Thermal paste is a substance that is used to fill the gaps between a CPU and its heatsink. Over time, this paste can become dry and hard, making it difficult to remove. In this tech article, we will show you how to clean thermal paste off of a CPU and also a step by step guide on how to apply thermal paste on CPU.

Before starting, you will need to gather a few supplies, including isopropyl alcohol, a lint-free cloth, and a new tube of thermal paste. Once you have everything ready, follow the simple steps laid out in this article and you’ll have your CPU cleaned and ready for a new application of thermal paste in no time!

Time needed: 20 minutes

Steps to clean thermal paste off CPU and apply new thermal paste:

  1. Power down your computer and unplug it from the power outlet.

    Old Computer System
    Firstly, shut-down your PC and then unplug all the wire and cables attached to your system’s cabinet. Most importantly, the power cable and the monitor cable (HDMI, DisplayPort, etc) if your monitor is attached to the power plug as well.

  2. Place the system/tower on a flat surface.

    Opened Computer System
    Place your system on a flat surface and open it from the side. Remember to open it from the left-side because from the right side you won’t be able to access the CPU as it is the back side of your motherboard.

  3. Carefully remove the CPU cooler from the CPU.

    CPU Cooler
    Use a screwdrivers to unscrew the CPU cooler from the motherboard. Once you unscrewed them carefully lift it up and place it somewhere else.

  4. Clean the CPU and CPU cooler.

    Thermal Paste Junks on CPU
    Use a lint-free cloth or cotton swab to remove any thermal paste from the surface of the CPU and CPU cooler. Always clean the remaining thermal paste first and don’t directly apply new paste before this.

    If there is stubborn thermal paste residue, you can use a mild solvent such as isopropyl alcohol or paint thinner or nail polish remover to remove it.

    Note, you don’t need this in large quantity. Just put a few drops on the CPU and CPU cooler, then rub it well with a cotton cloth or cotton itself. You will feel the cleanliness.

  5. Apply new thermal paste.

    Apply the Thermal Paste on CPU
    Once everything is clean. Apply the new layer of thermal paste on the CPU. You just need a drop or two. If you’re using a old gen computer let say Pentium, then add a drop extra. Make sure to put put those drops in the center of the CPU.

    Otherwise, it would spread all over the motherboard and can harm your system. So, be a poor when you’re applying thermal paste because excessive amount won’t make your CPU run faster.

  6. Reattach the CPU cooler and other things.

    Old Computer System
    Now, reattach the CPU cooler on the CPU and screw them carefully and don’t screw them too tight. Screw it gently!

    Close the left-side of the system’s cabinet.

  7. Plug in your computer and power it on.

    Naked CPU Tower
    Now, plug everything in your computer and power it on. If you see the OS startup window, then mission completed successfully!