Chlorinated Vs Non Chlorinated Brake Cleaner: What’s the Best Option in 2024

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When it comes to choosing between chlorinated vs non chlorinated brake cleaner, the decision you make can significantly impact the maintenance of your equipment and your overall safety.

The debate surrounding these two types of cleaners is not just about preference; it delves into the realm of effectiveness, potential risks, and environmental concerns.

By exploring the nuances between the chlorinated vs non chlorinated brake cleaner, you will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of brake cleaning products and make an informed choice that aligns with your specific needs and priorities.

Effectiveness Comparison

When comparing chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners, the effectiveness of each type plays a crucial role in determining the optimal choice for your brake cleaning needs.

Chlorinated brake cleaners, containing perchloroethylene and methylene chloride, are renowned for their fast-drying nature and efficiency in cleaning brake parts by dissolving contaminants effectively. The high caloric energy of these solvents aids in swift and thorough cleaning, making them a popular choice for many mechanics.

On the other hand, non-chlorinated brake cleaners, which often contain chemicals like acetone, heptane, and isopropyl alcohol, are preferred for their safer profile, particularly when dealing with plastic parts. While they may not dry as rapidly as chlorinated versions, their reduced environmental impact and lower risk to certain materials make them a suitable alternative in regions where their use is mandated, such as California.

Ultimately, understanding the specific cleaning requirements of your brake system is essential in selecting the most effective cleaner for optimal performance and safety.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

CRC Industries 05089 Brakleen Original Formula

CRC 05089 Brakleen Original Formula

Swiftly eliminates grease, brake dust, brake fluids, oils, and other contaminants.

Non-flammable for safer application.

Popular choice for cleaning vehicle braking systems.

Best Overall Non Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

CRC 05088 Brakleen Non-Chlorinated Brake Parts Cleaner - 14 Wt Oz.

CRC 05088 Brakleen Non-Chlorinated Brake Parts Cleaner

Removes grease and brake fluid oil effectively.

Can be applied without disassembly.

Contains no CFC.


Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Swiftly eliminates grease, brake dust, brake fluids, oils, and other contaminants.

Reason #2 – Non-flammable for safer application.

Reason #3 – Popular choice for cleaning vehicle braking systems.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – Can’t be sold for use in California or New Jersey.

For those seeking a reliable brake cleaner that swiftly eliminates contaminants, CRC BRAKLEEN 05089 stands out as the top choice. This original brake parts cleaner is formulated to quickly and effectively remove grease, brake dust, brake fluids, oils, and other contaminants from brake parts, linings, and pads. Its non-flammable nature ensures safety during application.

However, it’s important to note that CRC BRAKLEEN 05089 can’t be sold for use in California or New Jersey, as well as on Catalina Island. Despite these restrictions, this chlorinated brake cleaner remains a popular option for those looking for a powerful cleaning solution for their vehicle’s braking system. If you live in these restricted countries, the Lucas Oil Brake Parts Cleaner is the next best overall option for you.

Best For: Those seeking a powerful brake cleaner that effectively removes contaminants from brake parts, linings, and pads.

Model‎Chlorinated Brake Parts Cleaner
Item Weight‎1.4 pounds
Product Dimensions‎10 x 8.5 x 11.25 inches
Manufacturer Part Number‎05089
Special Features‎Residue Free

CRC 05088 Brakleen

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Removes grease and brake fluid oil effectively.

Reason #2 – Can be applied without disassembly.

Reason #3 – Contains no CFC.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – May not be as powerful as chlorinated brake cleaners in some cases.

If you prefer a non-chlorinated brake cleaner that effectively removes grease and brake fluid oil without the need for disassembly, CRC 05088 Brakleen is the best choice for you. This product contains no CFC and is suitable for use with ABS, disc, drum, brake cylinders, brake drums, brake linings, brake shoes, calipers, clutch discs, disc brake pads, and discs.

CRC 05088 Brakleen is safe for use on all brake systems, including springs and wedge brakes. With its powerful formula, you can trust CRC 05088 Brakleen to help you maintain your brake system’s performance and longevity. Make the smart choice for your vehicle’s maintenance by opting for CRC 05088 Brakleen as your go-to non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

Best For: Vehicle owners looking for a non-chlorinated brake cleaner that effectively removes grease and brake fluid oil without disassembly.

Model‎‎Non Chlorinated Brake Parts Cleaner
Item Weight‎11.2 ounces
Product Dimensions‎9.25 x 2.63 x 2.63 inches
Manufacturer Part Number‎05088

Pros and Cons

The comparison between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners reveals distinct advantages and disadvantages for users to consider. When deciding between the two types, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully:

  1. Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

Pros: Offers fast-drying and efficient cleaning for brake parts due to its molecular structure.

