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Published Jul. 22, 2021

Carburetor cleaner is an essential tool in the routine maintenance on your good ol’ carbureted car or motorcycle. Whether you need to rebuild your carb and are looking for an effective cleaning option, or you’re just looking to clean up your engine bay, we have compiled a list of the top products available. We know there are a myriad of products available on the market, and it can easily become overwhelming when searching for the right one for your needs—even when it’s something as simple as seeking out the best carb cleaner. 

We’ve put together a buying guide so you can make an informed decision and perhaps learn a thing or two about carburetor cleaners. There’s a lot of competition out there, and deciding on one can be quite hard without knowing what to look for. As always, we do the heavy work, so you don’t have to. 

The Best Carburetor Cleaners

This non-chlorinated carb cleaner gets to work on all that gunk and grime. Safe for use on carbs with rubber, and plastic surfaces, this cleaner is strong where it matters. In fact, it claims to be the most potent off-the-shelf carb cleaner available. Chem-Dip also boasts a non-chlorinated version, but it’s very concentrated. Berryman’s carb cleaner comes with a basket for dipping parts in the bucket, which surely eases the cleaning process.

Key Features
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Powerful formula
  • Basket included
Specification
  • Brand Berryman Products
  • Model 996
  • Weight 7.5 pounds

This carburetor submersion dip works brilliantly for big jobs. Gunk carb cleaner is extremely potent and should be used with caution, but it’s ideal for those hard-to-clean carburetors who don’t seem to bow down to any spray. This carb cleaner forces you to remove your carburetor, which can be annoying and perhaps difficult. But it makes for a more thorough and beneficial cleaning. Even though this carb cleaner is not-chlorinated, its formula is concentrated, making it extremely potent.

Key Features
  • Potent formula
  • Dip usage
  • Can be combined with water for ultrasonic cleaning
Specification
  • Brand Gunk
  • Model CC3K
  • Weight 7.5 Pounds

This is the best 50-state approved option out there. A formula of low-volatility organic compounds, it’s a tad less harmful to the environment. This product boasts a formula that is not harmful to other components of your car, meaning your oxygen sensors and catalytic converters won’t be harmed if you decide to use this carb cleaner while the carb itself is still in place. Even though this is not the most potent canned carb cleaner out there, it can be found anywhere, has a low VOC content, and contains high levels of cleaning power.

Key Features
  • Low volatile organic compounds
  • 50-state approved
  • Not harmful to catalytic converters and oxygen sensors
Specification
  • Brand CRC
  • Model 03077
  • Weight 14.4 ounces

This Gunk carb cleaner is pretty much a chlorinated version of the other Gunk cleaner mentioned in this list. This means this spray carburetor cleaner is likely to be more powerful than its aforementioned sibling. Even though this is a better carb cleaner because of this power, the user has to be more careful with its application since this is not as easy on other materials as its non-chlorinated version. Still, because of its powerful formula and proven track record, it sits quite high on our list.

Key Features
  • Chlorinated
  • Great for cleaning specifics parts
  • Shouldn’t be used near rubber or plastic
Specification
  • Brand Gunk
  • Model M4814
  • Weight 1.1 pounds

This is an easy-to-use cleaner that is designed to be used with the carb still in the car, which is why it includes a straw that aids in the directional spray application of the product. Regardless, this is a great option for quick, easy clean-ups. This product works really well; its formula acts quickly and the Gumout name is among the best—and most recognized—on the market.

Key Features
  • Carb cleaning spray
  • Easy to use
  • Straw included for those hard-to-reach places
Specification
  • Brand Gumout
  • Model 800002231
  • Weight 0.16 ounces

This is one of those old-school products specifically designed for the application. This formula has been around for a long time and the reason is because it works pretty well—not only for carburetors but also for choke linkages, PCV valves, and hoses. This product comes with well-thought-out instructions that are a huge help to the home mechanic. It is important to mention that this product is extremely flammable, so be extra careful when using it.

Key Features
  • Highly concentrated
  • Great Instructions
  • Not available in California
Specification
  • Brand Berkebile Oil 2 + 2
  • Model B101
  • Weight 1 pound

Gunk is one of the most popular brands in this field. This particular offering’s best attribute is the lack of chlorination, which makes for a much more engine-friendly spray that can be used across the various parts. The lack of chlorination does make it a little less efficient than other offerings in this segment, but for places where chlorinated carb cleaners are banned, this is almost as good as it gets.

