how to clean a spark plug

6 Quick & Proven Ways on How to Clean a Spark Plug

Each component of your vehicle is crucial for ensuring the optimal performance of your ride. Healthy spark plugs are pivotal for keeping your vehicle running in peak condition.

Therefore, it’s critical l to learn how to clean spark plugs if you want an instant start every time. This is what we’ll be covering in this guide.

Why Do Spark Plugs Become Dirty?

There are several reasons a spark plug might get dirty or fouled. One such reason could be an air-to-fuel ratio that is too rich. This often occurs as a result of an incorrect carburetor setting. Damaged valve seals or inferior piston rings can also be the culprit that lets engine oil leak into the combustion chambers.

Long periods of idling or slow running can also produce the issue, as the plug might be running at a temperature that’s not high enough to burn the fuel-air mixture. With time, plugs in a 2-stroke engine will begin to collect oil, fuel, or carbon deposits. Professional mechanic should diagnose these faults by inspecting your spark plugs and determining the best course of action to rectify the issue.

What is the Best Way to Clean Spark Plugs?

You can efficiently clean the spark plugs by utilizing either of the following means:

1. Cleaning Spark Plugs with Abrasives

Apply the following steps and learn how to clean a spark plug with abrasives.

  • Use 180 grit sandpaper on the electrode – At the end of the plug, find the small piece of metal that extends from the plug – the electrode. If the electrode doesn’t look like bare metal, ensure you keep sanding it until it prevents any damage;
  • File down the impurity on the electrode if it’s very dirty – If sandpaper doesn’t do the work, the spark plug should be replaced. However, if you have to give it a quick fix right away, you can utilize a small file between the electrode and the plug, moving back and forth to clean the metal;
  • Use the wire brush – Scrub the threads with the wire brush from a perpendicular angle to the spark plug to eliminate the gunk, then scrubbing from other angles to make the maximum effect when cleaning the threads.
  • Apply the spark plug cleaner spray – Spray the device with plug cleaner (Air Duster, Ministry of Supply, CRC Electrical Parts Cleaner, etc.) and wipe it down. It’ll easily clean the grime. After this, it evaporates promptly so the pairs can dry quickly.
  • Repeat the process for every plug – Once that first plug is clean, reinstall it and reconnect the plug wire that goes with it. Then you have to rerun the process with each plug to complete the steps.
Cleaning Spark Plugs with Abrasives

2. Blow Torch Method

Follow the cleaning procedure below on how to clean spark plug with a blow torch.

  • Grip the spark plug with pliers on the end the wires connect to – Make a firm grip on the plug and hold it firmly so that you don’t risk damaging the device but that it also stays safe in your hands;
  • Wear the gloves and ignite the torch – Turn the knob on the propane or gas torch to let the gas flow, and then put an ignition source in front of the nozzle. Once this has been done, hold the plug’s end in the flame until it’s red. The torch will burn the debris and carbon off of the spark plug and rotate the device from side to side until the end of the device, and the electrode is glowing red hot;
  • Allow the plug to cool, and don’t touch it with your fingers – Let it cool for 5 minutes, and then return to typical colors before reinstalling it in the mechanism. Once it’s cool and you can reinstall it, repeat the process for each plug. Reconnect the plug wire and move on to the next plug until they’re all clean.
Blow Torch Method

3. Cleaning Spark Plug with Air Compressor

This might be a good option when you want to clean your spark plugs efficiently.

  • Disconnect the negative terminal on the battery – It looks like a plastic box with two terminals sticking out of the top, so be sure you find the negative terminal that has the sign, minus, negative. Loosen the bolt keeping the cable on the terminal and then slide off the terminal;
  • Locate the plugs near the engine – Find the plug wires where they connect the plugs and then let them to the openings in the cylinder head for reach. There will be one plug and one cable for each cylinder in the engine. If you can’t find your plugs in the vehicle, then you should look at the owner’s manual to discover where the plugs are located;
  • Use a compressed air can to blow debris out of the spark – Once you have found where the plugs are screwed in, you can clean all of the gunk and dirt out of the area to stop it from falling into the engine cylinders. If any debris or dirt falls into the cylinder, it could cause severe engine damage.
Cleaning Spark Plug with Air Compressor

4. Gasoline Technique

If you can’t get other types of spark plug cleaners, you should try out gasoline that might be what you need to clean the spark plug effectively. When you use gasoline, you can rub it onto the plug. You can then rub any dirt particles that form on the spark plug utilizing a suitable type of brush. This will ensure that the spark is polished up.

