Bearing Cleaning Chemicals


Alright, so I was planning to clean my bearing today. I was going to buy some Mineral Spirits, but then I looked in my garage and found what I think I can use. There are two chemicals, which are:

-“Klean-Strip Acetone” and
-“Crown Paint Thinner” this one has a little side note that it says “100% Mineral Spirits”

Which one should I use? In the tutorial it says Mineral Spirits, but someone also recommended Acetone as well.

Also, I have a contact lens case that is plastic. Will that melt or something? If so, what should I use?



either will work, lot of people prefer mineral spirits but it doesn’t matter much.

DO NOT use a plastic container, find a glass jar.



babyhood jars work nicely for stuff like this.


Many types of plastic are not attacked by acetone. I can’t remember the corresponding recyle number… 3 and higher maybe (but don’t take my word for it)? The recycle grade is usually found in the middle of the recycle symbol on most goods).

The eyeglasses container I use is not attacked by acetone. Nor is the lab/medical-grade plastic container I use (the same kind used to collect urine samples… :wink: ).

Many purely metal or glass jars do not seal well enough for my liking. And some of them use a little bit of rubber for the seal (like mason jars), which I believe can be attacked by acetone. So for me, as long as you have the RIGHT plastic, you should actually have more peace of mind than an arbitrary metal or glass jar.


yea, because in addition to telling kids to play with toxic chemicals, let’s now trust them to figure out what types of plastic their containers are made of…

glass is safe… most food jars will work fine. Even if they have a rubber seal (can’t recall the last time I saw one for food) it’s not like they’re sitting upside down and soaking in chemicals.



Polyurethane (the flexible plastic material) containers are not affected by acetone.
Acetone is just a lacquer based pant thinner while mineral spirits is oil based.
Just don’t drink them and all is fine.


Both #2 & #5 (High Density Polyethylene & Polypropylene respectively) will work well for storing acetone. Quite a few brands of acetone come in bottles made of these materials.

If you’re simply using it to clean out a bearing you can drop some in an empty coffee can and slosh it around with the bearing in it. As long as you don’t drink it or get it in your eyes you’ll be fine. Worst it will do is dry out your skin if you get it on your hands/etc.


I have a few glass jars, but will they be usable after I put the chemicals in it? They’re normally used to store/ferment food and I don’t want to waste one of my parent’s jars.
Also, when I researched more about cleaning bearings, a TON of people seemed to use contact lens containers, but I’ll look up the plastic to see. I will probably not use Acetone, because I don’t wanna experiment with the more dangerous chemical just yet.


UPDATE: I did WAY more research on plastics and chemicals than I intended to. But it’s okay, it’s all part of the project, right? (The project was on yoyos. Oog.)

Hi Kyle, thanks for looking out for me. Thanks to your warning, I got to checking everything to make sure nothing would explode or melt or spontaneously combust.

-Okay, so my contact lens case is made of plastic. Specifically, #5 Plastic inside a recycle sign, which I figured out is Polypropylene (nicknamed PP for short). This is important because it may or may not react against the chemicals provided. This was found out thanks to @couch and

-Okay, now for some very precise math to figure out if this PP plastic will provide the best protection
against Acetone and Mineral Spirits… nah!!! ;D Let’s ask somebody on the bike forums:

-They provided me with a website that said : “Chemical Compatibility Database” so I could just plug n play. Let’s see… Polypropylene in the Material section, and Acetone/Mineral Spirits in the other section…

-Bingo! PP can be compatible with Acetone with a grade of A-Excellent! Woohoo! I can use my contact lens case with Acetone!
Also, PP can be compatible with Mineral Spirits with a grade of B-Good! Oh yeah!

DISCLAIMER: I was NOT supposed to learn chemistry until this upcoming 10th grade… Oh well… ;D

Thanks for helping me out, you guys. I can now “play with toxic chemicals” without worries about the plastic case. Just kidding, I still have to take care not to drink it… Darn

(P.S.: The “Chemical Compatibility Database” REALLY HELPED. If anyone needs it, search it up or ask me. This could really help others in determining what they need to clean the bearing in and if it would work with any chemical."


Just use soap and water.


No problem man. Really, the stuff isn’t that bad. Keep in mind, a lot of nail polish remover is basically acetone, which is intended to be put on hands. I use the stuff daily in my machine shop so maybe I’m just numb to it but I’ve never had any reactions to it.

I wouldn’t use it in a jar you plan to eat/drink out of but I’m sure there’s plenty around you can use to simply clean a bearing. The stuff evaporates extremely fast so you won’t need to worry about disposing of it, just let it evaporate when you are finished. It won’t take much to flush the bearing. Even a plastic water bottle will be fine for the short time you need to clean the bearing. As long as you aren’t storing it in there.

Good luck man! Report back with results.


Yeah, because it’s a terrible idea to expect young people to be intelligent. His follow-up post sure shows that he needs our protection.

Every glass food container you’ve used in recent memory probably has a thin rubber seal on it. It’s integrated into the lid. Whether it’s likely to dissolve or not, I’m not sure. But if it IS reactive, it’s going to make a worse seal than the contact lens case. Recommending a non-reactive plastic that has a good seal is a much safer recommendation than a random food container with a questionable (or variable) sealing material. If it’s reactive the seal might fail and acetone will spray around during the shaking process. The recommendation was based partially ON safety, not in disregard to it.

Acetone is also not sulphuric acid. It’s not water, but it’s not as hazardous as people like to make it out to be. You wouldn’t be able to get it by the gallon off a shelf at Home Depot if it required that strict of control.

I don’t really think the attitude in your reply was warranted, Kyle.


I just like the fact its another bearing related thread!

278,000,983 and counting.


It’s not like I get “excited” to see the same topics over and over again… but consider this:

People continue to go to schools and take classes, despite there being a wealth of books on any given subject. When you are helping to create your own knowledge (by asking the questions yourself and by engaging in conversations with the “teachers” and other students) it is not only more rewarding but more likely to be retained.

In this case, the OP did the best possible thing and continued research on their own as well, showing not just a passive intake of information. And I have no doubt that the next step will be consolidation and further creation of knowledge by putting it into practice.

That all seems more worthwhile than just ignoring or providing a link to archived information.


And prior to all that ^ you do a search here and see all the wealth of information.


As far as I can tell, he did. Knowing that the choice seemed to be between acetone and mineral spirits showed a level of research.

Some people just want confirmation.

The “search” function just returns static results. These are the “books” in my analogy… there are plenty of books on algebra, so why do we bother taking classes? :wink:


You are asking the wrong guy. I don’t know why people do the things they do.

You always seem to know though.


Well… I did already answer the question, that was just rhetorical. We go to classes not for knowledge absorption but for knowledge creation. That doesn’t mean original thoughts, it means internalizing information to make it our own. You created all kinds of knowledge when you learned to powder coat!

And yes, I’m a know-it-all. It’s my curse. And apparently at least one other thread participant’s as well. :wink:


Part of the problem is the fact that the same individuals reply to the relentless onslaught of unnecessary “bearing” threads. Thus creating an acceptable mindset in these forums.


Two counter-arguments spring to mind:

  1. These are usually newcomers. They have no idea that a culture of acceptance for answering repeat questions has been created. They just want confirmation for their shaky research before committing to a process that they’re paranoid will potentially make their yoyo not work. :wink: They are a blank slate, oblivious to what has come before.

  2. If those same individuals (myself obviously being one of them) keep replying, it should mean nothing to you as you get to wipe your forehead and go, “phew, another one of those threads I don’t have to even consider answering…! Off the hook again!”