The Common Cleaning Ingredient You Shouldn’t Use On Electronic Devices

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There are a few ways vinegar finds its way into electronics, and some say the effects can be devastating. YouTuber Fix it Fox attributes the destruction of his electronic piano’s printed circuit boards to using vinegar when cleaning after some corroded batteries. The use of vinegar in cleaning up battery corrosion is actually commonly recommended, and it is effective, but you must take care to not allow vinegar anywhere but the battery compartment and you must rinse away any residue thoroughly.

Vinegar can deteriorate copper, and the traces (the electrical pathways) in circuit boards are commonly made of copper. In fact, vinegar is a component of a fairly common home method of PCB etching, which is a process by which copper is removed from circuit boards. Vinegar also has a reputation for degrading soldered joints and solder masking on PCBs. Perhaps predictably, others recommend actually using vinegar to clean circuit boards, so long as you thoroughly rinse and dry the boards after cleaning. This is a fiddly process that introduces a lot of opportunities to damage your circuit board, so this kind of thing is probably best left to electronics repair professionals. If they decide to take the risk of using vinegar, at least they’ll have their insurance policies backing them up.

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