Cleaning Vinyl Records?

halohalo Posts: 4,016
Hello Everyone!

Now that I'm home from the hospital, I have a stack of vinyl that needs to be cleaned (one of my roommates in the hospital was in the process of cleaning out their house and gave me some records because they have to sell their house and move to a more accessible habitat & some Polkies sent me some vinyl while I was in the hospital so I'd have some stuff to enjoy upon my return home - thank you to all!).

My previous method of cleaning involved using:

Additionally, I also use the Hunt: EDA Mark 6 Carbon Fiber Record Brush before playback of every record side along with the Milty Zerostat 3 Anti-Static Gun. Lastly, I clean the stylus before playback of each side of vinyl with the ONZOW ZeroDust Stylus Cleaner.

Now, even with all these methods in place, I still get pops & ticks during playback from time to time (even with brand new vinyl that is cleaned before playback). I can understand well loved and gently used vinyl having pops & ticks embedded from a lifetime of normal use before it got to me but I don't understand how new vinyl manages to have issues.

I plan to switch my record cleaning solution from the TergiKleen to the Spin Clean solution and I picked up some Velvet Cleaning Brushes to take the place of the paint pads. Beyond that, if any of you have suggestions, I would really appreciate it. Please know that I cannot afford an ultrasonic record cleaning machine or that would be my next, and likely last, step. Thanks in advance!

I do keep the records in anti static sleeves made by Mofi when they aren't in use.
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Comments

  • delkaldelkal Posts: 216
    Not for the faint of heart but using wood glue is supposedly the best method. Coat the whole record with wood glue and let it dry. When you pull it off all of the crud in the grooves comes off with the glue.

    A quick search will show hundreds of links and videos. Here is the first one I found.

    120studio.com/vinylcleaning.htm
  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    treitz3 wrote: »
    I would not recommend microfiber towels at all. To know why, try cleaning a glass pane with one in the heat of the sun and then take a real close look at the fibers left on the pane. Same thing happens with your records. They will not sctratch them but they leave microscopic fibers that translate into snaps, cracks and pops on the LP playback. They defeat the purpose of cleaning the LP's.

    Try steam cleaning them to get the nasties (big and microscopic) out of the grooves.

    FWIW.

    Tom

    Thanks Tom! The Squeaky Clean RCM III uses a vacuum to suck the moisture & bits of dirt out of the grooves but he recommends the microfiber for the last wipe down of the records. I have been maintaining my microfiber clothes from the beginning by washing them in hot water with the Chemical Guys microfiber cloth soap and drying them on low in the clothes dryer or just letting them air dry. Our Shark steamer crapped out on us while I was in the hospital but I'd be concerned about high heat of steam exposed to the vinyl as well.
  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    delkal wrote: »
    Not for the faint of heart but using wood glue is supposedly the best method. Coat the whole record with wood glue and let it dry. When you pull it off all of the crud in the grooves comes off with the glue.

    A quick search will show hundreds of links and videos. Here is the first one I found.

    120studio.com/vinylcleaning.htm

    Indeed! Not an easy method to apply the glue evenly (need a donor turntable to spin the record while applying the glue, dry overnight, peel off). I bought a bottle of gorilla glue wood glue for this purpose but I'll need a donor turntable before I can try it out.
  • hochpt21hochpt21 Posts: 5,001
    Humidity levels in your house play a role as well. In my experience, a dry climate increases the likelihood of static.
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  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 12,362
    halo wrote: »
    Thanks Tom!
    You are welcome sir.
    halo wrote: »
    The Squeaky Clean RCM III uses a vacuum to suck the moisture & bits of dirt out of the grooves but he recommends the microfiber for the last wipe down of the records. I have been maintaining my microfiber clothes from the beginning by washing them in hot water with the Chemical Guys microfiber cloth soap and drying them on low in the clothes dryer or just letting them air dry. Our Shark steamer crapped out on us while I was in the hospital but I'd be concerned about high heat of steam exposed to the vinyl as well.
    They may recommend it but I still maintain that I do not. I have tried the same as you and my experience is that it leaves audible and visible (under a microscope) micro particles in the grooves. On a side note, I have been steam cleaning for years now with zero degradation to the sound or imaging. Even on new LP's, I do this and it reduces all of the snaps, crackles and pops to an estimated 95% reduction. My NG RCM vacuums as well and I just let them air dry on a rack for 5-10 minutes prior to playing them.

    Tom

    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.
  • zuulzuul Posts: 170
    edited May 26
    the best stuff I've found to clean records is last #3. if you want to get hardcore you can invest in the entire cleaning kit... but I only used #3 on the vinyl and #4 on my needles....

    https://thelastfactory.com/product-category/record-cleaners-preservatives/

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  • msgmsg Posts: 4,042
    edited May 26
    Interesting thread, Victor, always enjoy reading what other guys are doing for vinyl care.

