How to Clean Printed Circuit Boards

If your computer shows slower processing speed, there is a big chance that there is some grime, dirt, or corrosion on the circuit board that you will need to clean. There are a few different ways that you can clean the printed circuit board and the treatment you choose will depend on the issue. Dirt and dust can be treated with compressed air, while grime and corrosion can be treated with spot-cleaning. However, significant corrosion should be treated with baking soda. In this article, you will be able to read what treatments should you perform for specific issues, as well as how to do it. Let’s take a closer look:


Cleaning a Circuit Board by Using Compressed Air

Step 01 – According to the team of experts from, the first thing you should do is to shut down your computer. Shut it down and unplug it entirely from all the cables. Using compressed air while the computer is on can damage some components and you are also at risk of electrocution.

Step 02 – spray the compressed air into the CPU (central processing unit) in short bursts. Place the nozzle of the compressed air canister into the fan ports, which are usually placed on the back of the console top. Ensure that you keep the canister upright when you spray, and sprat in contained, short, bursts. Keep in mind that turning the canister upside down or spraying the components for too long will cool the air, hence, you might freeze some parts of your PC.

Step 03 – by using a screwdriver, open the CPU. Then slide the side panel off the unit and that should provide you access to the circuitry. You might need a flathead or a hex head screwdriver, but this will depend on the model of your computer.

Step 04 – spray the air on the board. It will most likely be green, which silver lines on it. Spray the air in short bursts on the board, keeping the canister upright at all time, as well as keeping the nozzle a few inches away from the printed circuit board. This can also provide you with insights to look for corrosion or grime that you might need to clean as well.

Step 05 – once you are done, slide the panel back on, screw it on, connect your computer to its cables, and you are good to go.

Cleaning a Circuit Board by Spot-Cleaning it

Step 01 – dampen a cotton swab with alcohol. You should buy isopropyl alcohol that is at least 90 percent alcohol. Pour a little bit of it into a bowl and dip the swabs in it. Then, squeeze out the extra moisture in order for the swabs to be lightly damp. Keep in mind that you should never swab, drip, or leave puddles of alcohol of the circuit board. This can cause even more damage to it.

Step 02 – brush the swabs across the grime so that you can dislodge it. Look for grime that is close to the heat generators and on top of the circuit pathways. Lightly brush it and build up your find with the swabs until your dislodge it entirely. During this step, you should be patient, not forceful. If you have been brushing it for some time and you cannot dislodge it, do not apply more pressure to it. You will just need to move on to cleaning it with baking soda.

Step 03 – allow the alcohol to dry. It should not take more than an hour for it to dry and in most cases, it takes about 30 minutes. In the meantime, you can continue with brushing other parts of your PC in order to try to dislodge the grime.

Step 04 – use compressed air to get rid of the grime you dislodged. Return everything back where it belongs, connect you PC, and you are done.

Cleaning a Circuit Board from Significant Corrosion

Method 01 – the first thing you should try is to rub the corrosion off with a pencil eraser. If your printed circuit board has significant corrosion that you could not remove by spot-cleaning it, you should try removing it with a pencil eraser. This is a good method if you want to avoid using baking soda on it, which if used improperly, can cause damage to your circuit board. The pencil eraser method is also useful for cleaning circuit boards that have copper components.

Method 02 – mix together water and baking soda and apply it to the areas that have corrosion. Mix a bit of water and baking soda together in a bowl (the amount you mix will depend on the number of corroded areas), until you form a runny paste from the mixture. Then, you should soak a cotton swab in the mixture and apply it gently to the areas that have corroded. Keep in mind that you will want the mixture almost dripping from the swabs so that the mixture can soak the corroded areas as much as possible. You should leave the paste to dry for at least one day and then remove the corrosion. After it is dry, dampen the swabs in isopropyl alcohol and squeeze out the moisture. Brush away the dried paste with the swabs. Again, do not apply a lot of force and be patient. You do not want to damage the circuit.

Method 03 – replace the battery that caused the circuit board to corrode. As you might already know, corrosion is often caused by acid leaking from the battery neat the printed circuit boards. You should be able to spot the battery quite easily since it will also be corroded – even more than the circuit board. Put on some rubber gloves and carefully remove the battery, clean the corrosion it left in the battery socket, and insert a new battery to replace the malfunctioning one. You can recycle the old battery at an electronics store or at a recycling center. You can even mail it to a specialized recycling company. The information that you will need to find a suitable replacement battery is usually in your computer’s documentation or on the battery itself. If you cannot find information on the battery or if you do not know where your PC documents are, place the battery in a bag and take it to an electronics store for identification.


As you can see, the methods from this article can help you with cleaning your printed circuit boards, hence, you will be able to improve your PC’s processing time, as well as prevent your computer from needing expensive repairs.


Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the started.