How to Clean Vinyl Records

8 Ways To Clean Vinyl Records

 

The 8 Best Ways to Clean Vinyl Records

After spinning your vinyl records for a while, you’ve probably begun to notice some new clicking, hissing, or crackling sounds. Needless to say, these noises weren’t part of the original recordings.

It’s a common problem for records to pick up dirt, grease, and other forms of grime when they’re used. Fortunately, they’re easy to clean so that you can get back their original, pristine sound.

There’s a lot of information out there recommending different methods to clean your records. Many of these, especially those involving isopropyl alcohol or other cleaners, will actually damage your records.

To help keep the record straight about what works and what doesn’t, we’ve decided to put together this short list of my favorite ways to clean records. All these methods are fully safe to use, and they’ll get your favorite vinyls back to sounding fantastic in no time!

Vinyl Vacuum Wand Attachments

To remove dust and grime from your record’s grooves, you can use a Vinyl Vac vacuum vinyl cleaner. Simply hold the nozzle of the vacuum over the record while you spin it, going over all the grooves.

One advantage to using a vacuum for cleaning your records is it will minimize pressure on the record. This avoids any risk of bending, damaging, or breaking it.

To be clear, we do not recommend using a standard household vacuum cleaner - this is sure to damage or destroy your record. Instead, you can pick up a vacuum vinyl cleaner online or from some record stores.

Vinyl Record Cleaning Machines

Using a record cleaning machine is without a doubt the best way to clean your records. These machines are essentially record players, except instead of having a stylus that plays music, they have one that will run through the grooves and remove any dust or grime buildup.

Vinyl record cleaning machines tend to be much more expensive than the other cleaning methods on this list, but the true vinyl connoisseur won’t use anything else. These machines will keep your records sounding brand new for as long as you own them.

Record Cleaning Solution

There are plenty of great record cleaning solutions that you can use to get them sounding great again. Most of these involve spraying the solution onto a cloth, and then rubbing the record with the cloth.

When rubbing records with any cloth or roller, make sure you never press too hard on the record, causing it to bend or break. Also, make sure your record dries before you put it back on your player.

A number of different cleaning solutions can be used, but we would highly recommend ones that are made specifically for records. These will not contain any isopropyl alcohol or other dangerous solvents that, while effective cleaners, will cause irreparable damage to your record by removing its protective coating.

Wood Glue

Using wood glue is a bit unorthodox, but it’s an extremely effective way to remove all the dust and grime from your records.

We recommend a water soluble wood glue, Titebond II, for cleaning your vinyl records. Simply spin the record on your player, and apply wood glue over all the grooves, from the inside out, being sure to avoid the record label in the center. Next, remove the record from your turntable and evenly spread the glue using a business card so that it covers the entire surface. Then, let it sit overnight to dry.

Once the glue has dried, peel it off. Beginning at one side, peel a little edge to grab, and then slowly pull all the wood glue off the record. Ideally, you should be able to get all the glue off in one piece. Now you’ve got a great sounding, clean record to spin!

Canned Air

You can use canned air to remove moisture from records, and air works great in combination with cleaning solutions. After you’ve finished cleaning with your solution and cloth, run the canned air over the record’s grooves. This will help remove any moisture that is still remaining on the record after cleaning.

Most people don’t recommend using canned air as the only method to remove dust or grime, because if static buildup has not been discharged from the record, the dust will simply move to another place.

Still, we highly recommend trying out using canned air to dry your records after a deep solution clean.

Microfiber Cloth

One of the most common ways of cleaning is to use a microfiber cloth or brush. The cloth will absorb oils and grab any dust or grime as you rub it over the vinyl. Remember, never press hard enough to bend or break the record.

Apply some cleaning solution to your cloth for extra effectiveness against dirt and grime. It’ll be squeaky clean (in the good way) after it dries!

Certain microfiber cloths are also great for removing static. With the next method, I’ll explain why this helps clean them off.

Static Gun

The reason dirt and dust, in particular, stick to records in the first place is because the record has built up some static electricity. This attracts tiny particles, and due to the high surface area available in the grooves, the particles can get firmly lodged in.

Because of this, to thoroughly clean any record, you really need to de-static it. This can be done with many of the methods on this list, including some anti-static cloths or brushes. The best way to remove static, though, is to use a static gun.

Point the static gun at the record and shoot - ions will be sent from the gun that will neutralize static charge, which lets the dust now become free. Then, gently wipe it off with a microfiber cloth or clean it with a vacuum or canned air.

Sticky Roller

Another popular way to clean records is to use a sticky roller. They kind of look like a paint roller, except instead of having a brush at the end, they have a sticky adhesive that can get inside the grooves to pick up dust.

Rollers are an effective, easy, fast, and cheap way to clean off your records. Just pass over the record in a few different directions with the roller, and it’ll sound great afterwards! 

Infographic: How to Clean Vinyl Records

How to Clean Vinyl Records - 8 Best Ways to Clean Vinyl

Vacuum

Simply hold the nozzle over all the grooves as it spins on your player to pull out any dust or dirt that has accumulated.

Make sure to use a vinyl vacuum cleaner, rather than the standard household variety.

Cleaning Machines

Cleaning machines will spin the record and use a special stylus to pick up any dust or grime that has accumulated.

Using a machine is the most effective way to clean your records, and they’ll sound brand new afterwards.

Cleaning Solution

Pick up a bottle of special record cleaning solution, spray some on a cloth, and rub the record clean. Avoid household cleaners.

Make sure you let it dry before playing the record again, and don’t press too hard while you’re rubbing it in.

Wood Glue

A great way to pull all the dust and grime out from the grooves in one fell swoop is to use a wood glue coating. Titebond II is the recommended brand for this method.

Spin the record, apply glue to all the grooves and spread it using an index or business card. Once the glue has dried, peel it off in one big piece.

Canned Air

Use canned air in combination with a cloth or cleaning solution to dry off the record’s grooves after cleaning.

The air will help remove any moisture, and prevent any new dust from getting in.

Microfiber Cloth

The most popular way to clean records. Use a cloth and rub it over the record to remove any oils, dust, or grime.

Many cloths will also remove static, preventing further particles from dirtying the record in the future.

Static Gun

Dust sticks to records because of static electricity buildup on the record. Use a static gun to remove it.

Once you’ve discharged the record, use a cloth, brush, air, or vacuum to remove the dust.

Sticky Roller

A simple, effective way to clean records. Just roll the sticky roller over the record in a few different directions.

The roller’s adhesive will pick up any dust or dirt from the grooves, leaving them clean and clear sounding.

How to Clean Vinyl Records in Summary

There are many ways to clean your records, so don’t worry if you start to hear them picking up new scratchy, hissy, or crunchy sounds. Just try one of the above methods and it’ll sound great again in no time!

Do you have other cleaning methods you love to use? Leave them in the comments below!

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