What’s best to clean my bearings with?

decided to do a little rainy day yo-yo maintenance and realized i only have alcohol. is that ok to use to clean my bearings. i already deshielded them and I’m ready to clean. most are steel but a couple are ceramic if that matters. what’s the best chemical to use? any advice is appreciated.

I recommend just buying a new bearing and if not try to lube it with YoYoTricks light lube

Have you looked here: Useful modification & maintenance guides - Axles,Clean, repair, tune, fix yoyos

of good info…

p.s. No need to buy a new one.


I use 91% rubbing alcohol. Because I keep it in the house anyway. It doesn’t smell much, and you can buy it at the any store. Works great. However most of the time just taking the shields off and blowing the bearing out with compressed air, is all that is needed.

Acetone is one of the best imo. If you do use isopropyl use 90% or higher. Itll work but still not ideal.


I have always used mineral spirits. But that’s mostly because I’ve got it handy in the shop.

It cleans and lubricates at the same time (it contains a small percentage of oil which, together with the construction of the light, allows the resistance of the flame to the wind)

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Zippo is my favorite, though I am totally unaware of the lube aspect.

  • Pure acetone
  • 99% rubbing alcohol
  • Lighter fluid

All work well, I’m personally not a fan of lighter fluid because of the flammability risk issue myself, but it all works!

I think acetone is as or more flammable than lighter fluid.


Yeah after reading the list again I guess all that stuff is kinda flammable!

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Acetone evaporates too fast, leaves a residue on the bearing as do most all quick evaporating solvents. Lighter fluid does not evaporate quickly and leaves no residue.

I use mineral spirits and it works quite well. No downside that I know of.

Pure acetone? It gets recommended a ton by lots of people. Are you sure you are not thinking of cheap nail polish remover with additives?

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Acetone evaporates quickly. Frank Difeyo says on his website that quick evaporating solvents leave a residue on the bearing. A lot of people recommend brake cleaner as well, it too is fast evaporating.

Nail polish remover is worse yet due to the additives.

Hmm, well, I’ve seen lots of very experienced yo-yo folks recommend pure acetone many many times, based on their personal use of it as a cleaning agent – including @Tvelto in his cleaning video! So I’m gonna disagree with you on this one, unless you have tangible scientific evidence to the contrary.

(Personally I prefer 99% rubbing alcohol for cleaning, so I have no particular dog in this race. But I don’t find “evaporates too fast, thus…” compelling evidence.)

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In the words of the master himself…

My experience with acetone in other applications bears out the fast evaporation.

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What it actually says is

Paint thinner or grease remover such as Gunk … Engine Degreaser can be used… and found in auto supply stores. But keep in mind they can evaporate too fast and leave dry residue in the bearing that causes the bearing not to spin freely after cleaning.

I don’t see any reference to acetone there? Paint thinner is mineral spirits, so this really should be directed at @vegabomb then :wink:

Nah. All mineral spirits are paint thinners. Not all paint thinners are mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits are much cleaner than paint thinners. I use odorless which is very refined.

I was googling around and found a watch & clock forum where they were discussing similar solvent issues:

Based on their discussion (plus some other searches) it looks like you can cool metals and cause moisture to condense on them if your solvent evaporates quickly.

I personally use mineral spirits, but I also haven’t been doing this too long so I have no first-hand experience with the long-term effects.

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