Wondering how to get your vinyl records back to their pristine, no-popping and undistorted condition? A microfiber cloth and a bit of cleaning knowledge will help you do just that!
Collecting vinyl records can be a fairly costly hobby, and nothing hurts more than finding that a newly bought record (be it new or pre-loved) starting to sound worse over time. Whether it’s distorted, warped, fuzzy or popping, plenty of factors might bring about a less than ideal listening experience.
That’s why cleaning is immensely important. Well, not just cleaning, but also the exact techniques. There’s a fair number of forums and articles out there to guide you through the process, and plenty of ways to do it. But if you’re here, kindly graving our site with your attention, we feel a responsibility to walk you through some things you need to know before you start cleaning proper.
Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Vinyl Records
First off, do not just throw any cleaning items you have onto your vinyl. These things are delicate, and it only takes one bad reaction to mess them up permanently. Lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol, furniture polish and toothpaste are some materials that can react horribly with your vinyls. The solutions we provide here are tried and tested, and we recommend keeping to them unless you’re a bit more in the know of what’s safe to use on vinyls.
Secondly, we recommend using microfiber cloths for any kind of delicate cleaning. They’re soft, and absorbent to the cleaning solutions you’ll be using. They aren’t as likely to damage your records as a result. Never use any coarse or rough material to wipe your records down, and if it’s dirty it’s a definite no go. When in doubt, buying a pack of microfiber cloths like ECloth Microfiber Cloths and the Amazon Basics Microfiber are safe bets.
The Cleaning Process
We’ll be employing the wet cleaning method for this article. We cover a host of others in another DIY cleaning article, but this is among the most thorough techniques that’ll get all the oil and dirt that can’t be brushed off or blown away.
You won’t need to do this too often, but it’s good to set a schedule for record cleaning especially for the more frequent tracks on rotation within your library. Cleaning fluids are usually used to carry out this process, which can be purchased in dedicated kits like the KAIU Vinyl Record Cleaner and the Big Fudge Record Care System. However, you can make a solution on your own that is made from a variety of household items that you might already have or could very easily get from a dollar store nearby.
For your cleaning solution, you will need:
- Distilled water – we’re not experts ourselves, but getting something else like demineralised water has an effect on the efficacy of the solution.
- 90%-99% isopropyl alcohol – common ingredient in most washing fluids made for records
- Dawn Dishwashing fluid (or any that is colourless and without fragrance)
- Clean microfibre cloths – ECloth Microfiber Cloths and the Amazon Basics Microfiber sets work well
- Spray bottle – This is optional, but applying the solution on your own in a sparing and controlled manner can be fairly difficult without them. R2 Goods’ set of 4 Plastic Spray Bottles are a good set you can get, and are useful for all kinds of other cleaning purposes too.
- Mix 1 part isopropyl alcohol to 3 parts distilled water then add a few drops of the dishwashing fluid into the spray bottle and mix well.
- Place the record on one of the microfiber cloths. This ensures that you’re cleaning it on a soft surface that won’t ruin the other side as you clean.
- Apply the solution to the record and leave it to sit for a few seconds. Watch out for any labels on the record as they may wear out and get into the grooves themselves
- Very gently wipe the vinyl in a clock-wise circular movement that follows the record grooves a few times, then reverse.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the other side
- Wipe with a cloth soaked in distilled water then leave to dry in a vertical position.
If you’re in need of visual guidance, this video is a good tutorial that’ll show you the right technique to very carefully clean your vinyl records. A text based tutorial let’s us share plenty of tips and tricks, but it’s good for you to check out videos so you know that you aren’t being too rough or handling your vinyl record the wrong way!
In conclusion, using microfibers for any delicate cleaning procedure is incredibly vital. They’re great for all kinds of things like polishing and removing scratches from glass, and give you peace of mind when cleaning vinyl records since you’re not likely to damage them with a microfiber cloth in hand. Another tip we have to avoid needing to clean records too frequently is to do your best to only handle them with clean hands when possible. Having a dedicated microfiber cloth to hold a record is also doable.
Have any other tips about cleaning vinyl records? Share them with us in the comments below to help another vinyl enthusiast out!