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I was advised to clean PCBs using petrol if alcohol is not available.

I have tested doing it. Petrol and isopropyl alcohol both work good on PCBs.

I have also tried with acetone but it makes white spots on PCB.

I just wanted to ask can I use petrol as a PCB cleaner as it is easily available,or will petrol have any adverse effects on PCBs?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why risk it? Isopropanol or water based cleaning solution is the normal way to go. Everything else is off the books and on your risk. \$\endgroup\$
    – winny
    Apr 18, 2018 at 7:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Gujarat is a highly industrialized, 60 million people region in India. If you haven't been able to find isoprop alcohol (you can't drink that, unlike ethanol, which is the drinking kind of alcohol), you haven't been looking hard enough. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 7:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ (also, whatever place has sold you the components you solder stands a very high chance of also selling cleansing agents like isoprop. I'm also very sure that large distributors like digikey, mouser, element14/arrow, … do deliver reliably to most regions in India \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 7:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ lol, your profile says you're in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat. You can definitely by basic industrial chemicals there. In fact, I'd suspect that every service laundry has isoprop at their disposal - it's one of the basic chemical textile cleaning agents - and to me as European, Ahmedabad is known for its humongous textile industry. So, yes, you can buy isoprop in Ahmedabad, probably on the next bigger street. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2018 at 7:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you know what is solved within petrol that will leave resisdues on the PCB after drying? Is it lead free petrol? There may be other additives within petrol. \$\endgroup\$
    – Uwe
    Apr 18, 2018 at 8:58

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What you can, can not and should not use depends a lot on the board materials (soldermask etc.) and components. Some components, like trimmer pots, might not work well with certain solvents. I have also worked with in-house prototype boards that had a specific type of solder mask that was made for prototyping. The first time I tried to clean a board with that solder mask, the mask disolved because I was using isopropanol instead of water.

If you are cleaning flux residue, consult the manufacturer datasheet to see what the proper solvent they advise is. You also mention that it is hard to get alcohol where you live. Perhaps non-drinkable alcohol (often they just call it ethanol) can be gotten. Where I live, there is a tax on food-grade alcohol. Non-food-grade ethanol (with additives that make it pretty much impossible to swallow due to taste and vomit-inducing behavior ) can be had for much lower prices.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ 'Rubbing alcohol' may suffice if the real thing is unavailable. The OP should try asking for isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol (same thing). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2020 at 13:50
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Many times I used petrol on cards and it works good. But I used it on pasting side/Plane side not on component sides. I did it with a clean paint brush after applying petrol on brush.It is recommended to use blower afterward for drying.

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Using solder with no-clean flux removes the need for a suitable cleaning solvent. The no-clean fluxes tend to be less active than rosin-based fluxes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While this is true, there can still be situations where you want to clean the flux residue, such as when you are prototyping or need to probe the board, or when working with high precision or frequency applications where the flux residue could impact performance \$\endgroup\$
    – Joren Vaes
    Apr 18, 2018 at 7:50
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Fuel grade petrol has additives which might cause unwanted effects.

Actually in region where I live we have a cheap & pretty common solvent easily available (sold at hardware stores, etc) called "Petrol Galosha" (Russian). It's basically a petrol without fuel additives (with octane number somewhere around 52 as Wikipedia article mentions) and dearomatized.

Benzin (petrol) Galosha. Image from Wikipedia. CC-BY-SA-4.0.

I.e. it's much more "clear" of additives and are traded as a solvent. So it's pretty common here to be used as a flux cleaner for PCBs. I've used it dozens of times to clean PCBs with components (surely ones which allows liquid clean, not something like humidity sensors, etc) and never had any issues. In fact it clears PCBs off the flux traces much cleaner & quicker than a alcohol. But I've still switched to isopropyl alcohol due to the scent it had (even dearomatized it had a distinct scent of petrol).

I've noticed that this was a question from a few years ago. But probably this might be an interesting read for someone in other regions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does "dearomatized" mean that the benzene (C6H6) was removed? Benzene is bad for you. \$\endgroup\$ May 21, 2022 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Technical specification mentions that total content of the aromatic hydrocarbons (which benzene is a part of) should be < 2.5%. I'm not sure about actual residual content of the benzene. But as with almost any other solvent it's usually required to work in a ventilated room. \$\endgroup\$
    – NStorm
    May 24, 2022 at 9:02

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