Cons: Contains banned chlorinated atoms or solvents that can weaken metals and pose health risks.

  1. Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

Pros: Safer for plastic parts and mandated in some areas due to the ban of chlorinated solvents.

Cons: May not dry as quickly as chlorinated versions and can still contain toxic chemicals harmful to health.

  1. Environmental Impact
  • Both types can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) leading to health issues and environmental pollution.
  • Non-chlorinated options may be perceived as safer, but they still pose flammability risks and contain harmful solvents like acetone and isopropyl alcohol.

Consider these factors when choosing between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners to ensure both effectiveness and safety for your brake maintenance needs.

Understanding the Basics

To grasp the fundamental disparities between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners, delve into their chemical compositions and usage implications. Chlorinated brake cleaners contain chlorinated solvents, which have been a common solvent used for years due to their effectiveness in degreasing and cleaning. However, they come with risks like producing toxic fumes and potentially generating phosgene gas, a hazardous substance.

On the other hand, non-chlorinated brake cleaners use non-flammable solvents and are mandated in some areas due to concerns about volatile organic compounds and environmental impact. Understanding the chemicals used in these brake cleaners is crucial for making informed decisions, especially considering state regulations and safety concerns.

It’s essential to consider the specific needs of the parts being cleaned, the potential risks associated with each type of cleaner, and the regulations set forth by municipalities to ensure the proper and safe use of brake cleaners.

Safety Considerations

For optimal safety when handling brake cleaner, ensure proper ventilation and wear necessary personal protective equipment. When dealing with chlorinated brake cleaners, be aware of the presence of chlorine and its potential risks. Follow municipal and state regulations regarding the use of chlorinated versions to prevent any violations.

Remember that chlorinated brake cleaners can be highly flammable, so avoid exposing them to caloric energy sources like open flames or sparks. When opting for non-chlorinated versions, prioritize safety by understanding the toxic properties and health risks associated with these products. Always make it safe by using non-chlorinated brake cleaners in well-ventilated areas and being cautious around hot surfaces.

Stay informed about the compatibility of non-chlorinated brake cleaners with different materials, especially plastics, to minimize the risk of damage. Your safety and the safety of those around you should be the top priority when working with brake cleaners.

Environmental Impact

Consider the environmental repercussions when selecting between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners.

The use of chlorinated brake cleaners can have a significant environmental impact due to the presence of harmful chemicals like tetrachloroethylene, methylene chloride, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These substances can contribute to air pollution, posing health risks and potential harm to the ecosystem. Some municipalities and states have imposed regulations restricting the sale of chlorinated brake cleaners to mitigate these environmental concerns.

On the other hand, non-chlorinated brake cleaners, while considered safer in some aspects, may still contain toxic chemicals that can have adverse effects on the environment.

When making a choice between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners, it’s essential to consider their overall environmental impact and adhere to state regulations to minimize harm to the environment and public health.

Metal Compatibility

When selecting between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners, ensure the brake cleaner you choose is compatible with the specific metal components to prevent any potential corrosion or damage. Different metals may react differently to brake cleaners, so it’s essential to consider the metal compatibility to avoid any adverse effects on the surfaces being cleaned.

  1. Corrosion Potential: Check if the brake cleaner is suitable for use on aluminum, steel, or other metals to prevent corrosion or degradation of the metal surfaces.
  2. Reaction with Metals: Be mindful that some brake cleaners may react with certain metals, potentially causing discoloration or damage. Choose a cleaner compatible with the specific metal components.
  3. Preventing Damage: Opt for a brake cleaner formulated to be safe for various metal types to ensure effective and safe cleaning without compromising the integrity of the metals.

Plastic Compatibility

Using brake cleaner near plastic components requires caution to prevent potential damage and ensure safety. Brake cleaners are made using a combination of the two main ingredients, caloric energy for dissolving contaminants effectively.

Non-chlorinated brake cleaners are generally safer for plastic components due to their reduced risk of causing damage. It’s crucial to consider the actual fluid content of the brake cleaner to determine its compatibility with plastic surfaces. Testing the brake cleaner on a small area of plastic before widespread use is recommended to avoid any adverse effects.

Opting for non-chlorinated brake cleaners when dealing with plastic parts makes for a superior choice, as they provide the best cleaning without compromising the integrity of the plastic. Remember to take necessary precautions and use the appropriate cleaner to prevent any potential damage to plastic components. Your safety and the longevity of your plastic parts depend on making the right choice.

