Best way to clean old boards ?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-3-13 @ 17:33

What is the best and easiest way to clean old cards and motherboards to get them looking like new ?
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby bofh.fromhell » 2019-3-13 @ 18:09

First and foremost theres the pressurized air to get rid of the easy stuff.
Do that with a facemask and/or outside, dust contains nasty stuff you dont wanna breathe in !
You can help out with an antistatic (conductive) brush.

Then if it lacks any big bga chips a dishwasher works just fine.
Or handwash if it needs some help with a brush.

Dry in an oven set at something like 50 degrees C.
If theres bga chips you can drown them in IPA to remove the last of the moisture.

And if its for an ebay pic you can spray with WD40 to make it look all shiny and new again.
Wouldn't do that to gear I wanna keep tho =)
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby Deksor » 2019-3-13 @ 18:16

Well if you have BGA chips you can also use water to clean it : just don't forget to use a hair dryer when you're done to remove the water from under the chips.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby .legaCy » 2019-3-13 @ 18:29

Deksor wrote:Well if you have BGA chips you can also use water to clean it : just don't forget to use a hair dryer when you're done to remove the water from under the chips.

When you take a shit you don't dry your ass, you clean your ass.
Tap water contain minerals and even if the water evaporate, the minerals remains and it will result in corrosion.
For me the proper way to go is to remove the dust blowing air and with the help of an antistatic brush, then if anything is still hanging , IPA and the ESD safe brush, otherwise just ultrasonic cleaning(which it could be difficult on larger boards).
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-3-13 @ 19:05

I like to use a shop vac first to get out most of the dust.
Then I will blow out the fans and PSU and crevasses with an air compressor.

But what about the caked on dusts and stains on the motherboards and cards.

How can I get these clean and looking photo-genic like NEW.
Last edited by Intel486dx33 on 2019-3-13 @ 22:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby rasz_pl » 2019-3-13 @ 19:19

looks like pentium4 and cobwebs - clean it with fire
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby retardware » 2019-3-13 @ 19:21

This photo is a gem :)

I like it!

Do you know anything about the history of the computer, why it got that dirty?
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby AlaricD » 2019-3-13 @ 20:03

Intel486dx33 wrote:I like to use a shop vac first to get out most of the dust.

Yep, I'd vacuum first, so I don't just blow all that crap everywhere.

Then I will blow out the fans and PSU and crevasses with an air compressor.

Combine forced air with suction so you can blow the dust into the vacuum nozzle (again, reducing dust going everywhere).

But what about the caked on dusts and stains on the motherboards and cards.
How can I get these clean and lookinging photogenic like NEW.

Techmoan used water...
Last edited by AlaricD on 2019-3-13 @ 20:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby orcish75 » 2019-3-13 @ 20:07

The dishwasher cleans boards FAR better than any other method I've tried. A while ago an elderly gentleman asked me to sort out a P4 system he used for video editing. He had been overly generous with oil that he had squirted into the CPU cooler fan (It was a 3rd party FOXCONN fan, not an Intel fan). The motherboard was covered in oil, dust and muck. Tried the usual leaf blower, paint brush, cloth etc to clean the board. Got rid of most of the dust, but there was still a thin layer of oil and muck on the board.

After reading other suggestions of using the dishwasher, I decided to give it a go. Just make sure you remove every possible item off the board, CPU, memory, battery, chipset fans etc. Any paper stickers/labels will be destroyed, so remove them as well if they have any important information on them. Run the board through a normal cycle, whatever you do, DON'T wash it with any dishes, pots, pans etc. You don't want bits of food embedded in the cpu socket or between BGA balls.

After washing that board in the dishwasher and leaving it outside to dry for a couple of days, it came out sparkling, literally as new. I couldn't believe the difference. I put all the components back on the board and it fired up, everything worked perfectly, no damage done what-so-ever. I've since then washed many boards in the dishwasher with spectacular results.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby AlaricD » 2019-3-13 @ 20:19

orcish75 wrote:The dishwasher cleans boards FAR better than any other method I've tried.

With or without dishwasher detergent (or even with/without rinse aid)? I'm guessing *without* for both.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby Deksor » 2019-3-13 @ 20:23

.legaCy wrote:
Deksor wrote:Well if you have BGA chips you can also use water to clean it : just don't forget to use a hair dryer when you're done to remove the water from under the chips.

