HOW TO CLEAN A VINYL RECORD

You must keep your records clean if you want to enjoy vinyl fully. I think we can all agree with me that dirty records sound bad. Additionally, they are not good for your turntable. It has been discovered that increased stress on the stylus will shorten its life. In turn, this will lead to increased record wear. If you play vinyl then record cleaning should become part of your routine.

You might have heard about clicks associated with records. In case this is happening, there will most likely be dirt and dust that has collected in the grooves of your records. You would not believe the difference in sound between dirty and clean vinyl records.

Static

Before we get onto record cleaning, lets 1st look at how we can help to prevent the issue occurring in the 1st place.

A vinyl record being cleaned on a turntable using a anti-static brush
turntable vinyl plate clean with cleaning pad

Dirt and dust are attracted to vinyl often when vinyl has become static. This can happen over time by simply taking the vinyl in and out of the sleeve.

  • You can use anti-static sleeves to reduce static built up on your record
  • You can use an anti static record brush to remove any build-up of static on a record
  • You can also get a cleaning solution which is designed to remove static.

It also a wise choice not to leave your vinyl records out after you have finished playing them. Storing them back in an inner sleeve, then into a record sleeve and placing the record sleeve into polythene protector will do a lot to keep your vinyl in top condition.

Also ensure that you store vinyl records upright and not flat to avoid damaging the vinyl and the record sleeves.

Cleaning your vinyl records the easy way

We have compiled below some easy options to clean your record collection with options to suit all budgets from cleaning machines to cleaning solution. Whatever option you choose make sure you test your vinyl cleaning setup on a vinyl record which is not your precious immaculate 1st print rare LP.

Cleaning vinyl records with a vacuum cleaner

A cleaning machine is arguably the best way to clean a vinyl record. What is the benefit of using a vacuum cleaner to clean vinyl records? A vacuum cleaner will efficiently suck the dirt and dust that has settled into the grooves of the vinyl with a deep clean. Additionally, the record cleaner will minimize pressure and physical contact with the delicate record. However, you should not use the normal vacuum cleaner on your vinyl record. You will come across multiple vacuum cleaners that have specifically been designed to clean vinyl records.

These cleaners still require the use of cleaning products, you should check the compatible products and prices before making a final purchase.

Use a record washer

You should consider using a record washer if you don’t want to shell out for a vacuum cleaner. A record washer is less fancy when compared to a vacuum cleaner. The popular starter kit has proved to be one of the best record washers in the market. Most record washers in the market come with a manual system. Furthermore, they feature rollers.

Usually, the rollers use a cleaning solution to efficiently clean your records. You are required to insert the record into the cleaner. From there, you should rotate it by hands. You will be done after a few revolutions.

Unlike a vacuum cleaner, using a record washer involves a little more pressure in your records. It is also important to note that using a record washer is more than sufficient for most collectors.

Clean your vinyl records by hand

A picture of two figures cleaning a vinyl record by hand

You can wash your vinyl records by hands if you don’t want to purchase a fancy cleaner. All that you need to have is a brush, some record cleaning solution, and soft cloth. You should follow the steps below if you want to do it easily.

Brush the record with an anti-static brush

A carbon fiber brush provides an excellent means to remove dust. You should begin by brushing the surface of the record in a circular motion with the record brush. Kindly avoid using too much pressure. It is advisable to do this step every time you play a record.

Make sure you place the record on a cleaning mat when performing this cleaning process to ensure no damage occurs to the underside of the record. If you do not have a mat you could use a microfibre cloth to play the record on. Ensure the surface you place the record on is entirely flat before applying the cleaning brush.

Wash the record

I would avoid using a combination of water and dish soap to clean records, I have read some people swear by this but I cannot imagine there is anything good for your record on using a solution designed for your greasy hands or dishes to clean your vinyl. You can use a cleaning solution designed specifically for use on vinyl records. However, not all cleaning solutions are manufactured equal. You should avoid using any that is manufactured with isopropyl alcohol.

Rinsing the record

As an extra measure if you end up washing the record then it can be a good option to rinse the record with distilled water this is because it has had all the impurities removed, including minerals and microorganisms which could damage a record over the long term.

Avoid using any water that is more than tepid when rinsing vinyl if you choose to do so because hot water could warp your vinyl which is the last thing you want.

Dry the record

In this step, dry the record using a soft microfiber cloth. Before returning the vinyl record to its sleeve, make sure that it is completely dry. Allowing sometime for the record to dry on a record stand would excellent before returning to the sleeve. The last thing you want to find is mould next time you pull out the record.

Conclusion

One of the pleasures of having a great vinyl collection is maintaining it and cleaning becomes one of the norms once you establish your own vinyl collection.

If you buy second-hand vinyl records as we often do, some people do not treat their vinyl with the respect they should do. With proper cleaning a vinyl record can be restored back to how it used to sound when it was 1st put on the shelf, giving many more hours of enjoyment and pleasure.

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