I want to try to do the lower leg service of my suspension fork myself for the first time. In the RockShox videos on that topic on YouTube, they take apart the fork and clean the parts with isopropyl alcohol.

In the nearby bike or hardware stores, I can't seem to find isopropyl alcohol at all. Will using simple denatured alcohol be bad for any parts of the fork, e.g. the seals?

Or are there any common household alternatives for this purpose?

  • Hi, in my country you can find Isopropyl alcohol in electronic component shops, the kind where you will find resistors, protoboards, arduinos, etc. Yup, it's weird. The store is called "Casa Royal". – dmb Mar 20 '19 at 15:00
  • Yeah, isopropyl alcohol is often used to clean electronics. It's also used as an antifreeze for gasoline, so you can sometimes find it in automotive stores (though some brands might have other additives). – jpa Mar 20 '19 at 15:43
  • @dmb sadly, there is no such store nearby. And in all stores I have tried, I could only find cleaning products containing isopropyl alcohol for all kinds of purposes, but no simply bottles of isopropyl. Buying them on amazon seems to be no problem, though. But I have denatured alcohol at home (camping stove fuel, fondue fuel, ...), that's why I was asking ;) (I'm from Germany, if that's relevant here.) – anderas Mar 21 '19 at 7:33

Yes, denatured is fine to substitute for isopropyl. For regular shop use, the methanol is kinda nasty (debatably) from a toxicity/odor standpoint.

Everclear (which is 95% ethanol) is the other thing from around the house that can sub in.

Isopropyl is more a drug or grocery store item, although industrial suppliers do sell huge jugs of it.

  • Some denatured alcohol in some places actually uses isopropanol rather than methanol anyway. And the amount of methanol is fairly low anyway. If you're worried, use gloves (but not latex, which isn't much use against methanol) – Chris H Mar 20 '19 at 12:42
  • @ChrisH I can imagine it's more about inhalation than skin contact. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Mar 20 '19 at 14:09
  • Denatured alcohol is ethanol. It is pretty much Everclear with some additives that make it undrinkable (denaturing). Methanol is one such additive, but it's very low volume compared to the ethanol. – JPhi1618 Mar 20 '19 at 15:02
  • Isopropyl alcohol is some nasty stuff it will literally take the barnish out of wood by having some dropplets sitting on it for a minute. I have also found out is not too keen on some types of "plastics". – dmb Mar 20 '19 at 15:13
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    A workshop mechanic doing fork servicing 40 hours a week is a different level of exposure to a home mechanic doing a fork service once or twice a year. Plenty of ventilation, gloves and don't drink the left overs and you will be fine. – mattnz Mar 20 '19 at 18:58

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