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You DEFINITELY need to bleed the brakes. As soon as you disconnect any bake line, no matter what the location, it will let air into the system, and will make the pedal feel spongy. You also risk excessive pressure buildup, which could lead to a brake line failing, and most likely air in the brake caliper, which if run without brake fluid could seize the caliper.
To bleed the brakes, you will need another person to help you.
1. Have a friend pump the brakes 4-5 times.
2. On the last pump, have them hold the brake pedal firmly down, and HOLD it down.
3. While they are holding the pedal down, unscrew the bleeder screw a full turn on the caliper. This will release the air trapped in the line/caliper. Make sure the brake pedal is still being pressed. Releasing the brake pedal with the bleeder screw still open will let more air into the line, and will defeat the bleeding process.
4. Make sure to tighten the bleeder screw back, and have friend let go of the pedal, and re-pump the brakes to build up pressure. Repeat step 3, 4-5 times, until nothing but fluid comes from the bleeder valve, and all air is removed from the system. Also make sure to top off your brake fluid during this process, as you will need to add more.
As far as using brake cleaner, you need to spray the surface of the rotor, front and back, before installation. A brake rotor comes with an anti-corrosion coating that needs to be removed before use. Its possible that the brake pads can absorb the coating.
As for rust, its always a good idea to clean all of the parts while its apart.