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How Do I Choose the Best Circuit Board Cleaner?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

Circuit board cleaner is important when you are repairing or maintaining circuit boards, and there are a few features to look for in choosing one. Getting a non-static or non-conductive circuit board cleaner usually is important, because this keeps static from interfering with the circuit board and destroying it. You also should check to ensure the cleaner is safe on plastic, metal, rubber and other materials commonly used on circuit boards. Some circuit board cleaners can remove a range of contaminants, while others can only remove one or two, and this may be important to check. The circuit board also may have some problems if it is exposed to liquid for a long time, so getting fast-drying cleaner usually is the best.

One of the most important things when getting a circuit board cleaner is ensuring that it does not promote static. Most circuit board cleaners are non-static but, if you are using a generic cleaner that is not specifically made for circuit boards, then you should check to be sure of this. Any static electricity from any source has a high chance of destroying the components if it touches the board.

Static can ruin a circuit board.
Static can ruin a circuit board.

There are many different materials used on a circuit board, but the most common are plastic, metal and rubber from the wires, board and contacts. Many cleaners are not safe for these materials and may even corrode the board. This means you should check the circuit board cleaner to make sure it is safe on these materials, along with any other materials on your specific board.

When a circuit board is used for a long time, it usually builds up contaminants such as oil, grease and dirt, and these interfere with the effectiveness of the board. Depending on what you need to clean, you should check the circuit board cleaner to see what contaminants it can remove. While a general board cleaner may seem to be the best, cleaners that can only remove a specific contaminant usually can remove that contaminant better than a general cleaner would.

Liquid and circuit boards rarely mix, and their combination can lead to major problems if the liquid stays on the boards for too time. To keep this problem from happening, it usually is best to check the circuit board cleaner for fast-drying properties. This will keep the liquid from destroying the board as a result of long exposure, and it will allow you to place the circuit board back in the machine quicker.

Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- Right you are and I can think of a perfect time someone might need to use circuit board cleaner. When people drop their smartphones in water, they often use the "throw the phone in a bag of rice" trick to absorb excess water.

How can you get rid of rice dust after that procedure? Some circuit board cleaner might be just the thing, huh?

I've also seen some people use this after working over the circuit board on a classic video game system. It's part of the preservation and restoration process, I believe.


@Terrificli -- I see your point but that is not always the case. For example, you might need to use some circuit board cleaner if a bunch of cobwebs, dust and crud builds up on a circuit board and you need to remove that stuff safely to extend the life of a computer (or whatever else has a circuit board that concerns you).

Granted, you probably won't have to use circuit board cleaner very often, but it is conceivable that you might need some at one point.


I do have to wonder when someone would ever use circuit board cleaner. Most consumers don't need to be messing around with those things and those consumers that do probably don't need to use them to reset components or add new ones.

I can't help but think circuit board cleaner is kind of useless.

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    • Static can ruin a circuit board.
      By: Michael Tieck
      Static can ruin a circuit board.