Some people know about my passion (obsession?) with vinyl records. I started to collect them some years ago, I even started posting a record each day*. Many of the records I have are pretty new, but every now and then I find a batch of old records at a garage sale, on facebook marketplace, or at the flea market.
* not each day, as I don’t have time every day
Some pre-loved records are in a decent shape, but some of them were lost and forgotten in attics, basements and some come with a hefty layer of dust (or even mud). That’s because most fans, new and old, don’t always take proper care of their records, especially cleaning them. If they’re left as they are, or improperly stored, they start to show signs of serious wear a lot earlier than one would expect.
They won’t only create unwanted noise on your music, like crackles and pops, but dust, scratches and fingerprints will damage the surface of the record and will make the record sound even worse. I’ve seen records where the natural oil from hands eroded the surface of the vinyl, leaving etched fingerprints.
Depending on how many records I have to clean, I either use the disco-antistat machine, or a few simple microfiber cloths. I usually clean just a couple of discs, but if I buy a larger batch (like 10-15), or if they’re super dirty, I use the machine.
A lot more about the disco-antistat machine can be found in the article written by The Audiophile Man. The process is very simple, I just add the supplied cleaning liquid to the plastic bath, I put a record between the two clamps and make sure it’s pretty tight, I unscrew it, remove the record and let it to dry for a few minutes. This process works better when I have many records, as the provided rack fits about 15 records to dry.
If I have only a couple of records to clean, or if they’re not very dirty, I just use an easier method. I have a record cleaning liquid that I got from Amazon, I spray it a bit over the record, making sure to avoid the label, and then wipe with a microfiber cloth. What’s worth noting is that you can make yourself by mixing distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. Recipes found online are various, so you can experiment as much as you want. I still have the pre-made liquid and it’s doing a good job for now.
Regardless of which method I use, I continue by putting the record on a clean dry microfiber cloth and then wipe it in a circular motion, following the grooves. Then I wipe with a microfiber/velvety-feeling brush, which removes any impurities left in the grooves. I use this brush again before listening to the record and it’s magical.
Depending on how dirty the original inner sleeve was, I either clean it spraying some compressed air into it, or if it’s not printed, I just replace it with a brand new one. I don’t care that it looks a bit out of place, I’m happy to know the record is in a good sleeve that protects it from dust.
In case you were curious if this really works, instead of showing many before and after photos, I can just show you how dirty the cleaning liquid got after about 60 records. Initially, it was clear.