    I've tried a few different methods myself, and combinations thereof.
    Squeaky Clean, Ultrasonic, Steam, all three together. These all worked pretty well, and each has its benefits over the others. The one I enjoy the best of all now is none of the aforementioned. I picked up a Vinyl Styl Deep Groove Record Washer System from Amazon a while back ($70). It's similar in design to the Spinclean, but it uses removable goat hair brushes, has a label protector/spindle with o-ring seals, and comes with a drying rack that fits into the base, for drying up to 15 records at once, iirc. Takes a little while to get a process established, and, for as monotonous as it is, I do enjoy this manual washing process. It's a ritual of its own, basically hand washing each record. Falls in line with what I enjoy about the vinyl ritual itself. Just another way to enjoy it, though it does get a bit tedious after a while.

    I can't really comment whether it works any better than the other methods, because a lot of the records I washed had already been cleaned with the others. Still though, some had not, and I saw a noticeable amount of debris in the reservoir afterward.

    Tom's note re: the microfiber cleaning cloths... I have some really nice plush ones from The Chemical Guys, and also started washing them in their cleaner, per Rich's recommendation (works great). I have to agree with Tom - for as great a towel as they are, the microfiber "finished" records tend to be noisier. Plus, the towel seems to generate static, and I can never really get them lint free when that happens.

    I've found the best antistatic and quietest results with just using the VS in two cycles - a wash in cleaning solution, and a distilled rinse.

    I use the same cleaning solution recipe I was using in the ultrasonic bath, which is based on this mix Darryl found over on Steve Hoffman a while back:
    General Quantities
    • 90% - Distilled Water
    • 10% - 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
    • 0.5% Triton-X
    For 500mL Batch
    • 450mL Distilled Water
    • 50mL 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
    • 2.5mL Triton-X
    For 1L Batch
    • 900mL Distilled Water
    • 100mL 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
    • 5mL Triton-X

    The VS only uses 500mL of cleaning solution, total, so making a larger batch of concentrate, keeping it in a sealed bottle and mixing it in with the Distilled as needed works best. When I was using the ultrasonic, I tried to recycle it a couple of times, but I later realized that the alcohol was evaporating from the bath. This was more readily apparent to me when using the VS due to the somewhat acrid scent/odor (I started wearing nitrile gloves when washing; a few benefits here)

    The Triton-X doesn't mix well with water, apparently, so it's been recommended to slowly dissolve it in the alcohol before adding that mixture to the distilled water.

    And then, like you, I use a Hunt EDA before and after play, anti-stat sleebs from Record City for storage, and a stylus cleaner. I have a Milty as well, and it's a challenge to use correctly (3-4 second slow pulls work best, ime), but I find that since using the VS, I don't have quite the same static problem I used to have with the other cleaning methods.

    I'd like to try the L'Art Du Son record cleaning fluid/concentrate sometime. I've read that it can clean what other cleaning solutions don't.

    Lastly, your note re: the clicks and pops in records - you know, I've actually found the opposite as you. I've noticed that my older records clean up better than newer ones. Most of my new records are complete garbage. Frustrating, bordering on disgust, just horrible, horrible press quality with sound blems that just won't "clean out". Truly, it's rare that I've bought a new record that was a quality press. They're out there, and it's really nice when I come across one that the artist/producer/label has ensured will be clean, but for the most part, I enjoy my older records better, and they do very well in the VS.

    I do still wonder at the combination of ultrasonic and a VPI. Those with the VPI swear by it. The Squeaky Clean did a pretty good job for me, but I still wonder whether the VPI is simply just more effective.
    Post edited by msg on
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,042
    Here are a couple of other threads you might find helpful, from when I was just starting to look into the Vinyl Styl, and one of some early cleaning results.
    http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/180139/knosti-disco-antistat
    http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/comment/2383116/#Comment_2383116
  • nooshinjohnnooshinjohn Posts: 17,572
    Gorilla wood glue is a horrible idea.
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  • FestYboyFestYboy Posts: 2,326
    edited May 26
    Gorilla wood glue is a horrible idea.

    I prefer Elmer's... ;)

  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,723
    Don’t ever use wet cleaner for your stylus. I will have to dig up the youtube video. But mr soundsmith himself says that the solvent can cause your stylus to eventually disappear aka “fall off”. He actually recommends blu tac on a business card to remove and grime from your stylus. Use the queuing lever to lower your stylus onto the blu tac a few times. I do this and it’s the cheapest and most effective way.

