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How To Clean Vinyl Records & Get Better Sound

Tips to keep vinyl records clean. Directions for deep cleaning records by hand or with a vacuum record cleaning machine. A shopping list of supplies and Q & A section with answers to your record care questions is included.

Spinning a clean vinyl record is important for the best sound and longevity.

Using a carbon fiber record cleaning brush before and after playing helps keep vinyl records free from dust, annoying pops and static giving you better sound.Good sound starts with a clean and static-free vinyl record. Whether you are a casual listener or a fanatical audiophile and vinyl record collector, many of us here at DiscoMusic.com have accumulated thousands of vinyl records over the years. In an effort to digitally preserve your priceless records you may have considered transferring and restoring your vinyl record collection to CD by using your computer and some audio recording / editing software. Before you do, remember that in order to extract the best sound from your discs it's important to start with scrupulously clean records and equipment including your stylus.

Cleaning Vinyl Records by Hand or with a Machine?

Vinyl discs that are kept clean and free of dirt, dust and oils from one's fingers will sound much clearer and more importantly last longer. Since clean records have less clicks, crackle and pop you'll have less work when it comes to the restoration phase and attain much better results. The great thing about cleaning your records is that it doesn't take a lot of equipment, but there are choices. Let's discuss some proven ways of cleaning records either with a record cleaning machine or by hand with brushes and ready-made record cleaning solutions. We will start with the preferred way and work our way down.

How To Deep Clean Vinyl Records Using a Record Cleaning Machine

Nitty Gritty Mini Pro Record Cleaning MachineIf you have more than a few hundred vinyl records I'm not going to mince words: Use a vacuum record cleaner such as those sold by Nitty Gritty, VPI or Keith Monks. The results are far quicker, safer and superior to anything you could ever attempt to do by hand as the machine will apply the record cleaning solution, safely scrub the record and finally vacuum all the dirt and liquid off leaving you with a dry and pristine vinyl record. It's the only way to truly deep clean a record.

A record cleaning machine is a self contained unit with a motor that turns a platter with a vacuum suction tube that has an applicator pad or soft brush. One simply places the record on the platter, primes the pump to apply the record cleaning solution and let the record spin a few revolutions to work loose any dirt and oils that are in the grooves of the record. You then flip the switch and the vacuum sucks up any crud and fluid as well as drying the record. After this, one cleans the pads around the vacuum slot with the supplied brush and then flips the record over and repeats the above. Pretty simple and you now have a thoroughly clean record ready to be played.

While you could attempt making your own record cleaning solution from household items, it is far better to buy ready-made solutions such as Nitty Gritty Pure 2, VPI concentrated record cleaning solution or Super Vinyl Wash by Record Research Lab. All of these are safe for use in record cleaning machines and on modern vinyl records (non-shellac). I have also used Record Research Lab's "Super Deep Cleaner" as a pre-cleaner for an even cleaner record as it helps to release pressing impurities. As good as a record cleaning machine is there are times when I will get a really dirty record from the flea market and wash it by hand FIRST before putting it on the machine so as not to foul up the expensive machine.

I use the Nitty Gritty Mini Pro2 which works very well as do the well made VPI machines. If cost is a consideration, and why wouldn't it, then consider getting a new bare bones manual Nitty Gritty machine known as the Record Doctor. It starts at around $199.(US) whereas some of the better automatic VPI's can go for substantially more. Another cost effective choice is the Spin Clean Record Washer MKII which can be had for under $100. Regardless of which machine you choose, they are a wise and solid investment and strongly recommended.

Once records are clean it is imperative to maintain the cleanliness by doing small touch up cleanings before and after every playing by using a carbon fiber brush to neutralize pop-inducing static and pick up stray dust or lint that can get dragged through the grooves by the stylus.

One final note: VPI and Nitty Gritty offer parts and repair service on their machines. I bought my Nitty Gritty back in 1989 and years later and thousands of records cleaned, the pump on my out of warranty Mini-Pro needed replacement. One quick call to their office in California is all it took to get an address to send my machine to them for quick service. That same machine is still running and cleaning records. A worthwhile investment that all serious record collectors should consider.

How To Clean Vinyl Records By Hand

The Nitty Griitty and VPI vacuum record cleaning machines are expensive so if you want to do it by hand note the following:

VPI Scout turntable with a scrupulously cleaned vinyl record on the platterJust as with a record cleaning machine, the best way to clean records is by buying a commercially available record cleaning solution such as the inexpensive Discwasher D4, which usually come with an applicator brush or step up to the superior Last Company, which makes excellent manual cleaning solutions and brushes, which come highly recommended. You could also use the same cleaners sold for use in machines, but you'll need to buy a good record cleaning brush to use them.

To begin, you could place your record on a clean flat surface such as a soft towel, but I usually prefer placing it right on the turntable platter as it's more secure and easier to turn while cleaning. Be certain to secure the tonearm so it doesn't accidentally swing out across the record and do not apply too much pressure on the platter as you can damage the bearings. Also pay attention not to allow the cleaning fluid to drip on the platter or turntable finish. If it does, wipe it up immediately.

Cleaning your albums with a manual cleaner is very easy and the instructions below apply to most brands including the Last products.

Since alcohol is the primary ingredient of most record cleaning solutions the record should dry fairly quickly, but do let it air dry before flipping it over to clean the other side or place it back in its sleeve. Before you flip the record over though make sure the surface or platter is clean as the dirty uncleaned side was just there!

Once records are clean it is easy to do small touch up cleanings before and after playing by using a carbon fiber or soft camel hair brush.

