How To Remove Thermal Paste From CPU Without Alcohol?

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If you’ve built a gaming rig on your own in the past, you’re most likely familiar with why thermal paste is so essential.

The CPU cooler you have installed on top of the processor vents out the heat and keeps it cool.

How to remove thermal paste?


  1. What Do You Need?
  2. The Best Way To Remove Thermal Paste
  3. What About The Heatsink?
  4. Conclusion

If you are a first-time builder, applying thermal paste might look easy at first glance.

But thermal paste can dry out over the years, leading to the processor overheating.

The solution to this is to remove the dried thermal paste and apply fresh thermal paste.

But we’ve got you covered if you’re a beginner PC builder who doesn’t fully understand that process.

Let’s find out the quickest and cleanest way to remove the thermal paste from the CPU.

What Do You Need?

Removing thermal paste isn’t exactly the most challenging thing in the world.

But you do require a few materials for the process.

The first thing you should grab is a microfiber cloth.

You might have heard that people use regular old paper towels, but we highly recommend against that because paper towels or tissues can leave behind residue.

As for the liquid that you’ll use to clean the thermal paste, it’s recommended to use 99% isopropyl alcohol as it evaporates swiftly and doesn’t leave behind any residue.

But what if you don’t have access to it and want to know how to remove thermal paste without alcohol?

Well, we don’t recommend just any other liquid you can find in your home, and regular water is out of the picture.

Arctic Silver’s ArctiClean is the best solution out there, as its purpose made to clean off the thermal paste. (Apart from that, there really isn’t a foolproof way to remove thermal paste without alcohol.)

ArctiClean – Thermal Paste Remover

An anti-static bracelet would be ideal, but it isn’t exactly necessary.

As the name itself implies, this prevents any static from being built up in your body, which could potentially damage the motherboard.

Again, it’s not obligatory, but these bracelets are cheap, so better be safe than sorry.

There is also the option of buying the Arctic Silver 5 kit.

Arctic Silver 5 Kit

This comes with the cleaner, a microfiber cloth, and an anti-static wrist strap.

Plus, you get the Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste, which is arguably the best thermal paste out there.

The Best Way To Remove Thermal Paste

Okay, so you’ve gathered all the materials and are ready to clean your processor and heatsink thoroughly.

We’ll talk about the processor first and then move on to the heatsink.

  • First, you’re going to notice that the thermal paste may have dried up quite a bit, leaving behind small, solid chunks.
dried thermal paste on processor
The dried thermal paste on the processor!
  • This can mostly be removed with the dry microfiber cloth. (However, if you run into trouble, you can use a spudger or something flat that won’t scratch the surface to clean it off.)
  • After that, apply a small amount of isopropyl alcohol to the microfiber cloth and gently clean off the surface of the CPU. (Isopropyl alcohol does an excellent job at quickly cleaning away thermal paste.)
  • Once the surface looks shiny and brand new, our job here is done.

Before we move on, there’s one last thing we want to mention.

Sometimes dried-up thermal paste can find its way into the CPU socket and potentially damage the CPU pins.

So if you’re wondering how to remove the thermal paste from your motherboard and CPU socket/pins both, don’t panic and follow these details below:

First off, we want to warn you that this process is very delicate so do it at your own risk. (We are not liable for any damage.)

Removing thermal paste from the CPU pins isn’t easy and requires the right tool.

  • You can use thin Q-tips to clean the affected area carefully.
  • But don’t touch the areas which aren’t affected.
  • The same goes for the motherboard.

What About The Heatsink?

Before you remove the thermal paste from the heatsink or cooler, we recommend you clean the dust that can accumulate on the vents as well.

Removing thermal paste from heat sink

You can skip that part if you’ll be installing a new heatsink.

As for the cleaning process, it’s pretty much the same as the processor itself.

Related guide: Five different types of thermal paste


That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Hopefully, this brief guide helped you out, and you won’t struggle with cleaning thermal paste in the future.

How to remove thermal paste? - Conclusion

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Luqman Khan

Luqman is the founder of and an obsessed gamer! Overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He is also the founder of a Computer Gaming Lounge. He has been into gaming and PC Building since 2009. He is also obsessed with DOTA 2 and Rainbow Six Siege.