Is Brake Fluid Harmful to Skin?

Brake fluid has the potential to erode even metallic components. It can react with some metals and eat away their surfaces. If brake fluid has the potential to corrode metals, then it can easily harm your exposed skin. Many who come in contact with it don’t perceive any danger it poses to the skin but repeated contact with skin can cause irritation. This brings the main question, is brake fluid harmful to skin? We shall answer that question first and then look at what happens when this fluid comes in contact with your skin.

is brake fluid harmful to skin

Is brake fluid harmful to skin?

Yes, brake fluid is harmful to the skin. Many have commented about brake fluid on skin issues. The key indicator is that the fluids have a composition of corrosive chemicals that can cause harm the skin. The severity of the skin irritation may vary between different people. Those with sensitive skin will have extended irritations compared to others. On the other hand, when brake fluid gets on the skin, there is always an attempt to get absorbed into the skin. The toxicity of this liquid can easily harm the skin after absorption. That is why it is wise to avoid direct contact with it at all costs.

What happens if brake fluid gets on the skin?

Brake fluid is a critical component in vehicle maintenance, but it poses several health and safety risks that should be taken seriously. Here is an overview of the health hazards associated with brake fluid:

Health Hazards

  1. Skin Contact:
    • Irritation: Brake fluid can cause skin irritation, including redness and itching.
    • Dermatitis: Prolonged exposure of brake fluid on skin can lead to dermatitis, characterized by dry, cracked skin.
    • Absorption: Some types of brake fluid can be absorbed through the skin, potentially causing systemic toxicity.
  2. Eye Contact:
    • Severe Irritation: Brake fluid can cause severe eye irritation, leading to redness, pain, and potential damage to the cornea.
    • Chemical Burns: In extreme cases, exposure can result in chemical burns and vision impairment.
  3. Inhalation:
    • Respiratory Irritation: Inhaling brake fluid fumes can irritate the respiratory tract, causing coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation.
  4. Ingestion:
    • Toxicity: Is brake fluid toxic? Brake fluid in mouth or ingesting is highly toxic and can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, central nervous system depression, and even kidney damage.

Can brake fluid cause burns?

Does brake fluid burn? Yes, brake fluid can cause burns on your skin. There are some types of metals that can even be consumed by the same fluid. This explains why mild skin burns are imminent when you are using brake fluid. Some types of brake fluid can be fatal than others. In most of them, brake fluid burn can be manageable and preventable.

While some types of brake fluid can offer less dangerous side effects, the problem is real. It requires attention to ensure that you observe all precautions before it is too late. Brake fluid can also be more dangerous when it ends up on a child’s skin.

Safety precautions while using brake fluid in a car

The safety precautions vary according to the brake fluid in use. All safety precautions come with one anchor objective – To avoid direct contact with the fluid. Below are some precautions that are not meant for a particular type of brake fluid. The list below does not just focus on dot 4 brake fluid or any other. Therefore, here are some precautions that health experts have recommended when handling brake fluid:

Safety measures:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Gloves: Wear chemical-resistant gloves to prevent brake fluid on hands contact.
    • Safety Glasses: Use safety glasses or goggles to protect eyes from splashes.
    • Protective Clothing: Wear long sleeves and pants to minimize skin exposure.
  2. Ventilation:
    • Ensure proper ventilation when working with brake fluid to avoid inhaling fumes. Use in a well-ventilated area or employ exhaust ventilation systems if indoors.
  3. Handling and Storage:
    • Containers: Store brake fluid in its original, tightly closed containers.
    • Labeling: Ensure containers are clearly labeled with hazard warnings.
    • Spills: Clean up spills immediately using appropriate absorbent materials and dispose of them according to local regulations.
  4. Emergency Measures:
    • Skin Contact: Rinse immediately with plenty of water. Remove contaminated clothing and wash thoroughly.
    • Eye Contact: Flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
    • Inhalation: Move to fresh air and seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
    • Ingestion: Do not induce vomiting; seek immediate medical assistance.
  5. Training and Awareness:
    • Educate all personnel handling brake fluid about the potential hazards and proper safety procedures.
    • Maintain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) accessible to all employees.

Environmental Considerations

  • Disposal: Brake fluid should be disposed of as hazardous waste. Do not pour it down drains, sewers, or on the ground.
  • Spill Response: Use spill kits designed for chemical spills to manage brake fluid spills effectively.

By following these safety guidelines, you can minimize the health risks associated with brake fluid and ensure a safe working environment.

Using Hand Gloves for Brake Fluid

Additional precautions can be added to the list depending on the type of brake fluid at hand.

How do you neutralize brake fluid?

When you get brake fluid on your hands or any other part of your body, you can neutralize it. If it messes up your hands, you can rinse them with lots of water. This is the first method of neutralizing brake fluid. By using a lot of water, its corrosive pigments are neutralized.

Apart from using water, you can also use solvents. These come in a variety and have been refined over the years. This method is useful when brake fluid is left on a surface you can easily touch. You can also use the same method when cleaning parts you need to reuse.


Is brake fluid bad to skin? Yes, it is. That is why you have to take all precautions when handling it. The safest way is to use eye protection when applying it. You can also use gloves and other protective clothing to avoid direct contact with the skin. There is no need to take things for granted. Even if some side effects are mild, it is best to abide by all safety precautions and keep safe.   


Mr. Shafiqule Islam is a graduated Mechanical Engineer and has more than 15 years experience of repairing and maintenance of different brand vehicles like Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc. He is also giving training to Mechanics. He has started writing to share his practical knowledge to Vehicle Owners, Drivers and Mechanics to keep their cars at best fit.

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