Cleaning PCBs Last Updated on: 6/19/2013

I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information provided here. It is "AS IS" and you are warned to use this information "At your own Risk"

This information is provided to help you restore or convert your video games. The Tips & Tricks are what have worked for other people to some degree. Your mileage will vary depending on your situation.

I really do appreciate the fact that these individuals have spent the time and effort to share their knowledge with us.

If you have a Tip or Trick that you would like to add to my site, please drop me an email.

I reserve the right to edit for content, and formatting.

I decided to hit Deja News and get a sampling of Tips and Tricks on cleaning PCB's. Its not uncommon to get a PCB that looks like its been run through the dirt a few times. As with most Tips & Tricks they are opinions based on the persons experience, please keep this in mind.

Here are the Tips & Tricks in no specific order:

There are literally 100's of messages on this subject, this is only the tip of the Ice berg, to find more information, go to and do a power search on the usenet group and search for "cleaning pcb".

You will find that most are along the same lines with pro's and con's for each method.

Author: Matthew Sell
Date: 1998/10/04

I used to work for an electronic test equipment manufacturer and we used an industrial dish washer (supplied with de-ionized water) for cleaning PCB's. For my collecting (arcade games and old home computers), I just stuff it in the dishwasher at home. Hot water, NO HEAT DRY, and NO DISHWASHER DETERGENT. At work I also have used Formula 409 sprayed on the board, used a clean paint brush to scrub, and liberal rinse of clean hot water. ALLOW SEVERAL DAYS OF DRYING BEFORE PLUGGING IT IN!!!!!!!!!!

Try this method first on an expendable board first, to test your methods first. Test the board afterwards, may need adjustments. I probably wouldn't do this to HV boards in monitors, to protect the Flyback.
- Matt

Author: Gregory Kam
Email: aw267@FreeNet.Carleton.CA
Date: 1997/07/31

[a poster] writes:
> > Besides, washing doesn't make them work better.
Actually if you leave dust and grime on your boards, the heat generated by the ICs will not have a chance to dissipate. By leaving your boards dirty you are needlessly running your chips at a hotter temperature which shortens the life of your game.

Author: Anthony Walden
Date: 1997/07/16

Rubbing alcohol is probably the best cleaner for PCBs. Use it on computer circuit boards at work. Gets corrosion off of IC legs real easily.

Author: jwelser
Date: 1997/11/30

Windex works great and is cheap. I don't like using water, because water promotes rust. Anyone who's used Windex before (should be just about everyone...) knows that you can literally see it evaporate, thus not leaving anything behind to promote rust. I think I've heard that rubbing alcohol works just as well, for similar reasons, although Windex is my favorite. Don't even think about buying any of that $9 PCB cleaner from Radio Shack or anywhere else, and, no matter what you use, make sure you give it adequate time to dry (Give it at least 24 hours, just to be safe....)

Author: Omar Vega
Date: 1997/12/04

Here at work we let boards soak in alcohol for a while followed by manual scrubbing with detergent and water. This helps to remove excess flux. After that we rinse the board under running water and dry it quickly with an air gun/compressor. The board is tilted during this last part and air is rigorously applied close hand in order to remove water trapped under ICs and between pins. That usually gets rid of the water however they are left in front of a fan for a period of time just to make sure that they are completely dry.

Author: John DeGroof
Date: 1997/07/28

In all seriousness, I wash them in the bathtub. I first pull all socketed chips (after writing down their location and polarity), then take a brush and hot water to it. I towel-dry the board, wave it in the air violently (to get the majority of the water out from under the chips), towel-dry again, use a hairdryer on low heat till I can't see any more water, use compressed air to get the remaining water out from under the chips, then leave it in front of a fan on high for 24 hours. Sound like overkill? Well, maybe, but the board's guaranteed to be bone-dry. Done this to all my boards and they all still work.

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