What to Use to Clean a Carburetor (Expert Recommendation)

While not as common as once upon a time thanks to newly designed fuel injectors, carburetors are everywhere. Whether in your car, motorcycle, or a multitude of power tools used daily, a carburetor is essential to the correct functioning of both small and large engines. Because the carburetor is used every time the engine runs, it will get dirty, and it will clog over time if not cleaned properly at regular intervals.

A carburetor has an essential role in an engine functioning correctly. It is the crucial part of machinery where gasoline mixes with air to create engine combustion. The common result of this process is when the air entering the carburetor dries out a portion of the gas creating a sticky type of residue that will adhere to the carburetor inside walls.

What to Use to Clean a Carburetor

As this mechanism repeats itself, the carburetor will become quite dirty and clog up. If your power tool happens to be used infrequently but gas remains in its fuel tank, old fuel will inevitably thicken and also create similar problems for the carburetor’s operation.

As the carburetor becomes grimy, both the choke plate as well as the throttle will likely become dirty and begin to stick. So, the lesson here is that a carburetor needs to be cleaned regularly, regardless of the engine that it is located in.

If you are storing power tools, a motorcycle, or a boat, for a prolonged period like winter, never put them away with unused fuel in the fuel tank. Before storage is the perfect occasion to clean the carburetor, so when you use your tool, car, or boat after taking it out from storage, it will be clean and ready to rev up without any problems.

Signs Your Carburetor Needs Cleaning

There will be indications that your carburetor needs to be cleaned. Some include:

  • The engine won’t start up.
  • The engine’s idling is consistently too low.
  • The engine’s idling is consistently too high.
  • The engine will sputter or cough.
  • The engine may die immediately after it turns on.
  • The exhaust pipe produces black smoke.
  • Your carburetor smells like chemicals instead of gasoline.

What Not to Use When Cleaning a Carburetor

So, it’s clear that your carburetor is due for a cleaning. What not to use is just as important as what to use. Above all, your carburetor cleaner should not be corrosive because the cleaner should not contribute to the corrosion or to the degrading of any plastic parts or rubber pieces that are part of the carburetor.

This means you should not use:

  • This will make the metal parts more sensitive to developing rust because of the acetic acid in vinegar.
  • Bleach should not be used. Sodium hypochlorite will cause metals like aluminum and steel to corrode. If there are seals that are rubberized, bleach will contribute to the degradation of the seal.

What to Use to Clean a Carburetor

When selecting your carburetor cleaner, much will depend on whether you plan on removing the carburetor from the engine or wish to clean it without removing the carburetor from its position.

If you intend to clean the carburetor without removing it, you will need to purchase an aerosol cleaner specifically manufactured for carburetor cleaning together with an air compressor gun. The gun is used to remove as much grime as possible before using the aerosol cleaner and eventually rags to wipe away residue.

Air compressor guns should be used for the hard to get to places in the carburetor. Water should not be used when you are cleaning a carburetor still positioned in its place.

Cleaning When Removing a Carburetor

The safest option is to purchase a heavy-duty carburetor cleaner, that is also preferably bio-degradable and above all a non-corrosive liquid. Formulas specifically manufactured for engines will be safe and not expose your engine or its parts to corrosion, while cleaning away grease, grime, oil, dirt, and any build-up of automotive fluids.

These cleaners are available in larger-sized cans or bottles (often in a gallon size) and usually come with some type of a basket for soaking. You pour the cleaner into this basket and then soak the piece of the carburetor in the cleaner.

Quality Products to Consider

A few carburetor cleaning products that have good customer feedback include:

1. Berryman Chem-Dip: which is an immersion liquid cleaner that is old in a 0.75-gallon size. It is not flammable and is not corrosive for rubber, metal, plastic, or alloy parts, but does a great job of removing sludge and just about anything else you may find on your carburetor. Within a half hour, your carburetor should be clean.

2. Gumout Jet Spray: Carb, Choke, and Parts Cleaner. If you don’t intend to disassemble your carburetor, this aerosol spray is easy to use and will clean grime and residual build-up on your carburetor. Very affordable.

Ultrasonic Machine Cleaning

An increasingly popular method for cleaning a carburetor or its parts is by using an ultrasonic machine that through the use of sound waves creates infinitesimal bubbles that will work loose grim, dirt and residues from places within the carburetor that are impossible to reach.

There are carb cleaners that work with these machines when diluted with water. The purchase of the machine requires an economic investment.

Benefits of a Carburetor Cleaner

Using a specifically formulated carburetor cleaner will provide you with considerable benefits:

  • Elimination and removal of contaminants and stubborn grime and residual build-up
  • Affordable
  • A good instrument for troubleshooting if you have poor engine performance.
  • Improved engine performance thanks to a clean carburetor

Carburetor Cleaner Types

  • Chlorinated Cleaners. This type of cleaner will not be available everywhere as it is banned in some places because of VOC ingredients that contribute to pollution. VOC signifies “Volatile Organic Compounds”. These cleaners are not flammable.
  • Non-Chlorinated Cleaners. While they tend to be more flammable, they are considered environmentally less toxic. It does not dry quickly, but it will not harm your carburetor’s plastic pieces.
  • Aerosol Cleaner. Great for small openings and crevices, these cleaners are specifically formulated for those hard to get to places particularly when the carburetor is not removed from a power tool of vehicle.
  • A Dip Can. While not as commonly used as aerosol cleaners, this style of cleaner soaks that carburetor part as opposed to spraying.

A Cleaning Tip

If you haven’t purchased carburetor cleaner yet, but have some brake cleaner in your garage, you can use it to clean the carburetor. It’s safe and formulated to dissolve grime just as a carburetor cleaner.

A Final Thought

If you really want to clean your carburetor well, you need to take it out and apart to eliminate gunk and crud built up inside. Using a specifically formulated cleaner will protect your carburetor and its parts from potential corrosion while getting the job done. A quick carburetor cleaning without removal is a great temporary fix to enabling engine performance.

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