How to Clean Thermal Paste off your CPU without Alcohol

Thermal paste is basically a grey sludgy material which acts as a medium for heat conduction between two conducting surfaces. Basically, when we are talking about PC’s, the two surfaces are the CPU and a heat distributor like the heat sink. Thermal paste technically keeps the parts of the computer together and provides a medium for heat transfer to prevent any type of overheating to occur.

Although thermal paste is super vital to keep your PC from overheating, working on a computer for a long time can cause the paste to dry out. Due to this reason, you will have to replace the thermal paste from time to time. Do thermal paste come with new CPU?

Now replacing thermal paste is not that difficult of a task. It will only take a few minutes for a professional to get the job done. However, if you are willing to execute the task yourself, we have got you covered. The following guide will help you solve the problem just the way you would have wanted it. Let us dig in.


Types of CPU sockets

Generally, there are two types of sockets:

Pinhole Socket (PGA)

This type of socket can be harder to clean as it has an arrangement of tiny holes all over it. It can be a difficult task to force the thermal paste out of those holes.

Pin Socket (LGA)

This type of socket has arrangement of tiny pins all over it with connectors on its underside. This type of socket is mostly used by Intel. LGA sockets are generally considered safer.

What a Heat Sink is

Heat Sink

In simple words, a heat sink can be known as a heat exchanger, dissipating heat away for a mechanical or electrical device by channeling the heat to a fluid medium. The fluid medium can be air or a liquid coolant. The fluid medium then functions in dissipating the heat, thereby regulating the temperature of the device.

Heat sinks in computers are used for cooling CPUs, GPUs, chipsets etc. They prevent the device from overheating and allows your CPU to stay cool.

Material Required

Providing yourself with the right equipment for cleaning the thermal paste off your CPU can make your job a lot easier. You are going to require the following equipment for the procedure:

Microfiber Cloth

First, you are going to need a microfiber cloth. Now some people might be thinking of using a regular paper towel. But using paper towels will leave residues behind which will create more problems for you. Therefore, it is advised to use a microfiber cloth to get the job done cleanly and efficiently.


Arctic Silver 5 kit

The cleaner must be something which evaporates quickly and leaves no residue behind. The recommended product for you would be to use 99% isopropyl alcohol. The advantage of isopropyl alcohol is that is can easily evaporate without leaving any residues behind.

If you cannot get your hand on isopropyl alcohol, then one of the best options you can opt for is Arctic Silver’s ArctiClean. This product is specially designed to remove thermal paste without leaving any residue. This product can get your job done better than anything and make it a lot easier for you.

WARNING: Never use water for your cleaning process as it can damage your PC. You cannot just apply any solution available at home as it can cause a lot of damage.

Procedure for cleaning thermal paste

Now that we have all the materials in place and have knowledge about the different types of CPU sockets, we can commence our cleaning process. First, we will list some precautions you must take. Then we will head on to the steps involved in the cleaning process.


  1. First thing you need to do is to shut down your computer. After the computer has shutdown, turn off the power cable connection to prevent power supply to the computer.
  2. Pull out any cables attached to the computer. This may include power cables, HDMI, or any other cables connected.
  3. Discharge any electrons still present by pressing and holding the power button of your device for about ten seconds.
  4. In case you are using a laptop; you should take the battery out.
  5. Try to operate this task is a dust free environment.

Now that all the precautions have been taken, we head over to the cleaning process.

Removing the thermal paste

  1. First thing you are going to do is remove any dust present around the CPU. With the help of a small brush, swipe the dust away so it will not cause any hinderance for you during the process. Once you are done, move on to the next step.
  2. You might notice that the thermal paste might have dried up, leaving some solid chunks behinds. What you are going to do is take the microfiber cloth and remove any chunks you can with it.
  3. Once you have removed all the chunks, pick the microfiber clock and apply a small amount of Isopropyl alcohol. If you are using ArctiClean, pour that onto the cloth.
  4. Gently clean off the surface of the CPU. Make sure you thoroughly remove the paste until it looks brand new and shiny. Once the motherboard is done, look for other parts of the CPU and get them cleaned as well with the same procedure
  5. Once the CPU surface is clean and shiny, we have accomplished our goal here.
  6. To clean the Heat sink, first remove the dirt which has accumulated on the vent. After that, follow the same steps to clean the thermal paste from your heat sink.

By now, you would have figured out how to deal with thermal paste. However, sometimes the thermal paste can enter the CPU sockets and damage the CPU. Removing the thermal paste from these sockets could be very delicate as you could damage some parts of it. It is recommended you take professional help for this job.


This wraps up our guide on how to remove thermal paste from your CPU. Hopefully, you would have found a solution to your problem through the above text. It is recommended you follow all the steps in the manner provided and perform them very carefully. Seek professional help if you are unable to perform it on your own.

We hope this article would have been very helpful to you and cleaning thermal paste will not be a problem for you in the future.

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Nick Miller

It's Nick Miller a 25 year old tech enthusiast and senior editor at Flexgate, i try to make tech simple for the everyday person. You will find review about tech, tools and Computer hardware here.

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