How to Clean a Dirt Bike Carburator?

If your bike is backfiring on accelerating or its engine is running lean, then the carburetor needs a cleanup. Dirt, dust, and varnish buildup from gasoline are the culprits to clog the pores of carburetor jets and ruining the bike’s overall performance.

Why Clean a Dirt Bike Carburetor?

The occasional use of your dirt bike thickens the gasoline and reduces the ability of carburetor parts to move properly. On the contrary, excessive use will increase the air intake and this air will dry out the gas in the carburetor. 

This leads to a sticky substance sticking to the walls of the carburetor causing the carburetor’s choke plates and throttle dirty and stuck. With regular carburetor cleaning, the bike’s engine will work properly and also prevents costly replacements.

A proper and regular carburetor clean-up will also help you 

  • To run the engine smoother for better performance
  • Increase fuel efficiency to save money
  • Prevents excess heat or wear on the engine components
  • Reduce harmful emissions and help the engine to run on optimal levels

How to Know if your dirt bike carburetor needs a cleanup?

Here are a few tips to know if the carburetor needs a cleanup.

1: Flooding:

When the bike’s spark plugs are wet it means the carburetor needs a clean-up. This happens when there is dirt in the fuel bowl and it blocks the needle valve preventing it from closing. The excessive fuel floods out wetting the spark plug.

2: Running rich:

The black smoke coming from the exhaust depicts that the engine runs rich. It means that there is less air and excessive fuel in the carburetor. This can even destroy the carburetor.

3: Running lean:

The popping or sneezing sound means that there is less fuel than air. It is the opposite situation in which the engine does not get enough fuel and you have to clean the carburetor.

4: Engine cranks up:

A dirty carburetor blocks the needle valve, preventing it from closing. This results in the engine turning over but no actual start. This means that the carburetor needs a quick and thorough cleaning.

Tools required:

All carburetors are not made the same way. So, get the service manual first to show you the tools required. Generally, tools that you need for cleanup are

  • Large and small screwdrivers
  • Allen wrench and socket wrench
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wire brush
  • Compressed air (or get the pressurized air cans at the local retails)
  • Carburetor cleaner
  • Rubber gloves and a few rags

Step by Step guide to clean a carburetor

Turn off the fuel supply:

Before removing the carburetor, turn off the primary fuel supply by using a small screw and drain the bike’s float chamber.  After that remove the slide and control cable to remove the carburetor easily.

Dismantle the carburetor:

First, turn the carburetor upside down. You will see either three or four screws retaining the float chamber. The bowl-shaped container on the carburetor is called a carburetor float. Remove these screws to open the carburetor float.

Remove the bolt holding this carburetor float. Varnish builds up at this point so be careful not to spill any gas residue. Now remove the pin at the float pivots and put it aside. Pull the float out of its casing.

Remove the float and jets

Once you remove the float chamber, you can see floats, the main jet, and the pilot jet. Remove the little pin that holds the floats in their place. Floats are delicate and have a pressed-in pin that is susceptible to breaking. Therefore, remove them carefully.

Now take a screwdriver and remove the main jet and pilot jet carefully. The main jet is the bigger one and controls the flow of fuel from idle to 1/3rd opening. On the other hand, the pilot jet controls the flow of the remaining two-thirds.

Both of these jets are more prone to getting clogged by dirt and cause lean running conditions during the throttle opening period. To fix this, you have to thoroughly clean the jets, especially the smaller ones. Also, remove the fuel-adjusting screw. 

Clean them all:

Put on your gloves and safety glasses. Take a mug or bowl, put the main jet and pilot jet in it, and spray the carb-cleaning solution on them. Grab the main jet and spray it from the inside out to push the impurities. Do the same with the pilot jet.

Now flush out all the dirt and debris by blowing jets through compressed air. If you can see the light passing through the holes of the pilot jet, it means it’s clean now. Repeat the same process with the main jet.

Spray off the floats and then dry them up with a clean rag. To clean the float chamber, soak it for a while in a carb-cleaning solution and then brush the impurities of the chamber. After brushing, spray the float chamber. Clean and dry it with a rag. If you see any green residue on these parts, scratch them off.

Reassemble the carburetor

Before reassembling the carburetor, spray the carb solution on the carburetor and blow it with compressed air. Now reverse the detaching process.  

Best Carb cleaning solutions

Here are the two main types of carburetor cleaners.

Chlorinated Cleaners Non-Chlorinated Cleaners
Contains toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Comprises less toxic compounds
Removes stubborn built-up contaminants in the carburetor Safer to use on plastic components
Banned in California Available at most of the auto parts stores across the USA.
Non-flammable More flammable

Carburetor cleaners are available in aerosol spray cans or dipping cans. Using aerosol spray propels the solution to the small openings of a carburetor, hence pushing the impurities with force. 

Dipping cans are not as popular as aerosol spray cans, yet they are suitable for cleaners who have lots of auto parts to clean.

Here are the 3 best carburetor cleaners.


It is a fast and effective cleaner for both the throttle and carburetor. When added with a straw, it pinpoints the stream of cleaner and breaks away stubborn contaminants.

Gumout Jet Spray

Not only cleans carburetors but is also proven to improve horsepower and fix rough idling behavior. It comes with a replaceable cap. The only drawback is that it’s not suitable for all types of components.

Super Tech

Tackles deposition and grime. Also, clean up the residue that makes the engine sluggish. Super Tech dries up fast and improves engine efficiency. It cleans well and unlink other chlorinated carb cleaners, it is Californai-compliant.

Tips to properly clean a dirt bike carburetor

  • Consider safety first. Wear safety glasses and safety gloves. Turn off the engine and let your bike cool down. 
  • Clean your bike’s carburetor on a clear floor. So that if you drop the small parts of the carb, you can find them easily.
  • Don’t forget to put a plain colored cloth below the carburetor to absorb dripping fuel and carb cleaner.
  • Be gentle on small parts like needles and valves as they can get damaged easily.
  • After removing the floats, drain them out and look for a little valve that is meant to stop the fuel flow. Give it a clean too.
  • Inspect for wear and tears like cracks or worn-out gaskets. You can catch these issues while cleaning and address them to avoid bigger problems.
  • Use pressurized air to remove the blockage by blowing air through the tiny components of the carb.

Frequently Asked Questions | How to Clean a Dirt Bike Carburetor

1:Can You Use Brake Cleaner to Clean a Dirt Bike Carburetor?

No, brake cleaners are not meant to clean carburetors.

2: How Often Do You Need To Clean The Carbs?

If the bike is in excessive use, clean the carburetors after every two weeks and if you are using it occasionally, clean it after one month.

3: How To Clean A Dirt Bike Carburetor Without Removing It?

Remove the bowl from the bottom of the carburetor and clean it by spraying cleaner inside it. After a few minutes spray the cleaner again into the hole until it’s covered and then let it dry.

4: What is an ultrasonic carb cleaner and how it works?

It is a device that uses high frequency to create bubbles. When these bubbles collapse they release energy to break dirt and debris from the carburetor. This technique is effective and time-saving as compared to other traditional methods.


Proper and regular carburetor cleaning is essential for a bike’s gross performance. However, cleaning should be done carefully as carburetor parts are too tiny and susceptible to lose. Also, wear protective gear because the carb-cleaning solvents are loaded with chemicals that may cause skin and eye irritation.

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