Using Homemade Record Cleaning Solutions

zerostat gunDon't want to spend money or mind experimenting? Then try using some household items instead. For light cleaning you can use Isopropyl 90% alcohol or higher. Do NOT use rubbing alcohol or witch hazel as they contain additives that can harm your records. Another option for cleaning dirty records is dishwashing liquid without any moisturizers such as plain versions of Joy or Dawn. It cleans dirty records well, but it's a pain to rinse off thoroughly. Try not to get the label wet as it can destroy the label or make the inks bleed. If it does get wet then blot it gently and let it air dry. Do NOT rub the label.

Using normal tap water to rinse off the record is fine provided your water is not unusually "hard." If this is the case then you will want to finish up by using distilled water as a final rinse. Distilled water can be easily found in your supermarket or drugstore. The real trick is to properly rinse all this stuff off your vinyl records and get them dry without scratching them. Drying means using a microfiber type of cloth and blotting the record. Once this is done you can followup with a quick pass with a brush dipped in Isopropyl alcohol to get rid of any impurities that may still be on the record.

With inexpensive ready-made record cleaning solutions easily available on the internet, it really doesn't make sense to deal with the hassles and risks of making a homemade solution. Proceed with extreme caution if you opt for a homemade method and stick with the time tested solutions outlined above. The vinyl album has been with us since 1948 so it's highly unlikely that you are going to stumble upon some miracle cleaner.

What NOT to Use on Your Vinyl Records

Someone once asked on the DiscoMusic.com forums about using lighter fluid to clean records. The answer is simply no. Do NOT use lighter fluid, bleach, WD40, Armor-All or baby lotion on records. If it doesn't say specifically for records then do not use it.

Is Wet Playing Your Records OK?

In years past, some individuals would wet their albums before playing in hopes of reducing static and noise with varying results. Never "wet play" your vinyl records. Thoroughly clean AND dry them before playing. "Wet playing" sounds like an ideal solution-at first. In reality the liquid starts to evaporate as the record is played and the needle just starts to dig the junk further into the grooves and now contaminates the entire disc. It clogs up the styli muddying the sound and can cause damage to the styli and cantilever as water seeps into the cracks and erodes the glue that holds it together. As this crud starts to dry it just makes it more difficult to now properly clean the record. Once a record is "wet played" it needs to be played that way again to sound acceptable.

With thousands of records in our music collections the last thing one wants to do is ruin them. Please don't "wet play" a record unless you know that you are going to discard the disc and want to get one last shot at archiving / restoring it to a digital medium.

How To Store and Care For Vinyl Records

vinyl record storage racksCleaning your vinyl records is only part of the equation. Properly storing and handling those records are just as important so here are some quick tips.

In addition to the above you should read: 10 Things NOT to do to Your Vinyl Records.

We're all done! Go and play some of those vinyl albums and singles on your tunrtable and enjoy the music. While you are at it go check out the ultimate Disco record discography. Scroll down to add your tips on cleaning vinyl records or read what other music collectors and audiophiles do to keep their albums and singles sounding great.

Record Cleaning Shopping List



By Bernard Lopez


 

Your Comments

record boy |

I have never tried this but there is a solution for getting rid of adhesive from medical stuff like wraps and bandages. It takes labels off jars no problem and is safe for the skin. It might be ok for getting gunk and sticky residue off records. Try a medical supply place for it.

William Sargent |

Use a Groovmaster Label Saver for wet cleaning. It keeps the label DRY! Check the web site or ebay.

DJ Frankee Cee |

These folks who keep swearing by the D4 cleaning brush, that D4 system is a *light weight*.
If the record was already well maintained and mostly clean then the D4 is fine for your needs.
Any record that doesn't fall into THAT catagory, it's worthless and does nothing.
Don't expect the D4 to work miracles because it won't. The only thing that cleans out
the so-called "crud" is a watered down amonia. Scrubbing bubbles with OXY Clean might
work also. Don't expect to get a record clean if you are not using some form of scrubbing action.
Pick a cleaner that is mild but strong enough to actually lossen "crud" and use a old turntable
with a paint brush dragging in the opposite direction, Those brush bristles will not hurt the
embedded sound and will help the cleaning agent get stuff out. Rinse with distilled water
because it has no minerals which may get trapped in grooves making pops.
I see nothing wrong with blow drying on a firm flat surface using compressed air
with a hobby compressor. The blowing will dry and knock partictulate out of the grooves.
Be very conscience of what you place the record down on because some cloth gives
up their particles, and those will be stuck to the record. Pick a material that won't give up
particles easily. If you still hear pops and clicks, then try again. The crackle and frying
is static and only humidity can dampen that. Static is strong in winter due to moisture
that is not in the air. In the summer with humidity around, the humidity will dampen static.
Find a way to recreate a humid environment and you will eliminate static and frying.
Enjoy your music.

Duane Goldman |

Contrary to your remarks these record cleaning methods are audibly inferior to Disc Doctor product & have been for over 20yrs. There are no finer products for cleaning shellac, vinyl, lacquer or acetate discs whether using manual or machine assisted methods. You sent this unsolicited email to me, otherwise I would not have responded.

Kevin |

I see a lot of people talking about a mixture of distilled water and alcohol.. either isopropyl or denatured I'm curious as to what most recommend.. I have cleaned all my vinyl using the spin clean system and all sound great, just using Discwasher D4 to clean before playing. But it can get expensive so would the combination of alcohol and distilled water work best?

