[SOLVED] cleaning with 70% ethyl alcohol

Dec 15, 2021
13
0
10
0
I have ethyl alcohol 70% that solds in pharmacy to for hands can i use them to remove thermal paste and clean pc components like fans or any pc part
 

Satan-IR

Distinguished
Ambassador
I wouldn't use that. Best is +95% Isypropyl alcohol.

These are usually some softer alcohol like ethanol with glycol (both include hydroxyl groups -OH) to remove fatty stains and fingerprints and so on. This might be OK to clean fan blades and such but not so much for the CPU/GPU die where there's themral paste. There are impurities that might leave stains.

And whatever you do don't spray anything on the boards/parts. First spray the fluid/liquid on a soft cloth and then clean the part, be careful there is no dripping on parts. And let the parts/components dry (poissiblt air them with a cool air blower or something) before plugging them and turning them on.
 
Reactions: Krotow

Karadjgne

Titan
Ambassador
The common usage name for isopropyl alcohol IS rubbing alcohol. There are many Islamic countries which ban the import of alcohol because religious leaders have deemed 'alcohol' as a broad base, and it's not easy to convince them to get a little more technical and differentiate between consumable and non-consumable alcohol.

You CAN use ethyl alcohol to clean electronics, it's common practice in labs. BUT, there are stipulations. First, it has to be Ultra-Pure rated, meaning it has Zero trace elements and/or minerals, which is inherent in most grades of ethyl alcohol. Those minerals don't wipe off electronics easily and can cause changes in the electron flow, basically going around transistors instead of through them. Second, it's slow to evaporate and can leave an oily film if oils are present.

Isopropyl has none of the above, but isn't as caustic as ethyl, so doesn't clean as well or fast when buildup is heavy.
 
Last edited:
Do not clean circuits with any hand sanitizers. They contain also softeners, perfumes and soaps whose are prone to accumulate water from air moisture and make contact in sockets worse. And soon will start smell funny. You certainly will not want these inside circuits.

Clean ethyl alcohol is 90...95%. You can wash circuit boards and clean thermal paste with it, yes. But keep in mind that it dissolve some plastics and other materials. Isopropyl alcohol is much better for electronic circuit cleaning.
 
Just to clear up a misconception being alluded to here in this post. You can easily use 50% isopropyl alcohol for cleaning CPUs. What water content there is in it will not harm your PC if you dry the surface in any innumerable ways before putting power back into the system. Even if you didn't dry it afterwards and threw paste on the CPU the odds that amount of water will get somewhere important from the top of the IHS is negligible. I have literally ran old motherboards through the dish washer with out corrosive elements on purpose because its the fastest way of getting it cleaned. Water damage only occurs if you let the water sit and cause corrosion or put power through the parts when water is on it.
 
I have literally ran old motherboards through the dish washer with out corrosive elements on purpose because its the fastest way of getting it cleaned. Water damage only occurs if you let the water sit and cause corrosion or put power through the parts when water is on it.
Without soap! This + hair dryer = squeaky clean and dry motherboard! Although I wouldn't want to do this with a newer motherboard. I'm going way back to the 386/486 days.
Areas around the CPU or any of the slots could potentially allow water in between the PCB layers. Especially if you use detergent (which lowers the cohesive properties of water).

To the OPs Q, yes, 70% is perfectly fine but I wouldn't use anything with perfumes or softeners (common in hand sanitizer) as that will just leave more deposits on whatever you're cleaning.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY