What is the "best practice" for cleaning PCBs? I've caught snippets of information here and there on the forums, but would like to be sure I've got it right.
I believe the following to be true:
1) I should clean my PCB with isopropyl alcohol both before and after soldering. The before is to be sure the pads are clean of any oils or films. The after is to remove the flux, which is mildly acidic (?) and, over time, will attack the solder joint.
2) I should use the type of isopropyl alcohol that you get in the paint section of Lowes or Home Depot (which is ~95% alcohol), and NOT rubbing alcohol (which is 50% alcohol, 50% water).
3) I should clean the PCB by dipping a q-tip or small brush in alcohol and wiping it across the PCB surface, following that with a wipe from a clean cloth or q-tip to dry it a bit.
Should I clean both top and bottom of the PCB after soldering is complete? If so, how do I ensure that I've thoroughly cleaned the front, as the many nooks and crannys of the components seem like they'd be tough to clean. I assume, but do not know, that it would NOT be a good idea to simply drop the populated PCB into a pan of alcohol, swish it around a bit, and tamp dry with a cloth.
Any advice on tools, techniques, and procedures would be appreciated.