A Guide to Cleaning Vinyl Records
You can clean vinyl records in various ways, including a record cleaning machine, like a record vacuum cleaner or record washer. You can also clean your vinyl collection by hand, which is the easiest and most cost-effective cleaning method.
1. Dust off your vinyl. First, remove dust and any loose debris from your record’s surface with a record cleaning brush. Vinyl experts recommend using a carbon fiber brush because its bristles will remove the static electricity that holds dust to the surface of your record and causes it to crackle when you play it. Gently brush away any particles using a circular motion in the direction of the grooves.
2. Find a solution. You can buy a record-cleaning kit, which comes with a cleaning brush and a special cleaning fluid, or use a cleaning solution without isopropyl alcohol. (Isopropyl can damage the surface of your record). You can also use soap and water, but dish soap can leave a film on your vinyl. Use deionized or distilled water instead of tap water, and avoid using household cleaning products.
3. Clean the record. Lightly dip a finger wrapped in a soft, lint-free cloth into your cleaning solution, and slowly run your finger along the grooves in the record in a clockwise direction, starting from the center (just above the record label). When you’ve reached the outer edge of the record, reverse your direction and follow the grooves back to the center in a counter-clockwise direction. Keep your finger flat against the surface of the record because your nail can leave a scratch.
4. Repeat and dry. Once you’ve cleaned the entire record, examine it for any problem areas with gunk or grime build-up. Wipe these spots again, using a clean spot on your cloth and a fresh cleaning solution. Examine the record for any wetness and pat it dry with a soft microfiber cloth. Avoid placing wet records back in their inner sleeves because the moisture can cause warping.