Is Brake Cleaner flammable? types, uses and flashpoint

A brake cleaner has an excellent role in caring for the vehicle brakes and other parts. It can clean all the brakes, grease, dust, road debris, and petroleum-derived fluid. But thinking of cleaner quality, a question may come to mind: is brake cleaner flammable?

Brake cleaners can contain flammable ingredients that can cause a fire. But not all of them are flammable. Non-chlorinated cleaners have less toxic yet high-flaming ingredients like Heptane n-Hexane. They can cause fire sooner. Alternatively, chlorinated cleaners with high toxic ingredients are less prone to fire. But both cleaners are suitable for any cleaning tasks.

In this article, we will dig into the depth to know if brake cleaners are fuming or not. To understand the topic, you should first see the definition, types, etc.

Definition and types of a Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaner is a specific form of cleaner used mainly in the automobile industry. You may know it as a part cleaner. In most cases, it has no color and is designed to clean any brake disks, engine compartment, and other necessary metal components. After applying the cleaner, you will see no greasy and dirty residues on the surface.

 Brake Cleaner, Definition and types of a Brake Cleaner

Types of a Brake Cleaner:

Brake cleaners are primarily two types:

  • Chlorinated (considered as non-flammable)
  • Non-chlorinated

Chlorinated Brake Cleaner – is it Flammable?

Chlorinated brake cleaner and inflammable. It is a widely used cleaning agent with a long history. Consequently, the name says it all has “chlorine” atoms within its molecular structure. These atoms perform great to make the cleaner’s cleaning properties more efficient.

Mainly, this type of cleaner contains Tetrachloroethylene and methylene chloride. Long years ago, manufacturers also used trichloroethane besides these two ingredients. But trichloroethane has a harmful impact on the ozone layer. So, it was banned over time.


Also known as PERC, most industries use Tetrachloroethylene as a degreasing solvent. It can cut the greases faster to keep vehicle parts clean.

Tetrachloroethylene of a brake cleaner has no fire-causing properties. So, there is no risk of getting any accidental fire. But it can release fumes when it comes in contact with high temperatures. Suppose it comes in contact with sparks, it will turn into deadly Phosgene gas.

It can be a toxic ingredient to humans. It belongs to the carcinogen of Group 2A. Again, it can work as a central nervous system depressant and connector to Parkinson’s disease.

Methylene Chloride

You may also know it as Dichloromethane. It works with PERC in a brake cleaner to enhance the power of cleaning any grime, dirt, and dust off the car parts.

It is primarily non-flammable. But when it comes close to extreme heat, it evaporates soon. Then, it may cause flames when the quantity goes relatively higher in the air, like 14-22%.

Therefore, when using the brake cleaner containing it, you may face some health issues like dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and other respiratory problems. It can also be carcinogenic with a link to many diseases.

Non-chlorinated Brake Cleaner- is it Flammable?

Non-chlorinated brake cleaner is flammable. It is a relatively less popular cleaning agent than chlorinated ones in the market. Additionally, it has no chlorine atoms, as you can see in the name. Still, it can clean all the brake and disc parts and remove a greasy layer from them.

This cleaner has quite hazardous ingredients like Heptane and n-hexane. These ingredients are not entirely safe for the environment. Also, the solvents are flammable due to these toxic chemicals.


Some brake cleaners contain Heptane while distilling them from oil. Heptane can cause fire extremely. Its toxicity can cause many health issues like dizziness, stupor, appetite loss, etc. Besides, if it somehow gets mixed in water, the aquatic life will suffer in the long run.


It is a crude oil-derived ingredient applicable in brake cleaner production. It is also an explosive ingredient of a brake cleaner. Even, it has more risk of creating fire accidents than Heptane. N-Hexane can harm the neuro system. Also, you can get numbness, a weak body, and fewer sensitivity problems.

Differences between Flammable and Non-Flammable Brake Cleaner

So, what concept do we have now? Chlorinated brake cleaners are inflammable, whereas non-chlorinated ones are highly flammable. Below are some differences between these two types of brake cleaners:

Both break cleaners are available at the market. You can use them to clean the brake pads, drums, linings, and cylinders. But they have distinctions that may clarify “is brake cleaner flammable” well.

Flammable and non-flammable brake cleaners may contain toxic chemicals. They can cause sufficient health issues and impact the environment for a long duration.

The chlorinated (inflammable) cleaner has more toxic chemicals like PERC, Methylene Chloride, and Trichloroethylene between the two solvents. Together with these ingredients, there is a term called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Heavy amounts of VOCs can imbalance the air quality. Alternatively, non-chlorinated (flammable) brake cleaners can cost higher for their relatively less impact on the environment. It may contain acetone, Heptane, n-Hexane, and others.

As non-chlorinated cleaners have fewer toxic properties, they are highly flammable. You cannot use these cleaners in any vapor degreasing and major cleaning projects. Again, the flammable cleaners take more time to dry than inflammable ones. In this case, chlorinated cleaners are the winners.

If you are a more visual learner, here is a video about Brake Cleaner: Non-Chlorinated vs Chlorinated on YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions

When you are searching for the flaming nature of a brake cleaner, you may get many similar questions:

1. Is inflammable brake cleaner better?

The inflammable cleaner has chlorine molecules to enhance the cleaning properties. It can eliminate any stubborn grease dirt from the oily surface. But it can be highly toxic to cause more health problems.

2. How much flammable is a brake cleaner?

Non-chlorinated has fewer toxic properties than chlorinated cleaners. But they are more flammable. Even they can cause more fumes when they contact with high temperatures.

3. Can brake cleaner get fire after it dries?

If it is a flammable (non-chlorinated) brake cleaner, it can get fire even after it dries. But the chance of getting fire depends on product quality and high heat. A normal temperature cannot create any flame like sunlight.


Is brake cleaner flammable – we hope you have the answer now. Chlorinated brake cleaners are non-flammable, whereas less toxic, non-chlorinated cleaners are highly volatile. Moreover, flammable cleaners are pricier for their low-toxicity nature.

Both flammable and inflammable cleaners are suitable for any vehicle parts cleaning application. You can clean all the sticky grease, dust, and leaked petroleum from brakes, linings, cylinders, and other car parts. Now, it’s up to you to pick any of them for your next cleaning project.

Some important sources