I recently used some siphon tubing to remove some oil from my engine. This worked great until I realized I wasn't sure how I could clean the tube for reuse as I don't want to use a siphon tube that has old oil in it, just in case.

I was thinking of spraying brakes cleaner down the tube to remove the oil, but then I wasn't sure how I could remove the brakes cleaner from the tube after that without just rinsing it with water?

I've heard it's okay to use brakes cleaner to clean out oil filter housings, but accidently mixing brake cleaner with oil doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Can anyone give me some suggestions or advice as to wether I am thinking too much into this or what is best to use?


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    What are your fears here? What will the tube be used for in the future (exactly)? (Hopefully not for siphoning milk out of the milk jug.) Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 15:46
  • @Paulster2 no sorry, I should've clarified. nothing like that! The tube will only be used for siphoning oil. So in future when I use it I would like to avoid having brake cleaner or old oil stuck in the tube, so that it doesn't contaminate my new oil. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:16
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    @SeanChapman : Brake cleaner is volatile and leaves no or very little residue. This should not be a concern at all.
    – Zaid
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:18
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    @SeanChapman Since you will be using it to remove oil, not to add more liquid to the engine, I would not be too concerned by that. However, siphoning oil is not the best way to make an oil change, you don't get out all the really heavy stuff concentrated down at the bottom of the sump.
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 17:22
  • @ALANWARD good comment, thanks Alan. I did some reading into that before and I actually change my oil via the sump plug for that reason. The siphon tubing is for if I accidently put a bit too much in, and for getting any last bits out that didn't come out of the sump plug (haven't tried that so it will probably be impossible anyway) Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 20:11

2 Answers 2


As @Zaid stated in his comment, brake cleaner is volatile and leaves little to no residue behind ... it's how it's designed to work. The only fear I'd have is if the brake cleaner might degrade the siphon tube over time, but then oil itself may have a caustic affect on the tube as well, depending on what it's made out of. In my approximation, if you have no fear of using it for oil, brake cleaning fluid would be a great way of getting it clean between uses.

  • Great, thank you both. I will try a little brake cleaner on some spare pipe just to make sure it doesn't degrade it in the short term at least. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:34
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    @SeanChapman - I wouldn't have any fear of it degrading over the short term. I was thinking more long term, but even then I doubt you'll have any issues. It will work way better than water would, that's for sure! Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:35

Not that it helps you now, but...

I'm assuming you did this because the oil was over-full. An easier way to fix this in the future is to remove the oil filler cap and place the hose of a running vacuum cleaner or shop vac over it. This creates lower pressure in the crankcase, allowing you to remove the drain plug and have little/no oil come out. Then remove the vacuum and allow some oil to flow out. After you think enough has drained out, put the vacuum hose back in place to stop the flow and reinstall the drain plug. No mess and simple to do.

  • Interesting idea! Definitely hadn't thought of that. Not sure if it would be that much easier for me personally. I can see bad things happening with a hoover in the oil filler cap... Last time I tried to drain a bit of oil out the sump plug fell into the drip tray and it was a nightmare getting it back in again before all of the oil spilled out. Something I am heavily avoiding in the future ;) Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 22:12
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    I used to work at several oil change places and co-workers were always SHOCKED when I'd bring out the shop vac to do this and it worked. In the dozens of times I've done this I never had an issue. The vac is strong enough to hold the oil up, but not strong enough to pull any from the pan.
    – Nick G
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 22:29
  • Well that is ingenious for sure! I don't think I would do this with our household vac though ;) Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:10

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