Cleaning Records

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How do you clean your vinyl?

I used to have a Discwasher set w/ the fluid and brush and kept everything nice, but now I'm lazy and really only go after the deep thrift-store grime. I use a cotton pad and rubbing alcohol, working clockwise from the outside, but I know there are better ways and I don't want to damage the grooves on these dogs any more than they already are.

\edge of the\ Ape Oven (herb albert), Monday, 20 July 2009 16:17 (twelve years ago) link

a hire a cleaning lady.

ian, Monday, 20 July 2009 16:28 (twelve years ago) link

I just pop them in the dishwasher and run it on "pots & pans"

there is no there there (elmo argonaut), Monday, 20 July 2009 16:37 (twelve years ago) link

tbh i use one of those soft cotton clothes as well, though i dilute the alcohol with some distilled water, though i think that's more to stretch the alcohol than protect the record? just don't use alcohol on 78s!

for dust i like one of the soft carbon-fiber brushes. the one with the long soft bristles--very good for getting dust out of the grooves & cat hair off the surface etc.

you COULD invest in a cleaning machine but they're loud & take up space & are expensive, so f it really.

ian, Monday, 20 July 2009 16:46 (twelve years ago) link

i used to just use an alcohol/water mix with a discwasher, but now that i am cleaning, like, hundreds of records a week i use those record cleaning cloths and i usually just dampen them with water. which isn't ideal, but i just want to get the surface crud off and i figure people who buy stuff can clean them better if they feel like it.

scott seward, Monday, 20 July 2009 16:48 (twelve years ago) link

Once I inherited like 15 Dylan bootleg LPs, and they were quite dirty (even moldy in some cases). I used warm water with just a touch of dish soap and a cotton cloth. Once I finished scrubbing 'em with the cloth, I rinsed them to remove soap residue. Our dish rack worked great as a drying rack.

Trickiest part of that for me is avoiding water on the inner labels.

sleeve, Monday, 20 July 2009 17:42 (twelve years ago) link

well known i'm sure, the unemployed OCD enthusiast's guide to vinyl cleaning.

"There is one additional step you can take to make this cleaning regimen even more effective. Obtain a supply of triple distilled water (Triple distilled water, available at some pharmacies, is not easy to come by: when I tried to obtain some in NYC, the pharmacist accused me of being either an abortionist or an intravenous drug user. In fact, it requires a doctor's prescription in New York. Perhaps it is easier to obtain where you live, either at a pharmacy, or a chemical supply house. You could use plain distilled water, but be careful: if it hasn't been properly manufactured, you could leave a residue of noise, depositing minerals in the grooves, thus defeating the entire purpose of this complex, time consuming procedure"

fakeducks, Monday, 20 July 2009 18:04 (twelve years ago) link

i has a loricraft

matt preston's cravat rack (electricsound), Monday, 20 July 2009 23:04 (twelve years ago) link

a hire a cleaning lady.

do you make her wear a uniform?

tokyo rosemary, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 02:31 (twelve years ago) link

i make her wear nothing.

ian, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 02:46 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...


good answer

Death Cabron For Cutie (admrl), Monday, 20 December 2010 03:04 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

Has anyone tried woodglue? I have a record that looks ruined but I played it and it played without skipping but with lots of noise. I ran out of the solution that came with the brush. So diluted alcohol is the best way?

JacobSanders, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 19:56 (nine years ago) link

yep, diluted rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth that won't leave fibers in the grooves. you'll be amazed at the difference, should remove most of the noise except for actual scratches. i've been playing all these records from 1972 that I thought were trashed but now sound heavenly.

llurk, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 20:06 (nine years ago) link

diluted by how much exactly?

sleeve, Thursday, 23 February 2012 04:20 (nine years ago) link

I tired it toady with a very dirty record. I used one third alcohol with the rest water. The record cleaned up nicely, and a lot of what I thought were scratches weren't, but the surface noise is still there. Are some records just lost to surface noise?

