If you bother yourself to open your CPU casing from time to time, chances are you have always been greeted by the sight of dirt caked on all your precious hardware, and you might have thought to yourself, ‘how did it get so filthy?’.
We can stop dust from settling on your hardware only as much as we can stop it from covering other things, it just always seems to find a way, but in the case of your PC, the intake fans have a role to play.
They keep on sucking air for as long as your computer operates, and as time goes on, dust collects in vents and on your precious motherboard, which, if not removed, can cause overheating, malfunction, and even short-circuits.
How To Clean A Motherboard?
Before you get to cleaning the board, you must acquire the utilities required for that task. They include:
- Isopropyl Alcohol as the cleaner.
- Cotton swabs for scrubbing fine spaces.
- Paper towels for the larger surfaces.
It is necessary to disassemble the board from all the other hardware to get it cleaned thoroughly because, frankly, once the dirt has settled, no amount of compressed air blowing can remove it. Start by:
- Removing CPU (cover the socket when cleaning)
- Also, remove RAM and heatsinks.
- If the heatsinks have thermal pads, remove them too. If there is thermal paste, scrub it off using cotton swabs dipped in alcohol.
- Lay all the peripherals and the board in front of you and get ready for cleaning.
Pick up the VRM and chipset sinks removed earlier and spray them with alcohol; also, you may have one or more than one VRM heatsink depending on the model of your board so remember to go through all of them.
Start by cleaning the larger surfaces with a paper towel and use the cotton swabs for the small crevices in between. Continue until satisfied.
You can clean the thermal pads by manually scraping off the dust if you don’t have a replacement at hand.
CPU & RAM:
If your motherboard requires a scrub, chances are that your processor and RAM are no different.
You can apply the same process to them, but be extra careful with your processor and try to clean it as thoroughly as possible for better long-term performance.
The Motherboard itself.
When trying to clean the motherboard try to raise it upright and hold it for a second so that the loose dust will fall off. Most of it will also collect on top of ports, and other things, so make sure to blow it off.
Once you’ve done this, lay it back down and thoroughly blow off the dust using a blower. Take your time with the cleaning, and don’t treat it as a half-measure.
Once the blowing is done, it is time to take out the cotton swabs and the isopropyl alcohol and take to cleaning the finer spaces.
You are also going to want to clear the dust out of the ports and the interfaces with the alcohol, and don’t worry, it is harmless so long as it’s done right.
Remember to scrub the same port once with an alcohol-soaked swab and then with a dry swab. Reassemble after you are done, and there shouldn’t be a speck of dust remaining.
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How often Should I Clean my motherboard?
You should only clean your motherboard if it needs cleaning. There is nothing that can be accomplished by cleaning your board every other week, and as a matter of fact, it can prove to be quite hazardous should you take to poking cotton swabs in your ports and connection interfaces too often.
Most users like to do the cleaning after every 6 months, but it is not an absolute value and can differ based on environmental factors and things like negative pressure build-up, which increase inward airflow and more dust is able to find its way inside.
Examine your surroundings and determine the time between every two cleanings.
Is It Safe To Clean A Motherboard With Soap And Water?
No, absolutely not. It is never advised to rinse your motherboard with soap and water, at least not from a professional source.
Soap is a basic substance by nature, and reactive depending on the environment; it may react ( not to good effect) with the metals, alloys, and semiconductors of the board and impede their conductivity.
Water is simply an invitation to rust; wherever this is iron (like in a motherboard), there shouldn’t be water because iron oxidizes in its presence.
Moreover, water is not a volatile liquid, and it evaporates very slowly, so it will stay in the board and cause harm, in areas where the temperature is low, it may even freeze into the board, so it is absolutely not recommended.
What Is The Best Way To Clean A Motherboard?
The best way to clean a motherboard is to do it without imparting any harm to it. The less the risk involved in the method, the better it is suited to the job.
A motherboard is a fragile device with the most important of jobs, i.e., to link up all the parts of your system.
It would not be in your best interest to be rough with it or use cleaning measures that are corrosive or harmful in some other way.
The best cleaning liquid that you can come across is pure isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Any other stable and neutral organic solvent can also do the job just as well, but IPA is the most common and the cheapest.
You can use normal hygiene products like ‘sanitizers’ as a lower-grade substitute for IPA if you don’t have it at hand. Also, never use anything sharp on the board. Scrub, don’t scrape.
– My Final Verdict:
Motherboards are a crucial part of any build, and similar to all the other products, they experience general airflow through the casing if it is meshwork, if not, then it is the air from the fans responsible for getting them all crusty with dust and grime.
Every user must know how to clear their boards of such filth if need be, or else they will degrade in performance, and their lifespan will be shortened.
However, all of the aforesaid consequences can be erased with only some cleaning solvent, a few swabs of cotton, and a couple of minutes of gentle but thorough cleaning.