Question Vinyl Record Cleaning

Monster900

Active Member
After many years with our records sat in boxes we have decided to dig out the old turntable and digitise our old vinyl. The problem is we can't find our old record cleaning kit and, in any case, it would probably be old hat these days even if we could find it.

So the question is what is the recommended vinyl record cleaning kit these days?

Thanks in advance.
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
Seems to be a good thread growing here for the question you are asking :smashin: I know I've been looking as I've recently got back into vinyl and have been interested in what others have been doing
 

musicphil

Active Member
I buy my vinyl 2nd hand and do this.
Washed hands first so no grease on fingers, using a few drops of detergent , hold your vinyl under the tap with one hand and wash vinyl, rinse off again with cool water. Lay the vinyl on a microfiber cloth and wipe dry.
I then use Moth cleaning fluid and a wall foam pad to again clean each side, dry off using a microfiber cloth.
 

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Monster900

Active Member
Seems to be a good thread growing here for the question you are asking :smashin: I know I've been looking as I've recently got back into vinyl and have been interested in what others have been doing
Thanks for the pointer, I shall read with interest.

Most of the people on that thread are going for the sophisticated (and expensive) machine solution. I think if you are regularly going to be listening to vinyl that is probably a good investment but for 50, or so, LPs which, with luck are going to be played one more time and converted to FLAC I think that would be too expensive. I will keep an eye on this and the other thread to see what ideas come up.

I buy my vinyl 2nd hand and do this.
Washed hands first so no grease on fingers, using a few drops of detergent , hold your vinyl under the tap with one hand and wash vinyl, rinse off again with cool water. Lay the vinyl on a microfiber cloth and wipe dry.
I then use Moth cleaning fluid and a wall foam pad to again clean each side, dry off using a microfiber cloth.
Thanks for this too. This is the sort of cheap and cheerful approach that I may be looking for.
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
I've used this to good effect. It comes with a drying stand, but only takes one record at a time, but I'm sure you could find a dish dryer with the right height dividers to dry a few at a time.

 

Myronwm

Novice Member
the only thing I worry about this method is how deep into the grooves this method can actually get. If you on the second step use one of the various deep brushes on it as well, it makes a very very significant difference. I cleaned some records that I bought at an auction and played one before cleaning just to see the shape. All kinds of snaps and pops. After cleaning very minimal snap and pop.

But in a number of reviews and testing reports on various machines, its been shown that some types of automatic cleaners do a much better job than any manual process.

But to be honest, except for the labor involved, yours is probably as good enough for a limited collection. I had done that for years. If you had an extensive (several hundred or more), I'd probably go with an automated system. Plus if you had some expensive records, an automated system probably will hold or even increase the value.

Couple of very highly rated cheapies are spin-clean for about $80 and the record doctor V for about $200 (vi IS $350). I am looking at various ones myself for a couple of reasons.

1) I have very severe authritis in my hands and the manual effort hurts me physically 2) I have about 2-300 records right now with some worth $50-$100 or more so it's worth it to me to get a fancier machine. And most of the better machines start about 500. Major number are between $500 and $1200 that are used by many people.

New technology is ultrasonic and there is a lot of debate about how effective these are. Most of the cheaper ones do a pretty good job but the time to clean and dry the record could be over a couple of hours and to me, time is money.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
First we need to separate record cleaning into Two Parts -

- Pre-Play cleaning which is really more like Dusting

- Record Washing which is a deep cleaning of the Record

For me, it doesn't pay to spend a fortune on a Record Cleaning Machine to casually clean one or two records at a time.

But for simply washing a few records, you can do this manually with no machine easy enough.


Typically you need some Micro-Fiber Cloths, a common CLEAN Towel, common natural fiber Paint Brushes, some fuzzy Painter's Pads, Iso-Alcohol, and some common dish soap plus a spray bottle with some Distilled Water.

Mostly you just have to be careful to keep the Record Labels dry. Though In the thread link, I DIY'd a device to protect the labels.

