Cleaning the vinyl records is an important procedure for many record collectors. For a large proportion of record collectors, especially the young ones, it is a subject of frequent occupation and research.
All of us who love our vinyl collection, we want to see our vinyl records clean and shiny, for various and important reasons.
An important reason is that a dirty vinyl record damages the needle which, in turn, damages the vinyl records played after. Protecting the needle is important especially if it is of the expensive kind. Another reason is that a dirty vinyl record is not presentable. The main reason though is the sound quality. A clean vinyl record offers 100% of its sound capabilities and this is what we are all looking for.
Do not assume though that cleaning is only needed for the used vinyl records you buy. New and sealed vinyl records need cleaning, too. And in order for you to understand what I mean, do the following: Open a sealed vinyl record let it rotate on the turntable, wet a piece of cotton with water (preferably distilled) and touch the record softly with the cotton while rotating.
Clean the vinyl record gently. When you raise the cotton, you will see a black “powder” on it (if the vinyl record is black vinyl, of course). That “powder” is nothing more than vinyl fillings that have remained on the record since the record engraving process. Thus, new records that are still unused need cleaning too.
All these years, there have been many vinyl record cleaners marketed to the public. Some are automatic and relatively expensive while others are semi-automatic, thus cheaper. There are also many materials that some people use in order to clean the records in their collection. Some use stickers, wood glue, alcohol, etc.
Our suggestion is that you shouldn’t clean the vinyl records with alcohol or liquids including alcohol, especially 78 rpm records which are made of shellac based material with interim layers of paper. Shellac may be dissolved from alcohol, so be careful!
The procedure and the materials we suggest today are the safest and the friendliest for the material that vinyl records are made of. All we need to say is the following: Probably the best vinyl record cleaning machine in the world at this moment, which has been available in the market for several years, uses this washing agent as a “secret” recipe. We can’t name the company of course, but those who use it, will not find it difficult to understand.
The materials you will need are a very soft sponge or a wide brush with soft bristles. The best suggestion is a natural sponge. You will also need a pair of label protectors, olive oil green soap (in powder, liquid or bar form), water (preferably distilled), a clean towel (which leaves no fluff behind) and a dish rack to place your records while drying.
The procedure is the following:
- Step 1 - Dissolve the soap in a pot of tepid distilled water (avoid hot water since there is a risk for the vinyl record to warp) and leave the sponge or brush to soak.
- Step 2 Apply the label protectors on the vinyl record. You can buy label protectors for around 20 dollars. They will protect the record labels from soaking in water. Probably you can make them yourself. It is not difficult to do especially if you are into arts and crafts and you possess the appropriate materials and tools. Label protectors are useful because sometimes wet labels inflate and as a result the vinyl record can’t be placed properly on the turntable. Label Protectors will also help you keep the vinyl record steady while washing it with soap.
- Step 3 - Fill a plastic bottle with distilled water. Distilled water doesn’t leave any salt build up on the surface of the vinyl record and is the best neutral liquid that can be used for cleaning. For less waste and better flow control, the bottle should have a small screwed cap.
After we have applied the label protectors and soaked the sponge or brush in the water and soap pot, we brush “gently”, with no forceful motion, both sides of the vinyl record. If the vinyl record is very dirty, we should wash out the brush before we dip it in the solution again. We wash out the vinyl record with the distilled water. If the vinyl is still not clean, we repeat the procedure.
We wipe it softly with a towel, we place it standing in the dish rack in order to dry and we move on to the next record.
In addition to the vinyl record, it is important to dust the inner sleeve too. It is better if we use new inner sleeves for the clean vinyl records, preferably the ones with a plastic inner lining. If you don’t have inner sleeves handy, one solution is to blow off the dust from the existing inner sleeve.
In order to protect the new vinyl records, it would be appropriate to place them in new inner sleeves with a lining as soon as you buy them. Heavy illustrated printed inner sleeves create "hairlines" on the record, they damage its surface and they are ripped off after some usage. So it would be suitable to use new inner sleeves.
After using this cleaning method for your favorite vinyl records you will be surprised at how clean, shiny and excellent in sound quality they are.
The good thing about this method is that you will get the best possible result with the lowest cost possible.
The whole procedure is a very pleasant “ritual” too. During the process, you can also listen to the vinyl records that have been cleaned and dried, and you can generally dedicate a few hours for the purpose of cleaning them, that will be quite entertaining.
Don’t be afraid of buying used vinyl records with some dust on them.
Many vinyl record collectors find dusty vinyl records but with no other signs of heavy usage in second-hand record stores or in record fairs. They don’t buy them though because they don’t know how to clean them, frightened that they might destroy their needle. This is a big mistake. Seize the opportunity. You can haggle over the record claiming that it is in bad shape, buy it in a very low price and when you clean it, it will look like new.
So, try out this exceptional vinyl record cleaning method. Happy ...Cleaning!