How To Clean Thermal Paste off CPU: A Guide for All CPU Types

How to clean thermal paste off CPU is essential information for users who have made the common mistake of going a little overboard when they apply thermal paste on their PCs. After dropping that extra paste onto their costly devices, most users think their PCs are done for good. However, this is not the case as it is easy to clean up your CPU sockets if you know the right tools for cleaning and the technique to work on sensitive hardware.

How To Clean Thermal Paste off CPU

Read on to learn all the nooks of the process in our detailed guide and get on to saving your PC from complete failure, which could be likely if you don’t remove the paste immediately after the spillage!

How To Clean Thermal Paste off CPU?

To clean the thermal paste off CPU, the best method is to use a soft cloth soaked in 90% isopropyl alcohol. It is essential to be extremely cautious during the process because the pins on a CPU can break if you set too much pressure on them.

– Using Thermal Paste Cleaners

Before you start cleaning the thermal grizzly kryonaut thermal paste from your PC, you must get an excellent thermal cleaner that will emulsify the paste correctly. Now, there are many options available in the market that you can pick from, including acetone products, alcohol or even complete cleaning kits.

You will need other tools for this process: q-tips, toothpicks, and a magnifying glass for PGA sockets. When you start your cleaning process, you will have to apply some paste remover to the affected area before you can clean it. It is not a good idea to add a lot because you might have to remove the excess water and the risk of it spreading. The best thing you can do is to apply a little at first and then increase the amount as needed.

Since paste removers take some time to bind with the paste itself, it is best to leave the whole thing alone for a full 5 minutes before you clean up. When you clean, you will need to use a Q-tip that you can gently brush over the affected tips. It is essential to be careful because, in most cases, you might have to replace the whole thing if a single PIN breaks.

– Using Acetone and Nail Varnish Remover

If you need a thermal paste cleaning agent that doubles to qualify as a home fix, you can use nail polish remover since it comes with acetone. Acetone is good for removing thermal paste because it is often used to clean sensitive equipment like lab tools, which is why it is an excellent recommendation. While it might lower some users’ hopes, we don’t recommend stuffing your CPU with nail varnish remover.

If you want to know how to clean thermal paste off the CPU without alcohol, this is a good way, but you should only use it if nothing else is available and it has a high amount of acetone. When using it on CPUs, it is essential to be careful of the other components in your varnish remover. Ingredients like panthenol are used in consumer products, and since they are designed to moisturize the skin, there is a chance they might not be able to evaporate entirely from your CPU. You can use water to clean up the remaining paste, but you must be careful with how much you use.

It would help if you were careful that any liquid you apply only settles on the heat spreader’s surface, and it completely evaporates before you decide to use your CPU yourself.

When you have applied your acetone product, and it emulsifies the paste, you need to brush the results off your pins straight. It is essential not to use pressure because the pins in an AMD Ryzen CPU can easily bend and break. However, when it comes to Intel CPUs, the surface is extremely flat, making the cleaning process a lot easier.

Removing all of the paste is not essential, and we recommend you only remove enough to get your device back to operation.

– Cleaning With Isopropyl Alcohol

When using alcohol with 70% or higher concentration, you can use a toothbrush as your primary cleaning tool for rubbing alcohol, provided it is very soft. Other tools you might need are a magnifying glass to get a sense of your affected area and some tissues to clean your brush during the cleaning process.

To start, you must put a small amount of the alcohol in a clean bowl. Use your toothbrush to soak up some of the and then apply it to the affected area. You can clean the paste from your and when you see a lump of paste forming in between wipes, grab it off the brush with a tissue. It will go back in the pins if you don’t do this.

Cleaning With Isopropyl Alcohol

You must remove the excess alcohol from your device after cleaning it. There are different ways of doing this. After you think you have done a thorough job, leaving your device in the open air is best, so the remaining alcohol evaporates.

You can also use a Q-top to soak in the remaining alcohol, but it is important to not pressure in this instance either because there is a risk that your CPU pins might break.

Now that you are done, it is time to test the CPU again. Leave it off for a while before you boot it, and if you can do so successfully, it means you have done an excellent job. If it does not boot, do not be disheartened because it is often essential to repeat this process a couple of times before you get it right.

– Purifying the Surface of Your CPU

If you used the Arctic Clean cleaning kit as a thermal paste remover alternative for your PC, you might have to go through this part of the process. This will purify your CPU’s surface and take away any residue that might still be remaining on them.

The process is different depending on the socket type you are cleaning, but the general overview is that you need to apply a few drops of the Arcticclean 2 on your CPU and polish it up until it shines like new.

Just because your CPU looks fresh and new after the purification and applying thermal paste does not mean that the CPU is ready to use; you must wait at least 24 hours before you try to use your device again; if you see any residue after, you might have to clean it all over again.

– The General Technique For Paste Removal

After applying some paste and cleaning the resulting paste with q tips, you also require some gentle wipes to move the cleaning process along. Since most new pastes are not conductive, it is only necessary to remove enough paste to allow your CPU to connect.

