An Overview of PCB Cleaning Processes and the Selection of Optimum Cleaning Agent

An Overview of PCB Cleaning Processes and the Selection of Optimum Cleaning Agent

This article gives an overview of PCB cleaning processes and the selection of optimum cleaning agent. It will focus on the use of water-based cleaning agents, flux removers, and IPA. The main advantages and disadvantages of each agent are discussed, so that you can choose the right cleaning agent.


IPA is one of the most common solvents used to clean PCBs. Its effectiveness is improved when it is obtained from a registered source. Additionally, high-quality IPA increases the durability of the PCB. PCB cleaning is the most effective process if it is carried out with appropriate cleaning tools.

The optimal cleaning fluid depends on the contaminants to be removed, the surface temperature of the chemical solvents, and the environmental friendliness of the solvent. Gas phase cleaning is suitable for PCBs that have multiple layers. The solvent can reach even the smallest part of the board.

Water-based cleaners

Water-based PCB cleaning solutions are an excellent choice for removing the flux that can damage circuit boards. While some types of flux are water-soluble, others require a different solvent. When cleaning circuit boards with water, it is best to avoid exposing the boards to excessive water. In fact, short-term exposure to water may even shorten the life of some electronic components.

The cleaning agent used to clean PCBs is usually water-based and can be used by either immersion or by brushing. If you use a brush, you can heat the solvent to improve cleaning performance. However, make sure to use a solvent that does not contain any flux removers that may ignite when heated. Some mild solvents can be mixed with cotton or foam swabs to improve cleaning performance. Alternatively, you can use presaturated wipes containing isopropyl alcohol.

While solvents contain a variety of hazardous air pollutants and are therefore regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, water-based cleaners are not regulated and do not carry the same risks. Nevertheless, they do provide a high level of process variability. For instance, solvents can be used at low temperatures and can reach temperatures as high as 200C. Water-based cleaners also tend to have a higher surface tension, which can make them difficult to penetrate into tight spaces. Fortunately, these properties can be overcome by raising the temperature of the cleaning solution or using different surfactants and emulsifiers.

Flux removers

Flux removers are a great way to clean solder residue from your PCB before you solder. This is important, because the residual flux can cause corrosion and dendrites, which are ionic particles chained together between contact points on the board. When not removed, these particles can cause a short circuit or current leak. Flux removers can be made of a number of solvents, including isopropyl alcohol.

Flux removers are available in liquid or aerosol form. These liquids are specially designed to remove all kinds of rosin and flux residue from circuit boards. They can also be applied to printed circuit boards with a brush or dip tank. These liquids work effectively to remove flux residue and are safe to use around all components.

If you need a stronger solvent, you can use Flux Removal 4. It is an aerosol spray and contains solvents that are designed to clean PCBs. A special brush is used to apply the solution. The brush is made from high-quality fibers to resist the chemical and mechanical effects of the fluid. You don’t need to rinse the PCB with this solvent because it evaporates quickly. Flux removers can also be used to remove other contaminants on PCBs.

Isopropyl alcohol

PCB cleaning can be done by using a variety of tools, including a brush and liquid immersion. Adding heat to the solvent can improve the cleaning performance. However, this should only be done for nonflammable flux removers. In addition to brushes, you can also use cotton or foam swabs soaked in a mild solvent. These swabs are usually available in pump dispensers. Another option is to use presaturated wipes containing isopropyl alcohol.

Isopropyl alcohol is a cheap and widely available solvent for PCB cleaning. It evaporates quickly and has fewer chemicals than other cleaners. However, when using it to clean PCBs, it is important to use high-grade isopropyl alcohol. Lower-grade alcohol can damage electronic components. In addition, isopropyl alcohol should be handled with latex gloves. Distilled water is also a suitable alternative because it does not contain any conductive ions, which may cause corrosion.

The concentration of isopropyl alcohol in water influences the drying time. The higher the percentage of water, the longer it takes for the solution to dry. In addition, the higher the water content in the solvent, the higher the surface tension of the alcohol, and the more time it takes to dry. This is not beneficial for optics, where water spots are problematic.

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