Thanks for the help

Kevin

Dennis |

I use Clear Groove, best cleaner fluid ever!

Vinyl Perk |

Great tips, thanks. Windex!

Rachel |

I have a record, autographed by all of the original members of the Sons of the Pioneers, and it got wet when the roof leaked, and the autographs are stuck to another record now. Please, please, please! Any ideas are welcome, I saw a suggestion about taking it to a book restorer, another about separating them with a sharp tool, and then the ones on here about a humidifier or the cold water soak. Which of these would be best, if any?
Thanks in advance!

Dennis Penner |

JohnC
It was years ago when I was using carbon fiber brushes - you won't see any fibers with the naked eye - a high power magnifying glass or microscope is needed. I used the Shure Stylus inspection microscope which has a range of 10x to 20x I believe. The brushes I was using were not defective and I am pretty sure all carbon fiber brushes will have the same problem, but I have not tested them all so I can't say that for sure. Since there are vastly superior options out there, why would one use a carbon fiber brush even if only the potential exists for fibers breaking off and staying in the goove?

JohnC |

@Dennis Penner:
I have used the same carbon fiber cleaning brush for a few years and never saw any fibers shed onto the records. Did you buy a good name brand like the 2+2, Hunt or Audioquest and not some no-name Chinese knock-off? If it's a good one then it must be defective and you should return it.

BigTony |

I have 75,156 LP's and 11,765 45's and the Titebond II Wood Glue method is the best in my opinion. I am working to clean all of mine this way. I know it will take me a few years but I know it is worth it. About to start selling my vinyl collection on EBAY.

Cory Ander |

there's a really good (and very long) article about cleaning records in the current (May-June 2013) issue of Record Collector magazine.

dj dex dexta |

ahhh.. discwashers in my opinion are a no-go! the records seems to be clean but in Detail the soundquality gets more flat because of the leftover of cleaning fluids.. i compared many old recs with new ones ( have many records more than one time... and compared records which have been cleaned with a machine, with mint records and records cleaned with isopropanol 25% (1part buthyl alcohol, 3 parts destillated water)... and the machine washed records had the worst Sound of them..
in my opinion a Hand cleaning with isopropanol 25% and a microfibre Cloth is the best cleaning solution.. (nothing else for my 15000+ recs).. cheers dexy

Jeff Missinne |

It's not made any more (THANK GOD!) but maybe the worst product ever sold supposedly for cleaning records was Realistic Record Cleaner, sold back in the 70's/80's by Radio Shack stores. It was a strong (and strong smelling!) solvent in an aerosol can. I sprayed it on an LP and it warped on contact; on an old 78 it "cleaned" the surface completely off!

Dennis Penner |

I keep reading recommendations for using a carbon fiber brush for cleaning records before playing them. Many years ago I looked at the record surface under a microscope after using a carbon fiber brush and I have never used one since - the fibers break off and stay in the record groove! Along comes the stylus and grinds the fiber into the vinyl. Has anyone ever checked this?


benjamin |

Hi i have 3 7" records from the U.K they have A lot Of crackles
record 1&2 have Crackles at the End Of the Song On Both sides
i have got a new record brush & still Crackles at the end.

One 12" Vinly From Germany (4 Track) that skips in the midle of the vinyl with song 1,2,3 but song for play like new ?? . should i replace the 7" Records from the U.K or buy for the first time A antistatic fluid. would this help ??? the records i have are rare & the Vinyls look good (all most like new )

scott mortson |

can i use eye glass cleaner

_) (V) (-) |

I've been picking up these new 'micro fiber' washcloths, they are inexpensive and do a real nice job of getting down into the grooves on dirty / dusty records, very similar to the way the old Diskwasher brushes did.

Using one of these microfiber cloths on 1/2 of a dry record as a test you could see a very noticeable improvement when compared to the old standard record cleaning cloths.

Great for wiping the dust off newer clean records too. Virtually lint free and even better when spray treated with a little anti-static juice.

Ronald C. Liser |

Where do I BUY a Discwasher D4 record cleaning kit?

CoryAnder |

yesterday just as an experiment I tried hydrogen peroxide on some dirty old records and was pleasantly surprised that it did a pretty good job of removing surface dirt. But the records were still unplayable because they were pretty badly scratched and nothing seems to remove scratches of course.

CoryAnder |

this is good information because many sellers will sell vinyl records at deep discounts if they are dusty or dirty but otherwise re-usable after being cleaned (I guess they don't want to take the time to clean them). I kind-of understand because to do a good job of cleaning a large number of records is pretty hard work. I recently acquired a large number of Beatles albums for next to nothing just because they need cleaning, but I wish I'd gotten them a few years ago when Beatle fever was at its peak in my area. There's an independent music store owner in my area (if I printed the name of the city I live in he'd immediately recognize it's him I'm talking about) who refuses to even consider accepting any record that's not crystal clean and as a result, his stock of used items sucks and his store is practically always empty.

DAVID |

If you are just after a basic fluid and cloth method I dont think you can beat Clear Groove.

Its the best ive used!

I would love a cleaning machine too though!

_) (V) (-) |

I sometimes find 45's that were used in radio staion broadcasts. The DJ's would sometimes put tape across the 'no air' sides of records to prevent them from being played. Over time the adhesive turns hard and nasty. If you can peel off the tape from the grooves, resist the temptation to pick at the residue. It will have to be sofened up first. If the tape crosses the label, don't pull any farther, 9 times out of 10 it'll tear, just cut it off there.

