Here Are the Best Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner Alternatives

Every part of your car is essential to the proper functioning of the vehicle; hence, all parts must be subjected to regular cleaning and maintenance. One of the essential maintenance of a vehicle’s part is the mass air flow sensor (MAF) cleaning which is vital to the proper functioning of the car.

It’s important to know that a dirty MAF sensor might result in many visible issues such as dark exhaust or engine hesitation.

How Do I Clean My MAF Sensor Without a Maf Cleaner?

You might wonder if there is another alternative for cleaning your MAF sensor, especially if you run out of the cleaner or are unable to purchase it when you need it. You might want to try other options which will help you get the job done without adverse effects on your car.

mass air flow sensor

Rubbing alcohol is a trendy cleaner that might come in handy. It is not only effective in dislodging dirt stuck to the sensor but also has a fast-drying time. Ideally, after cleaning your car’s MAF sensor, it should be dry before starting your vehicle to avoid any complications.

Cleaning your MAF sensor with a regular cleaner is quite similar to rubbing alcohol. The first step is locating the sensor, usually under the hood. You might want to check behind the air filter as that’s the position for most cars. The MAF sensor has to be removed to be cleaned properly.

Before you remove the MAF sensor, it’d be best to check the car’s service manual on how to do that. After removal, the MAF sensor is sprayed on all parts, including corners and wires, with isopropyl alcohol.

However, the wires should not be rubbed after spraying because they are very delicate and can be damaged. The alcohol will clean the wires without having to rub them. The wet MAF sensor should then be placed on a dry rag to allow it to dry completely before returning to the car.   

What Can I Use Instead of a MAF Cleaner?

If you need to clean your car’s MAF sensor and have run out of regular MAF sensor cleaners, you might consider using one of the following items which you might have on hand.

1. Non-residue electronic cleaners

Electronic cleaners are a good alternative for cleaning your MAF sensors as they work in similar ways to a regular MAF sensor cleaner. However, when choosing an electronic cleaner, it’d be best to go for one without residue to not affect the MAF sensor after it is reattached.

2. Rubbing alcohol

This is one of the best options available if you ever need an alternative to clean your car’s MAF sensor. This is because, unlike regular cleaners, rubbing alcohol does not affect the MAF sensor negatively. Common cleaners sometimes leave behind a not-so-favorable effect after some time.

3. WD-40

WD-40 is another alternative that can clean your MAF sensor but should only be used when you’re all out of options. This is because this cleaning agent can cause side effects that might affect the proper functioning of the sensor.

WD-40 can leave behind residues that coat the sensor wires and might cause misinterpretation due to disruption of air flow. Therefore, if you ever have to use WD-40, it is best to ensure that no residues are left after drying.

Related content: Why would a car run better with the mass air flow sensor unplugged?

What Is MAF Cleaner Made Of?

You might wonder what MAF cleaners are made of since they tend to dry fast without alcohol use. Well, the components of the cleaners are majorly hexane-based. Hence, they dry up fast and without even leaving behind residues.

Does Cleaning the MAF Sensor Improve Mpg?

You might have noticed that MAF sensor cleaners’ improvement of MPG is commonly advertised on the tins. So, does cleaning the MAF sensor have any effect on the MPG? The way an air filter affects the vehicle’s fuel economy is quite similar to a MAF sensor.

If the air filter is clogged with dirt, the engine has to work extra to ensure enough air, which increases the fuel used during each drive. A dirty MAF sensor being unable to measure the density and temperature of air precisely might also work the engine more, thus increasing fuel consumption.

If your car is consuming too much fuel, you might want to check the state of the MAF sensor, but it is also important to note that it is not the only contributor to bad fuel economy. Hence, other factors must also be considered.

How Do I Know If My MAF Sensor Is Dirty?

MAF sensors are often clogged with dirt manifest on the vehicle by limiting its performance. Here are common symptoms that might alert you of a dirty MAF sensor;

  • The car might be difficult to start. Since a car needs both air and fuel to start, a dirty MAF sensor might be unable to gauge the amount of air; hence, you might end up with excess air.
  • Your car might be releasing a black exhaust. A black exhaust often results from excess fuel which might occur if the engine is relaying correct signals to the ECU.
  • As aforementioned if you’re experiencing poor fuel economy, you might want to ensure your MAF sensor is in a healthy state.
  • You might also have issues accelerating your vehicle due to poor fuel and air balance.

Related content: Why does my car shake after an oil change?

How Long Does It Take for MAF to Dry After Cleaning?

After cleaning your MAF sensor, you should leave it out on a paper towel or a dry rag to catch excess cleaning agent and properly dry. The drying time varies depending on the cleaning agent used, but you might want to wait for an hour to ensure that the MAF sensor is thoroughly dried.


Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean a mass air flow sensor?

Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol to clean a MAF sensor. However, make sure to use it sparingly as too much of it might damage the delicate components of the sensor. Also, use a clean and dry cloth when wiping off the sensors.

Can you clean a mass air flow sensor with WD40?

Yes, WD 40 is safe for mass air flow sensors. However, just like rubbing alcohol, make sure to use it sparingly as too much of it might damage the delicate components of the sensor. Also, use a clean and dry cloth when wiping off the sensors.

Can you use brake cleaner to clean a mass air flow sensor?

Yes, you can use brake cleaner to clean a mass air flow sensor. However, just like the other cleaners, ensure you are not spraying too much as it might damage the sensor’s components. Use a clean and dry cloth to wipe it off and allow a couple of hours before putting the MAF sensor back.

Can you use starting fluid to clean a mass air flow sensor?

No, you cannot use starting fluid to clean a mass air flow sensor. Starting fluid is incredibly flammable and can easily damage the delicate components of the sensor. Use another type of cleaner instead.

Can you use throttle body cleaner on MAF sensor?

Using a throttle body cleaner on your MAF sensor is not the best idea, as it might wash off the film some MAF sensors have on their body.


A clean MAF sensor must be ensured at all times as it will improve your vehicle’s performance. Cleaning a MAF sensor is not so difficult, but a non-residue cleaning agent is the best option because residues might tamper with the effectiveness of the sensor.

If your car’s MAF sensor isn’t still working correctly after cleaning, you might want to consult a mechanic as it might require replacement.