Leaving your tires to exposed natural and chemical destruction. 

2. Discolor Tires Slowly

Over the time and usage of brake cleaners, your tires and other rubber and plastic parts start to discolor. Any part that is exposed to this dissolving mixture will show discoloration. 

3. Swells and Softens Them

Some cleaning fluids are so strong, that they start to swell rubber and soften them. So imagine what will happen to your tire. Tires are prone to wear and tear, but these chemicals speed up the process by 10x.

4. Dissolves and Degrades Over Time

If you haven’t already, try to put a rubber glove in the brake cleaner in a pot or pan. It will dissolve after some time. That’s how powerful they are. So your tire, depending on its thickness, will keep on dissolving and degrading over time, leaving you to unwanted spending or worse, accidents. 

So we would suggest you don’t use brake cleaners that often. And even if you do, follow our safety tips to keep your rubber or plastic details intact on your car. 

Safety Tips

  • Take off the tires before using brake cleaners.
  • Wear safety gear (Gloves and glasses) while using the cleaner.
  • Do not spray the cleaner near any plastic or rubber surface. 
  • Do not let it sit for too long, especially under the sun.
  • Wash your car thoroughly after using the cleaner with water and soap. 
  • The best option would be to go for a less harsh cleaner or just regular cleaners that don’t have harsh chemicals at all. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQs)

Is non-chlorinated brake cleaner safe on rubber and plastic?

Yes. Nonclorinated brake cleaners tend to be safe on rubber. But make sure to read the chemical compound list as there might be other harmful ones in there.

Will carb cleaner damage rubber?

No. Carb cleaner claims it won’t damage rubber or any plastic. Be extra sure to read the details about the chemicals before using them. 

What is the best practice for brake cleaning?

The best brake cleaner should be a mild and non-chlorinated chemical compound. 


Brake cleaners are especially needed if you do offroading and get a lot of mud and gunk on your tires. Also, if you haven’t cleaned your brakes lately, the dirt can be hard to take off. So we suggest you use brake cleaners, but with caution so that it doesn’t damage any other parts of the car. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top