When you take a shit you don't dry your ass, you clean your ass.
Tap water contain minerals and even if the water evaporate, the minerals remains and it will result in corrosion.
For me the proper way to go is to remove the dust blowing air and with the help of an antistatic brush, then if anything is still hanging , IPA and the ESD safe brush, otherwise just ultrasonic cleaning(which it could be difficult on larger boards).



I don't use it to make water to evaporate, I use it to push water away. Minerals staying in place will happen if wether your board has BGAs or not anyways.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby orcish75 » 2019-3-13 @ 20:45

With or without dishwasher detergent (or even with/without rinse aid)? I'm guessing *without* for both.


Sorry, forgot to mention, definitely with detergent and rinse aid, especially if there's oil or nicotine tar on the board. If you're really worried about detergent or rinse aid still being on the board after the wash, just rinse the board again under the tap. I've never had to do this with all the boards I've washed in the dishwasher, I just give the board a good shake after I've taken it out to get rid of the excess water that tends to stick in the I/O ports and PCI/ISA slots and then leave it to dry outside in the sun for a couple of days.

I haven't tried the oven trick that bofh.fromhell uses, I'll definitely give it a try next time I wash a board.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby AlaricD » 2019-3-13 @ 21:10

orcish75 wrote:
With or without dishwasher detergent (or even with/without rinse aid)? I'm guessing *without* for both.


Sorry, forgot to mention... with detergent and rinse aid, especially if there's oil/nicotine tar on the board. If you're really worried about detergent or rinse aid still being on the board after the wash, just rinse the board again under the tap. I've never had to do this with all the boards I've washed in the dishwasher, I just give the board a good shake after I've taken it out... then leave it to dry outside in the sun for a couple of days.


The rinse aid I understand, but I just feel weird using the detergent. Guess just the regular ol' Cascade would work, don't think I'd need to use one of the fancy pods for it or anything.

What about the heated dry? Will that be a problem (there's an air dry function of course, but if heated dry is generally safe then that might be advantageous).
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby orcish75 » 2019-3-13 @ 21:40

Ja, it's perfectly understandable you're worried about using detergent. If the board is just dusty and has no other residue on it, I'm sure a water cycle without detergent and rinse aid will clean it really well. I haven't tried it with a pod, but I'm sure it'll be the same as regular detergent. My dishwasher doesn't have an air dry function, it's just a run of the mill jobbie so I haven't been able to try that. If possible, take the board out immediately after the full cycle has finished, the board will still be quite hot and the water on the board will evaporate a lot quicker.

If you've got an old board lying around, (even a video card or sound card) that doesn't matter if it gets damaged, use it as a test subject. I can't guarantee that it won't get damaged, there's still an element of risk, but I've washed probably 20 or 30 mobos/video cards using detergent and rinse aid and not one of them was damaged as a result of washing them in the dishwasher.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby retardware » 2019-3-13 @ 22:36

AlaricD wrote:What about the heated dry? Will that be a problem (there's an air dry function of course, but if heated dry is generally safe then that might be advantageous).

Depends on the oven.
I just heat my stove to 60 degrees C for a while.
Then I turn off the heater, for two reasons: First, IPA is flammable, I don't want to take risks. Second, if the heater goes on it can become hotter than one wants, deforming parts.

Finally I put the board into the oven, a bit slanted so that the warm air from the blower in the oven reaches all parts, while leaving the door open a few centimeters. This allows the air to exchange and take away the vapors.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby AlaricD » 2019-3-14 @ 14:03

retardware wrote:
AlaricD wrote:What about the heated dry? Will that be a problem (there's an air dry function of course, but if heated dry is generally safe then that might be advantageous).

Depends on the oven.

I meant the heated dry of the dishwasher itself. Sometimes some plastics melt even in the top rack (but that could have been the heat of the water in the sanitize cycle. Peanut butter and mayonnaise jars are very susceptible to that. 'Course, those are very different plastics.
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Re: Best way to clean old boards ?

Postby .legaCy » 2019-3-14 @ 16:25

AlaricD wrote:
retardware wrote:
AlaricD wrote:What about the heated dry? Will that be a problem (there's an air dry function of course, but if heated dry is generally safe then that might be advantageous).

Depends on the oven.

I meant the heated dry of the dishwasher itself. Sometimes some plastics melt even in the top rack (but that could have been the heat of the water in the sanitize cycle. Peanut butter and mayonnaise jars are very susceptible to that. 'Course, those are very different plastics.

I really don't like lot of heat on plastics, once i tried to retrobright with heat method, and ended up with a slight bent keyboard cover.
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