If 91% rubbing alchol is safe for electronics can I soak my motherboard in it overnig

alanwest09872

Golden Member
Aug 12, 2007
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Ok so I am a heavy smoker and a residue appears on the motherboard. I have used rubbing alcohol to clean some electronic devices in the past. Would it be safe to soak the motherboard and video card and ram in rubbing alcohol to get rid of the slight residue that has built up on it.

I am asking because I want to upgrade my pc and I want to give my system to my daughter but I know for a fact that it smells like cigarrette smoke. and I cant figure out how to get rid of that heavy smell
 

2timer

Golden Member
Apr 20, 2012
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My only concern would be how the alcohol interacts with the plastics and fiberglass PCB on the motherboard. It won't damage anything metal at all. But I'm not a chemist, so I don't know.
 

Cerb

Elite Member
Aug 26, 2000
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You will need to fully disassemble everything (remove all heatsinks, FI), and then re-assemble it, after it dries, but that is going to be a ton of scrubbing (maybe start with a nylon brush made for washing dogs?), even it does work, and to fill a tub with enough to hold a motherboard submerged, you'll need enough that it will make you woozy, as you work.

Even then, I don't know if it will really work. Oh, but just soaking won't do anything. You will need to soak it for a little bit, then scrub it with a soft brush to actually clean it (dollar store toothbrush, FI).

However, it should be safe for the parts themselves, so long as you are using an alcohol solution without any harsh chemicals or anything (perfumes are common, FI).
 

colonelciller

Senior member
Sep 29, 2012
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alcohols will crack plexiglass with prolonged/repeated exposure.

that just goes to show that there may be some complications with the alcohol and motherboard plastics... but I don't know anything much about motherboards
 

ViRGE

Elite Member, Moderator Emeritus
Oct 9, 1999
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Wouldn't alcohol also break down just about every thermal pad and thermal paste instance on the mobo? Even if the CPU isn't in, I'm thinking the VRMs won't like it.
 

ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
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heavy smoker, eh? Concede that you will harm your electronics and buy two mobo's, you cannot safely soak your mobo in rubbing alcohol.
 

Ayah

Platinum Member
Jan 1, 2006
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PCBs are cleaned with isopropanol in an ultrasonic bath in industrial/production/academic-research settings so it's safe for the boards themselves.

But, it'll ruin any TIMs on the board, so you'd need to strip off every heatsink off the board. As well, the solvent will dissolve anything on the board and diffuse the contaminants throughout the solvent, therefore it *could* contaminate the CPU socket with foreign material.

So in short, submersion is not a good idea unless you remove all the heatsinks, protect any kind of socket on the board and any misc parts on the boards.

A toothbrush and isopropanol could possibly work
 
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ElFenix

Elite Member
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Mar 20, 2000
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would it also eat at the capacitors?

since you have to scrub anyway, i'd just dip a brush in the bottle and scrub rather than submerse the whole board.
 

bryanl

Golden Member
Oct 15, 2006
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Soaking is unnecessary. Just leave the motherboard in the case but remove the AC power cord and clock battery. Spray both sides of the board with alcohol and notice the color of the drippings on a clean paper towel below. Repeat with a new towel until the towel stays clear. Allow several hours of drying before reinstalling the battery and applying power. If you want something stronger get CRC brand electronics parts cleaner from a hardware or auto parts store. Do not brush.
 

Leyawiin

Diamond Member
Nov 11, 2008
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would it also eat at the capacitors?

since you have to scrub anyway, i'd just dip a brush in the bottle and scrub rather than submerse the whole board.
I would do this - it will harm the capacitors if soaked (although short term exposure while spraying or brushing on shouldn't). I'd also get some 99% alcohol from a drugstore or Amazon - dries faster, cuts crap quicker and leaves less residue. It doesn't cost much. You probably will never get all of the smoker's residue off of it, but it should improve it quite a bit.

Just sitting here thinking about all the concern over cleaning tobacco smoke residue off a motherboard vs... well, you know. ;)
 

Cerb

Elite Member
Aug 26, 2000
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Soaking is unnecessary. Just leave the motherboard in the case but remove the AC power cord and clock battery. Spray both sides of the board with alcohol and notice the color of the drippings on a clean paper towel below. Repeat with a new towel until the towel stays clear. Allow several hours of drying before reinstalling the battery and applying power. If you want something stronger get CRC brand electronics parts cleaner from a hardware or auto parts store. Do not brush.
Then, what do you remove it with? I've never tried to clean a whole PC, but even after dissolving the gunk, you would need to physically remove it with something. A few square inches can use up a typical paper towel sheet, by the time it's clean. Even if it worked, it would take a lot of time and alcohol.