I've had very good results removing the old tape residue from the grooves using simple lighter fluid. The kind for an older Zippo lighter. Just a couple of drops right on the residue and let it soak about in 1 min. rub it with your finger and the adhesive will wipe right off with a clean cloth. I recomend avoid spreading it when you wipe, try to keep it contained best you can. In some cases a 2nd application may be required. Follow up with a standard cleaning and you should be good to go.

Goo-Gone did very little to break down the adhesive but it did smell lemony fresh afterwards.

Resluts are in on the Nitty Grity. Thumbs down!

For all the extra expense and hassle I think it's better to simply clean em with soap and water. I even tried a bottle of their new super cleaner PUREenzyme+, (for an extra $40) and it still has yet to impress me.

For the record (pun intended) some of the items I am trying to clean are stained with mold. Remenants from last years flooding we suffered here. I wanted to get these long out of print recodings onto cd before letting go. And the Nitty Grity process really does very little to improve over a good soap and water treatment.

That said, anyone interested in buying a used one?

Bernard Lopez |

Marisa, sorry for the late reply :-( You mentioned adhesive shipping tape residue on your vinyl record and I can't help but thinking that a good cleaning with dishwashing liquid may do the trick. There is a product called Goo Be Gone that works very well in removing such things HOWEVER I am apprehensive in recommending it for use on vinyl records because I don't know if it will harm the record. Please proceed with extreme caution if you decide to use Goo-be-gone and let us know what worked for you.

marisa |

do you have any suggestions on cleaning what looks like the wide clear adhesive shipping tape off of a record. i bought a rare, out of print record to give as a gift (out of state and by the time it was opened to play we noticed the sticy residue, and of course it's too late to return it to the store even though it wasn't in good shape when i bought it). thanks for your tips on your site, they will help me with the more 'normally' dirt on my albums.

Jeff S |

My main goal is to convert vinyl to digital, so keeping the vinyl clean is a must because it will save hours in restoration.

I have the KAB EV-1, the manual version of the Nitty Gritty machine where you use your own vacuum and turn the vinyl by hand. It's not as hard as it seems, I can knock out an album in under 5 mins. I should note that I'm particular about the cleaning, so others may do it in less time.

I started with the Spin Clean. The Spin Clean does do a good job of removing dirt, as you with have a reservoir full of dirty water after 20 or so records. The probably is drying the LPs and making sure the dirt in the tank water doesn't dry on the vinyl. I found that the supplied clothes were ok for the first few records, but dirt drys and creates more clicks and pops.

I have also used wood glue to clean records, see the Audio Karma turntable forums. Tite Bond 2 (not 1 or 3) works really well. It pulls off real easy and all in one piece. The problem is you can only do one side at a time and it takes usually 8+ hours to dry here on the Gulf Coast. The trade off is the results are awesome.

My normal routine is to take really dirty records and spray them off with a squirt bottle with a couple cap fulls of spin clean solution and rest distilled water. For finger prints/ grease, I've hit it with dawn, rinse with the squirt bottle. Once the records are in "decent shape", I use the Nitty Gritty "Pure 2" solution with the KAB EV-1.

For storage, I replace the stock paper sleeves with the poly rice paper sleeves.
Jeff

_) (V) (-) |

Just purchased my first Nitty Gritty machine. $ = ouch!
Where is the best place to purchase cleaning fluid?

LTsmooth42 |

Very informative guide. Thanks!

Matt Watts |

Hi. I am new to vinyls, i have just received a vinyl collection of about 200 LP's and many a single all of witch are quite old with some rather expensive ones as well so I REALLY want to be careful when cleaning. These vinyl's have not been used in a long time but some of the more expensive ones have been wetted and appear to have, maybe mould on them, (as if its dust it is rather circular large and consistent) .
However as these are not truly mine my pay back for receiving them is to convert them all to, ultimately mp3, possibly via CD. This means I want the best sound quality possible and as a someone with no idea how to use audio editing software getting this right early on could be a HUGE help.

_) (V) (-) |

Discwashers are great for light dust and static.

If you record has been through a few wild parties and covered with greasy fingerprints it'll do very little for you.

I've used the dawn dish soap, it's very effective on grease and leaves little or no residue. Take care not to wet the labels!

For them 'stuck particles' I've actually had some luck with a paint brush. Place the album on a towel flat on the table. Spray wet the album and let it soak in for a minute. Then use a soft paint brush moving in the direction of the grooves only. It'll dislodge most anything. Be sure to rinse the record before drying!

Another trick is to just play the record, the needle will plow the grooves and dig out dust/ashes, then rinse clean or I also like the compressed air for this. Then wash rinse and repeat.

If you parties get really out of hand, well...

DJ Frankee Cee |

Discwasher D4 Record Cleaning Kit did not get deep into the grooves. The particles that make the click sound, were still there.

I've had decent success using distilled water and 90% alcohol with dish soap. HOWEVER,..the rinse process can NOT be done from tap water as it defeats the whole purpose of using the distilled water. In the wash process I use a new paint brush with the bristles squeezed together, I work the cleaning solution into the grooves in the opposite direction that a tone-arm would go.

DON'T touch any towel or paper on the record for drying as they ALL LEAVE SOMETHING behind. Get a squirt bottle and squirt distilled water as a rinse. Next blow compressed air to dry and knock off the particles that make the click. MY CRITICAL last step was to put the record flat on a towel and blast with a Sears air compressor. This dried it and dislodged the particles that cause clicks.

DJ Zerokewl |

We made a very simple tutorial on the best method we have found for deep cleaning vinyl record. This process involves no scrubbing of any kind and using works with one application.

