How to Clean Vinyl Records (The Ultimate Guide)

Keeping your vinyl records clean and shiny is the best way to preserve their condition for a lifetime. You can clean your vinyl records with a homemade cleaning solution, a cloth, and some water. It’s as simple as that!

In this guide, I’ll show you how to clean your vinyl records at home without damaging them, as well as explore some alternative cleaning procedures.

Method One: The DIY Guide to Cleaning Your Vinyl Records

You can easily clean your vinyl records with some household items. This is probably the best way for those on a budget.

Things You Need

Here’s everything you need to safely clean your vinyl records:

  • Clean water
  • Cleaning solution
  • Record brush
  • Dry microfibre cloth

Alternatively, you can just buy a cleaning kit that contains all of these things.

The Procedure

Now, to clean your vinyl records, follow these steps:

1. Clean the Vinyl Record With a Record Brush

Before doing anything, you need to make sure that there aren’t any dust or debris particles on your vinyl record. Use a record brush to gently remove dust particles from the record.

2. Prepare a Cleaning Solution

To make a cleaning solution for your vinyl records, you can simply use dish soap and water. However, if you need something a bit more sophisticated, you can use a cleaning solution that’s made specifically for cleaning vinyl records. A general cleaning solution should also get the job done.

Record Cleaning Solution
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However, if there are no terrible smudges or fingerprints on the records, using just water would actually be better.

3. Inspect the Record for Visible Blemishes

Thoroughly inspect your vinyl record for signs of blemishes, fingerprints, or smudges. Keep an eye on their locations – you’ll need them later.

4. Apply the Cleaning Solution

Now, you need to spray some cleaning solution on the areas with the most visible blemishes. Don’t outright pour the cleaning solution over the record, just spray 2 or 3 times.

5. Wipe Clean

Use a microfibre cloth to gently distribute the cleaning solution over the entire surface area of the record.

6. Rinse the Record With Water

Rinse the vinyl record with clean water. You must use soft water with no impurities.

7. Wipe Dry

Finally, use a dry microfibre cloth to get rid of any remaining water on the record. Don’t press too hard when wiping it.

8. Store the Records

Now that your vinyl record is clean, you must store it properly to prevent it from getting dirty again. The best way to store vinyl records is to put them in a plastic sleeve. If you have an album cover, you should also store it in a plastic sleeve.

Method Two: Use a Vaccum Cleaning Vinyl Record Washer

If you’re not into DIY cleaning methods, you can buy a vacuum cleaning vinyl record washer. You should be able to find one of these in your local music store or even generic stores. You can also order one online.

Vaccum Cleaning Vinyl Record Washer
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Method Three: Create a DIY Record Vaccum

One out-the-box method to clean vinyl records is to build your own DIY record vacuum. Here’s how to make it:

The Mixture

Create a solution of isopropyl alcohol with bottled water. A ratio of 1:15 or 1:20 alcohol to water should do the trick.

Platter 

If you have an old vinyl LP, you can use it as a platter. You can rotate it over a motor and bearing from an old computer hard drive. This adds a good level of flexibility to the vacuum tube.

Winder

To create a winder, use a plastic drain end cap, as long as it’s a bit bigger than a record label. Use a rubber seal to prevent the cleaning solution from getting on the record.

Brush

The best way to add a brush to your record vacuum cleaner is to get a paint pad and cut it in half. Ideally, you’d want the brush to have straight bristles that can be curved.

Vacuum Tube

Now to the hard part: The vacuum tube. To create a tube for your DIY vacuum cleaner, get a piece of plastic tube and cut a slot into one side. From the open end, add some electrician tape. Use double-sided tape to attach a velvet piece to the tube to provide protection for the record.

Then, you need a tube to connect the vacuum tube to the cleaner. A tube from a plastic petrol siphon should get the job done. You also need to add a connection to reduce suction pressure. 

If the vacuum cleaner has high suction power, make sure that the cut slot is narrow. 

Summary

That was a quick overview of the vinyl record cleaning methods and steps. You can either clean the records with household items, buy a ready-made record vacuum cleaner, or build your own DIY vacuum cleaner. Additionally, check out the guide on How To Fix A Warped Vinyl Record if needed.

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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