Have you ever wondered how to clean a record properly or why you should clean vinyl records? Well, if you own a turntable, you probably know that the surface of the records gets dirty quickly. Even new records should be considered dirty records because of all the dust and grime that accumulates on them before they are purchased. Let’s explore why keeping your record collection clean will also protect your stylus.
Protect Your Stylus by Keeping Records Clean
Suppose you allow the stylus to play a dirty record; dust and dirt from the grooves of the records transfer to your stylus. Then, the impurities on the stylus will create clicks and pops that will hinder the hi-fi sound quality that you are looking for from your record player. Of course, replacing your stylus is an option, but if you use an effective cleaning process on your vinyl collection in the first place, you will save a lot of money on replacements.
Ways to Keep Your Records Clean
Cleaning vinyl records can be tricky, especially if you have never attempted it before. Several cleaning methods will remove the build-up that has accumulated on the records. One of the best ways to clean an entire record is to use a carbon fiber brush.
A cleaning brush like Project’s Brush It cleans the entire record by design. Also, because it is an anti-static brush, the bristles will remove any static electricity on the surface. Since static attracts dust, which will transfer to your stylus, the carbon fiber bristles will help to minimize dust on your collection. Ensure that you always clean in the direction of the grooves so that the record cleaning brush bristles do not damage your vinyl.
If the record surface has a lot of grime that needs to be removed, it may require a deep cleaning. You can use dish soap and distilled water to wash your records and clean the vinyl with a microfiber cloth. This cleaning cloth will not scratch your records, so it will be safe to use on your collection. If you prefer to use a record cleaning solution, there are several options available. In fact, there are even cleaning kits like the Spin Clean 2, which comes with everything you need for vinyl cleaning.
When using this wet method of cleaning, there are a few tips to follow.
- Never use tap water: Tap water contains minerals that could damage your vinyl. Instead, use distilled water.
- Never use isopropyl alcohol in cleaning solution: Rubbing alcohol removes the shiny coating you see on records. A record without this coating can easily become damaged.
- Never get the record label wet: Wet labels tear more easily. If the label does get wet during the cleaning process, use a lint-free cloth to blot it dry. Also, never use a circular motion with the cleaning cloth to dry the label because the ink will bleed.
- Give ample time for vinyl to dry: Records that are not dry before they are stored away often mold in their inner sleeve. Use plastic sleeves to keep this from occurring after you wash your vinyl.
One of the most effective ways to clean a record is by using a vacuum cleaner. With a device like the VC-E record cleaner, you apply cleaning fluid directly to the record. The machine even has features, like an aluminum top plate or acrylic clamp seals that prevent liquid damage to the chassis or the label.
The device uses a brush arm to brush out any collected material from the record’s surface as it rotates. A record cleaning machine like this will have a similar shaping to a vinyl player. There’s a spinning platter and a tonearm-shaped vacuum housing that usually has a felt base to protect the vinyl surface.
Some devices have a two-way rotation so that you can clean the record surface in both directions, and devices like Pro-Ject’s VC-E also have a goat hair brush included so that you can get into the grooves of the record without potentially damaging it. In any situation, a device like this will remove just about any residue from the surface of the vinyl without you needing to do much more than rotate the record on the platter.
Clean Your Stylus for Additional Protection
While it’s easy for a record player to pick up residue from dust and smoke, not many people understand that the stylus itself also tends to add extra dust and debris to the vinyl surface. This is because the stylus will pick up any excess material and reapply it to the next LP as you play it. Micro dust and other materials won’t necessarily be visible to your eyes. Still, even incredibly tiny dust particles will diminish the sound quality of your vinyl and may even cause crackles in the playback.
Fortunately, there are a few helpful cleaning products on the market specifically designed to clean the record needle of your vinyl player. One type will use a gel that you quickly dip the stylus into. This will adhere to the stylus tip briefly, allowing the cleaner to remove any excess dirt or debris accumulated on the tip.
Another popular type uses a solution with a cap and attached brush. With this type, you brush along the tip of the stylus to remove any excess material. This is a specific product that cleans your stylus, and in most situations, you’ll find similar solution kits in local record stores.
Extend the Life of Your Stylus Learning How to Clean a Record
Protecting your vinyl collection includes more than just preventing warping due to poor storage conditions and maintaining the outer sleeves – you also have to keep your collection and the gear you use to play your records clean. Cleaning your vinyl and stylus will only take mere moments, but the advantages of proper upkeep are significant. Cleaning not only helps your vinyl last longer but also ensures that they continue to produce the warm, silky tones that every audiophile vinyl lover enjoys.