it shouldn't hurt anything. as long no cig's or flame is around. right?
Static from your clothes can set it off. Ever take your coat off and get zapped by the first thing you touch?. Any steel on steel contact can set it off. Ever drop a wrench on a conctete floor in the dark? They spark.Take it from a guy whose been there . Don't use gas for cleaning. Don't store it in an open container. If it's not in your gas tank, don't have it in you shop. Build a small ventilated box to keep it in outside. If gasoline were introduced as a fuel today it would never be approved because of it's highly volatle unstable nature.
If the crud is really that bad, get it media blasted, preferably with walnut shell. If you get it glass beaded in the runners, throw it away and buy a new one or scrub the runners with soap and hot water till your arms feel like they're about to fall off, the do it about twice that long again. The beads are killer if they get in your motor. Another thing you could do is get some carb cleaner and scrub with a wire brush. Don't forget eye and skin protection.