How to Clean Thermal Paste off CPU Pins

How to Clean Thermal Paste off CPU Pins

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how to clean thermal paste off CPU pins. If you’re a gamer or overclocker then you may have dealt with a situation where your cooling solution becomes clogged due to dust and debris. 

This is common when it comes to air-cooling solutions because the heat sink doesn’t come in contact with any of the components on the motherboard. In some situations, it can be difficult to remove all of this material without damaging anything so please read carefully before attempting any work on your PC.

Complete guide to Clean Thermal Paste off CPU Pins

List of necessary tools for cleaning AMD/Intel CPUs:

  1. Temperature gun
  2. Thermal Paste Remover Tool
  3. Q-tip or cotton bud
  4. Alcohol/thermal paste cleaner
  5. Cleaning Cloth 
  6. Soft Brush

Step By Step Guide To Clean Thermal Paste off CPU Pins

Here is the step by step guide for you to clean off the thermal paste from your CPU pins: 

Carefully remove the CPU from the motherboard

1. Carefully remove the CPU from the motherboard:

The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the CPU from your motherboard. The process of removing a boxed processor (CPU) varies between different manufacturers but it should be very similar for most models. You will want to begin by grounding yourself and then carefully un-clip or unscrew any retention brackets that are holding down the socket cover. Once these are removed, you will be able to see the CPU pins.

2. Use a razor blade or small flat surface screwdriver:

A very sharp tool is required in order to unplug the CPU without damaging any of your components so please use extreme caution when doing this. If you have thermal paste on both sides of your heatsink, then it is recommended that you remove thermal paste from the CPU cooler and motherboard as well. You can do this by scraping off any excess thermal paste with a razor blade or small flat-head screwdriver.

3. Take off all residue

Use the cleaning cloth to soak all the old thermal paste. After that scrub the cloth around the pin grid array. After doing this, use a fine edge brush to pull out dust from hard-to-reach areas. 

Take off all residue

Avoid using solvents:

It is imperative to avoid using any type of solvent when cleaning your CPU pins because they may damage the package and cause corrosion. Some types of solvent can even ruin the processor if it is exposed to it for too long. It’s also important that you never try and clean this area with an air compressor because they typically spray everything in their path including other components on your motherboard.

Be very careful while cleaning:

When removing any residue from your CPU pins, be sure not to bend them because they are very fragile. If you accidentally damage one of these pins then your CPU will not function properly and it’s possible that other components on the motherboard may be affected as well. After removing all thermal paste, you should inspect this area for anything out of the ordinary such as bent or broken pins before re-inserting your processor back into the motherboard.

N.B: You can dip your CPU pins into alcohol for a little bit. 

After Cleaning: 

  • Before reattaching, please look at CPU sockets. If there any residue then clean them first. 
  • Reattach the CPU onto the motherboard and test for functionality 
Reattach the CPU onto the motherboard
  • If the CPU runs at a normal temperature, then you are all set. If it continues to run high, however, then there may still be some thermal paste on the pins of your CPU that needs cleaning off with rubbing alcohol. 
  • Reattach the heat sink onto your computer tower and power up your computer to test if it runs at a normal temperature. If the heat sink is not running hot, then you are good. Otherwise, there may still be some thermal paste that needs cleaning off with rubbing alcohol. 
Reattach the heat sink
  • Turn off your computer and remove the heat sink from your CPU by unhooking all of its screws and taking out each of the metal pins (be gentle – they are very sharp). 
  • Take off your CPU lid and remove your CPU from its socket. Use a cotton swab to apply by rubbing alcohol onto each of the pins on the bottom of the CPU that touch into contact with other components within your computer’s motherboard. You can also place some rubbing alcohol onto a cotton swab and use it to wipe off the top of your CPU. 
  • Once you are done, wait for at least 30 minutes or more before reattaching your heat sink back onto your computer tower with screws and metal pins in order to test if runs hot. If there is no problem, then congratulations – you are done. 
  • If your heat sink runs hot, then you may need to reapply thermal paste onto the top of your CPU and clean off any pieces that get on its pins. This is only necessary if there was no problem with running at a normal temperature before cleaning off the thermal paste from the CPU. Otherwise, just attach back your CPU lid back onto its socket, and you are done. 
  • If the heat sink is not running hot, then simply reattach your CPU lid back into place with screws and test if it runs at a normal temperature once more – otherwise you can turn off your computer and proceed to put all of these parts away until next time.


If you’re not comfortable with doing this yourself, then it is highly recommended that you seek out a professional to do this for you. Once your processor has been properly cleaned and re-installed back onto your motherboard, make sure everything works correctly before putting it back in its case; if issues arise after following these steps, then please feel free to contact a professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to avoid pins from broke?

The thing is that Thermal Paste Removal Tool can also break CPU pins if you don’t clean them properly. If this happens, do not attempt to fix or remove broken CPU pins without knowledge of soldering.

How to fix bent CPU pins on the motherboard?

Please do not attempt to fix bent CPU pins yourself. Contact a local computer repair shop and ask if they can assist you in fixing this issue.

How long does it take for a broken pin on the CPU?

It usually takes around 20 minutes to fix this kind of problem if you follow all instructions carefully.

Can old thermal paste cause prevent heat transfer?

Yes. Old or damaged thermal paste can cause reduced heat transfer between the CPU and the Heat Sink, which may result in overheating of your computer components.


In conclusion, you should clean your thermal paste off the CPU pins every couple of years. It depends on how often you use or look at your computer but it’s a good rule of thumb. You can also get better cooling performance from using new thermal paste over old since most manufacturers suggest replacing their products every three to five years after opening the box.

Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith is a Senior Editor at Provaat. She has a special affinity for gaming peripherals, laptops and virtual reality. Before, Kelly covered technology terms, including hardware, software, cyber security and other IT happenings on our community.