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How to Clean the GPU in Simple Steps?

If you want to ensure your PC lasts long without any hitch, then you must follow the cleaning routine perfectly. Cleaning and keeping the PC and its inner parts dust-free greatly helps. It also enhances the overall performance and speed of your PC.

Among the PC components, the GPU is often neglected. A simple physical cleaning can be enough to lengthen its lifespan. The dust can clog and block airflow, leading to performance issues. So, now let’s check in detail about the cleaning routine for the GPU.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Graphics Card?

A Clean Graphics Card is Beneficial in Many Ways-

  • A clean GPU is necessary for better performance. The clean and dust-free GPU is better efficient at running and offers optimal performance.
  • A clean GPU is also needed to maintain the overheating problem. Often the dust and built-up dirt clogs the air path and prevents the airflow, which results in overheating. Overheating of GPUs is harmful and can cause severe damage.

After all, a GPU is quite expensive if you go for the advanced units. Hence, you must physically clean it from time to time to prevent such damage.

Which Tools Do You Need to Clean the GPU?

1. Microfiber Cloth

A microfiber cloth is essential for cleaning any electronic gadget. The soft cloth does not damage the small parts and effectively cleans every particle of dust. It also doesn’t cause damage or scratches on the screens. On top of that, microfiber cloth is long-lasting and has excellent absorbing capabilities. Hence, always use a good quality microfiber cloth.

2. Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol will be the primary cleaning liquid as it does not contain moisture like water and has a strong germ-killing property. It can easily remove the toughest dirt and grime from the GPU surface without causing any damage.

3. Compressed Air Can

A small can of compressed air can be helpful while cleaning the GPU. It will allow you to blow away the maximum amount of dirt faster.

4. Cotton Swabs

Cotton swabs, aka Q-tips, will help you to reach the corners and small areas while cleaning the GPU.

5. Paper Towels

A simple paper towel can be a good option if you initially want to remove some dust and dirt while starting. Just make sure to get soft ones to prevent any damage or scratches.

A Step-By-Step Guide To You Clean Your Graphics Card

1. Turn Off the PC and PSU

The first thing you need to do is to turn off your PSU and PC completely. It prevents any PC damage and makes things easier while cleaning. You can either turn off the PC as usual or use the power button to turn it off.

2. Remove All the External Cables Attached to the GPU

First, detach the main cable cord that supplies power to your PC. Next, it is time to remove all the cords attached to the GPU. Detaching the cords allows you to clean the unit without getting all messed up properly. Besides that, the cables can also become dirty and cleaning the pins and plugs can also be helpful.

3. Open a Computer Case to Access Your GPU

Now, open the CPU case to get access to the GPU. There are different case models, so each model will have a different opening method. You can easily find the opening method in the manual provided with the original package or download it from the manufacturer’s website.

Here is a General Method-

Check out the side panel. You will find that there are two screws on the side of the case. Unscrew these two, and you will find that the side panel detaches easily. Keep the screws in a safe place for later use.

4. Remove the GPU From the Motherboard

Well, this is entirely optional. But you can do it if you want to. Removing the GPU unit allows you to clean it from all sides properly.

  • Locate the two screws that attach the GPU with the PCIe bracket, remove them carefully, and keep them separately.
  • Now take your hand and Press the raised part of the retention clip under the right side or the backside of the PCIe x16 slot connected with the GPU.
  • You will find that the GPU has become a bit loose, and now remove it.
  • Now check for the GPU fan and remove it from the PCB connector.

5. Clean the GPU

First, place it in a dry and clean place, dust and dirt-free. Now, follow these procedures. Make sure to keep a can of compressed air handy. You can also use a cleansing brush beside the microfiber cloth and the cotton swabs.

  • Now, use the compressed can to blow away the dust and dirt from the GPU. While using, always keep the can upright to avoid damaging the GPU with high-pressure airflow while using.
  • Now, take the microfiber cloth and remove the residual dirt from the card’s surface.
  • After that, take the isopropyl alcohol bottle and spray it gently on the GPU. Use the same microfiber cloth to wipe it off. If some corners or areas are challenging to reach, use cotton swabs to clean those areas.

6. Cleaning the GPU Fans

The GPU fans also need to be adequately cleaned. After you have removed the GPU case, you will find the fans. Disconnect the fans from the printed circuit board of the GPU. As the screws are removed beforehand, the fans should come off quickly. Now start the cleaning-

  • Use a can of compressed air to remove the initial dust build-up. Use another clean microfiber cloth to wipe off the surface.
  • Now, spray a small amount of the isopropyl alcohol on the cloth and use this to clean the stuck dust and dirt from the fan blades.
  • If there are areas that you cannot reach easily, use the Q-tips to clean the places.
  • After that, re-attach the GPU to the PCB connector. You have to repeat the steps you used to remove the GPU in reverse order to reattach it again to the PCIe x16 plug.
  • Reattach the CPU case box using the two thumbscrews from earlier.
  • After that, attach all cables with the CPU and GPU and turn on the computer to check if everything works properly.

What are the Benefits of Cleaning GPUs?

Experts always recommend regularly cleaning the computer, especially the CPU and GPU, to prevent dust-related damage. But what are the benefits. ? Well, there are a few benefits including-

1. Improves Performance

Cleaning the GPU drastically increases its performance. It happens because the cleaned GPU has better thermal conductivity.

2. Enhances Longevity

Cleaning the GPU will also lengthen its lifespan. The GPU is less prone to damage because there is less dirt and dust. That means it will be less overheated and less damaged even if it runs at its total capacity.

3. Prevents Overeating

The best part of cleaning a GPU regularly is that it prevents overheating. As there is no dust or dirt, there is no blockage in airflow and the GPU also gets cooled properly without the overheating problem.

4. Reduced Noise

You will find that the GPU makes less noise after it is cleaned. The fans are forced to work harder as the dirt and dust block the air pathway. It leads to higher noise. The fans don’t need to work harder and become quieter without the dust and dirt.

5. Improves Appearance

There is something aesthetically pleasing about the cleaning. A cleaner GPU also looks good and new and keeps things fresh and exciting! After all, who wants to work with a dirty PC?

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Graphics Card?

Well, there is no fixed schedule for cleaning the GPU. Theoretically, it is advised to clean it once per month. But, that may not be possible and needed every time. No, try to clean it thoroughly once every three months. Besides that, get it deep cleaned twice yearly to ensure it remains in proper condition.

How to Clean the GPU – FAQs

1. Should I reapply the thermal paste after cleaning the GPU?

Ans: Well, it is optional to reapply the thermal paste after each time you clean the GPU. It is only necessary when you remove the GPU heat sink for deep cleaning. You may also need to reapply the paste if you have replaced parts like the heat sink or fans from the GPU.

2. Should I remove the GPU from the motherboard before cleaning it?

Ans: Removing the GPU for the motherboard is unnecessary. But removing it allows you to clean it better. So try to remove it once in a while before cleaning.

3. Can I clean my GPU’s backplate?

Ans: Yes, you can use a microfiber cloth to clean the backplate of the GPU. Just wipe the dust off using the cloth gently.

4. Can I clean my GPU without removing it?

Ans: You can clean your GPU without removing it from your computer. Cleaning the GPU while it is installed on your computer is common and can be done effectively.


Cleaning the GPU will offer you many benefits, including enhanced performance and better graphics, better GPU health, less noise and fewer chances of overheating and damaged GPU. It is relatively easy to clean a GPU. You need to follow the steps mentioned here to clean it physically. Clean the GPU three to four times yearly to maintain its optimal health.

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