The YouTube link is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z61k5UAWev8

Bernard Lopez |

My apologies on the broken links. Thanks for taking a moment to let me know. I restructured the site a while back and somehow missed updating those links. They are now correct and I've added a few more!

Primitive Disques |

the links to Further Reading on Caring for Vinyl Albums and Singles are dead.



Cheers

Paul |

PVA GLUE - I tried this on many used and dirty L.Ps and must say it has dramatically reduced the surface noise. i did some HQ before and after audio samples and the proof wa right there.
I was orginally using a small paint brush to apply the glue but found my fingers were faster and more effective.
After lots of experiments I foud that the glue needs to be thick enough not to see the black vinyl and left to dry completely clear before attempting peeling off. I also found that by not applying right up to the outer edge was better and easier to peel off completely as one piece, otherwise it starts to split and you get small flecks of dry glue on the record that then needs to be removed.
It's cheap, very effective on used vinyl and compares with the big boys of record cleaning fluids. I can say this as I have tried them all and have not been overly impressed with any on my clearaudio cleaning machine.
Steaming [Only with distilled, not tap water] is also great and I have audio samples of before and after 6 different steams and each time up to the 5th the difference is clearly audible.Seemed to stop improving after the 4th, guess it was as clean as it was ever going to be.
If you got this far thank you for reading ablut my cleaning methods/rituals.
I am now trying white vinegar and distilled water with steam as a main cleaner, will let you know!

|

Has anyone heard of using club soda to clean records? An old timer recommended it to me and I had never heard or thought of that. I know it works great for cleaning alot of things, but since vinyl can be sensitive and there is so much controversy amongst people about what is "safe" and "unsafe" to use, I thought I would see if anyone on here had insight....

Someguy |

I tried using a couple drops of photoflow in a gallon of deionized water... even with just 2 small drops it seemed like the water had somewhat of a film that was hard to wash off. I didn't use kodak photo flow though so maybe thats why

Bernadine Aston |

I've just scored a whole lot of classic rock albums and need to clean them and you guys have given me great advice, thanks again.

Andy in TO |

Has anyone been brave enough to try CYBER CLEAN on your records?

The next time I have a record that's really filthy, I'm going to try it and see if it would work.

paul |

I have a few hundred records that need cleaning as they were left in storage and got damp. I was going to buy Isopropyl alcohol to clean them, then seen somewhere you must mix it 50/50 with deminerelised water and a 1 or 2 drops of Kodak Photo Flo?

Dave Hansan |

Thanks for the information on record storage )(V)(-)

Bernard Lopez |

Ron,

You must have bought the D4 refill bottle only as the Discwasher D4 record cleaning kit comes with a suitable brush along with the solution.

The general directions to clean a vinyl record by hand is in the above article, but here it is again:


Follow the directions on the bottle, but generally one applies the liquid to the applicator brush and not on the record itself. Take the brush and place it on top of the record and turn the platter counter-clockwise a few times to work the dirt loose. Look at the brush, you should see some dirt or lint on it so carefully remove it and go another round cleaning the record till no more dirt or crud appears on the brush.

Ron |

I am trying to convert my parent's records to tracks on the computer. However, I need to clean them first. Since the record cleaning machines are expensive, I am going to clean them by hand.

I found the D4 solution that was recommended on the site. However, I'm looking for brushes on E-bay, and the feedback for them isn't positive. Any suggestions on a quality brush that will get the job done? That will have good directions? I grew up with CDs, and have never cleaned a record before.

_) (V) (-) |

Warpage is the most typical damage inflicted upon stacked records. Wish someone had a fix for that problem.

Also pressed together jackets, sometimes they stick together, especially if in a humid climate.

Dave Hansan |

Hi,

I have a quick question. What sound damage might occur from storing records flat on top of one another? I recently purchased a Stanton T.90 USB turntable with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge to start archiving my old vinyl. I’ve always kept my records in good condition but noticed that someone in my home while organizing the garage stacked my collection on top of each other and it’s been that way for some time.

Thanks for your help.

Sincerely,
Dave Hansan

Andy M |

These are some really, really good ideas!! There's one question I have to ask and I need to know if I'm doing the right thing? (Is this morally right?):

I find records all the time in my GoodWills and Salvation Armys. I'll buy them up if the record is clean and nearly scratch free. Often the case is the cover hasn't fared well over time. Quite often the seems have splitting or are completely spit apart.

What I have done to fix them is carefully laying a bead of superglue-gel along the split edge and then laying the split in between two heavy objects. This has worked with great results.

Now I ask is what I'm dong right? I see this as an act of preservation. I could just be lazy and break out the packing tape but I want my record cover to look better than when I found it. I treat every one like the Mona Lisa.

Any other suggestions? Comments?

Vern |

Kodak wetting agent (surfactant). We saw a post reccomending the Kodak sufatant as a wetting agent... not a good idea. There are other wetting agents that don't leave residue on your records... Kodak does!

Good Luck!

Bernard Lopez |

_) (V) (-),

Thanks for the update on how to separate vinyl records that have been stuck together from a flood. Hopefully, I'll never need to do this, but I'm sure it will help many who have to deal with this problem.

_) (V) (-) |

***UPDATE***

I did some testing on a few 'clumps' of 45's and was able to separate the stuck labels simply by soaking them in warm soapy water for about 90 seconds.

I just used a little Dawn dish washing detergent and lukewarm tap water to get a frothy bubble bath for them to soak in, and after a bit they just popped apart by themselves.

