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How to Clean Vinyl Records

How to Clean Vinyl Records

Some things legit never go out of vogue. Regardless of how much technology has taken over or how the listening format has changed. Nothing beats late-night vinyl record listening to your favorite old-school album. That good old classic feels that hits you when you put a vinyl record on the player and drop the needle into the groove is beyond words.

But over time you might have noticed how the sound from your vinyl records is not as same as it was once. That is because of the dust, grime, fingerprints, dust, static, and scratches gathered on vinyl which can exhibit significant wear far sooner than you can imagine.

To avoid the cracking, crunching, pops, and skips keeping your vinyl record clean is way too important. Other factors can degrade the sound quality of your vinyl such as its needle but keeping your vinyl record clean for optimal sound is a must.

How to Maintain Vinyl Records

  • Hold your vinyl record by the edge or by the label. Avoid touching the playable surface of the records.
  • Oil from your hands collects dust and all that eventually gums and creates noise while you play it. So every time you handle a vinyl record, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Limit the amount of time a record is exposed to the elements. Dust should not be allowed to accumulate on records.
  • Cover the turntable and dust the stylus frequently.
  • Upgrade to inner sleeves of archival quality. These sleeves are anti-static, which means they won’t attract dust to the vinyl.
  • It is considered best to clean your vinyl record before playing every time with microfiber or velvet cloth. 
  • Store your vinyl records vertically. You risk warping or bending them if you lay them flat. Keep the records close together with little space between them vertically. 

Products That Shouldn’t Be Used on Vinyl Records

  • Isopropyl Alcohol: This chemical has the potential to damage vinyl records. While alcohol is effective at removing oil and grime from vinyl records, it also removes the protective layer from the grooves and floor of the record. Which gradually causes the sound system to degrade. A lot of commercial record cleaning products available in the market contain isopropyl alcohol in it. Go thoroughly through the details of the product before purchasing it.
  • Household cleaning products: Another thing to avoid is cleaning your vinyl record with household products such as dish wash, Windex, and any other household cleaner. They can damage your vinyl record.
  • Don’t rinse vinyl records under tap water: Don’t soak vinyl in water. Running water contains impurities that can destroy the groove and can leave a trace on record. The force of water from the tap can also destroy the dedicated record label.

Equipment / Tools Required 

  • Soft microfiber cloths
  • Carbon fiber vinyl record brush
  • Velvet vinyl cleaning brush
  • Record cleaning mat
  • Spin record wash

Material Required

  • Commercial vinyl record cleaning solution

How to Clean Vinyl Records

Depending upon how much dust is accumulated, if there are any scratches you can begin the cleaning process. If there isn’t much dust on the vinyl, use static cleaning; otherwise, use go for deep cleaning.

Regular Cleaning Vinyl Records 

Regular cleaning vinyl record

Static- regular cleaning or dry cleaning a record is best if there is not much dust accumulated. It typically takes a few minutes only and will help you to get rid of microscopic particles from the groove.

  1.  Place the record on the turntable and turn it on so that it begins to spin.
  2.  At a 90-degree angle, place an anti-static carbon fiber brush or a velvet cleaning brush on the record surface. 
  3. Allow the record to spin a few times before moving the brush to the record’s center.
  4. You’ve cleaned the whole surface of the record when the brushes reach the spindle.
  5. If you’re worried about dust getting into the turntable’s components, use a record cleaning mat and move the brush in concentric rings around the record.

Deep Cleaning Vinyl Records

Deep cleaning vinyl record

If your vinyl is visibly dirty where there are some noticeable dirt, grime, and fingerprints. You need to do a deep cleaning with some vinyl cleaning solutions. 

  1. Remove the cover and inner sleeve from the record.
  2. Place the record on a vinyl cleaning mat
  3.  Avoid wet cleaning a record on a turntable as it might cause damage to the other components.
  4. To begin the wet cleaning process, remove dust from the record with a carbon-fiber or velvet vinyl brush.
  5. You can use any alcohol-free record cleaner.
  6. Spray the cleaning solution all-around but skip the middle paper label.
  7. Clean the middle paper label with microfiber cloth only. 
  8. Using a dry microfiber cloth, wipe away the filth in a counter-clockwise manner, following the grooves of the record. 
  9. Use a light touch, but make sure the towel is in contact with the record’s floor.
  10. Flip the side and clean both sides.
  11. Repeat the whole process if the grime and fingerprints are still visible
  12. Don’t rub or scrub the playing surface as it might damage the vinyl.
  13. With the help of a fresh microfiber cloth dry the record.
  14. Let the record be dry before you play it again. 

Using a Record Cleaning Machine 

cleaning using a record cleaning machine

Hands-down record cleaning machines are the best for cleaning records but these machines are slightly expensive. Reservoir washing systems and Degritter record cleaners are some of the widely used record cleaning machines. They are very simple to use, all you have to do is place the vinyl record in the cleaning machine and switch the sides once one side is clean. Simple as that.

Finally,

Regularly cleaning your record will avoid the hassle you have to go through while cleaning accumulated dust and debris. Maintenance is the key to long-lasting records. Until and unless you handle them with utmost care-less you will never have to go for deep cleaning. Static regular cleaning is more than enough for cleaning vinyl records. And for other parts clean the stylus with a stylus cleaning brush or lint-free cloth before playing, keep the turntable clean, and close the dust cover during playback using a carbon fiber brush. And clean the record player as mentioned above.