How to Clean Rotors Without Brake Cleaner: 3 Alternatives!

On your way to have a bike ride with your pals? But you saw your disc rotors are totally jammed. In that case, you’d normally use brake cleaners. 

However, if you’re short of brake cleaner then things might get baffling real quick!

Because how to clean rotors without brake cleaner? 

You can actually clean your rotors by making a homemade brake cleaner. It’ll just take a few things like shot sprayer and acetone. Moreover, you can use isopropyl alcohol as well. It’s very effective. Another option is using Simple Green or its knockoff alternatives. The alternatives work well too.

This isn’t the end-game. I’ll go to the minute discussion of each substitute. Thus you’ll not have any issues while using them.

So let’s just get on the ride-

Can You Clean Rotors Without Brake Cleaner? 

Yes, you can clean your rotor without a brake cleaner. However, I normally use CRC brake parts cleaner. Then I spray it on the rotor and wipe it out with a rag. This actually ensures that the rotor is performing properly. 

So, if you’re wondering how to clean rotor rust, then follow the above-mentioned process. Nonetheless, if you’re not familiar with brake cleaner uses, you can follow another method. 

Because brake cleaner isn’t a must-have. But it’s a very effective essential. Because if your rotors and other brake parts get contaminated it’ll show problems. 

For example, you might face so many issues with your coaster brake.

Now you might ask, is there a substitute for brake cleaner? Thankfully, yes! There are a few alternatives that you can safely try. 

Bet it was music to your ears! So if you don’t know how to use brake cleaner don’t be anxious. 

Now, let’s not waste any time and get to the alternatives in the next section- 

Is There Any Brake Cleaner Alternative? 

How to Clean Rotors Without Brake Cleaner: 3 Alternatives!

First thing first, let’s check if we can DIY a brake cleaner and penetrating oil. And if it’s possible then how to make homemade brake cleaner?

No worries! We’ll talk about it in detail to find out what brake cleaner ingredients you’d need. Side-by-side let’s see if there’s any commercial alternative of brake cleaner to clean engine and rotor.

So are you ready for this exploring game? Sounds fun, right? Let’s just start playing-

Alternative 1: Homemade Brake Cleaner

Well, the most amazing thing about homemade cleaners is saving money. With all the cheapest ingredients you can make yourself a brake cleaner. Or a penetrating oil that works surprisingly well for cleaning a rotor.

Another surprise to unfold! Even professional mechanics also recommend homemade brake cleaners. Because a lot of them found it performs way better in comparison to other commercial brake cleaners.

That’s all the benefits you can enjoy with your DIY brake cleaner. It’s time to know what supplies you’d need to prepare this.

Necessary Equipment’s:

Sure shot sprayerCheck Latest Price on Amazon
Eternal pure acetoneCheck Latest Price on Amazon
Valvoline ATP fluidCheck Latest Price on Amazon
Disposable respiratorCheck Latest Price on Amazon

However, if you’re making penetrating oil along with brake cleaner you’ll need two sprayers. And for the ATP fluid, any of these will work fine. You won’t need to spend extra money on synthetic ATF.

Last but not least, don’t forget to get the respirator for your safety. It’ll secure you from inhaling acetone chemical or brake cleaner scent.

Using Direction: 

Now it’s time to put everything together and get yourself an effective brake cleaner. You’ll also be able to use this for quite a long time. So, let’s see how to use homemade brake cleaner.

  1. Let’s start with filling the shot sprayer up. Pour in Acetone and ATP together. Keep the quantity 50/50. 

You can also use other solvents instead of acetone. Such as diesel and kosher lamp oil. Because normally we have these supplies in our garage.

  1. Next, you need to pressurize the shot sprayer. This is where you’ll spray it on your rusty or unclean rotor. 

However, never use this on anything made of a rubber seal. In this case, you can get Meguiar’s rubber cleaner.

  1. Now if you can check the homemade cleaner has slowly started to work on your contaminated rotor. At last, you’ll just have to wipe the rotor out with a rag.

Voila! Your job is done without a brake cleaner. 

Still, having doubts in your mind? You can watch the following video to get a visual demonstration. 

So, this part was all about homemade brake cleaner. Now let’s see if you don’t have enough time to DIY what other alternatives you have.

Alternative 2: Alcohol


If you’re thinking of how to clean disc rotor then you’re welcome. Because now I’m going to talk about what can be the safer alternative to use here.

I’m trying to mention the safer alternatives every time. Because no one wants to damage their top-notch coaster hubs or rotors with the wrong product.

That’s why when it’s about rotors, professionals recommend products like isopropyl alcohol. Some 90-99% isopropyl I’d totally prefer are given below.

However, before cleaning the rotors, clean your disc brakes with mild soap and water. It’ll save the brake from getting infected by pads and rotors. 

Alternative 3: Simple Green 

You can use Simple Green or its other knockoff alternatives. They basically perform in the same way. I’ve even sprayed it on carbs and it cleans almost anything. 

Some knockoffs that will totally make you forget about the black cleaner are given below- 

Fantastik grease cleanerCheck Latest Price on Amazon
Spray nine heavy-duty cleanerCheck Latest Price on Amazon

Both of these cleaners are the cheapest option you can get. But don’t go on their price because these actually worked well for me.

Simple Green 

However, for the more instant effect, I would suggest using small brushes. Like a toothbrush or hand brush kit. My friend gave me some brushes last Christmas because I’m always anxious about my bike cleaning.

Long story short, I’m totally in love with these brushes. Because they rinse out even the tiniest bit of residue. So I texted him to give me the full information about the brushes. 

Here I’m listing them in the following table. Take a look-

Aquasonic black series toothbrushCheck Latest Price on Amazon
Oxo good grip cleaning brushCheck Latest Price on Amazon

However, don’t forget to clean the brushes separately after cleaning the rotors.  

These are the 3 alternatives that I’ve used so far. And each of them worked great for me. So, I’m hoping the same for you as well. 

However, if your bike’s disc rotor or brakes keep rusting, find out the reasons first. After that proceed to clean with accurate materials.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I clean brake rotors with WD40?

No, you can’t clean brake rotors with WD40. Because this cleaner is strong and manufactured as a thin and soft product. So it’ll instantly burn off the discs. 

What can I apply as a brake grease alternative? 

You can apply silicone grease instead of brake grease. Because silicone grease can perform as effectively as brake grease. 

How do I prevent my rotors from impounding?  

You can spray in anti-seize lubricant in the center of the rotor hole. I always use the permatex lubricant. And it helps a lot!  

Last Words

I think now we don’t have to be worried about how to clean rotors without brake cleaner.

Nonetheless, no matter what solvent you’re using as the cleaner, always wear gloves. Otherwise, you might accidentally burn your hands off. So, be extra careful! 

Good day!

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