Anyone who builds or upgrades PCs needs to know how to clean thermal paste off CPUs. It’s a great product that helps to fill in any microscopic imperfections in the CPU that would otherwise trap air and prevent the CPU from cooling properly. Below you’ll find the steps to easily remove the old thermal paste from your processor.
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Best Ways To Clean Thermal Paste Off CPU: Step By Step Guide
Cleaning the thermal paste off a CPU can be done in an easy and completely stress free way. In fact, all you need is three things: isopropyl alcohol (Solimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol), cotton swabs, and something to apply it with, like a microfiber cloth.
To start, make sure the CPU cooler has been removed and you can visibly see the thermal paste. Now, follow the steps below.
- Begin by wiping the CPU with the microfiber cloth, to remove as much thermal paste as you can. It also helps to remove any dust or dirt that may have accumulated.
- Now dip a cotton swab into the isopropyl alcohol and rub it gently onto the top of your CPU.
- Use the microfiber cloth again to remove the remaining thermal paste.
- Repeat steps 2 & 3 until you have cleaned off all the thermal paste you need to.
How To Clean Thermal Paste Off CPU Sockets And Pins
Hopefully, there isn’t any thermal paste on your sockets on pins, but sometimes it does happen. In the event that this has happened to you, don’t worry, you can clean it off with relative ease.
To do this without damaging the sockets and pins you will need, a soft bristled toothbrush, isopropyl alcohol and a microfiber cloth.
You will need to be careful, however, as PGA pins are very fragile and prone to breaking. Make sure to use light pressure, since being too rough can result in breaking the pins, which you’ll then need to replace the whole unit.
Not to worry though, if you follow the instructions below, you’ll be able to take off the thermal paste with absolute ease.
Keep in mind that you will need to be extremely careful during this process. CPUs are very delicate and you need to be sure you don’t damage them, so use very light pressure.
For PGA Sockets:
- First you’ll need to determine the direction the pins are pointing.
- Then dip the toothbrush into the alcohol.
- Now this is extremely important, you need to brush in the same direction the pins are pointing. Brush VERY lightly, applying little to no pressure.
- Once the brush has picked up some thermal paste, wipe it off with the microfiber cloth.
- Repeat this process until most of the thermal paste is gone. You don’t need to remove all of it, just enough to ensure a connection is made.
- Let it dry for about an hour.
For LGA Sockets
- Using an isopropyl alcohol wipe, wipe the thermal paste off the surface in a straight line.
- Repeat this process using a new wipe each time, until the thermal paste has been removed.
How To Reapply Thermal Paste On CPU
Reapplying thermal paste to the CPU is an easy process, but one that requires plenty of care.
- With the CPU already installed onto the motherboard, place a small, pea-sized amount of thermal paste on the center of the CPU.
- Now, install the CPU cooler while applying pressure to the top of the unit. You won’t need to spread the paste before you lower the unit down, the pressure of placing it on while distributing the paste easily.
- Once the cooler is installed, check around the edges of the CPU to make sure none of the thermal paste has spilled over the sides. If this happens you can clean it up using the steps above.
If you need to buy thermal paste, check out this highly rated one: Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut The High Performance Thermal Paste.
Cleaning Thermal Paste Off CPU FAQ
Do I Need To Remove Old Thermal Paste From the CPU?
Yes, you will need to remove old thermal paste from the CPU, especially when installing new components. This helps to prevent any air being trapped and creates a proper seal. Remember that thermal paste is used to fill in any microscopic defects in the CPU and cooler, so if old paste is left there, it can inhibit proper cooling.
Is 70% Isopropyl Alcohol Safe For CPU?
Yes, you can use 70% isopropyl alcohol to remove the thermal paste, just be aware that it does have more water in it, so it will take longer to dry. Typically it is better to use 99% isopropyl alcohol.
What To Use To Wipe Off Thermal Paste?
If you need to know how to clean CPU paste, you can use isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs, and a microfiber cloth. Remember to use gentle pressure and a combination of wiping with the cotton swabs and the microfiber cloth.
Final Words How To Clean Thermal Paste Off CPU
Now you know how to clean thermal paste off CPUs. As we’ve learned, thermal paste is extremely useful in creating proper seals around CPUs to ensure they cool effectively.
This ensures your rig will not overheat and continues running smoothly, especially when overclocking. Having this knowledge will be invaluable to easily remove the old thermal paste from your processor.
When it comes to isopropyl alcohol, remember that 99% is better (we recommend the highly rated Solimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol For Technical Use) as it dries faster than a more diluted version. Microfiber cloths are great to have on hand, though you can use other items, such as a paper towel, scrap cloth or towel, but the microfiber works best.
Thermal paste is a fantastic tool and with these instructions, you won’t have any issues with how to clean CPU paste.
When you’re ready to apply new thermal paste, be sure to choose a high quality one like the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut High Performance CPU Thermal Paste for cooling all processors, graphics cards and heat sinks in computers as well as consoles.