How to Clean a Motherboard? [Easy Steps + Infographic]

Making your motherboard 100% dust-free doesn’t need to be hard. All it takes is to learn the right steps by a detailed guide on how to clean a motherboard. These easy steps are all we’re going to talk about within a second or two.

For instance, here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • Best ways to clean a motherboard and make it dust-free
  • Things to know before cleaning a motherboard
  • Effective tips to make you a pro

That said, let’s roll in.

Table of Contents

    What Are the Best Ways to Clean a Motherboard?

    Clean a Motherboard

    Below are the easiest and most effective ways to clean a motherboard.

    1. Using Compressed Air

    Compressed air is our traditional method of cleaning a motherboard. It works pretty well in most cases and gets your motherboard dust-free. 

    First off, you shut down your computer, disconnect power, and open the computer case. Now, you have to use compressed air to remove the dust particles from the motherboard. You can either use an air can or an air blower for compressed air. 

    The point to note down is, never blow the compressed air from too near on your motherboard, it could damage the motherboard parts (the transistors, for instance). 

    An alternative to compressed air is a vacuum cleaner. But it can be dangerous unless you learn how exactly to use it on the motherboard.

    Using Vacuum Cleaner to Clean Motherboard

    If the dust is sticky, a cotton swab, soft brush, or piece of cloth is the way to go. Use any of these to clean the dust and blow the compressed air once again. This might help with removing most of the dust and making your motherboard look brand-new.

    That said, if there has been some issue with the motherboard like you dropped coffee which made its way to the motherboard, washing it with liquid is a good way around. But, how do you do that without causing any damage? Here’s how.

    2. Using Distilled Water 

    Using Distilled Water to Clean Motherboard

    Can you clean your motherboard using distilled water? Yes, you can!

    Won’t it cause any damage to the motherboard parts? No, but make sure to use a non-fibrous cloth or q-tips for it. 

    Right off, cleaning your motherboard with water can be dangerous. If the moisture is left in your motherboard after cleaning and you turn on the power, likely your computer will die. But if you dry off all the moisture after cleaning, it’s fine.

    The process overall is simple. You turn off the power. You take off the hardware pieces like RAM and GPU from the motherboard. Now, it’s time to use water to clean the dust on the motherboard. It’s recommended to use a non-fibrous cloth to clean your motherboard. Or, you could dry it using compressed air

    Now, as mentioned using water for motherboard cleaning is still dangerous. So, using a liquid that evaporates at room temperature quickly is a better approach to avoid damage to the board. That’s where the Isopropyl alcohol comes in. 

    Let’s dive into the details of cleaning your mobo with alcohol.

    3. Using Isopropyl Alcohol

    Using Alcohol to Clean Motherboard

    Using isopropyl alcohol is the most recommended way of liquid cleaning a motherboard. It’s safe and effective because alcohol dries off immediately

    Before you land market to purchase it, know that there’s a variety of isopropyl alcohol. For motherboard cleaning, a minimum of 90% isopropyl alcohol is recommended. It will ensure quick evaporation to avoid motherboard failure.

    To clean the motherboard using alcohol, you have to follow the same steps.

    You power off the computer and take off the hardware parts. Now, if you’re willing to bathe the motherboard or pour alcohol on it, know that it’s not a recommended away. Using a cotton swab is much better and safer, especially if you’re not much of an expert. 

    The method is not only effective for cleaning, but it also helps in renewing a nearly-dead motherboard. So, if you have an out-of-order motherboard, you can try isopropyl cleaning and it may get back to work. 

    With all of that said, you can also watch the below video to learn how to deep-clean a motherboard:

    How to Clean a Motherboard — Infographic

    Below is an infographic that illustrates how to clean a motherboard:

    How to Clean a Motherboard Infographic

    Things to Not Do When Cleaning Your Motherboard

    Below are the biggest mistakes you could make when cleaning your motherboard. These could lead to motherboard failure or fire accidents.

    Not Shutting Down the PC

    When cleaning the motherboard, make sure to switch off the power and also unplug all the wires that are a power source to the computer

    Using Compressed Air to Remove All the Dust Particles

    Compressed air is typically powerful but not 100% effective in removing dust. If the dust has been there for months or years, it’s recommended to use a soft brush or cotton swab for cleaning. Otherwise, blowing the compressed air fast could damage the critical parts of the motherboard.

    Not Removing the Motherboard During Liquid Cleaning

    While liquid cleaning is effective, it’s also dangerous for your computer. To make sure moisture doesn’t remain in different parts of the computer and cause damage, remove the motherboard from the case before liquid cleaning. 

