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My computer won't boot after cleaning with contact cleaner

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by J.paalman, Feb 22, 2017.

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  1. J.paalman

    J.paalman Thread Starter

    Feb 22, 2017
    While I was cleaning out my computer, my nephew decided it was a good idea to take a peek and suddently felt the urge to sneeze. Long story short: my motherboard had water stains all over it.

    I read that it was a good idea to clean it with contact cleaner, so that is what is used. I used one I got at a local parts store, from the brand Griffon and it's oil based. On the website, it is said that the spray doesn't alter plastics and that it is safe to use on electronics if the power has been removed, which I did. It is also said that the spray is quick drying and that all devices should be able to be used again after about half an hour.

    Now for the problem, I've used the spray three days ago, and yet there are still some wet spots on my motherboard. After trying to turn it on, I came to the conclusion that my computer would not boot. There's no burning smell or alarming noises, yet the computer won't pass the stage at which the fans are spinning at full power.

    I've had this issue before, when I had forgotten to install the RAM memory. It would get stuck at the same point as it is now. My guess is that there's still some contact cleaner residue, which it wouldn't leave behind, left behind. The RAM sticks are greasy when I pull them out, but cleaning doesn't work.

    For my question: how can I clean the contact cleaner off of my motherboard? Please tell my which products I should use and what I should do with them.

    Also, as I live in the netherlands, could you tell me where to get the products I need, if you happen to know?

    Thanks in advance,
    J. Paalman
  2. flavallee

    flavallee Trusted Advisor

    May 12, 2002
    First Name:
    You used an oil-based spray cleaner inside your computer's case because your nephew sneezed inside it?
    I'm not surprised at all there's oily residue on its hardware and it won't start up.

    Hopefully, someone else here will have a resolution for your problem.
    Good luck.

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  3. bassfisher6522


    Aug 8, 2008
    Where to start: There's no guarantees that this will work. But you have a slim to none chance that you will resurrect your PC. OK...here we go......

    First, completely disassemble your PC.....I mean take it completely apart (handle with care) so that there is nothing left in the case....nothing. Once every thing is out of the case, take one piece at a time and use a little rubbing alcohol and a coffee filter and wipe down the mobo...ever so lightly paying close attention to your CPU area. So follow the "LESS is MORE" rule. You may have to do this 2 or 3 times to get all the residue off. Then do this for the rest of your hardware.

    Once done, let it all sit for an hour....then reassemble PC and start it up.

  4. kenbok51


    May 31, 2011
    I would do it a little differently. First get 91% rubbing alcohol from a drug store and also buy a small spray bottle you might find there or perhaps at a garden center for spraying plants. Note all your connections especially from the motherboard to the front of the case (maybe take a few pictures). You will have to remove any cards, connectors and the memory but leave the CPU heatsink in place. Then remove the motherboard. Clean the cards, memory sticks and the motherboard thoroughly with the alcohol spray. When cleaning the motherboard make sure to spray inside the memory and card slots (all of them not just the ones you use). Also spray the back of the cards and board. Since your spraying inside the slots you might want to give the board a good shaking downwards to clear as much alcohol as you can out of the slots. Put everything in a warm place for at least 24 hours to dry before reassembling. Since rubbing alcohol is 91% alcohol and 9% water it may take a little longer for the water to evaporate than the alcohol so 24 hours would be advisable.
    A note about your connections to the case front:
    Power switch and Reset button connections are just breaks in the line and don't necessarily have a polarity but everything else does. HDD led's, Power led's as well as speaker connections and the like are polarity dependent so be careful to make sure + goes to + and - to -. Not all boards are well marked as + and - so be watchful. I don't know about using a coffee filter, especially on the back of boards where the wires poke thru the can grab paper and even Q-Tip cotton and make a mess. A soft brush might be more appropriate. Pay close attention to the motherboard chips that are soldered to the board with the connections so close together there is very little room between them. You need to make sure the spray really gets in there good and washes away any oil.
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