As you can see, you can quickly learn how to clean a spark plug with gasoline as It’s not as complicated as many of the alternatives.

5. WD-40 Formula

WD-40 Formula

6. Reinstalling the Clean Spark Plug

The last technique you can conduct is to reinstall the clean spark plugs.

  • Use a gap tool to set right the gap between the electrode and the plug – Check the service manual to locate the plugs’ measurement and then insert a gap tool into the space between the electrode and the plug body.
  • Take a tool to measure the gap – Pry the electrode further from the body to press it closer. Put the plug in the socket with the threads facing out. The socket has a rubber grommet that will keep the plug in place as you lower it down to the motor, making it easier to thread the spark plug. Then, insert the plug and turn it clockwise to seat it. Make sure you don’t cross-thread your plugs, which can arise from over-tightening;
  • Tighten the plug with a socket wrench – Once the plug is snugly seated in the right place, connect a ratchet to the extension and finish tightening it. Ensure the spark plug is secure and don’t put too much force on the wrench;
  • Reattach the plug wire to the plug – Hold the plug wire by the boot near the end and press down firmly to expose the plug’s end sticking out of the engine.
Reinstalling the Clean Spark Plug

How to Clean Iridium Spark Plugs?

This can be done by using a carburetor cleaner or fuel injector, and you’ll be able to get successful results. After using the cleaners, you can get a dry cloth, a brush, or even use air pressure to blow away any dirt particles that might be left behind after the cleaning. The iridium plugs are designed to be long-lasting, unlike most of the plugs on the market today.

They’re designed in such a way that they don’t require to be frequently cleaned and serviced as the other types. It’s good to have these types of spark plugs being used for longer periods, yet they are still in good condition.


How Often Should I Clean Spark Plugs?

There is no exact timeframe on which you should clean the spark plugs, but it must be done regularly. You should check the spark plug condition whenever you get the chance to get under the hood of your vehicle.

If you notice oil deposits on the spark plug or that they appear dark due to carbon deposits, then you will have to get them cleaned. You should also know that having a dirty plug will limit its ability to perform well when producing sparks with the air and fuel mixture.

Regular cleaning of the spark plug and getting rid of either oil or carbon deposits will improve their performance and increase their lifespan. A spark plug that’s dirty most of the time has to work harder than required to produce an adequate spark. It shortens its life, and you might have to replace them.

Yes, brake cleaner can be used in the spark cleaning. It’s a cleaning agent that has been used successfully in cleaning almost any vehicle parts. This option is effective since it works efficiently and also dries off the surface of the parts quickly.

When you use this solution, you should spray it onto the plug and then use a clean cloth to wipe off any dirt particles. If the spark plugs are covered with too much dirt, it’s highly recommended to use a wire brush for the stubborn dirt particles.

Yes, seafoam is an excellent alternative that can be used to clean the spark plug and other parts of the engine close to the spark plug. This would also work to coat the spark plug’s surface when you don’t want to use the car. It would be useful if you want to store the vehicle away in the garage for a while. It works better than the abrasives that might cause the spark plug’s surface more susceptible to dirt particles. As such, you should opt for this method and similar ones that would be highly efficient.

Culver City Spark Plug Specialists

Does your vehicle seem tired and not quite ready to start the day? It may be time to replace spark plugs! Our Culver City spark plug replacement and repair service conducted according to your manufacturer’s recommendation helps ensure optimal performance. 

Our ASE-certified mechanics specialize in servicing all makes and models and have years of experience replacing spark plugs and ignition coils. For more information, call us at (424) 372-9120 or fill out the form below to schedule a spark plug inspection and replacement.