Key Features
  • Non-chlorinated
  • Highly reviewed
  • Low VOC solvents
Specification
  • Brand Gunk
  • Model M4815NC
  • Weight 1.35 pounds

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint in one quick step? The Berryman B-12 Chemtool System Cleaner is a great way to go. This cleaner is a multipurpose option since it is not only meant to clean the carburetor but the entire fuel system. It disperses moisture and residue from the entire fuel system and cleans intake valves and port deposits

Bear in mind that results may vary. This multipurpose formula will help when the cleaning is minor; it won’t be a fix for a big issue.

Key Features
  • Can lower emissions
  • Disperses moisture
Specification
  • Brand Berryman Products
  • Model 0116
  • Weight 1.08 pounds

Whether you have a new car or an old beater, the Super Tech CA Compliant Carburetor Cleaner makes a great addition to your maintenance routine. It comes in a 12.5-ounce container. Designed to address the carburetor specifically, the formula loosens and helps remove any deposits present in the system.

It’s worth noting that, while the container is solid, the cap leaves something to be desired. It’s easy to chip and damage the seal, so be careful when handling the container. Outside of that, in terms of formula quality, this is a great well-priced option. Another benefit is that it is California-compliant.

Key Features
  • Affordable
  • California-compliant formula
Specification
  • Brand Super Tech
  • Model SP-500932
  • Weight 0.78 pounds

Old and new vehicles can benefit greatly from PJ1. It stands out because of its concentrated formula and dual-action effects. Since it has no alcohol in the solution, it’s safe for use on seals. Simple to apply, you just add it into your tank before your next fill-up. As your engine runs, the formula will move through your fuel system. It is important to mention that this is more of a treatment rather than an actual cleaner, but it’s useful if you’re just looking to keep things clean, rather than addressing any particular issue. Keep it on your regular maintenance schedule for every three months in order to see optimal results.

Key Features
  • Works on injectors and carburetors
  • Easy to apply
  • Safe with catalytic converters
Specification
  • Brand PJ1
  • Model 13-12
  • Weight 1 pound

Best Carburetor Cleaner Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Consider When Buying a Carburetor Cleaner

Ease of Use

The most effective cleaner for you will be one that you can use quickly and safely, then get on with your day. Otherwise, you might as well head to a local mechanic.

Effectiveness

As with all things, a cheaper brand may save you money in the short-term, but the costs can add up quickly if you have to keep buying it to do the same job a more expensive brand can do first time.

Best Carb Cleaner for Your Needs

You may not need to take apart your carburetor completely. If you have a newer car, it can be worth just grabbing a carb-cleaning spray that does the trick. Of course, an older car will probably need a full carburetor dip, which would involve taking each piece apart and leaving them to soak overnight.

Materials Used

If your carburetor or nearby equipment has rubber or plastic areas, some carb cleaners may be too strong and, ultimately, cause more damage to your car.

Speed

Some cleaners can take a few minutes, whereas others will require you to take your vehicle off the road and perhaps remove the carburetor completely. You’ll usually see this in more of the deep-cleaning carb cleaner types, but they can appear in any form. Be sure to read the instructions before purchasing your product.

Safety

Carb cleaner is a corrosive solvent. In fact, many ingredients found in common carb and parts cleaners are illegal to use in some states (California, we’re looking at you.) Check the ingredients, and be sure to get the right cleaner for your needs and location.

Mechanic repairing car engine
Mechanic Checking the Carburetor in the Car

Benefits of Cleaning Your Carburetor

Improved Fuel Efficiency

Years of built-up dirt and grime like grease, oil, and sludge can starve your engine of fuel, which ultimately limits its combustion and therefore, your car’s performance. Carb cleaner removes deposits, helps improve engine performance, and delivers better fuel economy.

Better Acceleration

When gas from your fuel system struggles to get to your engine, your acceleration can suffer. Using a cleaner removes the gunk, giving you more responsive and immediate acceleration.

Achieve a More Precise Air/Fuel Ratio

If fuel isn’t getting where it needs to go, you can wind up with a less-than-ideal air/fuel ratio, which results in bad performance and worse fuel economy. With a carb cleaner, you can eliminate these woes—and potential problems.

