CLEANING YOUR RECORDS
Ok, I’m not going to be your mom and tell you to clean up your room, and while you’re at it….clean up your records!
No lecture here.
Keeping your records clean and noise free can be a bit intimidating and maybe even groan inducing to some. But, here’s a friendlier way to look at record cleaning. If you’re a vinyl lover, having a good cleaning system figured out will empower you financially.
How so? I’ll explain. One of the top thrills of record collecting is finding that rare LP you’ve been seeking for months or years at a flea market for $5! (Woo hoo!....ain’t the beer cold!!) Even better, to your eyes, it looks in top condition.
But, when you get home, one drop of the needle from your turntable punctures your dreams, revealing noise that SHOULD NOT be there for such a beautiful-looking, shiny, glossy vinyl specimen. Without a good cleaning system, the record goes straight to the garage, the $5 is wasted, and you may even give in and buy the record you’ve wanted so bad on Ebay in near mint condition for $40.
I’ve put together a cleaning system on the cheap that gives me strong confidence I can restore any decent-looking scratch-free LP to “like new” condition at least 75% of the time. That’s wallet power! Bring on all those $2 bargain bin LPs!
I believe that cleaning with good fluids and then vacuuming the record is the only way to go, if you want quiet records or if you want to give dirty records a new life. I’ve tried all the methods. At one time, I owned a very expensive record cleaning machine that did a terrific job cleaning albums, but it was ruined in a basement flood.
Record cleaning machines range in cost from $300 to $1500—or more. Here are some ideas that will give you a comparable level of cleaning performance for a fraction of the cost.
1. Buy a “record cleaning wand” that attaches to your vacuum cleaner for $25 bucks on ebay. I like this one pictured. It has a great brush built in to enhance the vacuum process -- similar to the process on a cleaning machine.
2. Buy a $10 record cleaning mat that holds your record in place on a flat surface while you clean them.
3. Buy some high quality record cleaning brushes for about $20 online. Mobile Fidelity brushes are very good, but there are many types to choose from.
4. Buy a good record cleaning fluid. I swear by Audio Intelligent cleaning solutions, and find them amazingly effective. Don’t cut corners on the cost of a good cleaning fluid. Audio Intelligent will run you about $30-$35 a bottle online, but it lasts a long time and will clean at least 100 or so records before you run out. You only need to use a few drops on each side of the LP. I use AI's "No.15" fluid for especially dirty records, and rinse with "No.6" solution.
--Place your records on the cleaning mat, apply a few drops of cleaning fluid, distribute the fluid across your LP with the cleaning brushes, then take the record to your turntable, and, using the wand, vacuum away the dirt and noise as you rotate the record by hand.
--Whether you’ve brought an old LP "back from the dead" or you’ve taken an all new 180 gram LP release to “dead quiet,” you’ll be happy.