Although it is possible to get the SPIN CLEAN Record Cleaner for a fairly modest price -



Steve/bluewizard
 

LAMitchell

Active Member
I use the Spin Clean system, also water is very important, you should be rinsing with at least deionised water as tap water has mineral deposits in it which will dry on to your records. A concentrated record cleaning fluid like L'art DU Son cleaning fluid diluted into deionized water is perfect.


Microfiber towels are not ideal as these can leave fine fibres on the records or push dirt even further into the grooves. a fine brush, rinse and air dry work best for me.
 

Origami

Standard Member
OK sensitive souls amongst the forum members, cover your eyes and ears, this is what I do with records I purchase second hand from the £3 each crates in my local secondhand record shop, these records can be in quite poor condition but I can get them to a pretty good standard with very little pop or crackle. I love crate digging and I love a cheap record just as much so I don't have to be too anal about the established record cleaning protocols and practices. This method is mentioned on Vinyl Engine so I am not completely mad.

I have a large tray that I can lay a record in, I put warm water with a generous slug of 2 in 1 shampoo (that is shampoo with conditioner in one bottle for the uninitiated). The solution is quite milky in appearance when ready as there is a good amount of shampoo in the water. I use magic tape to mask off the label (both sides) and then I place the record in the solution and leave it to soak for approx 20 mins. Then the fun starts; using a medium soft paint brush about 1.5 inch wide I physically scrub the grooves of the record for about 5 minutes per side, I use a stippling action to dig deep into the grooves followed by a more gentle sweeping action to push the muck out. After this I rinse the record under the tap and then pat dry (not wipe) using kitchen towel. Finally I dry the record using a hairdryer on low heat and fastest fan setting. Then remove the magic tape from the label and voila a very clean record.

The end result is a record that basically looks like new, clean, grease free, no finger prints or blemishes and very very shiny.

Pops and crackles are seriously reduced and records that were once unplayable are returned to serviceable condition, not just tolerable, but actually pretty good.

Some may find my assault on vinyl to be beyond the pale but trust me it works. No alcohol and distilled water for me, just 2 in 1 shampoo, a paint brush, the kitchen tap, kitchen towel and my wife's hairdryer. Oh and I use the same water for many records, I am such a heathen.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
... water is very important, ...
Water is important. I might do intermediate rinses with Tap Water, but the final rinse is going to be with Distilled Water.


Microfiber towels are not ideal as these can leave fine fibers so the records or push dirt even further into the grooves. a fine brush, rinse and air dry work best for me.
I've not found that to be true. And the fine Microfibers do a better job of reaching down into the grooves. I wash record in three stages, for each stage I have a separate flat fuzzy painter's pad, and separate Microfiber towels. That way there is no cross contamination between stages.

In the first stage, I put a few drops of Dishwashing Liquid (minimum dye and perfume) into a bowl with some tepid water. Then use a natural fiber paint brush to put the soapy water on the record. Follow that up with a Scrub using the fuzzy painter's pad. Again, a separate brush, pad, and towel for each stage.

At one stage, before Distilled Water, I spray with Iso-Alcohol, but you don't want to leave the alcohol on the record long because it makes them brittle. But I don't imagine a second or two will matter. The alcohol acts as a rise agent, and thins the water make sure you get a complete final rinse.

As an alternative to Alcohol, there are rise agent used in printing photographs that can be used. I think Photo-Flow might be one of them. Most Photography/Camera Stores have this, if not it can be ordered on line. Probably better than Alcohol, but more expensive and harder to find.

Some claim that the Rinse Agents used in an automatic dish washer can be used, but I'm not sure I would trust those. Of course, it would be diluted.

But - yes - quality of water does matter. I don't have any problem coming across cheap Distilled Water, so that is what I use in the final rinse.

