Alcohol and brake cleaner seems to be the recommended options for cleaning disc brake rotors. I don't have any of that available currently, so are there any suiltable alternatives to them that can be used safely?

  • Hot water and a medium hard brush!
    – Carel
    Jul 13, 2014 at 13:34
  • You live in a dry county, eh? You just need to get to know the local moonshiner. (Plain water should work, sort of. A little detergent could be added if you're careful to rinse thoroughly.) Jul 13, 2014 at 13:39
  • Moonshine is still drinkable (its even fashionable now, given how much "artisan moonshine" you see these days)! I'd think one would have isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) in a dry county/country as well =). I think a bit of dish soap and hot water would work, but given how easy it is to get rubbing alcohol, I don't really see a case where you would be cleaning your brake rotors but couldn't get it easily...
    – Batman
    Jul 13, 2014 at 14:59
  • One alternative is just a dry rag and wait until you get some alcohol or brake cleaner. I would not put a detergent on them.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 13, 2014 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


The main question is why are they needing cleaning, as this drives the need for chemicals.

If its normal road and trail mud and grime, as suggested in the comments, hot water and a nylon scrubbing pad (even a "goldilocks" type metal one if used gently). If you remove the wheels to be safe, then use a bit dish washing detergent and rinse well with hot water and dry off with a cloth. If you need a bit more "omph" the toothpaste is mildly abrasive and easily washes off afterwards. Try not to touch the rotor once cleaned.

If you have oil contamination, and the above has not worked, you will need a solvent - anything volatile that does not leave a residue should be OK as long as it does not get on the pads, bearings or or tires. White petrol is ideal. However if there is oil on the pads they should be replaced.

  • What do you mean by white petrol? I'm guessing mineral spirits, since googling white petrol brings up vasaline...
    – Batman
    Jul 14, 2014 at 0:53
  • Name is very country specific. Also known as White spirits, White Gas, - Often used for liquid fueled camping cookers and maps (But its not Kerosine). "Shellite" (not the explosive kind, but it is explosive) is one brand I know of. Its essentially an 80 Octane Petrol ('Gas' for North Americans)
    – mattnz
    Jul 14, 2014 at 1:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.