I know when I was just a novice record collector about a thousand years ago I had no idea how clean records properly apart from simply removing the dust with your classic felty record cleaner. I remember some kind of record cleaning solutions that were bought with the record cleaners that used to last a few weeks and then seem to float away into the atmosphere never to be seen again. Having said that having and using a antistatic record cleaner to remove dust on every single use is the single most important way to keep your sound quality high.
Otherwise you will find a big clump of dust clinging to your stylus and it can be very difficult to remove. A small record brush for removing stylus dust is another essential.
This is not a tooth brush. As time went on I began to realise that records began to get a bit jumpy with time and soon found out that mould starts to grow on vinyl especially when kept in cooler conditions or even when you don’t play them for a little while. It seems likely that the mould grows on bodily fluid that gets transferred from hands or from sneezing or from beer spills etc. Have a look at a record you haven’t played for years and you will see areas looking like little spidery growths. These make your records jump all over the place and together with sticky bits and fingerprints can ruin the sound reproduction.
Of course there are many fancy ways of cleaning your records but it is knowing what is safe to use on a vinyl surface. There a new machines on the market that will I’m sure do a sparkling job on your vinyl albums but as you’ve gathered I’m not one to shell out. These tend to be £40 for the very cheapest up to hundreds of pounds for the gadget vulnerable.
I originally asked my brother how to clean records and he is a chemist of all things and immediately recommended simple detergent and warm water. He even recommended a little antifreeze to help anti static properties. After trying everything else this is the easiest and cheapest way to clean a record.
- Simply get a really soft cloth or indeed soft kitchen paper.
- Put a small amount of detergent and water together rub over playing surface following the grooves.
- Cover all playing surfaces.
- Try not to get the label too wet. This may be particularly important for older and more valuable records. There are some labels that the colour really runs out of. I seem to remember 1970’s orange CBS is particularly prone to running
- Let it dry on the dish rack for 10-15 minutes
- Dry off the rest with soft kitchen roll or antistatic cloth
You can also use special record cleaning solutions or isopropyl alcohol if you need a bit of solvent. However I have found simple detergent and water has done me proud for years.