Can I Use Carb Cleaner on My Gun?

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Carb cleaners are commonly found in households with lawnmowers and motorcycles. If you also own a gun at home, you probably wonder if you can use carb cleaner on your gun since they’re cheaper.

Can I Use Carb Cleaner on My Gun?

You can use carb cleaner on your gun. However, most people wouldn’t recommend using it. While it can work as a cleaner, there are other better alternatives for gun oil. Others have used it for years to reduce maintenance costs, while others just find it too risky.

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Most people wouldn’t want to use a carburetor cleaner because it contains chemicals that might harm your gun’s finish or plastic components. You definitely want to avoid using it if your gun has a polymer frame. Use gun oil meant for a AR 15 instead of taking a risk on this cleaner.

Another problem with carburetor cleaners is that they will strip off oil. So you have to re-oil after using a carburetor cleaner, or your metallic gun components will start to build up rust.

What Is Carb Cleaner?

Carb or carburetor cleaner is a petroleum or oil-based cleaning solution for cleaning up your car carburetor’s dirt, sludge, gunk, and varnish. It does so without risking damage to your gaskets and other components.

Carburetor cleaners usually come in a spray-on aerosol, which usually contains the following chemicals:

  • Acetone
  • Methanol
  • Ethyl benzene
  • Toluene
  • Carbon dioxide

These chemicals help break down gunk and dirt deposits accumulated within the carburetor. With such dissolving power, it’s no wonder some chemicals like acetone and methanol are responsible for dissolving plastic components if they ever come into contact.

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Pros of Using Carb Cleaner

Here are some of the upsides to using carb cleaner:

  • It has one-third of the cost of gun oil
  • It’s excellent at emulsifying cack and flushing it out
  • It’s usually spray-on, so it’s easy to apply and reaches much further

Cons of Using Carb Cleaner

Alternatively, here are a couple of downsides of this cleaning solution:

  • It might dissolve plastic and polymer gun parts
  • It will remove oil once applied, so you will have to re-oil your gun if you want to protect it against rust

Dangers of Using Carb Cleaner

While carb cleaner can be used on guns, it’s not without risks. One of the risks includes the by-product of it, which is Phosgene gas, when the brake cleaner gets hot. Phosgene gas is a dangerous chemical used in WW1 before.

Small doses can cause scarring in your nose and lungs and may be deadly if inhaled for too long. There is a saving grace, though. Phosgene gas needs chlorine for it to work.

Most brake cleaners are non-chlorinated. If you’re ever going to use it for your guns, make sure you use a non-chlorinated brake cleaner.


Carburetor cleaner is a tricky one to use for your gun. You must consider whether your gun components dissolve when used with these cleaners. Using this cleaner is a gamble. Some people are fine with it, while some have had bad experiences.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.