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Ethanol for Cleaning Thermal Compound

  • Graphics Cards
  • Thermal Compound
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics Cards
February 19, 2013 9:50:32 AM


I cannot buy Isopropyl Alcohol and I was wondering if I could use the following for cleaning the thermal compound on my 8600 GT:

Ethyl Alcohol/Ethanol (25% diluted)

Which contains:
Ethanol B.P. (96%) 259 ml
Purified Water Q.S. 1000 ml

It is blue in colour and I think it is commonly referred to as rectified spirit.

More about : ethanol cleaning thermal compound

February 19, 2013 10:02:15 AM

Thank you for the reply.

I've seen those threads before and they do not answer my question in any way. Some of the posts are referring to just 'alcohol' and I think they are referring to Isopropyl Alcohol.

As I have already stated in my initial post, I do not have access to Isopropyl Alcohol.
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a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 11:50:31 AM

You can just use a paper towel and clean it.
February 19, 2013 11:59:13 AM

Thank you for the reply.

I am not looking out for alternatives or other methods. I just want to know whether the formulation which I mentioned in the first post can be used to clean thermal compound.
February 19, 2013 12:04:22 PM

You can use any kind of solvent. Any type of alcohol, cologne, vodka and even acetone if you are careful not to touch any plastic parts.
February 19, 2013 12:21:41 PM

You absolutely do not need anything but cotton balls. This crap about using solvents is heresy I say! The chemical composition of thermal paste is such that it does not leave residue when "dry wiped" but as soon as you introduce moisture, things change. You'll have to actually clean it off once you do that, instead of just dry wiping it off easily and just as effectively. I want to shoot the person who introduced the "Windex" approach (might as well call it that) nonsense to impressionable people...

Anyways, IF you want to go this route, why not just buy a product supposedly sold for this purpose? The risk you take if you go out and buy your own chemicals is that many solvents have additives that might either leave a film of oil on the die or chemically react with the thermal paste. You might not see it, but chemically it might all stay on the die. There's a very good reason why even fingerprints (read: oils from your fingers) are bad on the die/heatsink plate - and yet you want to use solvents that could potentially cover the entire surface with residue?
February 19, 2013 12:27:25 PM

Kursun, omnimodis78

Thank you for your opinions on this.
February 19, 2013 12:28:54 PM

If you're dead set on this route, then get a hold of some Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths wipes and use that. Eye glass lens cleaners are usually your best bet because they're completely oil free, and the cloth are lint-free also.
a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 2:05:35 PM

No, I would not use any alcohol that has a dye introduced. The objective, if a solvent is used, is that upon evaperation it leaves NO residue.
Grain or wood alcohol is fine, the LOWER the water content the better. PS Booze is NOT an exceptable alternative.
Most pharmacies sell 90% alcohol, the 10% being distilled water. Myself, I use 100%.

On lens wipes,verify that it has NO silicones, Many eyeglass wipes use a silicone as a lubricant and to fill in vey small scratches.
a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 2:26:21 PM

Nothing wrong with ethanol. I use it in the lab i work in all the time and in evaporates in seconds. As someone mentioned before, try to get one thats not colored.
a c 125 U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 2:33:31 PM

I work on ps3's and xboxes full time and I just use a microfibre rag to clean them off, don't even use any solvents at all. Wipe it off, done.
February 19, 2013 3:48:49 PM

RetiredChief said:

On lens wipes,verify that it has NO silicones, Many eyeglass wipes use a silicone as a lubricant and to fill in vey small scratches.

That's very interesting! Thanks for the heads up. Just goes to show you why wet-cleaning thermal paste scares me, and I never use it nor recommend it.
February 19, 2013 6:14:17 PM

Thank you for all the suggestions. I appreciate it.

I cleaned the thermal compound on the GPU with a dry cotton cloth. For the heatsink, I used a dab of ethanol on a Q-Tip and I think it worked out well.
a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 6:28:01 PM

Sounds good except for the "q-tip" which can leave tiny pieces of cotton Prabably OK, just not my choice. Best to use a lint free cloth.

Bottom line, should be fine - ENJOY
February 19, 2013 7:00:47 PM


I just used the Q-Tip for applying the ethanol to the heatsink surface because I wanted just a tiny amount. Used high quality fiber after that to bring it to a shine.

Thank you for the help.
February 19, 2013 7:15:23 PM

just scrub it with mr clean.