Mikuni TM33SS

Pine-Sol Carb Dip: Cleaning a Carburetor With Pine-Sol

After pulling the Mikuni TM33SS carburetor out of my 1990 Suzuki DR350 it was pretty clear this old carb needed some love. While exploring some options for cleaning it I stumbled across a lot of talk about using Pine-Sol for a nice budget degreaser.

Now, if you don’t believe me, well I’m not the only one who’s tried this.

Sounds crazy, but Pine-Sol proved to be a pretty effective cleaner. Here are some before & after pics, straight with action-packed video of the Pine-Sol at work on my old carb.

Pre-Cleaning Carb Pics:

Here’s the Mikuni TM33SS carburetor taken off a 1990 Suzuki DR350 with just a quick wash. Pretty grimy:

Mikuni TM33SS

Mikuni TM33SS

Things don’t get any prettier when we open her up:

Mikuni TM33SS

Float bowl isn’t looking too bad:

Mikuni TM33SS

Not the cleanest jets in the world:

Mikuni TM33SS

All taken apart:

Mikuni TM33SS parts

The Pine-Sol Dip

Like any cleanup, the process was pretty straightforward. After breaking it down and cleaning the excess grease & gunk with a toothbrush, carb cleaner and soap and water it was on to the Pine-Sol dip.

I used about 1/2 gallon of Pine-Sol, filled a closed plastic container enough to submerse the entire carburetor & all parts, and let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours at full strength. Some people dilute with water at 50/50 or so, but I can’t attest to how well that works.

Within just a few minutes, you could see some kind of chemical reaction occurring as the Pine-Sol broke down the buildup and grease on this carburetor:

Post-Cleanup Pics

After a 24 hour dunk, I pulled the parts, washed with warm water, and set them to dry.

Almost immediately I noticed some flash-rusting, or flash-corrosion, as a light white film appeared on much of the carb body. Not a huge deal, as it was very easy to wash away, but ideally I think washing thoroughly with soap and water and possibly rubbing (not dunking) the surfaces with some motor oil until dry could help prevent any such flash rusting. For more details on some of the stuff people have done to minimize this, check out the thread over at ADVRider.

Mikuni TM33SS residue

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Some of the brass parts, needles, etc. did suffer some discoloration and slight tarnishing. The residue you see on the needles below washed off with some elbow grease, but the discoloration is permanent as far as I can tell. I don’t believe this will affect their performance but we’ll find out when it gets back into action.

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After some light cleaning, I then did a dip in Evapo-Rust to get rid of some light rust spots, primarily on the bolts and surfaces of the hardware.

Evapo-Rust

Then everything was washed, dried, blasted every nozzle and crevice with compressed air & reassembled. Without any further scrubbing the entire carb came out looking pretty great.

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Not bad for $5 worth of floor cleaner.

In Conclusion

Apart from a few side effects that are easily cleaned up, with exception of the needle discoloration, Pine-Sol actually worked tremendously well. I suppose the aesthetics of a needle which you can’t even see are not a big deal but might bother some people.

It didn’t damage any of the plastic parts it was exposed to, however I would steer away from exposing anything non-metal or which you can’t easily clean by hand.

The Pros:

  1. It’s fairly cheap
  2. It’s not particularly dangerous or harmful (unless you decide to bathe in it or mix it with some vodka, in which case it probably wouldn’t be very healthy)
  3. It’s easy to find in most common household stores in the cleaning section
  4. Doesn’t cause damage to most plastic parts (although it can screw with some materials, so see below)

The Cons:

  1. Painted or anodized surfaces may be discolored or have the paint stripped, but this is avoidable
  2. It smells pretty strong – be prepared for some major piney freshness. Doesn’t have any of those glorious aromatic hydrocarbons like the heavy chemicals, but personally the smell doesn’t bother me
  3. Will definitely dry out your hands if you handle it too much – just wear some gloves

All in all a nice little trick for cleaning your carbs at home without strong chemicals or an ultrasonic cleaner. I’ll let you know how it performs and/or if my exhaust smells like pine for the next year. :)