A few of them needed a little more time to come apart, one set I tried to pull apart and some of the label came off of one record while sticking to the other. My advice is to let them come apart on their own.

After a few of these the water got kind of a funky brown color so I only did a couple batches.

After separating and cleaning up the records I blotted them dry with a towel and put them in a dish rack to dry. Some of the labels, like the purple Capitol ones, took a lot longer to dry out than the others. The orange/red Columbia labels bubbled up a little bit but at least they didn't tear apart.

Once dry, I used the above mentioned denatured alcohol method to wipe clean them again and most are now quite playable.

Ann Marie Singh |

hi dear
can you help me please i have dozens of vinyl record which were flood soaked and there sleeves are stuck on them is there any way of restoring them. please help in any way you can

thank you

waiting on a reply

Chris |

I don't have a lot of money to spend on a turntable, so I started with a Sony model that was about $110. It sounds fine. My question is, are stylus life expectancies (playable hours) the same no matter what kind they are? I would like to get a higher quality turntable down the road, but this is what I have for now. A customer where I work tried to tell me that my stylus would only play 100 hours before it would damage my vinyl. I've heard 200=300 hours of playback is common. The last thing I want is to damage my investment in records.

Mike |

I had a small collection of well-maintained 45s that were recently caught in a flood and sat in standing water for 24 hours. The jackets have to be thrown out, to my lasting sorrow. Is there any way to save the LPs themselves?

Thanks for any suggestions.

John Lasruk |

"After reading the post from John Lasruk on 1/12/08 thought I would give that option a try. My question is....will this rubber latex remove scratches (and/or fill them in) and how do I apply this?"
Latex is supposed to be completely removed during the process and cannot fill in a scratch. Nor can it remove them, since a scratch is the result of the removal of vinyl from an LPs surface. Latex will remove deep-seated dirt and dust (and possibly some grease), nothing more. But that is enough.

_) (V) (-) |

Response to: john seed apple
You can't, but I have 'repaired' a skipping record with a very small exacto blade and a very steady hand. By tracing over the scratch in the groove with the blade I was able to re establish the needle's direction when tracking over the scratch.

BE VERY CAREFUL! You can permanetly s**** it up if you miss the path. This is a 'last resort' type of thing, so use it sparingly.

_) (V) (-) |

Lot's of great tips here guys, thanks!

I just found a big batch of old 45's (50's & 60's stuff) that were 'rescued' from a flood and left to dry in piles.

Many are NASTY dirty, some actually have a gritty muddy residue on them and lots of the records are stuck together by the labels.

There are some good classics in there and I want to try and clean them up, hopefully some are still playable for an old jukebox project I'm working on.

First question:

What is the best way to seperate the labels without them tearing apart?


Was thinking about putting them near a humidifier to soften them up gradually but concerned about mold or other funky stuff going into the air of our home.

The 'cold water soak' method sounds good but, I can't help thinking one of the two sides will tear away when the paper softens up.

Once getting them apart, I'll rinse off what I can with plain cool water, then hit em with the soappy water mix described above.

Second question:
Would playing the record with an older needle the first time after cleaning them help to 'plow' the gunk out of the grooves, or make it worse?

Seems like this would help to dig up the stuff and make a second cleaning session with a proper solution more effective.

What are your thoughts on this?

GOD |

Latex will do NOTHING for scratches. You can't fix scratches as it's just not possible.

kac |

I am new to DiscoMusic.com and am on the brink of copying my old vinyl records to CDs. Some are scratched and havent been played very recently. After reading the post from John Lasruk on 1/12/08 thought I would give that option a try. My question is will this rubber latex remove scratches (and/or fill them in) and how do I apply this?

Steven Stevenson |

> Does anyone have suggestions for a cleaning method that also sterilizes/disinfects? Hurricane Ike left my LP's covered in flood water mixed with raw sewage (long story).

Believe it or not (I didn't first time I was told), soap is a disinfectant. So warm water with dishwashing liquid would probably do it, though it might take multiple washes, much gentle rubbing with clean rags/sponges and frequent changes of water. I would photograph all the labels *first* with a digital camera because I don't think you will be able to get the germs off the paper without scrubbing off a fair portion of it in the process. You can later Photoshop the dirt off those pics and print new labels if you want, or just leave them as pic-files on your computer.

You could try a harsher disinfectant but it might damage the vinyl - thoroughly *test* whatever method(s) you decide upon on your least favorite record first - test well by playing on good equipment and listening carefully. And clean the needle well after playing each cleaned record just in case!!

After all the above some or all of your your records might *still* contain nasty germs and/or dirt, so I would suggest you rip all disks one at a time on a computer as high fidelity (e.g. .wav) tracks and burn to CD or DVD. After that, copy them all and keep the copies as 'off-site' backups at a friend or relative's place outside flood/bushfire prone areas - then throw the vinyl away and you are set for life!!

Steven Stevenson |

> Some vinyl record sleeves have had gotten wet and stuck to other records :'( Does anyone know a way to dry the sleeves and get record sleeves unstuck from each other

For magazines stuck together (don't ask lol) I have successfully separated pages by soaking the stuck-together-items in cool water for a couple of hours then *very carefully* separating, using a flat blade (a putty tool might be good?) and fingernails as needed to pry apart. Some print will be lost but most preserved if done carefully.

Can't seen why it wouldn't work for wet covers.

Steven Stevenson |

> how to remove the plastic residue left by some plastic inner sleeves mainly from the sixties/seventies?

