How To Remove Thermal Paste

It’s finally time to remove that old CPU and upgrade to a new one. Your PC has been slowing down for months now, and now you finally have a processor that can hold its own. But, if you’re planning on reusing your old CPU cooler, you’re going to run into trouble — the old, hard thermal paste that is stuck to to its surface.

How do you possibly get that stuff? Over time, with all of the different heat fluctuations, it can really harden on there, but it’s not quite impossible to remove. Follow along with us below, and we’ll show you how.


You don’t want to just use any materials to remove thermal paste from your cooler. If you use toilet paper or power towel, you could leave behind fibers or dust that would could inhibit performance, or possibly ruin hardware. A micro fiber towel is always the way to go.

As for a cleaner, you don’t want to use anything other than 99% isopropyl alcohol. You don’t want to use water, or anything else — that’s because most other liquids out there are electrically conductive, and could potentially ruin your hardware. You can also use Artic Silver’s cleaners, which clean up dried thermal compound easier — they are well rated, so it’s a cleaner that you can trust.

Once you’re ready to clean, wipe the thermal compound off with a dry microfiber cloth to get rid of the large chunks. Then either apply a small amount of the alcohol or the cleaner to start wiping it away. Reapply alcohol or cleaner as needed, until the surface is shiny. Once it is, you’re ready to apply your new thermal compound.

Don’t have the cleaning materials to clean up that old thermal paste? Follow along with us below, and we’ll show you some great options!

Arctic Silver 5

The Arctic Silver 5 kit is the best kit that you can use for cleaning up your processor. It comes with everything you need — the cleaner, the microfiber cloth, and even an anti-static wrist strap to keep you from frying your components.

This one also comes with thermal compound so that you can reapply as necessary.

ArctiClean Remover

If you have most of the materials for cleaning an reapplication already, you can get the ArcticClean Remover on its own. This is a two-pack, coming with the thermal compound remover, and then also the purifier, which prepares the surface for reapplication.

Isopropyl Alcohol

And finally, you can just use some good Isopropyl Alcohol. It’s got a 99% purification rating, as most do. This one also comes in 16oz, so you’ll have plenty for years to come. When using this, remember to apply small amounts as needed — don’t coat your heatsink!


As you can see, using either a dedicated cleaner or some Isopropyl Alcohol, you can easily clean up old thermal paste. Just make sure you apply lightly in order to not ruin anything. Just like reapplying thermal paste, with cleaning it off, less is more, too!