This article explains how to properly clean water blocks and which products you can use during the cleaning process, as well as what preventive steps you can take to postpone the need for water block cleaning.
We covered the cleaning processes for the following types of water blocks: Bare Copper, Nickel-plated Copper, POM (Acetal) Tops, and Acrylic (Plexi) Glass Tops.
Can I Clean the Water Block Myself?
Yes. Water blocks can be disassembled for the occasional cleaning.
Your warranty will not be voided upon the disassembly of the water block, but bear in mind that you will lose the EK leak-free guarantee that comes with a factory-tested water block.
What Cleaning Tool Should I Use?
An old, soft toothbrush is an excellent cleaning tool!
How to Clean Bare Copper Water Blocks
When cleaning bare copper, it is recommended you use slightly acidic cleaning agents, including the following organic solutions:
- (White) vinegar (up to 5-10% of acetic acid)
- Lemon juice (up to 5-10% of citric acid)
Certain foods/beverages can also be used for cleaning copper:
- Coca-Cola (contains phosphorous- and citric acid)
- Ketchup or tomato extract (contains acetic- and citric acid)
- Mustard (contains acetic acid)
To kill 99.9% of algae and bacteria that could be present on copper in a poorly maintained cooling loop, using 5% vinegar is enough.
Upon cleaning, it is necessary to flush the water block with water and then rinse it with distilled water. After rinsing, we recommend you wrap the water block in paper towels until it's completely dry.
It is nearly impossible to avoid the naturally-occurring copper tarnishing (oxidation) as the oxidation will reoccur as soon as the copper is cleaned of all oxides.
How to Clean Nickel-Plated Copper Water Blocks
When cleaning nickel-plated copper, using any aggressive chemicals (including vinegar) or rough materials is strictly forbidden, as you may damage the plating and thus void the product’s warranty.
Please note: Due to the presence of dye additives and other chemicals, the nickel layer may also become discolored/stained over time. However, this staining is typically reversible with a simple flush and rinse.
Follow these steps to clean the nickel-plated copper:
Step 1: Flush - Flush the nickel-plated copper using warm water.
Step 2: Clean - Clean the surface using a wet non-abrasive cloth and rinse with clean water.
Step 3: Remove Deposits - If necessary, polish the hardened deposits (such as algae or dirt) from the nickel-plated copper.
Polishing Nickel-plated Copper
After finishing the cleaning process, give the nickel-plating a good polish. EK recommends using soft, non-abrasive, automotive metal or chrome polish cremes.
To polish your nickel-plated water block, follow these steps:
- Apply a small amount of polish to a cloth or the surface of the nickel.
- Using small circular motions, wipe the entire surface of the nickel with the polish until it looks shiny and clean.
- Use another clean cloth to remove the remains of the polishing paste from the surface.
- Always rinse with distilled water after you are done polishing.
How to Clean Acrylic (Plexi) Glass Tops
Acrylic will crack if subjected to even the smallest amounts of alcohol, acetone, or other aggressive chemicals, so be sure not to use aggressive chemicals as it will surely damage your water block and void your warranty!
To clean the acrylic (Plexi) glass water block tops and reservoir tubes, use only warm, soapy water and a toothbrush.
Algae or dirt deposits are easily removed with a soft cloth in combination with warm, soapy water. Rinse with distilled water after cleaning.
How to Clean POM (Acetal) Tops
POM (polyoxymethylene), aka Acetal, can withstand chemicals such as alcohol or acetone, but EK recommends you use these very sparingly as drying chemicals tend to leave some residue. Typically, the POM is easily cleaned using only a soft cloth and warm, soapy water - without any chemicals. Be sure to rinse with distilled water after the cleaning process is done.
Tips and Preventive Steps
- Using corrosion-inhibiting coolants (such as EK-CryoFuel) is highly recommended for any water cooling loop. Since EK-CryoFuel coolant is also a surfactant, it will prevent algae growth and dirt deposition on all wet surfaces.
- Clean the radiators and flush them with warm water. You may use a vinegar/water solution. Radiators are - due to the nature of manufacturing - usually the source of all dirt particles found in the loop. Always rinse your radiators with distilled water once you're done cleaning.
- Refrain from using Copper Sulphate-based additives in your loop to prevent tarnishing of water cooling gear internals!