In this post I am going to explain how to clean vinyl records at home. If you do an internet search you will find a thousand ways people suggest you use. Some can be downright harmful to your records. I will tell you how I have been doing it for years and is safe, simple and cheap.
Materials-What You Will Need
- A towel and a surface to place the record on
- Distilled water
- Regular Dawn Dishwashing soap (the blue stuff)
- An 8 ounce glass
- A soft cleaning brush
- A real soft toothbrush
- A spray bottle (one that you can get a nice hard spray from)
- Some paper towels
- Microfiber cloth
- Discwasher D4 (From Amazon about $7/4oz bottle)
Getting Started-How Bad Is It?
First thing to remember is the cardinal rule of handling records: Do not touch the playing surface with your fingers. Handle it by the edges. If it is an album you have owned hopefully it is not to bad but some thrift store finds may have been sitting in a dusty garage for years and may be coated with dust and grime. Blow off what dust you can on both sides. Then take the soft cleaning brush and gently brush off what you can, GENTLY
From here you may want to hold the record under the kitchen sink faucet and rinse off what you can being careful not to get the label all wet. Shake off the excess and lay the record on your towel.
Put one drop of the BLUE dawn dish soap in a glass then fill with 8oz of distilled water. Dawn dish soap is very thick so 1 drop to 8oz is plenty of soap. Take your soft tooth brush (the softest brush they make) and dip it in the soap solution. Gently work your way around the record very softly scrubbing the record with the groves, not across. If the record is particularly grimy let the soap sit for a minute or two than scrub gentle again. This should loosen any crime trapped down in the grooves.
Next take a paper towel and just dab excess soap and water off the record. Then I hold the record against my chest on its edge and hold the other edge with my hand. Take your spray bottle of distilled water and holding the bottle close to the record give it a series of hard squirts to wash the remaining soap off the record. I do this in the basement so getting the floor wet is not an issue for me. After a good spraying shake off the excess.
After rinsing, lay the record down on the towel and gently wipe with a microfiber cloth until it’s pretty much dry and repeat above procedures for the other side. Once the record is dry I then place several drops of the discwasherD4 solution onto the record and wipe is around the record with either a microfiber cloth or one of those soft cloths you can get for records or cleaning glasses. Then just let the record dry completely before playing it.
Last but not least. If the record you got from the thrift store is that grimy and dirty chances are the inside of the sleeve is the same way. I would keep a few new sleeves on hand and just use a new one and not put the record back in the grimy one. Some sleeves have photos or lyrics that you want to keep so slip them in poly cover and store separate. Do not put the record back in the dirty sleeve, you will just contaminate the record you just cleaned.
And There You Have It
I have used this method for years and it has worked very well for me. Granted it is not the only way, just one that has worked well for me. Of course a commercial record cleaning machine would be the best solution but those are expensive and out of the price range for most of us. I only do this on very grimy records or periodically on some of my collection (usually when I see one). Whenever I play a record I wipe it with one of those record cleaning pads to remove any dust that may have accumulated on the surface then wipe again when I finish and place back in the sleeve and jacket. If you keep your records clean and always put them away you should not have to give them a good cleaning like this very often.
One more thing. Always store your records standing up on edge. Never leave them laying flat in a pile as this will cause them to warp.
If you search around on the internet you will see all sorts of wild and crazy suggestions for cleaning a record. Be careful of what you try as some of these methods will do damage to your records. This is a tried and true method I have been using for years with no problems at all.
As always I appreciate your comments. If you found this information helpful I would love to know. Even if you didn’t I’d still like to know.