How to Clean Vinyl Records
How to Clean Vinyl Records:
If you're not cleaning them regularly, vinyl records can attract dirt and dust. Here's a guide to keeping them clean and in good condition.
Regularly cleaning your records is an unavoidable reality for any vinyl collector. When all is said and done, every music fan wants to ensure that the quality of their listening experience is upheld, so being lax in the cleaning of your vinyl records can come back to bite you. Not only will not cleaning them allow static and dust to linger in the grooves, but once you’re in the habit of neglecting vinyl care you may find that you’re leaving the door open to degradation.
Without resorting to cleaning, your records will inevitably pick up all kinds of surface noise and what should be a high-fidelity hobby will be severely impacted. You’ll know if a vinyl record needs cleaning if you notice a low hiss or a mild sound of feedback as you listen to it - maybe even the occasional pop or crackle - although it won’t do any harm in cleaning a record no matter what its condition. In the end, your aim as a collector is to prevent the build-up of dust and residue in the grooves. With this in mind, here is our guide on how to clean vinyl records:
1: USE A RECORD BRUSH TO REMOVE DUST AND STATIC
An important way to ensure your record remains clean is to protect your vinyl from static. Buy yourself a record brush - one with either velvet or carbon fibre bristles - and brush around the surface of your record both before and after you listen to it. Doing this will help reduce the static charge, improve the quality of your listening experience, and lessen the stress on your stylus. It will also help to remove surface dust and associated debris from the record, so getting into a regular habit of using a record brush is a must if you want to keep them clean for longer.
Obviously, this won’t necessarily remove any marks or blemishes on the record itself, but it’s a well-known fact that static attracts dust, so a decent record brush regularly will keep the accumulation to a minimum. This is just one aspect of keeping a record clean, of course, but it’s a decent habit to get yourself into. If you don’t do it, it may make your job more difficult in time and you might need to resort to more drastic measures to clean it properly. Therefore, a record brush is a very good place to start.
2: SPRAY WITH CLEANING SOLUTION AND WIPE WITH A MICROFIBRE CLOTH
If you’ve noticed that your record clicks or pops while you listen to it, it will likely need a good clean. There is some debate among vinyl collectors as to what specific cleaning solutions you should favour using. The rule of thumb is to opt for a no-residue vinyl record spray with minimal ingredients. Most record shops offer vinyl cleaning sprays, so there are many options available to you, but make sure you pay attention to the ingredients. Ideally, you want a spray that purports to remove dust, dirt, fingerprints and grease deposits that have been specifically designed to clean records. It’s not advisable to use regular cleaning solutions, such as glass cleaner, as these may contain chemicals that could cause damage to the record.
Once you have your chosen record cleaning solution, spray it onto an anti-static microfibre cloth and lightly wipe the vinyl grooves in concentric motions. Avoid pressing too hard as you may inadvertently cause dust or grime to find its way into the grooves. Depending on the quality of your vinyl, you should be able to visibly see the difference as you clean it, particularly if there are blemishes or marks on it. Once you’re done, make sure you let it dry naturally before trying to play it again. A little patience pays off every time.
3: IF A VINYL IS IN POOR CONDITION, USE WARM SOAPY WATER
If you’ve picked up an old vinyl from a second-hand store and you notice unsightly smears or marks on the record, you can also resort to a homemade solution. This is particularly advisable if you notice grime, mould, discolouration, or fingerprint marks in the grooves. Believe it or not, you can opt to wash it with warm, soapy water - just make sure you don’t start scrubbing it like you’re trying to wash off yesterday’s bolognese! You should always be careful - after all, this isn’t a dish plate, it’s a prized possession, so you should treat it as such.
Simply dampen a clean microfibre cloth with warm, soapy water and try to remove the marks by wiping it in gentle circular motions. Make sure you avoid getting too sloppy with the water, however, as you don’t want to cause the interior label to get wet. Some record collectors have voiced concerns using tap water, particularly if you’re worried about high mineral content in your area, so you can opt to use distilled water instead if you want to be on the safe side.
Naturally, a lot of the problems related to cleaning vinyl records come down to storing them improperly or handling them incorrectly. The more often you get into the habit of cleaning them, the better. A clean record is one where the build-up of static and dust is kept in check. So long as you make use of record brushes, appropriate cleaning sprays and microfibre cloths, your vinyl records will be more durable and will remain playable for longer. In the end, that’s what every vinyl collector wants, so that’s why cleaning them regularly is highly recommended.
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