Cleaning up your PCB

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I use flux for all my soldering. It tends to leave a yellow residue I am sure most people who have soldered something are familiar with. So I found an easy, and cheap, way to clean up my solder areas while I am working.

You will need an acid brush (the cheap type with the tin handle), a liquid dispenser like a pump bottle or wash bottle, a solvent, and some type of paper wipe. See the photos to see what the brush and the bottles look like.

I like to use 90% (or higher) isopropyl alcohol for cleaning. It doesn't cost much, evaporates quickly, and has a lot less chemicals in it than most other PCB cleaners. Check to make sure the isopropyl alcohol will not harm anything you're working with. I haven't found anything I have soldered yet which it has had any sort of detrimental effect on. USE LATEX GLOVES AND GOGGLES WHEN USING ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL. ONLY USE ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA.

Kimberly-Clark Kimwipes work well as a paper wipe but I find single ply, hard and "scratchy", no-name brand toilet paper does the job just as well. Don't use Charmin or some soft and fluffy brand as it will leave fibers/lint on your PCB.

Cut the acid brush so you have an angle on the bristles. The short side is for scrubbing, the long side is to get into hard to reach places. Dip the brush in the isopropyl alcohol, or wet the area with the wash bottle, and scrub the flux residue, or whatever else you need removed, off. Wipe with a paper wipe to get the majority of the solvent off. If you're using isopropyl alcohol, the rest will evaporate.
utest_mal11 months ago
Nice one
profpat1 year ago
nice one,

btw, i use lighter fluid, denatured alcohol and acetone..
Dave-T (author)  profpat1 year ago

Thanks. I use denatured alcohol too, though I find the isopropyl alcohol is easier to get because I have a pharmacy just down the road. I haven't used lighter fluid - I would think it might leave some residue. Have you found that it does? I am selective about what I put acetone on as it is quite strong and I have melted plastic with it before.
pfred22 years ago
I trim my flux brushes too. The bristles are too flexible the stock length. I trim my brushes a little shallower an angle than you do, but leave mine a bit longer on the short side. I have a pump bottle kicking around someplace. Perhaps even two of them. At home I use spray flux remover. I still brush it though.
Dave-T (author)  pfred21 year ago
Pfred, I'm not a fan of most spray flux removers as they have a lot of harsh chemicals in them. I find rubbing alcohol works really well for what I have needed to do so far.
I have found some good cleaning instrument for cleaning of PCB at I haven't purchase them yet but I think it might be good one.
Dave-T (author)  jamesrojas711 year ago
James, the equipment that A-Tek Systems sell will definitely clean what you need cleaned but you're talking about spending tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of dollars for that equipment. This Instructable is aimed at the home hobbyist/DIYer who is not necessarily in "production" mode and/or doesn't have a ton of cash to spend.
canucksgirl2 years ago
Good, useful info Dave-T. :-)
Dave-T (author)  canucksgirl2 years ago