How To Clean RAM Contacts

I will be sharing my trusted method of cleaning RAM contacts. I’ve used this method for over 20 years, which has worked beautifully.

Please follow each step carefully, and I will also point out the common mistakes I’ve found that people have made after teaching this technique to them.

The same technique can be applied to all other RAM and add-in cards, even mini PCI express or M.2 modules.

Important: Never touch RAM contacts with your fingers or any other card’s contacts for that matter.

What you will need:
  • Phillips screwdriver.
  • A good quality pencil eraser (Like Faber-Castell, for example).
  • Good cloth (With as little lint as possible).
  • Tin of compressed air or an air compressor.
  • Ground wrist strap (optional).

Keeping your computer clean is one thing, but your RAM is so important to keep your computer stable and reliable.

How To Clean RAM Contacts

To outline the process, all we are going to do is clean the module’s contacts and the slots. I have found that this method has reduced the amount of RAM replacement by over half.

It has taught me that RAM doesn’t go faulty nearly as often as most would think.

I do not recommend using any solvents or sprays when cleaning RAM. It’s always best to keep those things away from such delicate surfaces.

Remove the case if your computer is dusty inside before removing any RAM modules. It will make the job of cleaning them far easier.

1. Prepare a good enough workspace to remove the RAM

Unplug your computer from power and everything else to move it to an uncluttered work area.

Before touching any internal components, touch the case first to help reduce any built-up electrostatic charge you may have accumulated.

Remove the case lid and remove the RAM from the slots by gently releasing the clips on either end of the slots.

If one is fixed and cannot move, it’s perfectly normal, as some motherboards are designed this way.

It simply means you must be extra cautious when removing or installing RAM.

2. Use an eraser

Cleaning RAM contacts using an eraser.

Lay the RAM module down on a flat, clean surface. Use the pencil eraser in short strokes, all of the contacts back and forth until the eraser end is clean.

You will notice the first few strokes will most likely result in the eraser end becoming a bit dirty. Yes, that was on your copper contacts. No wonder you had problems!

Turn the RAM module over and repeat the process on the other side.

3. Clean off the eraser filings

After giving the contacts a good clean with the eraser, take a cloth and keep wiping them until it feels smooth or once you are convinced that there are no traces of eraser filings left.

This is a step that is very important to get right. You must ensure that all the eraser filings or any eraser deposits have been cleaned off properly.

Give the RAM a blow with compressed air to make sure there are no bits of debris or dust left on the contacts or under the heat spreaders.

Tip: I have also found an additional benefit to lightly tap the RAM modules against a clean flat surface along the bottom edge where the copper contacts are. This helps loosen any extra eraser filings that could be trapped under the heat spreaders. Do this before cleaning the eraser filings from the contacts.

4. Clean out the RAM slots

RAM Slots on a computer motherboard.

Do not use anything else but some compressed air to clean out the RAM slots.

Keep blowing them out until there is no debris left inside them. Use a good light source, and make sure they are perfectly clean. The tiniest little spec can wreak havoc on your system.

This is where I have noticed people making a mistake by overlooking some small bit of dust or debris and ending up falling back into one or more of the RAM slots.

Please refer to my article: How do I know if my RAM slots are bad? To know more about identifying faulty slots.

5. Reinstall the memory back into the RAM slots

Before reinstalling the RAM modules, check that the modules and the slots are clear of dust or debris.

Ensure you have opened the clips on either end of the slots before attempting to reinsert the modules.

Check to make sure that you have them orientated the correct way around. You can tell by looking at the divider location in the slot and matching it to the RAM module.

Press on the module carefully but firmly, and make sure they are seated correctly.