A Complete Guide on How to Clean PCB

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Cleaning a PCB is essential because it gets dirty all the time. Dust and dirt particles settle on the surface of the PCB. If you don't take care of the cleaning of the board, it might affect its component and eventually its performance. Cleaning PCB is a problematic task doubtlessly, but it is necessary

Before the particles cause any damage to the PCB, you need to know how to clean PCB. Stay with it and see if a PCB gets dirty and how you need to clean it.

All you need to know about how to clean PCB?

So, here we go

How a PCB gets dirty?

If you know that a PCB gets dirty, you might not even have to look for how to clean PCB answers. All the electronic devices, including computers and other equipment, consists of circuit boards. After a passage of time, grime and dust will find their way to the circuit board. It would help if you cleaned the board before it caused any damage

You keep the equipment in a cool, dry and clean place, but debris still finds its way to enter the equipment. The build-up of that debris and other material leads to component failure

Plain drinking water can cause damage to the circuit because it contains ions like sodium chloride. These ions will heighten the circuit board's reaction toward the water. It might cause a short circuit. Circuit boards get dirty all the time, but you need to make sure that you place them in the right place where dirty won't be able to reach the circuit board conveniently.

Safety measures for cleaning a PCB

You have to be very careful while cleaning a PCB. So here are a few precautionary steps that you need to take before you start cleaning the PCB:

  • Disconnect the equipment from its power source
  • Keep water away from the device
  • Always wear dry clothes while cleaning the board

We know disassembling the equipment for cleaning circuit boards is not going to be an easy job. You need to understand first how you are going to handle the equipment you are going to disassemble. Plus, you should know how to reassemble the device once you clean the circuit board.


Tips on cleaning PCB with perfection

The cleaning of PCB depends on using the right tools and methods. Here are a few tips that might help you in the cleaning of your PCB:

Baking soda

Everyone knows baking soda helps remove dust, dirt, and stains. So, baking soda might help you in cleaning the PCB as well. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and it removes grime without causing any damage. It has abrasive qualities that help in removing corrosion from the board. Otherwise, the corrosion won't come off only with distilled water and brush.

Compressed air

One of the simplest ways of cleaning a PCB is using compressed air. It is a discreet way to free the PCB from dust or dirt that settles inside the machinery and on the PCB. Compressed air blows out those dirt particles.

You can use short bursts of air through the ventilation ports. If you think there is no dust left inside the device, it's OK. Otherwise, if more cleaning is required, then with the help of a screwdriver, open the device. Now work your way to clean the PCB, but be careful while cleaning the circuit with air.

Distilled water

Mixing distilled water with an effective cleaning solution makes the grime vanish from your PCB. Distilled water is an inferior conductor. That's why it won't cause any damage to the circuit board.

Sealing your distilled water reserve for future use would be best because it gets contaminated easily. Don't even let the distilled water come in contact with your bare hands.

Household cleaners

You might think using household cleaners is not appropriate for cleaning PCB. Well, phosphate comes with powerful chemical properties that protect against corrosion. It also possesses strengthened cleaning properties.

Having a phosphate-free cleaner in your arsenal is necessary to do the cleaning job perfectly and without causing any damage.

Isopropyl alcohol

One of the best PCB cleaners is Isopropyl alcohol. It evaporates within no time, and it is also inexpensive. So, if you don't want to spend much money just cleaning PCB, you should consider this option. You have been looking for the answer to how to clean PCB. The answer is right here. Isopropyl alcohol is the solution.

Compared to other cleaners we mentioned above, Isopropyl alcohol contains fewer chemical properties. It means it won't cause any damage to your board while cleaning. If it comes in contact with your body, then it will cause an adverse effect. You have to be very careful while handling Isopropyl alcohol. Wear goggles and latex gloves while cleaning the board with this cleaner.

Tools for cleaning PCB

Whatever method you use for cleaning the circuit board, make sure you use a lint-free cloth or a soft brush too. These soft tools won't cause any damage to the PCB. Yes, choosing the best brush is vital because if you scrub the board with a stiff brush, it will damage the PCB.

Always choose a brush with soft bristles. The meeting has to be minor to reach small spaces on the board. If you are looking for options, then a paintbrush and a toothbrush are the best.

You can also consider using lint-free cloth like microfiber pieces of materials that are handy to use. Rub down the cloth delicately and dry your circuit board with it. The material sometimes sheds debris if you use the fabric while applying force and rubbing hard on the board. It is going to cause damage to your PCB. Therefore, be very gentle while using a lint-free cloth on the board.

The oven might not sound like an appropriate solution for drying off water from the board. You do not harm using your household oven to heat the board. First, you must shut off the appliance and place the board in it. If you leave the oven on and place your board inside, you won't even imagine what happens next.

Whatever strategy you try to clean your PCB, make sure you pay attention to every step. Don't leave the board in any solution for a more extended period. Don't apply force while scrubbing and drying the board. They might clean the board, but they will also cause damage to your PCB.

How to clean corrosion from circuit boards?

Metal corrodes when it comes in contact with the environment. So, corrosion on the circuit board is also pretty standard. Don't panic, as you can clean pollution from the circuit board conveniently. Here are the tools that you are going to need for the cleaning purpose:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Baking soda
  • Phosphate-free household cleaner
  • Household oven
  • Lift-free towel
  • Deionized water

Collect the necessary items for cleaning PCB, so the work finally starts.

Cleaning of a circuit board that got wet

Liquids find their way to your equipment somehow. Therefore, you must be very careful around your electronic devices if you have water in your hands. Sometimes the circuit board gets wet. So, you are going to need the following material for cleaning a damp PCB:

  • 90% Isopropyl alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Blow dryer
  • Container

Take precautionary measures before you start the actual work. Unplug the equipment from the power source. Shade the device to drain water and other fluids. Please remove the battery; now it is time to disassemble the equipment.

You should disassemble all the components and cables on the board. For complete access underneath the PCB, remove the shields. After removing all external technology, place your PCB in a sized vessel with 90% or higher Isopropyl.

After removing the PCB from the solution, it is time to use a soft-bristled brush to remove leftover particles from the board. Please don't use a brush with full force on the board because it might cause damage to it.

After scrubbing, now use a hairdryer to dry the board. After drying, examine whether the board is dry or if still, a few water droplets are there.

Time to reassemble the equipment and check whether the PCB is working correctly.

Clean your electronics and its internal parts on a regular basis

Doubtlessly we have discussed enough how to clean PCB above. It would help if you kept your electronics clean, so dust or dirt won't find its way to enter inside the equipment. If you think that the PCB of any of your equipment now requires cleaning, then you can follow the guidelines mentioned above.

The final words:

Now you know how to clean PCB, so you don't have to waste more time. Just be very careful with your every move. Make sure you don't use much energy to clean the board. This might cause damage to the PCB components. Follow the tips we have mentioned above, and you will be successful in cleaning a PCB. Just be very gentle while cleaning the circuit board.


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