On *other* things covered with glue/tape etc. residue (they disintegrate/run over a number of years) I have found eucalyptus oil to be the only thing that works. Use a few drops on a clean sponge or rag damp with quite warm water, being careful to not get any on the label (or it *will* make the dye run). You can try a drop or two of dishwashing liquid in addition to see if it helps. *Carefully* rinse the vinyl afterwards with warm water (again avoiding the label). Again, I have not yet tried this on records, so try it on a disk you don't like much first.

I always did prefer the less sticky translucent plastic sleeves or the paper ones, sounds like that was a good plan.

Steven Stevenson |

Responses to a number of points above, picked up from looking after my vinyl back in the days of yore, 1 topic per post:

> Any ideas on how to rewarp a record? I thought about putting it between 2 panes of glass and putting it in the sun for a while. Sure hate to throw them out.

I fixed a badly warped record this way once. More than one *short* session in the sun so the grooves didn't distort too much. Can't remember whether I left it in sun or shade on a hot day, the shade would be safer re not liquefying the disk I'm thinking. never store vinyl inside a car on a hot day, especially in direct sun even for a short trip!!

Spyder |

I am over 50 and used to be big on Vinyl until someone stole my system many years ago. I lost an investment of over $5,000.00 back in the 1970's That was a huge amount back then. I can barely even remember exactly what I had. I do remember I had RTR towers (2-12" woofers, 3-8" mid-range & 4 3" tweeters per speaker as I remember it) fed by 1500 watt per channel Amp through a 15 band equalizer per channel. The turntable even had 4 bands of lights to fine tune the speed of the turntable.

Thanks for this thread because it took me back. I have a neighbor that still has many older albums, that I want to transfer to CD's and I am sure her albums will need serious cleaning and I have obtained some good information here. Thanks and I wish a good New years for everyone

vinylhabit |

I buy records that are left lying around in piles without covers and in very poor disregard just about anywhere I can find them. I adopt records and restore their enjoyability. Dirty or dusty is Ok, as I know how to clean and restore them. Even marred records are OK by me, as long as I don't see major needle scratches. Even a single needle scratch, that is deep enough to be felt by my thumbnail, will prevent me from buying a record.

Most records will clean up easily with denatured (never Isopropyl) alcohol. I also use a dampened (not soaked) chamois skin to wipe them clean. When records get really old and filthy, only bleach carefully used on the vinyl will get rid of the old mold spores and years of gunk down deep in the grooves. The trick is to apply bleach, let it soak a few minutes and then carefully rinse it under a faucet while rubbing both sides of the record between your thumb and your forefinger, in a circular motion in the direction of the grooves, until all of the bleach is gone.

Tilt the record so that the water only touches the vinyl and away from the label. It takes careful practice. If not rinsed thoroughly, bleach will crystallize and make matters worse after it dries. Never let water, bleach, or alcohol get on record labels.

I never use anything other than what I just recommended for cleaning. I have a collection of over 20,000 well playing, very clean, and well taken care of 45's in my collection- most of them bought in terrible or less than desirable conditions. My methods have worked for me for many enjoyable years. Be careful while giving them a try, and thanks for helping me keep the art-form alive.

Zzeon |

Okay, someone tie all the purists and record collectors down and I will tell...

Pay 40 - 50 dollars for a cleaning solution... Well, I think this has worked great for me over the 40 years of enjoying vinyl.

1. one gallon of DISTILLED water
2. one to two drops of MILD detergent or Kodak wetting agent
3. one to two ounces of Isopropyl Alcohol.

Most labels are affected by the vinyl pressing and can take a quick cleaning. Try to keep the wet time to less tan 15 seconds. If you use the stronger solution, then you need to double your "cold" rinse time, and NEVER use warm or anything above water... It's cool and then cold; else risk warp.

I am an audiophile, not a collector, so the next statement is going to drive some people crazy, when cutting steel or stone, water is the coolant keeps the blade sharp and the material cool. I spray a light water (DISTILLED) and a less than .5% alchohol solution, lightly misting the play, I find it provides a slightly clearer definition to the sound. Never put away wet.

cheers...
Z

Amanda |

Does anyone have suggestions for a cleaning method that also sterilizes/disinfects? Hurricane Ike left my LPs covered in flood water mixed with raw sewage (long story).

So far we have removed all of them from the ruined covers and sleeves and threw all that away. Records are stacked on top of each other until I can figure out how to clean them.

Thanks in advance.

john |

Ok so my basement can leak water when it rains. Some vinyl record sleeves have had gotten wet and stuck to other records :'( Does anyone know a way to dry the sleeves and get record sleeves unstuck from each other...Thanks very much people

birdy |

Great article! What are your thoughts on de-natured alcohol? Or is that the same thing as isopropyl alcohol? I worked in a record store & I remember using a 50/50 solution of denatured alcohol & distilled water with a soft cloth (old t-shirts) for general record cleaning. This was for newer records though, I'm worried it might damage my older vinyl.

Craig |

A friend of mine in New Orleans has been a DJ for 20+ years and has stored his vinyl in his shed. Not in a climate controled enviroment. Though I would not recomend this type of storage, he has not had any issues.

Bernard Lopez |

You should really consider spending the extra money and storing your records in a climate controlled storage facility as nine months is a long time. Also make sure to store your vinyl records properly as described in the article above to avoid warping and damage to the record jacket.

Jen |

H E L P .........How can I store my huge vinyl record album collection in a rented storage building that is NOT CLIMATE CONTROLLED for the next 9 months? Temperatures get severe in Wisconsin winters, high humidity in spring & summer.
NEED REPLY NOW.........