Prevent Engine Failure and Other Issues

No car owner wants to replace their engine. You can avoid this frustrating and costly problem by using a carburetor cleaner that will remove deposits that can, over time, lead to expensive repairs.

Related Post: Best Fuel Injector Cleaners

Types of Carburetor Cleaners

Chlorinated

Chlorinated carb cleaners are quite common—and that’s because chlorine is a highly effective cleaning agent. It can break down dirt easily, acting as a cleaner quickly and reducing the amount of effort or time you need to expend. However, chlorinated carb cleaners can damage more delicate components or materials. Especially potent and able to clean thoroughly, a chlorinated product can be a good choice.

Non-Chlorinated

An alternative to chlorinated cleaners is non-chlorinated carb cleaners. These cleaning products are gentler, as they don’t include any harsh chlorine, and usually available in all 50 states. However, a non-chlorinated solution is milder. It’ll be perfectly safe to use on all surfaces, but it may pose a challenge if you’re dealing with particularly tough dirt, grime, or deposits.

Sprays

Spray carb cleaners are incredibly straightforward and easy to use, and they’re mainly for light, quick exterior cleaning. They remove dirt, grime, and other stuck-on materials with the press of a button—spray cleaners typically come in aerosol forms with a thin straw that allows you to spray the solution into hard-to-reach areas. They’re convenient, and they don’t require you to remove your carburetor. 

Dips

Dips are a deeper cleaner. These cleaning formulas can get your carburetor and choke valves sparking clean, but you’ll have to immerse your carburetor into the cleaner. It’s like giving your carb a bath. You’ll remove it from your vehicle and place it in a container filled with dip cleaner, then let it soak to get completely clean. These products are very effective, but they do require more time and effort.

Top Brands

Gumout

First created in 1941, GUMOUT has been combating tough engine residue and buildup since World War II. Today, highly effective products like Gumout Carb and Choke Cleaner or Gumout Fuel Injector & Carburetor Cleaner will improve engine perfect in your own vehicles. 

Super Tech

Dedicated to creating high-quality engine parts, valves, and more, SuperTech has more than 30 years of auto experience and expertise. The brand focuses on high-performance choices, which make for great variety and trustworthy reliability no matter what you’re driving.

Mannol

Mannol is a brand that creates quality auto products, with a strong focus on lubricants, oils, and greases. You can find formulas and solutions that’ll keep your engine and fuel system running efficiently, with products that can improve your vehicle’s performance.

Berryman

A worldwide leader in auto products, Berryman offers some of the best car cleaners available today. Options like Berryman Carb Cleaner and Berryman Chemtool Carburetor Cleaner are fantastic options.

Carburetor Cleaner FAQs

Q: How does carburetor cleaner work?

Carb cleaner works by dissolving the oil, grease, and other dirt and grime can that build up both on and inside your carburetor. 

Q: How many types of carb cleaners are there?

Carb cleaners can be simply classified by two main characteristics: ingredients and type of  application. Carb cleaners are also chlorinated or non-chlorinated. Chlorine is a highly effective cleaning agent, but many states (like California) have banned the use and sale of chlorinated carb cleaners. Non-chlorinated carb cleaner is gentler on most surfaces, but may pose a challenge if you’re dealing with particularly tough dirt, grime, or deposits. It’s also important to note that non-chlorinated carb cleaners can be just as, or even more, toxic than chlorinated carb cleaners. Carburetor
Carburetor Components

Q: Are carb cleaners safe?

Carb cleaners are definitely not safe for human consumption. They can irritate eyes and skin, and breathing the fumes for long periods of time is not healthy.  Carb cleaner is also extremely flammable. Chlorinated formulas are okay on plastic but both chlorinated and non-chlorinated carb cleaners can damage painted and finished surfaces. 

Q: How often should I clean my carburetor?

The timeline depends on how often and how you use your car but it is recommended to clean your carburetor once a year.

Q: Can I clean my carburetor using WD-40?

WD-40 can work as a carb cleaner in a pinch. However, it doesn’t work as easily or as effectively as a true carburetor cleaner; you’ll need to work harder to get rid of really stubborn dirt and grime inside and out.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick is the Berryman Chem-Dip Carburetor and Parts Cleaner, which boasts a strong non-chlorinated formula to get the job done. The powerful formula yields excellent results.

Sources:

  1. Carburetor – Wikipedia

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