ALSO, you an buy commercial Record Label Protectors on-line, I think you can find them on Amazon and Ebay. The nice thing about the Label Protectors is that it gives you something solid to hang on to while you are handling and cleaning the records.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Origami

Standard Member
Microfiber towels are not ideal as these can leave fine fibres on the records or push dirt even further into the grooves. a fine brush, rinse and air dry work best for me.
I tried microfibre towels once and although visually clean the record grooves were full of microfibres that I could not see until they stuck to my stylus and became almost impossible to remove. I spent several hours persuading the muck off of my stylus and then had to clean the records again several times before the microfibres were banished. I shall not return to that path again.
 

surayne

Active Member
I've moved through most of the record cleaning methods mentioned here over time, and eventually went to a vacuum record cleaner. It's much, much better as it removes all the dissolved gunk from the grooves and dries it out. I had to re-clean my entire collection when I got the machine but it was worth the effort. You can pick these machines up used for £2-300 and it's well worth it if you are serious about the hobby.

Ultrasonic machines are apparently better, and you can DIY one of these fairly cheaply - commercial offerings are stupidly expensive.
 

Monster900

Active Member
Thank you for all your replies to my question. The answers have been both interesting and varied. It's amazing that considering how long vinyl records have been around that there is still considerable debate as how to go about this basic task.

Having considered all the input I have decided to go for the Knosti Disco Antistat which appears to be very similar to the Spin-Clean device but a little cheaper and gets reasonably good reviews. Unfortunately, I really can't justify buying a machine costing £200-300 for the relatively few records that we have. Whilst I really like the originality of Origami's method I just don't quite have the courage to apply that method to records that we have both owned for decades.

Thanks again for the input.
 

Origami

Standard Member
Thank you for all your replies to my question. The answers have been both interesting and varied. It's amazing that considering how long vinyl records have been around that there is still considerable debate as how to go about this basic task.

Having considered all the input I have decided to go for the Knosti Disco Antistat which appears to be very similar to the Spin-Clean device but a little cheaper and gets reasonably good reviews. Unfortunately, I really can't justify buying a machine costing £200-300 for the relatively few records that we have. Whilst I really like the originality of Origami's method I just don't quite have the courage to apply that method to records that we have both owned for decades.

Thanks again for the input.
If you ever find yourself buying secondhand then you should give it a try.

Have you looked on Youtube at some of the methods suggested on there? One of the more interesting I have seen involves covering the entire playing surface with PVA adhesive and leaving for 24 hours before peeling it off. I have been tempted to try it but have not done so yet. Link below...

 

Monster900

Active Member
If you ever find yourself buying secondhand then you should give it a try.

Have you looked on Youtube at some of the methods suggested on there? One of the more interesting I have seen involves covering the entire playing surface with PVA adhesive and leaving for 24 hours before peeling it off. I have been tempted to try it but have not done so yet. Link below...

When the charity shops open I may buy something just to try your method.

I have seen the PVA method on the web which has seeded an idea with me. I'll post back here if and when I get to try it.

These days, for stuff I want to rip to the media server I generally buy CDs. Rip to FLAC in minutes with no great hassle.
 
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oscroft

Member
I've seen a few YT vids of people using PVA wood glue, and it really does seem to work. One downside is that it's quite expensive per record, as you need quite a lot of glue which isn't cheap. But for the occasional really dirty record that resists more traditional methods, it's got to be worth a try.

I do have a few second hand LPs that I haven't cleaned yet, and I have some glue. I might give it a go.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
I've moved through most of the record cleaning methods mentioned here over time, and eventually went to a vacuum record cleaner. It's much, much better as it removes all the dissolved gunk from the grooves and dries it out. ...
In another forum, someone made a slightly crude Vacuum Record cleaner from a used Turntable he fished out of the Trash, and a small Wet/Dry Shop Vac.

He took a Crevices Tool, that long flat vac tool for reaching down between cushions, and cut a slit into one side, then lined the sides of the slit with some velvet or felt or something soft to prevent scratching the record. He plugged up the end of the Crevice Tool so it would draw air through the side rather than the end, though I don't remember what he plugged it with.