Bernard Lopez |

You can not physically remove cuts and scratches off a vinyl record. What you can do is transfer the music to your computer and process it through audio restoration software (Bias Peak, Adobe Audition...) that can electronically remove pops, crackle and surface noise (hiss). The results can be wondrous as long as you don't go overboard on the settings.

john seed apple |

how do you remove cuts and scratches off records

DuBois |

Any ideas on how to rewarp a record? I thought about putting it between 2 panes of glass and putting it in the sun for a while. Sure hate to throw them out.

DJ Frankee Cee |

I've used Discwasher D4 by RCA. I have NOT noticed any improvement in record fidelity. (the sound didn't improve) I don't think the brush that came with the kit is good enough. Also, I NEVER see any so-called "crud" come off my LPs. So I'm going to assume that the D4 solution is not as good as is claimed to be. My theory is that if you can get a fine non-metal brush and run the LP in the opposite direction, ... you MIGHT be able to work free some dust that causes those pops. But the crackle sound is something totally different.

Also a new needle will probably go a long way to making old LPs sound better. If you CAN'T get a decent play out of an LP, there's really NOT going to be a very good sounding wav or mp3 file. "Garbage in, garbage out". I think the crackle is static and humidity is the only cure for that. Think about it for a moment,.. in the winter time it's easy top build up static charge and shock your friends. (because the cold drops all humidity to the ground.) BUT,.. in the summer the humidity is high and you can't shock your friends. Correct? Hence one needs a certain amount of humidity to deter static on your LP. Best of luck.

Charles Moore |

Any problems storing the vinyl in a 2mm plastic zip lock bag?

Mike |

Thanks, this helps a lot.

Tom |

Does anyone know how to remove the plastic residue left by some plastic inner sleeves mainly from the sixties/seventies?

Dennis Whicher |

I have a fair collection of records (some physically showing signs of wear, but mostly in good condition). One way I recommend (having tried with good results) is spraying 90% isopropyl alcohol on the record and wiping it off with a plain facial tissue (no lotion). This works on surface dirt, but will not do much if the record is filthy dirty. And you always have to work concentrically (unlike a CD, where you clean it radially) to minimize scratching the grooves.

One temptation is to use your forearms to clean a record. THIS DOES NOT WORK! All it does is gets the surface dust off and puts oil into the record grooves. Dusting a record rarely works, except with a proper brush (and even then it is not very effective at removing more than dust).

Keeping the records clean is just as important. If you store them in their sleeves and do not handle them with dirty hands, they should not get very dirty in the first place. Leaving the records out for prolonged periods of time, handling them with dirty hands, and having food or drink on them will dirty a record quickly. And if you smoke, or have a smoker around your records, that is a super effective way to thoroughly dirty a record because the smoke will find the deepest grooves and possibly ruin the record.

Speaking of ruining a record, one must NEVER use solvents other than plain distilled water, 90% alcohol, or detergent which must be thoroughly rinsed off. Acetone, hexane, and related chemicals will dissolve the vinyl and ruin the record (even if they get the record clean). I do not trust ammonia, either. Oils will not work, and they will attract other dirt into the record (what would have been a dusting job becomes a deep cleaning problem). These records are made of a plastic, so solvents that may dissolve plastic must be avoided.

John Lasruk |

Here's a great way to remove dirt from the deepest groove of an LP:

1. Buy liquid latex rubber from a costume/theatrical makeup supply store.

2. CAREFULLY brush on a layer of this liquid, following the direction of the grooves.

3. Let it dry thoroughly.

4. Peel off, being sure to get every last little bit from the grooves (this is easier than you would expect!)

You must lay on enough latex to form a substantial layer or it will be difficult to remove because it will tear. Removing the latex takes dust and other gunk with it, leaving the LP in as good condition as you can possibly make it. I have been doing this for over twenty years and the latex does not harm the vinyl in the least. Once treated this way, you should not have to do it ever again, assuming you keep the record clean.

Bernard Lopez |

If you have an old record with crud, it's best to use a drop of dishwashing liquid and warm water. The sudsy solution should dissolve the crud, but you may need to do it a few times taking care not to get any of it on the label. Rinse thoroughly and follow up with regular record cleaning solution or alcohol if you must.

Daryl |

What would be the best way to clean a record that has crud semi-caked on part of it? Where would be the best place for me to pick up the right carbon fiber brush for the job? I ask because I found Pink Floyd's "Darkside Of The Moon" (original 1973 release) record in a friend's garage as we were doing some cleaning. I am new to vinyl and would really love to have this record cleaned up so I can properly show off and listen to my discovery. Any information would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Samantha Fontaine |

I'm new to record collecting, and dont really have a clue how to look after them! I have some rare ones: Beatles, Led Zepplin, Jimmy Hendrix and don't want to ruin them. If anyone can help give me some advice I would appricate it. Thanks Samantha.

soulsta |

I love this tidbit of info as I have 9,000 LPs. Unfortunately, I can't get the static out of them like I want but from looking here there is a way to do it for sure. I want to know if there is some good glue that I can use to close up the album covers that have separated at the top or bottom. Thanks a bunch.

Delmar Browne |

The Discwasher D4 Record Cleaning Kit is now made by RCA.

Bernard Lopez |

The Discwasher D4 record cleaning kits with the large brush is perfectly fine if you can still find it.

DeeJayDoc |

What do you think about the classic "Discwasher" record cleaning brush and liquid method?

 

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