I'm replacing the brake shoes on the rear drum brakes of a 1997 Y10 Nissan Wingroad. When fitting the new brake shoes the shoe lining became contaminated with grease from my hands. What's the best way to clean the lining? I read somewhere else that rubbing alcohol can be used. What about brake cleaner?

UPDATE: I cleaned the lining with isopropyl alcohol. It seems to have got most of it off but I think it would be just about impossible to remove all trace of the contamination.

In the photo below, the top shoe was one I cleaned. The bottom one was uncontaminated.

enter image description here

  • 1
    I've always been under the impression once you get grease on the lining, they are pretty much toast. You could try brake cleaner or acetone, but don't be surprised if you still see the grease stains on the material. This WILL affect braking performance. Dec 23, 2020 at 2:32
  • That's what I was afraid of. It's hard to avoid as grease got onto the shoes from the grease points and then onto my hands. I will use a clean rag when handling them from now on. I will try some isopropyl alcohol and see how that goes.
    – jrcollins
    Dec 23, 2020 at 3:09
  • Fitted loads and never did that - pliers and cleaned hands after greasing...
    – Solar Mike
    Dec 23, 2020 at 5:33
  • @SolarMike, it's my first time fitting brakes. My hands were clean to start with but fumbling around with the springs etc, grease got onto my hands and then onto the lining. Also, I wasn't aware of just how critical it is to keep the lining free of contamination. What about putting tape over the lining to keep it clean?
    – jrcollins
    Dec 23, 2020 at 7:35
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    @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2, I might just have to suck it up and buy a new set. I've been doing a bit of research online and it seems even the cleaning process itself can have an adverse effect on the linings. With something like brakes you don't want to be taking any chances.
    – jrcollins
    Dec 23, 2020 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


If it is just hand print marks etc from handling it, clean it with brake cleaner from the parts store. The remaining residue that you may see (very slight) will dissipate nearly immediately during initial break in.

Recommend using latex gloves and switch to new one when you do the install.

  • I ended up buying another set to be on the safe side. As you can see from the photo, I was unable to completely remove the grease. They're probably still usable but all things considered, I think it would be wise to replace them anyway. I plan to cover the lining with tape when installing the new ones and remove it after everything is in place.
    – jrcollins
    Dec 23, 2020 at 23:41

The best way and Cheapest way

Best way : Buy brake parts cleaner, it's like an injector / carburetor cleaner but specialized for brake parts. Brand : Prestone, WD-40, etc (check amazon "brake cleaner")

Cheapest way : Use gasoline, i'm not kidding you or joking, this is my knowledge from working with my father and several mechanic in my country. although is dangerous for inhaling a gasoline gas this is the cheapest way and pretty much works. Gasoline will vapourized quickly it will leaves you a clean and dry parts (but pretty much is smell like gasoline). Don't working with gasoline in closed area (no ventilation) you will get dizzy and high (if inhale too much) and dangerous working with cigarette on mouth

How to use it : -pour gasoline in place like cup or bowl -use brush, dip your brush in gasoline, and wash your parts with it. -if the grease too much, pour gasoline into a bigger bowl that fit your parts, dip it and brush that grease.

Rubbing alcohol will NOT cleaning grease, it just make it worse because swiping movements will leave your parts more greasy

note : Gasoline is good for cleaning "rubber adhesive" trace too.

edit : after you done clean it with gasoline, leave it until completely dry, you can quickening it with a fan or under the sun.

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