    Nothing beats ultrasonic and a vacuum to clean off the record. I use the VPI with audio desk cleaner. Most fail to realize the brush has little
    To do with the cleaning process, it basically spreads the cleaner, it’s the cleaner itself that suspends the dirt, and the vacuum does the rest. The brush bristles are far too large to reach into a record groove.
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  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 327
    Here is a link to a cleaning solution that includes Triton X-100 plus a quat. https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=104087

    What is a 'quat'? Read this: https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=96199&p=814914&hilit=edta#p814914 I have found the anti-static qualities of Hepastat256 to be exceptional.

    A rinse with distilled water is needed after the cleaning solution. Otherwise, you're just pushing around the dirt.
  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    So, I do have a question about cleaning for the forum members that were listening to records in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s.

    How did you clean your records “back in the day?”
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 5,361
    edited May 27
    By using this . The D4 cleaner.And I still do. I have a spin clean but haven't used it yet. No fluid I don't think. The ORIGINAL one. They have better FELT material. Notice the fine bristles. Go look at a new one, and they look like they use a fluffy cloth now for some reason. This pic MIGHT be of a new one but I don't think so.
    1ivx8gjxblso.png


    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • msgmsg Posts: 4,042
    Probably backwashed beer and a special record cleaning t-shirt?

    Or the RCA Discwasher. I remember seeing one of those at my friend Robbie's house when I was in 5th grade. His step-dad's, Mark's, turntable was spinning with a record on on it, but not playing. He was probably warming up the system, now, as I think back. Suppose he could just've forgotten about it. Anyway, we were allowed to play pool, but not allowed to touch the stereo. I'm not sure why? A bunch of responsible 5th graders like us, arguing over which track to play next? Eh, maybe he was right. If we had been allowed to use the stereo and turntable, I'm pretty sure there'd have been a snapped tonearm or bent/broken stylus. As it was, I'm surprised we were even allowed in there, and that nobody shot the cueball onto the turntable.
  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    msg wrote: »
    Probably backwashed beer and a special record cleaning t-shirt?

    Or the RCA Discwasher. I remember seeing one of those at my friend Robbie's house when I was in 5th grade. His step-dad's, Mark's, turntable was spinning with a record on on it, but not playing. He was probably warming up the system, now, as I think back. Suppose he could just've forgotten about it. Anyway, we were allowed to play pool, but not allowed to touch the stereo. I'm not sure why? A bunch of responsible 5th graders like us, arguing over which track to play next? Eh, maybe he was right. If we had been allowed to use the stereo and turntable, I'm pretty sure there'd have been a snapped tonearm or bent/broken stylus. As it was, I'm surprised we were even allowed in there, and that nobody shot the cueball onto the turntable.

    Or ripped a hole in the felt top of the billiards table with a pool cue!
  • delkaldelkal Posts: 216
    Gorilla wood glue is a horrible idea.

    You need to check that the Gorilla glue is not their original formula that sticks to everything and expands when it dries. I would search this brand being used or test it on a sacrificial record.
    FestYboy wrote: »
    I prefer Elmer's... ;)

    Elmers wood glue works but most people use Titebound II. You can get a gallon for under $20.

    Here is a YouTube video on how it is done. They play the album before and after and the difference is dramatic (even listening on a cheap laptop speaker).

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=_gyvipBs6Vs

  • msgmsg Posts: 4,042
    I have a horribly pressed album that's been my test cleaning album. I didn't realize it was just a bad press at first; thought it just dirty. I've been curious about this wood glue method, but been too impatient, one, and two, haven't really had a sacrificial record to practice on. I'll try it on this crummy one.

    I really have to wonder though, does the glue truly come off clean? The thought of glue remnants/residue in the groove with a stylus tracking across it... I don't know, doesn't that make you cringe a bit?
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 6,737
    edited May 27
    halo wrote: »
    So, I do have a question about cleaning for the forum members that were listening to records in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s.

    How did you clean your records “back in the day?”

    Hi Victor! Glad to see you back at home with the Mrs.

    Good microfiber towels with proper care and cleaning work well. Avoid the cheapies at Wallmart and the parts store. Vacuum is still the best way IMO.

    As mentioned back in the day we had the Discwasher. I still have mine but don't use it.

    With steam, keep your distance and keep it moving. Pause in one spot you create a warp. But steam won't fix a damaged record.

    Some us used the Dust Bug while playing records. It came with suction cup post to attach to player. The post had a height adjustment to adjust the Bug arm level. Followed the grooves like a stylus. I still have mine and had used it. Back in the day we moistened the Bug with Discwasher cleaning fluid or distilled water. Since I went air bearing linear arm, I have a soft breeze blowing across the record which repels dust.

