I have some hydraulic disc brakes, and for one reason or another they get contaminated. My dad (who's worked on cars for ages) told me to use engine starter fluid, but I'm kind of skeptical about this. I know they make some brake cleaners, but would starter fluid accomplish the same task without negative side effects?

  • For rotors maybe (though I wouldn't). For pads - do you know what the posts are made of? Is it compatible with the starter fluid? Do you know what's in the fluid?
    – Chris H
    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:37
  • They're metallic brake pads. I don't know what you mean by posts. As far as the starter fluid goes, it's just standard Supertech Engine Starting Fluid. I've used the starter fluid for getting grease off my clothes since I know it just wicks away grease. But I'm a little more hesitant on my nice brakes
    – MANA624
    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:42
  • Posts was meant to be pads - autocorrect bites again. You're right to be hesitant, though (all-) metal pads should be OK.
    – Chris H
    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:50
  • Do you think it would change things if I had organic brake pads?
    – MANA624
    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:51
  • 1
    Potentially yes - engine starter fluid is quite a powerful organic solvent, and there's a chance of it weakening the pads or changing the surface. Possibly not in an obvious way. Given that brake manufacturers make or endorse certain cleaning solutions I'd go for those, though with metal parts (rotors/rims for v-brakes) I use meths to clean/degrease.
    – Chris H
    Feb 19, 2016 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


Seeing that starter fluid could contain any number of things, I wouldn't.

You can simply use isopropyl alcohol. Very cheap, typically most grocery stores would stock it and you want to get as simple and pure as possible. ie. don't buy the scented ones.

In liquid form, you can easily use a toothbrush and give them a good clean. It will decrease and get most grime out and put you back to step 1 of bedding in the pads. I have use this a number of times to clean off even DOT 5 from pads.

With isopropyl alcohol it doesn't matter if they are sintered or organic pads and any excess isopropyl alcohol will simply evaporate with minimal residue. The key is to brush and 'wash' of as much as possible and not to simply soak them.

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.