So, he got the whole thing for like £40 and a bit of effort.

He claimed he could go through records pretty quickly when he was cleaning them.

ABSOLUTELY, Vacuum Drying gets the records the cleanest. It suck everything out of the groove and dries it very quickly.

You just need to be concerned about cross contamination. Though with a Vac Cleaner, you can probably clean in a single stage. Though I would think for best results, you would need two stages - Wash and Rinse.

But you can buy the Crevice Tools at the hardware store, easy enough to have one for Wash and another for Rinse.

Considering the pretty incredible price of commercial machines, a simply Wet/Dry Shop Vac, and a couple of Crevice tools, you can get very effective results for a pretty modest price. Plus I think this guy bought his small Shop Vac on sale, and that help reduce the overall price.

Just a thought.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
I've seen a few YT vids of people using PVA wood glue, and it really does seem to work. One downside is that it's quite expensive per record, as you need quite a lot of glue which isn't cheap. But for the occasional really dirty record that resists more traditional methods, it's got to be worth a try.

I do have a few second hand LPs that I haven't cleaned yet, and I have some glue. I might give it a go.
There are several Videos on YouTube about this method, some revealing how NOT to do it. But it does appear to work. It doesn't work with just any glue, it has to be White Carpenter's Glue, or White School Glue.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Monster900

Active Member
BlueWizard was very clear about the difference between record washing and pre-play cleaning. Having decided on the record washing system that I'm going to employ I need to decide on the pre-play 'dusting' kit that I need.

In the past I had a velvet pad that I used for that purpose. I see that now there seem to be carbon fibre brushes available which weren't around 35 years ago when I last played vinyl records regularly. So again, do you have any thoughts on the relative merits of each for that final wipe before the stylus hits the vinyl?
 

oscroft

Member
BlueWizard was very clear about the difference between record washing and pre-play cleaning. Having decided on the record washing system that I'm going to employ I need to decide on the pre-play 'dusting' kit that I need.

In the past I had a velvet pad that I used for that purpose. I see that now there seem to be carbon fibre brushes available which weren't around 35 years ago when I last played vinyl records regularly. So again, do you have any thoughts on the relative merits of each for that final wipe before the stylus hits the vinyl?
ZeroStat, then dust with a carbon fibre brush is what I do. I think the carbon fibre brushes are way better than the brushes and pads from the old days, as those used to create more static.
 

oscroft

Member
Right, this wood glue thing...

I have an LP I bought second hand some time ago for just a couple of pounds. Even after cleaning with record fluid, it's still been a bit crackly - though I don't know how much is ingrained dirt and how much is groove damage.

Anyway, nothing to lose, so I got a bottle of PVA wood glue out this morning, and I've coated one side with it. I'll leave it 24 hours, and then I'll tell you how it went.
 

Origami

Standard Member
Right, this wood glue thing...

I have an LP I bought second hand some time ago for just a couple of pounds. Even after cleaning with record fluid, it's still been a bit crackly - though I don't know how much is ingrained dirt and how much is groove damage.

Anyway, nothing to lose, so I got a bottle of PVA wood glue out this morning, and I've coated one side with it. I'll leave it 24 hours, and then I'll tell you how it went.
I take it you have explained yourself to other members of your household so they don't think you have lost your marbles?
 

Monster900

Active Member
ZeroStat, then dust with a carbon fibre brush is what I do. I think the carbon fibre brushes are way better than the brushes and pads from the old days, as those used to create more static.
Carbon fibre brushes seem to cost between £5 - £25. Are they all pretty much the same? Would a SpinCare one be OK as they seem to be a recognised brand?

Thanks again.
 

oscroft

Member
Carbon fibre brushes seem to cost between £5 - £25. Are they all pretty much the same? Would a SpinCare one be OK as they seem to be a recognised brand?

Thanks again.
I couldn't really say, as I've only used one, an Audioquest one from Richer Sounds for about £15. But I'd expect the SpinCare one to be fine.
 

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