Then, how do you go about dealing with all the TIMs, without removing the parts and disassembling?

I wouldn't do it all, but it's going to take more than just a little spray.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
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I would do this - it will harm the capacitors if soaked (although short term exposure while spraying or brushing on shouldn't). I'd also get some 99% alcohol from a drugstore or Amazon - dries faster, cuts crap quicker and leaves less residue. It doesn't cost much. You probably will never get all of the smoker's residue off of it, but it should improve it quite a bit.

Just sitting here thinking about all the concern over cleaning tobacco smoke residue off a motherboard vs... well, you know. ;)
this is why a lot of people drink when they smoke


:whiste:
 

TidusZ

Golden Member
Nov 13, 2007
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sounds like more work than its worth. who cares if the mobo has some cigarette resin/smell to it. Not like she's gonna eat it or smoke it
 

sm625

Diamond Member
May 6, 2011
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A Stam eGo CE5 Clearomizer costs $4.00. The hit you get off that thing is amazing. Such technology was unheard of even just 2 years ago. You can get a 3 pack of eGo batteries for $30. So you can basically get a year's supply of vaping hardware for under $50. Maybe $60 or $70 if you vape a lot. And then maybe 50 cents a day for the eliquid. I jsut dont get why people smoke cigarettes at all. Why the heck would anyone want to pay upwards of $70 frickin dollars a week (up to $3500 a year) to smoke something that tastes like crap? I can understand being addicted to nicotine. But cigarette smokers today are addicted to stupidity. Get rid of the cigarette smoke and you wont have to worry about the nasty coating on your hardware.
 
Feb 25, 2011
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Honest question, not trying to troll OP or get preachy.

Assuming you have to clean all the other stuff in the room with the computer too, on a regular basis, and how much of a PITA that probably is, have you considered an e-cig or something? (Or otherwise, you know, not smoking?)

I know they're usually advertised as tools for people trying to quit, but I don't mean it like that - I'm all in favor of drug use. But you're making a lot of work for yourself, and that takes the fun out of it, imo.
 

Joeydubbs

Senior member
Jun 11, 2008
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Don't do this, you will only break the mobo and potentially other components.

I wash my car with water but I don't park it in my pool overnight when it really dirty.. :p

Sad truth is, you could stop smoking for a week and use that money to buy a new mobo...
 

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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You want to get one of those cleaning sprays that sprays isopropyl alcohol onto the board and cleans it up, although cigarette residue is a tough customer and not easy to remove.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
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You can wash boards.
Gigabyte does this...

You need to strip the board of everything... and i mean the heat sinks... anything which can trap liquid.

They also dont use alcohol but a special solvent.


This is not a clean way to clean stuff.
If you got smoke residue that caked on your stuff, well... i feel bad for your lungs... imagine that instead..

my advice is soak a tooth brush in alcohol instead and brush while wiping constantly.

Also try not to smoke in a room which has poor air filtering...

My second advice is for you to get a smoke trap.... I use something like this.


simple AC filter inside a box with 3 fans which force air though the filter.
How good of a filtration u want is dependant on what AC filter u use.
 

Doomer

Diamond Member
Dec 5, 1999
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Smoking will lead you to a horrible death. Just had a friend die of lung cancer. Prior to being diagnosed, he would tell you to mind your own business and go to hell if you said something negative about his smoking. After he found out he was going to die, he sang a different tune. He died in a drug induced stupor because he couldn't bear the pain.

Doomer, this really isn't the place to discuss smoking. Let's please keep this discussion technical.:)
-ViRGE
 
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bryanl

Golden Member
Oct 15, 2006
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Then, what do you remove it with? I've never tried to clean a whole PC, but even after dissolving the gunk, you would need to physically remove it with something. A few square inches can use up a typical paper towel sheet, by the time it's clean. Even if it worked, it would take a lot of time and alcohol.

Then, how do you go about dealing with all the TIMs, without removing the parts and disassembling?

I wouldn't do it all, but it's going to take more than just a little spray.
Spraying wont' harm the TIMs, and a quart of 91% alcohol and a pump bottle are cheaper than an aerosol can of alcohol or parts cleaner. You could use sponges instead of paper towels.
 

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