Another Bearing Cleaning Thread

I’ve heard mixed things on ways to clean bearings, some say use acetone, others say use mineral spirits, I’ve heard some say even to use Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. I really don’t want to go out of my way to buy a huge thing of paint thinner from home depot that I only need a little bit of. I know they sell nail polish remover at the grocery store (not sure it’s 100% acetone though) Will Isopropyl 90+% Alcohol work to clean the bearings as well? Also, is there a substitute I can buy for ‘thin lube’ at the store? Thanks

Okay, No, Isopropyl is not the best thing to clean a bearing with… It has water in it and if you don’t blow it out properly it will rust the bearing and it can slow the bearing down by getting water in the bearing…

Do you have any Carb cleaner? It works great, just put the bearing in there for five minutes and it comes out playing fine…

I’ve heard that Trumpet Valve oil works well for a substitute for thin lube. this can be found in music stores…

We’re already heading in the direction of “I ain’t gonna do it the right way”.

OK, let me make it simple:
Go to Home Depot, buy 100% acetone. DO NOT use the grocery store/nail remover variety as it has stuff in it you do not want in your bearing.

I’ve found acetone works better than mineral spirits in my experience.

After that, any thin machine oil, including MOST trumpet valve oil, works. Most trumpet valves have some plastic in them, often not in the valve area but often above. Most trumpet valve oils will not harm plastic. All-Cass is what I use. I think that’s the name. I can’t find it. I dry play treat all my bearings now.

I didn’t state “I ain’t gonna do it the right way”, this is just what I’ve heard and I wanted to clear up the rumors from fact. I actually just did a google search and found this on ( It states NOT to use Acetone because it can cause rust and is corrosive.

The site recommends Mineral Spirits/Paint Thinner. I think I’ll go with this option and thanks to both of you for recommendations on what oil to use. I appreciate it. Have a great new year :slight_smile:

Zippo lighter fluid works very well for me.
And you don’t have to buy a gallon of it. :wink:

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Lighter fluid is my favorite. It seems the bearings spin more freely after being treated with it. I’ve tried mineral spirits and acetone but lighter fluid beats them all IMO.


Thanks, I really appreciate it! I just looked it up on google and this video came right up. I’ll link it since it may be able to help somebody else out in the future when searching through the forums or just randomly stumbling across it on google.

well i think acetone is better but it has to be 100% also use dust cleaner to dry it

I use zippo fluid clean then for 8 mins in the fluid then I dry them with a paper towel then I put then in some type of stainless steel pan and soak them in acetone, I swish them around for like 5 mins and then turn the stove on and dry them using the stove I put the bearing inside the pan or pot and hold it over the stove while its on hi without letting it touch, I move the bearings around inside the pan while over the heat till all the acetone evaporates I get the best spinning bearings this way

It would be a lot simpler to just buy a can of air and blow them dry.

I know that in the volumes you’re dealing with, it’s probably not a problem… but acetone fumes are NOT to be messed with. I wouldn’t put that anywhere near a heat source (same goes for Mineral Spirits and lighter fluid, mind you!)

As suggested, use canned air or air from an air compressor if you happen to have one. If you’re using the canned stuff, don’t do a bunch of bearings at once (or overdo it on a single bearing) because it WILL start shooting out condensation eventually.

I have pure acetone and also mineral spirits, and I find that I’m skipping the acetone phase that I used to put the bearings through–sticking just to mineral spirits–and I’m getting the same or even better results. I’ve been told to use acetone for the ceramic/steel bearings, though, so I’m sticking to that.

I used the lighter fluid technique. I noticed that when I put in even the smallest amount of lube in, like less than pin sized, that the bearing barely even spins…yet when running dry with the flick of the finger it spins for a while. Do any of you run your bearings dry? I mean, I don’t plan on using the same bearings forever, so I don’t care if it’ll deplete the life of them a bit, I just don’t want to damage them and have to buy new bearings every month. Thanks

Can’t agree more. Compressed air is probably the most helpful product after solvent when it comes to bearing cleaning.

I’ve used mineral spirits, acetone and toluene. They all work pretty much the same, especially after being dried thoroughly with compressed air.

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I find that a lightly lubed bearing runs a lot smoother than a dry bearing. Dry bearings always feel rough to me.

Clen with pure acetone and treat with TX DryPlay lube and see what happens…

No matter what you use as a solvent, blow it dry. Sometimes I don’t even clean a bearing, I just blow it out to dislodge dirt or fibers from the bearing.

Many use can of compressed air, I use a camera lens air blower which is a bulb with a nozzle attached. Runs on renewable muscle power so you never run out, better for the environment, etc.

Once blown dry, I use a tiny dab of thin lube (One Drop V4M is great) applied with a pin. If I want some responsiveness I’ll use a whole drop of YYJ lube.

I also find that a tiny drop of thin lube quiets the bearing down as well. That said I probably only lube half my bearings. They rest are played dry.