What Can I Use to Clean the Burned-On Fluxes in My Reflow Ovens and Wave Solder Machines?

Cleaning a wave solder machine — or their surface mount cousins, giant SMT reflow ovens — is a real pain. Most people use isopropyl alcohol for the job and it simply doesn’t work very well.

Applications--Tandem-Fluxbox.357x272.RGB.72dpiHere’s why: First, the insides of the machines become covered in spattered flux. Then those residues then get baked onto the inside of the machines. The high temperatures in the machines polymerize the fluxes, making the residues nearly impossible to remove with normal cleaning solutions. The flux condenser units on the biggest reflow ovens are the worst of all because not only does all the flux residue collect in them, they cook inside the machine for days or months and get really hard.

Another reason is the chemical reaction between the alcohol and the flux. During cleaning, the alcohol actually “cures” the flux residues, making them harder to clean. Every time they are cleaned with IPA, they become even harder and more difficult to remove.

In addition, the machines are typically hot — sometimes, very hot. You can either wait for them to cool or clean it while the machine is hot. Using a flammable solvent such as isopropyl alcohol on a hot oven is unsafe and strongly not recommended.

Lastly, the machines are awkwardly shaped. It’s just miserable hard work to crawl inside one of these things and work upside-down with a solvent that’s not strong enough to do the job.

There has to be a better way, and there is. MicroCare has formulated the Reflow Oven Cleaner (#MCC-ROC) for this chore. Available exclusively from MicroCare, this product is based on proprietary long-chain alcohols and water. It is completely nonflammable and is designed to work best when sprayed on a warm (not hot) oven. It dries fast, cleans great, is safe for people and the environment, and is priced affordably.

Packaged in refillable pump sprays, the cleaner comes with a package of 100 rugged, lint-free wipes specifically chosen for the demanding requirements of oven cleaning.