When you start adding vinyl records to your collection, you are going to need to learn the right type of record care to use on them. Not everyone properly cleans the record surface, and it may not seem like a big deal if the records are appropriately stored.
However, cleaning LP records is the only way to maintain hi-fi sound. Let’s dive deeper into the type of record cleaning brush you should use and what happens to your records, turntable, and stylus when vinyl is not cleaned properly.
Why a Record Brush is Essential
Ignoring the dust and debris that clings to the vinyl because of static electricity causes pops and crackles that you’ll hear when the record is played. This dust and debris may be too small to see, but even minuscule specks of dust can change the quality of the music that you are listening to.
Using a record cleaning machine can add years of life to your record collection. However, a record brush with carbon fiber bristles will help you get into the grooves of the vinyl to ensure that all of the dust is removed before playback. Old records that have been sitting around for a while will build up a static charge that attracts debris. For this reason, you are going to need an anti-static carbon fiber record brush.
Even new records acquire dust as they sit on the shelves in the store waiting to be selected by an audiophile. With that being said, make sure that you know the return policy before you checkout. If listening to the record at the store is not an option, a good return policy will allow you to verify if the dust has damaged the records during storage. With minor dust contamination, the carbon fiber bristles on brushes like Pro-Ject’s SKU Brush It will get rid of any debris as well as any static build up.
Other types of record brushes are available, like the Sweep It S2, a record broom that runs during playback. It runs parallel to the tonearm, and as the stylus plays the record, the brush cleans the other side of the record to ensure you get a high-quality listening experience. A magnet keeps the broom in place as the record spins, but the broom is adjustable. This allows you to align it to be horizontal with the record on the turntable.
Damage that Occurs to the Stylus
In addition to vinyl record cleaning, you will also need to take stylus cleaning into consideration. Since static electricity is so conductive when it comes to records, the dust easily transfers to the stylus during playback. Physical friction gradually wears down the tip of the stylus, but when you add dust and grime into the mix, it significantly speeds up the process.
Oils and dust can attach to the tip of the stylus as it tracks the grooves, which misshapes the stylus because it wears unevenly. When you clean the stylus, consider using an anti-static stylus brush like Pro-Ject’s Clean It and a concentrated stylus cleaner. To begin, lift the phono cartridge to see the surface you are cleaning. Then, put a small drop of the record cleaning solution you are using on the tip. This will help eliminate any stuck-on buildup that has accumulated over time.
To keep the stylus from getting too covered with grime, it’s best to clean the record needle after every two to three records that you listen to. Once the liquid is on the stylus, brush it from back to front. If you brush it in any other direction, you risk bending the cantilever or messing up the alignment of the needle.
Once a dirty needle begins muffling the sound of your music, you need to clean the stylus because the grime can cause the needle to jump in the vinyl grooves. When the stylus loses traction and jumps, the stylus and even the grooves of the records can become damaged. If the tip of the stylus becomes damaged, you will have no option but to replace the stylus.
How to Brush a Record without Scratching It
When trying to keep your vinyl records cleaner, you can simply use one of the cleaner brushes that we looked at earlier to wipe the records. As the record spins, brush the record in a circular motion moving from the inside near the label outwards.
If you have not cleaned your records for a while, you should give them a wet cleaning. Wash It, Pro-Ject’s cleaning formula, is an alcohol-free solution that will clean your records without harming the vinyl’s surface. Alcohol removes the shine from vinyl, which will make them more vulnerable to damage.
Once you apply the solution, brush it clean with a soft brush or a microfiber cloth that will not leave scratches behind on the vinyl. Then, make sure that you rinse the record off with distilled water so that you don’t leave minerals behind on the surface. Also, be careful when dealing with water to avoid accidentally getting the label wet and tearing it.
You can purchase record cleaning kits that include everything you need to correctly clean your records. There are also vacuum-powered cleaners that will effectively suck up the dirt and debris along with the liquid solution with ease.
Proper Storage Keeps Vinyl Free of Dust and Debris
Whether you listen to your records through Bluetooth speakers or a full stereo setup with amps and preamps, you are going to need to keep your record collection and your record player clean. One way to help keep the dust at bay is to store your records properly. This means keeping your vinyl stored in both an inner and outer sleeve that will keep dust away from the surface. Also, make sure that you cover your record player with an acrylic dust cover. This will ensure that dust does not accumulate anywhere on the turntable or the needle itself when your record player is not being used.