    Pouring Liquid on the Motherboard for Cleaning

    Of course, bathing your motherboard or pouring liquid on it right away could help you save time, but it’s not a recommended practice. If you’re a beginner and not aware of the critical parts or know-how of the motherboard, it’s recommended not to do this. Instead, use a cotton swab for liquid cleaning. 

    Not Waiting for the Motherboard to Dry Properly

    Being in a hurry and not letting the motherboard dry completely before using back is one of the stupidest things you could do. If there’s any moisture left in the motherboard and you turn on the power, it could cause serious damage, even the failure of the entire motherboard. So, be sure to let it dry before installing the board back.

    Effective Tips Worth Noting Down

    Below are some powerful tips to know before you clean your motherboard:

    • If you’re unable to remove the motherboard from the PC case, don’t push it out too hard, it could damage the board
    • Go for isopropyl alcohol 99% for motherboard cleaning. It will minimize the risks of damage
    • If you’ve cleaned the motherboard using a liquid, consider living it under sunlight for some time (not for long) or give the liquid enough time to properly dry
    • If you find it challenging to do the technical stuff, consider asking an expert to help you with it
    • If you want to keep away from any kind of damage, be careful and kind to the motherboard and parts, some of them are very sensitive

    How to Clean Components on a Motherboard? 

    Here I teach you how to clean different parts of the motherboard. 

    Cleaning Processor and Computer Fans

    Fans get dirty over time and it causes them to not work as efficiently as they could. It results in a temperature increase that can affect your computer performance. So, it’s important to clean PC fans

    An effective way to clean PC fans or CPU fans is to use compressed air, with an air blower being a recommended way. Or, you could use an electric vacuum alternatively. Holding the blades in your hand can help you avoid damage.

    Another great way to clean your computer fans is to use rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab. Simply use it on the fan blades to remove the dust particles and make the fans look brand new. 

    For detailed information on deep cleaning, consider watching the below video:

    How to Clean the RAM?

    So, if you’ve decided to clean the motherboard, make sure to spare some seconds and clean the RAM as well. If it gathers lots of dust, it could result in annoying system crashes with a blue screen. Here’s how to clean RAM on your motherboard:

    1. Remove the RAM slots from the motherboard carefully, by pressing down the holding clips on both sides. Once these clips are released, the RAM can be taken out.

    2. Now, you can use compressed air to clean the dust.

    3. If you have alcohol available, use a cotton swab with it to clean the contacts on the RAM. You can also use a non-fabric cloth.

    4. An alternative way to clean the RAM contacts is by an eraser. Simply rub it on the contacts and it might remove the small dust particles that could be causing disruption in its connection to the motherboard.

    5. If you’ve used alcohol, make sure to let the RAM dry before putting it back in.

    That’s it, your RAM is properly cleaned. 

    Unable to find out how to clean RAM using an eraser? Consider watching the video below:

    Q 1: What liquid to use to clean the motherboard?

    The best liquid to clean the motherboard is 99% isopropyl alcohol. Such alcohol dries immediately at room temperature and doesn’t cause any damage to your motherboard. On the other hand, using water or a liquid that doesn’t dry soon can potentially damage your board

    Q 2: How do I clean the inside of my motherboard?

    What you will need to clean a motherboard is a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol (99% is recommended). All you need to do is to apply alcohol to the cotton swab and clean the dust particles. The alcohol will prevent your motherboard from damage as it dries off quickly

    Q 3: Can I clean the motherboard with 70% alcohol?

    Don’t use anything below isopropyl alcohol 90% for cleaning the motherboard. Otherwise, It could seriously damage the board by not drying off soon. However, if you think you can prevent the alcohol from wires and sensitive parts, 70% will work fine, but not recommended for beginners at all. 

    Key Takeaways

    To sum everything up, here are the action steps:

    • An effective way to clean the motherboard is by using compressed air. Canned air or air blower will work well
    • When cleaning the board with compressed air, keep it several inches away to avoid damage
    • Using water is effective to clean the motherboard, but alcohol is the more recommended way as water takes longer to dry
    • If you’re willing to use alcohol to clean the motherboard, go for isopropyl alcohol of 90%+, with 99% being the recommendation
    • After using a liquid for motherboard cleaning, let it dry to avoid internal damage
    • Consider using a cotton swab with alcohol to wipe dust and sticky particles away

    With all of that said, I hope you liked this detailed guide on how to clean a motherboard. Until next time, cheers!

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