How to Remove Oil from Disc Brakes Like a Pro?

Oh crap!

Today I was out on the road with my roadie. It was a clear sunny morning today.

I was riding behind a van and enjoying the fresh morning air. Suddenly I noticed the STOP indicator turned on by the truck.

I immediately squeeze the brake caliper to stop my bike. And guess what?

The bike didn’t stop, and it made a creepy sound! At that moment, I was scared like hell.

The van was just in front of me. However, I managed to stop my bike somehow. Thank God.

Why did this happen to me?

Well, it was my fault. It felt like my bike was mocking me with horrible sounds and calling me a fool.

Today, I don’t know what happened to me; I went out in a hurry and forgot to check my disc brakes.

They were oily and had a poor grip. As a result, the bike didn’t stop at the right time, and I had a narrow escape.

How did my bike disc brakes get oily?

  1. Firstly, the disc brakes can get oily by the bike itself. As I had to lube the hub, braking pads, braking calipers, or suspensions (on MTB), it’s pretty easy to leak oil from anywhere. Thus, the disc brakes can get oily.
  2. Secondly, disc brakes get oily when I touch them with bare hands. Sometimes, my hands get oily, and when I touch the disc with that hands, they get oily too.

I think you understand what happened to me today.

Now, how to keep yourself safe from such situations?

Simple. Remove oil from your disc brakes.

And how to do so?

Well, I am gonna discuss it further. Keep reading till the end. I also have a secret to share with you.

Pro Tip: How to remove oil from disc brakes?

Oil, grease, or dirt are different types of fat. You will need degreasers to remove them.

Any alcoholic solution that contains Isopropyl can be suitable here. But I suggest using Finish Line Disc Brake Cleaner for the job. It’s not too strong, so gentle toward the metal.

Tools and supplies needed to remove oil from disc brakes

Before jumping into the actual job, you need a few tools to be ready. They are…

So, are you ready, buddy? Let’s remove oil from the disc brakes like a pro.

Step-1: Unmount the rotor and braking pads

First of all, put on the gloves. It will help you to protect your hand from dirt and chemical. Besides, your oily hand will not touch the rotor once again.

However, take the wheel off by unscrewing the quick release. If your bike doesn’t feature a quick release, use a wrench to loosen the bolts.

Now, put the wheel on a flat surface or set it on a wheel stand. Use the Allen keys to unmount the rotor from the wheel.

Finally, take out the braking pads from the braking box. Again use the Allen key to loosen the pin lock. Don’t touch the pads.

Take them out with a needle-nose plier. If there is any spring between the pads, take it out first.

Step-2: Clean and rub

Take the rotor and spray the Finish Line disc brake cleaner thoroughly into it. Then, rub the rotor with a soft microfibre fabric and wipe up the grime with a clean rag.

Do it on both sides of the rotor and repeat the process until it becomes shiny. Lastly, rub the rotor (in a circular motion) on 320-grade sandpaper.

So that it becomes cleaner and fractious. Reapply brake cleaner spray and wipe up the rotor on a clean rag once again to remove the dust.

Now, it turns to clean up the braking pads. Since they are in contact with the rotor, they get oily too.

Again, spray disc brake cleaner to the braking pads and wipe them up on a clean rag. Repeat the process 2 or 3 times.

Then, rub them onto sandpaper in a circular motion. Do it until they look like a new one. If you are using organic pads, they will look brownish after rub.

Freaky Tip: If the braking pads get worn out severely, replace them instead of cleaning them.

However, don’t miss the chance to clean the brake box. Put some spray inside it and wipe it up with microfibre fabric.

Step-3: Reinstall everything

After cleaning the rotor and braking pads, it’s time to reinstall everything. Reset the rotor to the wheel again and tighten the bolts with Allen keys.

After that, place the braking set in the correct places and close the pin lock.

Now, the most challenging job; reinstalling the wheel.

It’s better to put the bike upside down. Then, set the wheel on the fork and make sure it sits properly.

Adjust the disk brake in correct alignment. I described it earlier in one of my previous posts, so not repeating it.

Read Also: How To Adjust Bike Brakes

Finally, tighten the quick release by hand and nuts with wrenches. 

The easiest way to remove oil from disc brakes(DIY homemade solution)

bike brake cleaning

Now, the homemade solution to remove oil from disc brakes…

Well, it’s not as efficient as the process I described above. But it can sometimes help when you need a quick solution.

It’s easy to do and doesn’t need anything fancy. You can do it with what you have around you. Go step by step and get oil-free disc brakes in just 10 minutes.

Step-1: Prepare a solution

If the disc brakes are not that much contaminated, you don’t need to unmount the rotor or braking pads. Let them stay in their place and perform a quick clean.

First of all, go to the kitchen and find a soap or dish wash. Take some water and prepare a soap solution.

You may read also bike cleaning tips

Step-2: Degrease the rotor

Now, it’s time to remove oil from disc brakes. Apply soap to the rotor and rub it with a toothbrush. Rotate the wheel to reveal the hidden part of the rotor and do it thoroughly.

Then, rinse the rotor with clean water to remove the grime.

Finally, wipe up the extra water and wait until 

Freaky Tip: If you wanna make it quicker, use nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol instead of soap solution.
Take some rubbing alcohol on a microfiber fabric and rub it on the rotor until the oil gets removed.

Step-3: Apply sandy soil

For additional shine, apply sand to the rotor. Get some sandy soil and mix a little water with it. Make sure there is no stone in it.

Now, fully wrap the rotor up with that mud. Don’t wash it immediately and wait until the mud gets dry.

After that, ride the bike for a few minutes and squeeze the brakes 3 or 4 times within the ride.

Finally, you can wash out the sand with clean water.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brake Cleaning

1. What is disc brake cleaner made of?

Non-flammable disc brake cleaner is usually made of organochlorides like dichloromethane or tetrachloroethylene.

On the other hand, flammable disc breakers contain hydrocarbon, mainly alcohol. Methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, and acetone are the most common types of alcohol found in a disc brake cleaner.

2. What can I use instead of a bike brake cleaner?

If you can’t get a professional disc brake, find something alcoholic. Yes, rubbing alcohol or nail polish is best, in my opinion.

They are cheap as hell and easy to find around you. However, just make sure it’s not too strong for metal. 70% isopropyl is perfect in this case.

3. Is a brake cleaner the same as a degreaser?

Well, it’s a yes and a no. Brake cleaners and degreasers are often used for the same purpose, but they have differences in mechanism and benefits.

The brake cleaner has higher cleaning power than the degreaser. Where degreasers can only remove oil, brake cleaner is capable of cleaning rust and dirt too.

Anyways, it also has another point of view. Brake cleaner is harsh, and harmful for plastic and rubber parts where degreaser is softer and gentle towards metal.

However, the disc brake cleaner is also higher in price than the degreaser.

4. Can brake cleaner clean rusty brakes?

Yes! You can also remove rust with a disc brake cleaner. But it’s a bit corrosive, so don’t overuse or use it too frequently for cleaning disc brakes.


Today I could have broken my front wheel or even injured myself brutally. But fortunately, I managed to save myself.

But, it’s not necessary that you will also get a chance to protect yourself. So, be aware today. Remove oil from your disc brakes.

It’s too easy to do stuff if you follow my tips and go step by step. Moreover, you can do it with home supplies if unable to arrange professional tools and supplies.

Get rid of horrible sounds and acquire the highest stoppage power today.


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