JacobSanders, Thursday, 23 February 2012 04:32 (nine years ago) link

i'd use this before wood glue

Are some records just lost to surface noise?

yes imo but some people hate it more than others

a proper mechanical clean can totally transform a record though

the majestic ned? (electricsound), Thursday, 23 February 2012 05:40 (nine years ago) link

Yeah, ask around at record stores, see if anyone has a cleaning machine.

Will the waveform be unbroken? (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 23 February 2012 06:06 (nine years ago) link

Has anybody tried this?

I'm pretty sure I will end up with one eventually, but my nitty gritty still kind of works. I can't ever afford to spend that kind of money again, even though it makes all the difference.

warren harding (Zachary Taylor), Thursday, 23 February 2012 07:00 (nine years ago) link

i hate them

the majestic ned? (electricsound), Thursday, 23 February 2012 07:13 (nine years ago) link

Some records just suit scratches/noise, in moderation.

VU's "WLWH" mono, for instance.

Mark G, Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:27 (nine years ago) link

I only get mine cleaned if they're totally gunked, and then I go to a second hand record shop and pay a pound per record.

emil.y, Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:29 (nine years ago) link

That's a good idea, I'd never have thought of doing that.

nate woolls, Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:45 (nine years ago) link

If any Londoners want to split the cost of a real record cleaning machine with me, I'm down.

I've done the research and everything.

It appears this is the one to get:

Same as the Nitty Gritty but cheaper, even with shipping costs.

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 23 February 2012 13:23 (nine years ago) link

Has anybody tried this?

I'm pretty sure I will end up with one eventually, but my nitty gritty still kind of works. I can't ever afford to spend that kind of money again, even though it makes all the difference.

― warren harding (Zachary Taylor), donderdag 23 februari 2012 8:00 (7 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i hate them

― the majestic ned? (electricsound), donderdag 23 februari 2012 8:13 (7 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I love them. I found one of those in an antique shop 10 years ago, it carries date stickers from 1957 and it works fantastic. It's a bit of a hassle maybe, but it's hassle I like going through. Clamping, spinning your records one by one, then letting them dry "en groupe". I think the drying rack of mine holds 10 records - I went through most of my record collection (a little over 200 back then I think) in batches of 10, sometimes 20, per night. All dust is removed, the records shine and if a record still crackles or plops it's a hopeless specimen. A small percentage of the records has labels that are a little wider than the clamps will cover so the edges of the label will get wet - all were fine again when dried, but maybe some labels are more vulnerable (esp. when they're old?) so be careful.

willem, Thursday, 23 February 2012 14:54 (nine years ago) link

four years pass...

recently bought a Audio-Technica AT6012 brush kit and holy cow, my records love it. This thing picks up 99.99% of surface dust on the first pass. recommended!

brimstead, Sunday, 14 August 2016 22:07 (five years ago) link

well known i'm sure, the unemployed OCD enthusiast's guide to vinyl cleaning.

brimstead, Sunday, 14 August 2016 22:15 (five years ago) link

The key to the Orbitrac’s superb effectiveness is its pads which change from pure white to sickly yellow as they absorb groove contaminants. The Orbitrac’s pads are replaceable. Other hand brushes are nothing more than highly effective grease applicators, spreading unwanted substances from one disc to the next.

brimstead, Monday, 15 August 2016 01:02 (five years ago) link

three months pass...

a bunch of my records need a good thorough cleaning due to my former punk rock lifestyle. wish i could rent out a vacuum machine. guess i'll start practicing cleaning by hand on the irredeemables with ye old h20+c3h80

brimstead, Thursday, 17 November 2016 19:24 (four years ago) link

Soap will do ime

niels, Friday, 18 November 2016 17:41 (four years ago) link

I use this now:

not sure why electricsound hates them, they work for me

sleeve, Friday, 18 November 2016 17:56 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

I have 2 records, bought brand new, which have a skip about a minute from the end of the first side. I tried the sandpaper trick, tried using a toothpick, can't get whatever it is out. Does anyone have a technique for dealing with this?

