How to Clean a CPU and Heatsink

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In this tutorial I will show you how to clean a CPU and heatsink. Why would someone want to clean their processor or heatsink? The main reason would be when a person wants to upgrade their CPU but the second reason would be to apply a better conductive thermal paste to the CPU and heatsink to allow for better overclocking. Either reason is valid but I wouldn’t recommend playing with the CPU too much as eventually it will get damaged. Sometimes the thermal paste can get pretty stuck on the heatsink or processor making it difficult to fully remove but if necessary you can use a hard plastic utensil to get the stubborn pieces off. Follow the instructions below and you have a clean surface in no time.


1. Open the side panel of your desktop computer and find the CPU and heatsink.

2. Remove the heatsink and fan assembly according to the manufacturers specifications.

3. Once you removed the heatsink grab a lint free cloth and some isopropyl alcohol and clean the bottom of the heatsink until it’s completely clean. You may need to use multiple cloths to get the heatsink perfectly clean.

4. Now release the latch holding the CPU in place and gently grab the processor and clean it with a lint free cloth and isopropyl alcohol like the heatsink.

5. If both units are completely clean and without thermal paste then you are now ready to re-apply some fresh thermal paste.


– Using a Q-tip dipped in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol can help you clean all the groves of the computers CPU and heatsink.

– When purchasing the isopropyl alcohol try getting the 99% kind so that it doesn’t leave any residue on the surface and it’s easier to clean.

That’s it! It’s really that simple. We hope the tutorial “How to Clean a CPU and Heatsink” has helped you with your computer repair issue.

You can watch this tutorial on video by clicking the play button below. For the full screen version click the second button from the right on the video.


If you need more help regarding this “How to Clean a CPU and Heatsink” tutorial then let us know by visiting our Repair Questions page.