Isopropyl alcohol - often referred to as IPA or ‘rubbing alcohol' - is a bit of timeless classic in the cleaning and degreasing world. From hobbyist computer builders to full-blown electrical engineers and system assembly professionals, almost anyone who works regularly with electronics will, at some point, have had cause to reach for a can of isopropyl.
What makes isopropyl alcohol so good for working with electronics?
- IPA is a highly effective degreaser and cleaner, ideal for many general purpose materials and scenarios
- It's especially well suited to removing dust, dirt and grease from PCBs (printed circuit boards), processors, microcontrollers, semiconductors, and all manner of other electrical chips, substrates and wiring components
- Isopropyl alcohol cuts through grease and dust - including most types of thermal paste, TIM compound or flux - extremely quickly and effectively
- Crucially, it also then dries and evaporates very quickly too, leaving surfaces such as circuit boards and electrical components clean and dry within a few moments of first use
- Isopropyl alcohol is non-aggressive, meaning it won't damage sensitive components, and it doesn't leave behind any unwanted residue that may interfere with the optimal functioning of parts or systems
- In addition to PCBs and soldered components, rubbing alcohol is also perfect for use on connectors, sensors and fibre optics, telephone circuits, LCD panels and much more besides
How should you use isopropyl alcohol safely?
- As with all solvent-based cleaners, always read the label carefully before applying cleaning products to a surface or item
- If in any doubt, always test a small, non-crucial area of the surface before applying solvents more widely
- Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable - keep away from heat, sparks and open flames
- As with many solvents, IPA produces powerful fumes that are dangerous if not used in a well-ventilated area
- Wear protective clothing if required, and always be sure to replace the product cap quickly between uses to minimise unwanted evaporation
For more options in terms of specialist cleaning products and solvents, see our full range of precision cleaners and degreasers.