Substitute Acetone?


I heard you can use gasoline, lighter fluid, and soy sauce. Is this true?


You can definitely use lighter fluid and I suspect gasoline would work (but don’t quote me on that one). I highly doubt soy sauce would work because when that dries, it pretty much turns into salt which will cause all sorts of issues inside a bearing.



lighter fluid (the kind for Zippos is naptha) is a commonly-used solvent for cleaning bearings.

Gasoline I don’t know enough about, but I suspect it has too much oil content to actually be good for cleaning.

Soy Sauce; don’t believe everything you read. :wink: If you DID try to use it, you’d have to rinse it off. In which case, you might as well be using water.


I’d like to know where he read about using soy sauce!?


HaruRay posted a thread containing this advice. The short version is that some yoyoers back in the day gave it a try on a whim and it worked “amazingly well”. So it’s a story about a story.

I don’t buy it. Don’t use soy sauce people. Bearings aren’t the most delicate things in the world, which is why it may have seemed to work in the short term. But in the long term this just isn’t going to be a great idea. And if you DO rinse it the soy sauce off-- again, it could be coincidence and “rinsing in liquids” (the sauce and then the water) are what really did the trick. Not the content of the soy sauce itself.


There’s been a set of trends going on recently:

1: I want to clean a bearing with lube.

2: I don’t want to clean my bearing, yet I need to clean my bearing and I’m not gonna buy a new bearing.

3: I don’t want to clean my bearing out right. Whatever is the wrong stuff and wrong way, that’s how I’m gonna do it.

4: Tell me how to do it, then I’m gonna do it wrong anyways.

There’s no substitute for using acetone. Use acetone. Do not use the nail polish removing acetone, because while it has acetone, it has other stuff in there you do NOT want in your bearing, so you’ll just end up having to use 100% pure acetone to clean it out anyways.

If you don’t want to use acetone, there are other suitable solvents to use. Mineral spirits works well. Lighter fluid also works good. Another term for mineral spirits is paint thinner. There’s also a “low fume” mineral spirit that looks milky, but people are reporting results of the same as regular mineral spirits.

There are other options for being ghetto about it. I’m making a specific product recommendation for using Dawn dishwashing soap since this particular product is probably one of the best household options for breaking down and removing oils, as well as being safe and gentle on hands. Heck, they use it to clean off ducks and otters and other critters caught in oil spills. If you can blow the bearing dry, there’s really no risk of rust and corrosion. I’m even debating buy a small compressor just so I don’t have to worry about those office dusters running out on me.

In my experience, I am getting the best results using acetone. I also like to use Terrapin X Dry Play on my bearings, which requires acetone, but even so, I have discovered for me, acetone just seems to work better. Also, acetone was actually cheaper for me than mineral spirits for the same quantity.

Regardless of how you go about it, just do it right. There’s more than one “right way” to clean a bearing.


As others have stated, you simply need a non-polar solvent. Acetone, mineral spirits, lighter fluid, and gasoline all fall under this category. These will all dissolve oils and lift away dirt well enough for our purposes. You are not going to be able to tell what solvent a bearing was cleaned in by playing with it. Gasoline should be avoided because it is the most volatile of all of these solvents as well as being a known carcinogen.

It isn’t a recent trend. These questions have been asked since the first person mentioned bearing cleaning on forums. You can choose to either help the newer yo-yoers along or you can whine and complain about how they inconvenience you.

The discussions recommending soy sauce are what is known as satire.


I think people need to have this pointed out from time to time.

Notice how I managed to point it out AND provide help?


Lighter fluid is what I have used recently. It is a great cleaning solution and is quite cheap. Just make sure to be careful when using the fluid.


All other things aside I’m going to say avoid gasoline because its expensive and more useful in other avenues compared to the rest of the solvents… I probably go thought lighter fluid the second most; I use paint thinner once every other year at the most?


Just a note on nail polish remover, it actually does work incredibly well for cleaning a bearing. I used to exclusively clean my skateboard bearings with the stuff, and those are definitely much more susceptible to dirt and debris than a yoyo bearing is. They spun very smoothly afterwards. (as in going from ~2-3 seconds of spinning, to 15-20)

@n01mportant: 1 gallon of acetone at home depot will run you atleast 15 bucks. I hope gas where you live isn’t more expensive than that, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was. :wink:


I said its expensive and more useful. Not more expensive. But it does take around 100 dollars to fill my wife’s car. I could probably poor gasoline down the drain slower than her SUV uses it too. :wink: