If you’re an audiophile, learning how to clean vinyl records is important in order to keep your collection pristine and keep your records sounding great. Because of this, it’s important to learn more about how to properly clean them in order to prevent damaging them during the process.
But why do records need to be cleaned routinely? Simply put, playing a dirty record will damage both the turntable and the record.
Quick Vinyl Cleaning Tips
These tips can help to guide you through the cleaning process. If you’re new to vinyl records and you aren’t sure how to clean them correctly, this list of tips is a great place to start.
• One of the best ways to clean records is by using a carbon fiber brush before and after you play one.
• If you’re looking for improved acoustic clarity look into pro-quality record cleaning systems.
• There’s no way you can truly purify a record and return it to the same condition it was when you first tore off the wrapper.
• When cleaning, avoid using tap water and use only de-ionized water or distilled water.
• Before any type of deep cleaning procedure always get rid of surface dirt first.
• Make sure the cloth you use is lint-free.
• A new record isn’t a clean record.
• Be gentle with your records. The less friction the better.
• No amount of cleaning can help to repair a damaged record.
• Almost every type of cleaning solution will leave behind residue.
• Never use rubbing alcohol to clean a record. Doing so will remove the record’s shine and can lead to damage, especially if you’re cleaning 78s.
Cleaning Vinyl for Beginners
Most audiophiles can agree that the best way to clean a record is to use a vinyl record vacuum cleaner. This is not an everyday traditional vacuum, it’s one that’s designed specifically for records. It also costs hundreds of dollars and can be incredibly loud, but it does an amazing job of cleaning vinyl.
But if you don’t have a massive record collection and you’re not a fanatic about keeping your records clean, you can probably do without a vinyl vac and there are several affordable ways to maintain your records.
Most collectors opt for a traditional deep clean instead. But before you dive in, you’ll need to prepare your records for the process by removing as much debris and loose dirt from the surface of the records as possible. Skipping this step can wedge or trap loose particles deep in the bottom of the grooves. Not only will it make records harder to clean, but it can also damage the records if the particles are harder than vinyl.
Start by using an approved vinyl cleaning brush or a soft, lint-free cloth like microfiber.
After you’ve removed the surface dirt the record is ready for a deep clean.
Some collectors recommend cleaning vinyl using just distilled warm water because most products will leave behind a residue. If you do decide to use soap or some type of record cleaning solution make sure you use it sparingly and rinse the vinyl well.
Use a large bowl and fill it with warm water. The water shouldn’t be too hot. Some collectors suggest using very hot water because it can take off more dirt easily, but heat is very bad for vinyl. The water should be warm enough to dissolve the soap, but should not be steaming.
If you’re using dish soap, make sure it’s a gentle formula, such as Dawn. Don’t use a soap that contains bleach or other types of harsh chemicals. Use only about a teaspoon of soap.
Take a microfiber cloth and wrap it around your index finger. Dip your finger into the soap and water solution. Gently rub the record using circular motions along the grooves clockwise all the way around the record. Then go in the opposite direction.
Once the water is dirty it’s time to dump it out and start over again with a fresh bowl.
To rinse the record, do a final pass over both sides using just plain distilled water. This ensures that there’s no residue left behind.
If you’re unsatisfied with the results or you have a large number of records to clean you can purchase a pro-quality record cleaning kit, such as the Collector Protector Vinyl Record Cleaner and Carbon Fiber Record Brush.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that regular maintenance is the best way to keep your collection in good shape.
Vinyl Cleaning Products
If you have a lot of records to maintain, aside from a vinyl cleaning kit, you’ll also need to purchase a carbon fiber brush. Using this type of brush is the safest way to remove dust from your records. The bristles work to disperse any type of static charge that can cause dust and debris to stick to the records. When used, the brush should gently glide across the record’s surface and should never be used to scrub the record, instead, always gently brush within the grooves.
Most record cleaning kits will come with a carbon fiber brush and some type of cleaning spray. These sprays are designed to gently dissolve dirt and dust, and shouldn’t leave residue behind.
You can find one of these kits online for a price that ranges from twenty to fifty dollars.
These kits can be a better choice than soap and water because you know the spray has been designed specifically for vinyl cleaning, whereas many types of dish soap are scented or can contain harmful chemicals.
So, if you’re a beginner, it might be a better option to just play it safe and purchase an all in one vinyl cleaning kit.
Properly Storing Vinyl
Keeping your records clean is just half the battle. Proper storage is just as important. Vinyl should be kept in a dry, cool place. The records should be stacked vertically. Never lay records flat and never stack records on top of each other. Doing so can cause the vinyl to warp over time. Always use plastic sleeves to protect your records.