Computers & Electronics

Isopropyl Alcohol and Cleaning Electronics (Rubbing Alcohol)

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  • Nov 17th, 2007 4:26 pm
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[OP]
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Nov 7, 2003
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Isopropyl Alcohol and Cleaning Electronics (Rubbing Alcohol)

I'm just wondernig if isopropyl alochol is the only agent that's recommended for cleaning electronics and even the circuit board itself? What's the difference between the 70% USP and the 90+% USP?

If I have something that is really sticky and dirty, is it okay to submerge the electronic into isopropyl alcohol? Will this damage the electronic in any way?
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Deal Addict
Sep 8, 2004
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The higher the purity, the better it is since it leaves less residue behind. For cleaning something like the CPU surface I would use no less than 90%.

Dont ever submerge any electronics parts in the alcohol, even if the purity level is 97%, unless you allow the part to 100% dry off. Failure to do that can cause shortcircuits harming the part. Take it from me, I've done this before so dont do it
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Aug 14, 2006
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Try not to submerge any electronics and most certainly do not let it soak.
Also be careful what you are cleaning with that stuff as it can cause some fading and discoloration on some plastics.
Best to use an old spray bottle to mist the board and then a clean toothbrush (not and old/used one!)to rub off the dirt.

I also use the alcohol and water mix to clean my LCD monitor and TV with a nice microfiber cloth. Works like a charm.
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You can get 99% isopropyl at your local drug store.

That's all I use but I wouldn't necessarily soak anything in it, just use it for things you can wipe with a paper towel. A little really goes a long way.

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Apr 6, 2005
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I use rubber cement and leave it on for abit before I wipe it off. Always does the trick and to be sure, I put some alcohol after.
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Sorry to threadjack, but I have a question related to isopropyl alcohol.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isopropyl_alcohol
Under the Chemistry section, it says isopropanol can be separated by adding a salt.

I'm wondering if I can buy a 50/50 isopropyl alcohol and water solution at the dollar store and add salt to separate the two.
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Sep 8, 2004
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I think walmart sells 97% purity for under 10 dollars...

To go thru all those steps to get a higher purity, wow. Asuming that it works in theory, what makes u think the salt itself is pure enough to ensure the end product alcohol is uncontamiated? Salt itself isnt packaged that well
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Mar 21, 2002
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I buy a 500ml bottle of 99% at Superstore for I think about $3. I have to ask for it at the Pharmacy because in this province you can't leave it out on the shelves - people were buying it to drink even though it's poisonous.

There are only 2 ingredients: Isopropyl alcohol and water. 70% is simply 70% alcohol and 30% water. 99% is 99% alcohol and 1% water. When it evaporates there's no residue. Never soak anything in this stuff because the alcohol is a powerful solvent and can attack some plastics. For cleaning purposes I prefer the 99% because the high alcohol content will evaporate very quickly and won't have a chance to soak into a surface. A 70% solution means that the alcohol will evaporate quickly while the water left behind is likely to dry more slowly and could soak in to a surface (eg printed circuit board) which can be a problem.

Being alcohol and water only there is no residue which is why it's recommended for cleaning the old gunk off CPUs and heat sinks.

This stuff is also a great antiseptic for cuts and scrapes.
[OP]
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Nov 7, 2003
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Thanks for the response guys!

I'm wondering what's the differnce between Isopropanyl and Isopropyl Alcohol? I only see 99% Isopropanyl Alcohol and 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. Is the 99% Isopropanyl Alcohol at SDM the same thing that you guys are talking about? Can I use this to clean my electronics and don't worry I'm not going to submerge anything.
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Dec 3, 2003
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rchong wrote:
Sep 6th, 2007 2:40 pm
Sorry to threadjack, but I have a question related to isopropyl alcohol.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isopropyl_alcohol
Under the Chemistry section, it says isopropanol can be separated by adding a salt.

I'm wondering if I can buy a 50/50 isopropyl alcohol and water solution at the dollar store and add salt to separate the two.
This would be really important if the stuff was $100 /L.
Since u can buy a bottle for $2, why bother with science class?
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TurboVolvo wrote:
Sep 6th, 2007 8:59 am
Try not to submerge any electronics and most certainly do not let it soak.
Also be careful what you are cleaning with that stuff as it can cause some fading and discoloration on some plastics.
Best to use an old spray bottle to mist the board and then a clean toothbrush (not and old/used one!)to rub off the dirt.

I also use the alcohol and water mix to clean my LCD monitor and TV with a nice microfiber cloth. Works like a charm.
Thats a bad idea, LCD manufacturers specifically recommend against using alcohol cleaners.
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Aug 15, 2007
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Metallic contacts can be cleaned by just using an eraser, heck I've cleaned circuit boards with one too (but be gentle and remember to get rid of the shavings :) )
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Nov 29, 2005
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luthair wrote:
Sep 16th, 2007 9:36 am
Thats a bad idea, LCD manufacturers specifically recommend against using alcohol cleaners.
I agree. My friend got isopropyl Alcohol inside his phone's LCD and now his LCD is dim and has water trapped inbetween the crystlals. It has Not gone away because lcds do not get warm, theyre not incandescent.
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Mar 25, 2005
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luthair wrote:
Sep 16th, 2007 9:36 am
Thats a bad idea, LCD manufacturers specifically recommend against using alcohol cleaners.
Actually Apple says to use a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water on LCDs. This mix is the standard LCD cleaning solution for most commercial cleaners.
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Aug 1, 2005
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woof wrote:
Sep 6th, 2007 3:38 pm
I buy a 500ml bottle of 99% at Superstore for I think about $3. I have to ask for it at the Pharmacy because in this province you can't leave it out on the shelves - people were buying it to drink even though it's poisonous.
Costco sells it here on the shelves for something like 10 dollars for 4x500mL bottles.

They do give me weird looks when i buy 20-30 cans of DustOff at a time though. :)
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