Another thing to note is that the lumps of the thermal paste can get stuck on the Q-tips that you clean with, so it is essential to swap them and use new ones. When you feel you have cleaned enough, focusing on removing any excess liquid matter from your device is also necessary.

Remember to use a clean Q-tip for excess liquid removal. After that, it is time to check your pure CPU once it is dry and clean. Apply some new paste on it (correctly) and then put it back in the motherboard. After you place your CPU coolers correctly, check to see if your PC boots up okay.

If it can boot perfectly well, that is excellent news. However, if it does not, you just have to clean your processor more using this same technique.

Extracting the Paste From Different CPU Types

Some CPU types have PINs, and others have more holes, so you need to use a different approach when cleaning additional CPUs. This section will discuss cleaning the two most important classes, the LGA sockets, and the PGA sockets.

– LGA (Land Grid Array) CPU Types

If you are going to clean an LGA socket, you are likely an Intel user, and you also must know that in this type of socket, we can find the pins on the motherboard socket. This means there are also round pads on the CPU designed to contact and protect the pins. AMD ThreadRipper and the Intel Core series use LGA sockets for their operations.


Since we will not have to deal with pins while cleaning this type of CPU system, we only need to work on the round contact pads, which are much easier to clean.

– PGA (Pin Grid Array) CPU Types

Now, when we come to the discussion of the PGA sockets, it is an entirely different discussion since, in this case, you can find the pins on the CPU itself. As for the motherboard socket, it contains a series of holes for these pins. Popular CPUs like the AMD Ryzen series use this popular type of processor.

Now, cleaning the dried paste from the pins of a Ryzen CPU is a little more complicated. Remember that while older pastes with more metal did conduct a lot of selectivities, the new varieties do not contact that much. This is true for all of them except for liquid thermal compounds.

You only need to remove enough paste so your CPU can connect well with your socket. Even if tiny bits of paste is left on your CPU, it will not disrupt the connection, even though it might not look great.


1. What Are Some Excellent Alternatives for Thermal Paste?

For users who would like viable alternatives for paste uses, some excellent products like graphite thermal pads are far easier to apply and remove. The best part about these pads is that since they are pads, there is no risk of spilling them onto your device or the CPU pins. You can use them at a lesser risk for a much more improved result.

2. Why Do People Use Thermal Paste On CPUs?

When we use the heat spreader on the top part of our CPU, most assume it is flat since there is nothing visible to the human eye. However, this is certainly not the case because there are a lot of tiny grooves and pockets all over your heat spreader, even if they are microscopic.

You might think that since these pockets and grooves are so small, they would not adversely affect your CPU, but in reality, they act as an air gap that can undermine the proper transfer of heat. This means that your CPU device will not be able to receive an adequate amount of cooling, which could lead to serious side effects, including a halt in operation.

Thermal pastes fill up the tiny grooves and pockets on your CPU so that there can be excellent contact between the CPU cooler surface and the CPU heat spreader. Since these pastes efficiently conduct heat, the cooling efficiency of your CPU goes higher.

3. Is It Wrong To Get Thermal Paste on The CPU?

Many PC users wonder whether it is a bad idea to get thermal paste on your CPU, and the answer is that it is, in fact, a terrible idea since thermal paste can damage the socket and pin connection of your CPU, causing your PC not to boot. This is why we typically need acetone to remove thermal paste to get the PC to work again.

Using a lot of thermal paste on our CPU will significantly reduce the heat conduction, and the paste tends to thicken over time, forming a big and hard lump, which might stop your PC altogether.

4. Is It Safe To Use Alcohol On CPU Pins?

Using alcohol on your CPU pins is entirely safe if you have spilled thermal paste on them and would like to clean up. You should use 90% isopropyl alcohol for the most optimal results and be careful not to spill too much on the hardware.

Is It Wrong To Get Thermal Paste on The CPU


To conclude our guide on cleaning thermal paste off CPU components, we believe we have established that there are multiple efficient ways to go over this process and get the cleaning right. We have also compiled a list of bullet points that will act as a summary for your further research of the topic:

  • Thermal paste spillage is terrible for the sensitive components of your CPU as it can permanently stop electricity transfers between components.
  • While industrial products marketed as thermal paste removers might be the best options, you can also clean the spillage on your PC with nail varnish remover or 70% Isopropyl alcohol.
  • Thermal paste can help to fill the tiny holes on your CPU’s exterior and allow your CPU to get optimal cooling and operate correctly.
  • It is essential to know the type of CPU that your microprocessor is using and whether it is LGA or PGA so that you clean it appropriately.

Thermal paste is an essential fix for your PC, but it cannot be suitable for your hardware if you use too much of it, so it is necessary to be careful when using it. If you do end up going a little overboard and facing any issues after the spillage, you can have the problems fixed by cleaning them with the methods and tools in this guide!

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