Due to COVID-19 and peoples' practice of hoarding, IPA is becoming incredibly difficult to find where I live (and online). Since we are all home so much these days, I like spending some of that time restoring vintage computers. My normal routine is to clean the PCB's with 99.9% IPA and use denatured alcohol for cleaning stubborn pen marks, etc. on the case. I often use glass cleaner for the plastic cases too.

I have a bit of denatured alcohol which doesn't seem to be hard to get. So my question is, will I damage my electronics by using denatured alcohol (pictured below) to clean the boards?


From what I understand, denatured alcohol is an umbrella term for the fact of adding a denaturing ingredient to alcohol. This could be lots of stuff like kerosene. One reason is to prevent people from drinking it. Also, IPA is denatured as well (again, from my understanding). But if it helps any, this is typically what I use:

Denatured Alcohol

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This may be a good question to ask over on Retrocomputing.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ron Beyer
    Apr 3, 2020 at 19:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, where do you live? For example, in German, the chemical is usually called 2-Propanol. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2020 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Denatured alcohol usually contains a dye to make it look too bad to drink, kerosene to make you throw up if you do, and methanol to kill you if you drink enough. I'm using it instead of hand sanitiser at the moment and it seems to leave a sticky residue, which I'm not sure I'd want left on boards. \$\endgroup\$
    – Neil_UK
    Apr 3, 2020 at 19:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To the liqour store! Find the hardest stuff you can! \$\endgroup\$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 3, 2020 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DKNguyen: Everclear for the win! \$\endgroup\$
    – JRE
    Apr 3, 2020 at 23:31

1 Answer 1


The stuff that's sold as "denatured rubbing alcohol" here in the US is typically ethanol (90%) and methanol (10%). I would be concerned about using it to clean boards: methyl alcohol will attack some plastics.

"Denatured alcohol" like what you've shown might have other stuff in it, depending on the source. Besides methanol, this can include pyridine, benzene, acetone, MEK, isobutyl ketone, and possibly others. Again, not knowing the components on your board, these denaturants could damage it.

Here's some background on solvents from Chemtronics: https://www.chemtronics.com/Content/Images/uploaded/documents/2005V4N5HydrocarbonsvsChlorinated.pdf

You're in Tennessee, you can get 190 proof Everclear which would do the job without risking damage from methanol.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually already thought about Everclear (can you believe I used to sip on that in my youth?!?!?!). One liquor store was out of Everclear. I suppose I could hit up a few more. :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – cbmeeks
    Apr 6, 2020 at 12:23

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