frogbs, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 16:36 (ten months ago) link

Oof! If you've been at it with a toothpick I'd wager the skip is permanent. I adjust my anti-skate control on some old vinyls that I know jump; that does the trick.

ringworm, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 19:20 (ten months ago) link

mine doesn't have an anti-skate, just the weight

frogbs, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 20:14 (ten months ago) link

Try wood glue on the last track.

ringworm, Tuesday, 10 November 2020 22:43 (ten months ago) link

three months pass...

this question is really cleaning-adjacent, but i wanted to pick y'all's wiser vinyl-collecting brains and couldn't find a better thread:

i have a pretty decent bunch of records where the spines of the sleeves (and the spines alone) got pretty fucked up by a house fire and the subsequent cleaning process. the LPs themselves are great and i can't really imagine shelling out to replace them all, but the beat-up, grayed, illegible spines really kinda cast a drab pallor over my collection. i long to see it all bright and poppy again as once it was. so.... are there any sellers out there who like, specialize in just sleeves? or an easy way to search sellers for "record grade F, sleeve grade G/VG"? i've had some luck just trawling cheap sections of stores with checklist in hand, but with quarantine that's less appealing. i'm not deluded that i'll be able to replace all of these without shelling out for new LPs but the more that i can accomplish the happier i will be. thanks!!

honk honk honkin' on Bobo's door (Doctor Casino), Monday, 15 February 2021 18:37 (seven months ago) link

lol I've seen a few people on discogs selling just the sleeves but it's pretty rare for any record that isn't worth $30+ already. I've bought blank sleeves and just sketched the album cover myself. writing on the spine is real tricky though.

I did try the wood glue trick on the two records with skips in dice. I tried it to clean a particularly cheap & noisy one I have (a $2 copy of "Live at Leeds") and it didn't really work - left pieces of glue everywhere, much of which I couldn't get out. maybe I just didn't spread it evenly enough.

frogbs, Monday, 15 February 2021 18:46 (seven months ago) link

i've always been fascinated by the glue thing, anyone can picture how satisfying it would be to peel out this perfectly-separating disc of wood glue that carries with it all unwanted particles....... but i can more easily picture the "stuck-on bits" version and have never been seriously drawn to try it. time to just upgrade to a $5-10 copy perhaps.

honk honk honkin' on Bobo's door (Doctor Casino), Monday, 15 February 2021 19:56 (seven months ago) link

XP Obvs the best thing would be to get replacement jackets but that’s gonna be a grind.

I’ve got a few records I was missing jackets for. I’ve taken like a James Last jacket, printed a small replica of the album cover & track listing on sticker paper with spine text, & pasted the two together. Works just fine if you don’t really care about the overall aesthetics. You could probably do something slightly more festive/true to life with 11x17 sticker paper & colour printing.

Guys don’t @ me because I tazed my own balls alright? (hardcore dilettante), Monday, 15 February 2021 19:57 (seven months ago) link

interesting ideas! if we had a printer at home i might actually get onto the sticker paper approach. might just end up getting much more serious at looking at discogs... shipping cost will be brutal tho. sigh.

honk honk honkin' on Bobo's door (Doctor Casino), Monday, 15 February 2021 21:22 (seven months ago) link

I've bought blank sleeves and just sketched the album cover myself.

heh this is a really cool idea. I remember a blog floating around awhile back that was full of people’s handmade alterations to classic album sleeves, some really out there stuff.

rasputin records in Berkeley had a section just for empty sleeves, at least 5 rows worth? my s/o has been looking for a Valley of the Dolls soundtrack sleeve and god knows I have a few things that would be nice to upgrade.