Residue Concerns

Residue levels can differ significantly between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners, impacting their post-cleaning effects. When considering which cleaner to use, keep in mind the following:

  1. Chlorinated Brake Cleaners: These cleaners typically leave little to no residue, ensuring a clean surface after application. However, the use of chlorinated compounds like tetrachloroethylene or methylene chloride can pose health risks and environmental concerns.
  2. Non-Chlorinated Brake Cleaners: While effective in removing oil contaminants, non-chlorinated cleaners are more likely to leave residue behind. This residue can be problematic, especially in states like California where regulations mandate the use of non-chlorinated options to reduce environmental impact.
  3. Residue Concerns: The residue left by non-chlorinated cleaners can contain components found in paint strippers, potentially causing harm if not handled properly. This concern over residue has led to bans on certain chlorinated brake cleaners due to their environmental impact. Be mindful of residue concerns when choosing between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners to ensure both safety and compliance with state regulations.

Usage Precautions

Considering the potential risks associated with chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners, it’s essential to implement proper precautions when handling these products to ensure safety and effectiveness.

When using chlorinated brake cleaner, make sure to avoid welding near cleaned parts to prevent the production of deadly phosgene gas. Additionally, keep this type of cleaner away from heat sources and be cautious in poorly ventilated areas to reduce health risks.

Non-chlorinated brake cleaner may be safer for plastics, but it’s advisable to test it first and be aware that it can still leave residue. Before welding, wipe parts cleaned with chlorinated brake cleaner with acetone.

It’s also important to consider state and municipal regulations regarding the usage of heavy solvents like brake cleaners and ensure compliance. Selecting the best cleaning product for your brakes involves weighing the benefits and potential hazards of each type based on the specific components and contaminants present.

Final Decision-making

When making your final decision, carefully assess all available information and options to determine the most suitable choice. Consider the following points to guide your decision-making process:

  1. State Regulations: Check for any regulations in your area regarding the use and sale of chlorinated or non-chlorinated brake cleaners. Some municipalities have restrictions in place due to environmental or safety concerns.
  2. Years as Dry Cleaning Solvents: Keep in mind that chlorinated brake cleaners have been used for many years as dry cleaning solvents, while non-chlorinated alternatives have gained popularity more recently. Understanding this history can add weight to your decision.
  3. Perchloro-ethylene AKA ‘Perc’: Be aware that the term ‘chlorinated’ often refers to chemicals like perchloro-ethylene (Perc). Understanding the implications of using perchloro-ethylene in your brake cleaner can help you make an informed choice between chlorinated and non-chlorinated options.

FAQ: Chlorinated vs Non Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

What is the main difference between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners?

The key difference between chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners lies in the types of brake cleaning they offer. Chlorinated cleaners are made up of chlorinated solvents while non-chlorinated versions use hydrocarbon solvents.

Are chlorinated brake cleaners more effective than non-chlorinated versions?

There is a common misconception that chlorinated brake cleaners are always superior in cleaning. However, non-chlorinated versions can also provide effective cleaning for brake parts without the use of solvents that are extremely fast-drying.

Why have many municipalities and state regulations banned the use of chlorinated brake cleaners?

The use of chlorinated brake cleaners has been restricted due to concerns about the harmful effects of chlorinated atoms on the environment and health. These regulations have led to the ban of the use of solvents that are made up entirely of chlorinated solvents.

Can non-chlorinated brake cleaners effectively clean metal brake parts?

Yes, non-chlorinated brake cleaners can effectively clean metal brake parts just like their chlorinated counterparts. The main ingredients in non-chlorinated cleaners are designed to clean your brakes thoroughly without any build-up on brake parts.

Is there a safer alternative to the chlorinated brake cleaner?

Yes, the non-chlorinated version of brake cleaner is considered a safer alternative due to its compliance with regulations and environmentally friendly nature. It offers effective cleaning without the use of harmful chlorinated solvents.

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Ira Njoroge

Hey, I’m Ira Njoroge, the founder of MySpaceAffair. Early on in my life, I had a passion to embark on a mission to create a cleaner, and more organized household. With a bachelor's degree in engineering after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2015 and seven years as a General Contractor and professional cleaner, on top of my DIY Enthusiasm. I saw the need for a reliable information source for homeowners. My passion, diligence, experience, and hired professionals confirms the reliability of all the advice given in My Space Affair and I hope to provide you all with reliable and thorough content!