The BEST method for cleaning carburetors

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I’ve cleaned hundreds of carburetors in past 20+ years of wrenching. You know what the worst part of it is? The actual cleaning of all the components. It can be VERY time consuming if you are dealing with varnish & crusty stuff that just so happens to get in all those little passages. This nasty stuff has to come off, otherwise you will be cleaning them again in the future….trust me on this one.

A question I often get asked: “Isn’t there something I can just pour in the gas tank?”  Nope! You have to take them all apart in order to get all the crud out. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts with carb cleaning.

So what is my preferred method? Dry soda blast followed by ultrasonic cleaning, in that order. The soda cleans them very well, and since it dissolves in water, the ultrasonic cleaner takes care of any soda that can’t be removed with compressed air. You don’t need a ultrasonic cleaner, but that means that you will be manually rinsing the carbs in a bucket of hot water.


Soda advantages

  • Does not remove metal or damage any plating/surface finish.
  • Will remove grease, dirt, gasket material, rust residue, and crusty stuff.
  • Dissolves in water. No grit or particles to remain in carb.
  • Safe to use on rubber and plastic.
  • Soda will flow through a passage and completely clean it.
  • It’s cheap. About $40 for 50lbs. I use Armex brand from Harbor Freight.

Soda disadvantages

  • May take several rinse cycles to remove all remnants. It is important to blow with compressed air to remove as much as possible before rinsing.
  • May plug up very small passages like accelerator pump passages, but it rinses away in water!
  • Tends to plug up blind holes.
  • Soda is supposed to be a once time use media, since it breaks down into powder on impact.
  • Does not handle corrosion well. This is not a media for restoration.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

You don’t need an ultrasonic cleaner after soda blasting, however the machine does the work for you, so it saves time. At a minimum, a bucket of hot water will work just fine. I use Sharpertek 1220 Carburetor Cleaner diluted at 4 to 8oz per gallon for extra cleaning power.

DIY Soda Blaster

Before the cabinet, I used the DIY method below to see how well it would work. It definitely works, however you will need to take shower afterwards. It gets everywhere.


Chem Dip

I still use Berryman Chem Dip every now and then on all the brass if they are super nasty.


Best Carb Spray

Berryman B-12 Chemtool is still used to inspect that all passages are clean.


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  • Joe Racer

    what do you do to dispose of chemicals, like the soda and the water bath from the ultrasonic cleaner?

    • Soda can be dumped in trash. Ultrasonic get taken to my cities disposal service.