I’ve been thinking of making a basic slipcase out of kraft board for this dan lisvik 4lp set. it needs a slipcase.

brimstead, Tuesday, 16 February 2021 00:36 (seven months ago) link

doctor casino, you could also use stamps and make your records all look like Live at Leeds or something... give to em all a cool test-pressing “official bootleg” look

brimstead, Tuesday, 16 February 2021 00:41 (seven months ago) link

idk, I think at this point i'd rather the spines just look like the spines of the records they are... giving them all a weathered homemade look might be kinda cool but also feels like letting the fire continue to hold sway over my space, yknow? the fronts and backs are all in great shape, also --- being wedged together in my shelves protected them from the smoke. hmm.

honk honk honkin' on Bobo's door (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 16 February 2021 01:51 (seven months ago) link

finally tried the wood glue trick on a junked copy of Nilsson Schmilsson that I bought for cheap. I'm kind of astounded, this really does work. it was downright unplayable, but now it actually sounds pretty good. not perfect...I'd grade it as "VG" or so (though a lot of discogs sellers I've bought from would slap a "VG+" on this no problem)...but much, much better than it was. if you have any records you were going to throw out because they sounded like garbage I recommend you give it a try. just make sure to spread the glue as evenly as possible, first time I did it I left a ton of residue because I missed some have to use a good amount of glue. but man, what a difference.

if you're curious, the glue I used was Titebond II Premium, which I got at Meijer for a few bucks. I've heard Elmer's works good too.

frogbs, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 21:54 (six months ago) link

like, just to drive home how well this worked, there was a small spot I missed with the glue, and on playback I can hear *exactly* where that spot was

frogbs, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 21:56 (six months ago) link

damn. man. maybe i SHOULD try this.

honkin' on bobo, honkin' with my feet ten feet off of beale (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 24 February 2021 22:39 (six months ago) link

I guess it depends what's going on with the record in question. I tried this one with a pretty noisy D-side and it didn't do much - it *did* seem to sound a little better but the surface noise was all still there. Looking at the surface of the LP though it appears there are a lot of scratches which obviously this ain't gonna fix. If anyone knows what you can do about those I'm all ears. Gonna try it on a few more dirty old records and I'll see what I get.

frogbs, Thursday, 25 February 2021 21:09 (six months ago) link

also got some Tergikleen the other day, not to shill but this stuff really does work. I was pretty skeptical it would do much given how little you have to use - you mix like 15 drops into a gallon of water - but I used it in the spin clean and some pretty junked up records came out sounding great. nearly all the surface noise is gone. there's still some but it's fairly minimal.

frogbs, Friday, 26 February 2021 20:15 (six months ago) link

just curious, are these records that already look dirty? i got a spin clean recently and haven’t noticed a difference... but I got rid of most of my “junked” vinyl years ago so I don’t really have much to test it with.

brimstead, Friday, 26 February 2021 20:55 (six months ago) link

I don't examine them too closely but think the noise on records can definitely be something you can't see

the Tergikleen is what I think made the difference. one of the albums I ran through is one I already had spin cleaned at the shop and there was a pretty marked improvement with this

frogbs, Friday, 26 February 2021 21:15 (six months ago) link

five months pass...

Anyone try an ultrasonic cleaner? They are getting down to somewhat-affordable.

DJI, Friday, 6 August 2021 17:56 (one month ago) link

A friend of mine is an engineer and he rigged up his own. (Many of the ultrasonic record cleaners use a generic ultrasonic cleaner as the base and then tack on $300-500 for the record-specific attachment). He says it works incredibly well, but he still uses a second cleaning with a vacuum-based record cleaner to remove the cleaning solution and now-suspended dirt.

Carlos Santana & Mahavishnu Rob Thomas (PBKR), Friday, 6 August 2021 18:22 (one month ago) link

I wonder if I could just pass my handheld Dyson over them :)

DJI, Friday, 6 August 2021 18:30 (one month ago) link

If you picked up a record from a thrift store and the inner sleeve had obviously been cummed on, but it was probably like 40 years ago, would you keep the sleeve or trash it? The artist is Ashford and Simpson. The record itself is VG+. Thank you.

peace, man, Sunday, 15 August 2021 23:08 (one month ago) link

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