Clean/ prepare your 360

Saturday 27th of February 2010
Clicks: 28636

Error codes that can be fixed with this method:
PrimarySecondary Error code 
1 red light 1RLOD
2 red lights 2RLOD
3 red lights 3RLOD
4 red lights 4RLOD

How to Properly Clean/Prep an Xbox 360
(motherboard, chip dies, and dvd drive)
Motherboard Cleaning

Start by looking over the board to determine what kind of contaminants are present and need to be removed, in order to select the most appropriate cleaning solution.

- Hairs, light dust, small particulates, etc
Compressed air should be able to remove most of these types of contaminants fairly easily. Anything that can't be removed with compressed air will need some other form of cleaner, usually water or alcohol based.

- Contaminants which are ionic in nature
Ionic contaminants such as flux residues, inorganic
salts, acidic materials will need to be removed using a cleaner containing polar solvents like water or alcohol. Contaminants like greases and oils are non-polar and will attract and collect even more dust. Non-ionic contaminants must be removed using non-polar cleaner that can dissolve any oils or grease, and flush away and bound contaminants. Isohexane and other hydrocarbon-based cleaners are good solvents for dissolving non-polar oils and grease. Many electronic cleaners contain both types of solvents and can be used for both polar/non-polar contaminants. A good cleaner that can dissolve greases, and flush out any dirt/debris is Chemtronics Electro-Wash PR

What the flux is that white residue all over my xbox motherboard?

That white residue commonly seen all over the xbox 360 motherboard is an different type of residue that can either be ionic, or organic in nature. These residues can be difficult to remove sometimes with normal cleaners. Ionic residues can cause corrosion, if left on the board and should be removed. Organic residues are usually more cosmetically damaging, but can also become corrosive over extended periods of time. The nature of the soldering flux used, soldering process and cleaning parameters, and problems with the cleaning solvents used, can all lead to the formation of ionic residues. Organic residues can occur due to improper soldering or cleaning techniques or because of a mismatch between the flux and the specific flux remover employed. A simple test to determine if the residue is ionic, or organic is to drop a few drops of water on some and alcohol on another part. If the drops of water dissolve the residue, its ionic; if dissolved by the alcohol, the residue is organic. This will help you choose between a water based cleaner and solvent based one. The white residue on the 360 is likely due to improper soldering techniques and being sloppy with flux and residue cleanup.

Ionic contamination often results from the type of soldering flux used. Rosin and rosin-based no clean fluxes and many water-soluble fluxes contain varying amounts of halide acid activators. These activators give the fluxes greater heat stability, and help promote the formation of good solder joints by dissolving the oxide films contaminating copper, lead and tin surfaces. The chemical reaction of chloride and bromide ions in these activators, with the lead in the solder, can cause the formation of white lead chloride and lead carbonate residue around the solder joints. If not completely removed during cleaning, these ions can establish a continuing corrosion cycle, producing more lead chloride and lead carbonate (white residue) and hydrochloric acid, which will attack the copper in the board laminate. The best solution to the formation of ionic contamination is to clean the board thoroughly, as soon as possible, after soldering. Ionic residues can also be removed from the board by cleaning with a water-based alkaline cleaner, such as Flux-Off Aqueous. Flux-Off Aqueous in high concentration can attack the surface of the solder joints and form a layer of lead and tin oxide film, so be sure to dilute 1/10 with water first. Process parameters such as pre-heat and soldering temperatures, along with the line speed can also lead to residue formation. If the line speed is too fast, it does not allow the board to cool sufficiently before it enters the cleaning process. The hot board surface can cause the cleaning solvent to evaporate too rapidly. If using a water-based saponifier like Flux-Off Aqueous, the rapid loss of water can precipitate other cleaner ingredients, such as silicates and carbonates. This contamination appears as crusty patches on all areas of the board. Slowing the line speed down, to allow the boards to cool sufficiently before exposed to the cleaner, can eliminate this cause of contamination. Cleaners containing HCFCs, like Electro-Wash PN and Flux-Off No Clean, will not attack synthetic no clean fluxes, and may even react with the flux, causing the formation of white residue. Usually this type of residue can be removed by using an aggressive cleaner like Flux-Off Heavy or Flux-Off No Clean Plus.

There are things living inside my Xbox 360!

On rare occasions however you might even find "live" organics growing or living inside the xbox. I personally have opened one up to find mold growing off the motherboard, and someone else recently found cockroaches inside one. Organics living on the board can also be corrosive over time, causing discoloration, and breaking down of the board laminate. Alcohol or electro-wash should be sufficient to remove the residues.


Cleaner Compatibility

Before you go spraying/dumping some cleaner all over your board, chip die, etc, you must first check that the solvents in it are compatible with whatever surface you are cleaning. Cleaners containing ketones (acetone), such as nail polish remover, or chlorinated solvents like methylene chloride can melt soft plastics like polycarbonate and polystyrene. Harder plastics can be stained/discolored and develop small cracks and abrasions when exposed to ketones or chlorinated cleaners. Extra strength cleaners or heavy duty flux removers should be tested first before use.


Cleaning GPU/CPU chips (removing thermal grease)...

For removing thermal grease and cleaning the chip surface, nothing beats a 2-step cleaning method using first a citrus/soy solvent, then follow up a "purifier" like isopropyl. Arcticlean is a great product that both easily emulsifies the thermal grease with citrus based part 1, and prepares/purifies the surface with part 2 by removing any left over residue and adding a layer of flash corrosion inhibitors which reduce the corrosion layer on the copper or aluminum heatsink, maximizing thermal transfer. Goo-Gone citrus cleaner is similar to articlean part 1, and isopropyl can replace part 2, however contains no flash corrosion inhibitors like the articlean 2. Acetone would be a poor choice of a cleaner to use for cleaning the chips as for one thing it can't physically dissolve the thermal grease (must be rubbed off) and it may discolor, dissolve, or corrode the pcb around the chip.


Immersion Cleaning - what about a really big mess?

So if you have a huge layer of flux residue to remove, or thermal grease smeared all over the place, you will need to expose the board to a proper solvent for a longer period of time by immersing the board completely in the cleaning solvent. Sometimes all you will need to do is hold the board at an angle and flood the board in a downward motion with the cleaner to wash off everything. If that is not enough, then the board must actually soak in the solution for a while before you try to rinse it off again. Slightly heating the cleaning agent will speed up the process, but be careful to only heat solvents with a flash point above 200C, to prevent it from igniting. Agitating or stirring the solution will also speed it up. If you pull out the board and see dirty streams of solvent run across the board, then you must let it soak longer and rinse again until the solvent runs off clean. Let the board dry completely before trying to turn it back on. The immersion liquid may be water, alcohol, flux-remover, electro-wash, or other cleaner depending on the contaminant.

Notice: The Tutorials have been done many times and were often successfull, however we cannot guarantee the success and so dont take any responsibility for any damages that might be caused by it, you do it on your own risk!!!



Xbox Repair Guide

Please select the number of (red) lights that your ring of light shows:

0 red lights
1 red light
2 red lights
3 red lights

4 red lights


Error codes

Go straight to the Error code list/ Database!