    I haven't went ultrasonic. I still scrub and vacuum on VTI 16.5 machine. Still use Tergitol mix and distilled water rinse. You've been here and know pops and ticks are not a big problem. ;)

    kybx91rtoahh.jpg
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  • msgmsg Posts: 4,042
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    I haven't went ultrasonic. I still scrub and vacuum on VTI 16.5 machine. Still use Tergitol mix and distilled water rinse. You've been here and know pops and ticks are not a big problem. ;)
    See? This is why I still wonder about the VPI after using the Squeaky Clean :)

    Rich, would you have your cleaning solution mix quantities?

  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    You've been here and know pops and ticks are not a big problem. ;)

    Yes sir! Rich, your vinyl setup is the Gold Standard by which I measure others. No pops or ticks whatsoever at your place.

    Thanks for the kind words my friend :smile: Being back home is nice but it's not ideal....yet. I've got a lot of work ahead of me and I'm cool with that.
  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    FWIW, I've decided to stick with the TergiKleen solution as the Spin Clean solution is made to have gravity assist in pulling down the dirt into the cleaning bin/tank. I don't have a tank with the Squeaky Clean RCM III.
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 6,737
    msg wrote: »

    Rich, would you have your cleaning solution mix quantities?

    The old Tergitol S3 and S9 mix was .25 parts S3, .25 parts S9 to 100 parts water. Or ¼ ounce each to 100 ounces of distilled water. It makes a little less than a gallon, a gallon being 128 ounces.

    The Library of Congress uses S7 now, which is an S3/S9 mix. 2ml of S7 or .068 ounce to 4ml or 135 ounces of distilled. 500ml or 16.9 ounces of S7 runs ~ $43. Keep it cool and out of sunlight.

    When using Tergitol I keep mixing it by shaking bottle. IIRC S-3 floated on water while S-9 sunk in water, you wanted to keep it mixed. I have no idea if S7 is like the separate S3/S9 mix.
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  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 6,737
    Thanks for the kind words Victor!

    Pssst, I saw your turntable the other day. It looks nice! But the guy working on it said it was summer, have to wait until snow flies to get it back. Gone fishing.... :D
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    Thanks for the kind words Victor!


    It’s the truth!
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    Pssst, I saw your turntable the other day. It looks nice! But the guy working on it said it was summer, have to wait until snow flies to get it back. Gone fishing.... :D

    Thanks man. It’s just a basic Technics SL-Q2. The gentleman working on it already fixed up my SL-Q3 and it’s working nicely. I do need to get a new lid and hinges for the “main” turntable (be it the SL-Q2 or the SL-Q3) since the OE hinges bit the dust during shipping :(

    It’s insane that the OE hinges (worn out) on eBay cost more than the brand new replacement hinges. Same with the lid!
  • polrbehrpolrbehr Posts: 2,061
    treitz3 wrote: »
    I would not recommend microfiber towels at all. To know why, try cleaning a glass pane with one in the heat of the sun and then take a real close look at the fibers left on the pane. Same thing happens with your records. They will not sctratch them but they leave microscopic fibers that translate into snaps, cracks and pops on the LP playback. They defeat the purpose of cleaning the LP's.

    Try steam cleaning them to get the nasties (big and microscopic) out of the grooves.

    FWIW.

    Tom

    To elaborate a step further, trying to clean glass that's been heated in direct sun with anything just doesn't yield expected results. Even the pro method of a window brush and squeegee will have you going back again and again, with streaks galore.
    My .03 (I added a penny since I've done this for 20 years)
    So, are you willing to put forth a little effort or are you happy sitting in your skeptical poo pile?


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  • msgmsg Posts: 4,042
    So I've been doing some reading about the Tergitol. Seems people are always completely surprised at how well it works. I read over on SH, I think it was, that Talas will mix S3 and S9 for you and sell smaller quantities if desired. The stuff only requires 20 drops max in a gallon of water, supposedly. I just can't understand how such a small amount of whatever you call this stuff can be so profoundly effective, but I'm curious.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 3,546
    Isn't this $15 carbon fiber record brush all you really need to clean records before playback?

    ttlcarbonbrush-greyIG_1800x.png?v=1525726812

    turntablelab-recordbrush_1800x.jpg?v=1525726812

    https://www.turntablelab.com/products/turntable-lab-carbon-fiber-anti-static-record-brush
    Got Dayens?
  • halohalo Posts: 4,016
    Clipdat wrote: »
    Isn't this $15 carbon fiber record brush all you really need to clean records before playback?

    Drew, that hasn’t been my experience. The brush is just one step of many for me.
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