How to clean vinyl records?

Cleaning vinyl records and keeping them free of dust is an important factor in preserving them and maintaining their perfect sound quality for longer.

The crackling and popping noise you experience with many records is the result of dust settling and accumulating in the grooves of the vinyl over a long period of time. Also, the friction and heat created by the pencil hitting the dust particles as it travels between the slots, creates a kind of mini explosion that can blow holes in the walls of the disk grove. Even new records come coated with some sort of release compound that needs to be cleaned off before the first play to get the best sound quality from your vinyl. Playing dirty records has been shown to cause permanent damage, not only to the vinyl itself, but also to the stylus. This, over time, will lead to other unnecessary expenses. So why not minimize the damage and keep your money to add new titles to your collection? You need to know how to clean your discs correctly, in a safe way, or you could damage your albums and their sound quality. While there are plenty of tips and tricks on how to clean your vinyl records, none of them are perfect and neither will they clean your records and leave them looking like new. They will still have scratches that no amount of cleaning will fix. Remember, a clean record will last longer and sound better.

VINYL HANDLING

The best way to keep your vinyl clean is to make sure your record doesn’t get dirty, which is why proper vinyl storage is so important. There are many people who apparently don’t know how to properly handle vinyl. Rule number one: avoid touching the grooved surface with your fingers as it contains oil and dirt that will damage vinyl. Always grab and hold the disc by the edge or labeled surface. Hold the disc with your index finger on the center label and your thumb on the outer edge. When you place or remove the record from the turntable, make sure you use both hands. In addition, you can preserve your vinyl by storing it correctly.

There are two basic cleaning methods you can use, dry cleaning and wet cleaning. The dry method involves using some type of brush, preferably carbon fiber, that is designed to sweep dust off the surface of the record. With the wet method, also known as a deep clean, you’ll use some type of cleaning fluid to help with the cleaning process.

DRY CLEAN

The easiest way to clean your vinyl and keep it in good condition is to dry brush it before and after, to prevent the accumulation of dust and other impurities. Using an antistatic brush will keep your records cleaner for a longer period of time. Most brushes have two rows of bristles, one to sweep away dust and the other to destabilize. With a light touch, gently hold the brush over the surface of the record while turning to sweep away dust and reduce static buildup. After one or two rotations, angle the brush towards the edge of the disc and slowly back it off. Also, don’t forget to clean the brush after each use. This should be an essential part of playing a record!

WET CLEANING

The wet method is recommended to deep clean your discs from time to time. This can be done by hand or with a special record cleaning machine, but always remove any dust particles from the surface with a brush before proceeding. There are several record cleaning kits on the market that do a very good job and give excellent results. Most of the time these consist of a directional brush, a liquid solution, and a smaller brush to clean the directional brush. Whether you’re using a commercial cleaning solution and accessories or cleaning your vinyl with a homemade solution, the process is much the same.

Here’s a cheap way to deep clean your vinyl on a budget. This method works to remove fingerprints and dirt that the dry brush cannot remove. The ingredients you’ll need are: distilled water (not demineralized), 90%-99% isopropyl alcohol (this is an ingredient in many commercial record cleaning solutions), dishwashing liquid (color and fragrance free if possible), and a pair of soft, lint-free microfiber cloths. The dishwashing liquid will break the surface tension and allow the cleaning solution to penetrate deep into the grooves of the disc.

• Mix 1/4 96-99% isopropyl alcohol, 3/4 distilled water, and a drop or two of dishwashing liquid. The best way to do this is to add these ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well.
• Place the disc on a microfiber cloth. Spray the solution onto the record making sure none of it gets on the label. Then wait a few seconds for the liquid to enter the grooves.
• Take a microfiber cloth and gently wipe the vinyl in a circular motion a couple of times. For the best result, repeat this step in the other direction as well.
• Flip the disc over and repeat the process.
• Clean the disk with a microfiber cloth soaked in distilled water. Rinse both with distilled water and allow to dry by placing it in a vertical position.

VACUUM CLEANING MACHINES

If you have a large collection of records, the best option for deep cleaning is to purchase a vacuum record cleaning machine. These are generally expensive, but clean vinyl quickly and effectively. They work by automatically applying a cleaning solution, removing dirt, and then vacuuming up the liquid and debris from the vinyl.

THE WOOD GLUE METHOD

Muchos coleccionistas de discos confían en esta técnica para la limpieza del vinilo. En teoría, el pegamento para madera y el material del que están hechos los discos de vinilo son tan químicamente similares que el pegamento no se puede adherir al disco. Sin embargo, se adherirá a todo lo demás del vinilo, incluido el aceite, el polvo, la suciedad, el moho, los hongos, etc. Es como darle a tu disco una cera de spa. Se recomienda probar esta técnica en algún vinilo antiguo e inútil primero y luego seguir con los más valiosos si estás satisfecho con el resultado.

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