To ensure the best sound and least amount of wear on your records, it is essential that they are kept clean. My rule of thumb is to never play an album until it has been sufficiently cleaned.

Here is my tried and true method for liberating a record from all the dirt, dust, mold and fingerprints it may have acquired over the years - all without special fluid. I’ll show you my method that utilizes soap, water and a record brush.

I’ve tried a few different methods over the years, including the traditional fluid and bush method and vacuuming the surface (with a gentle brush), but that would still leave dirt behind.

Then I tried the soap and water method. I finally got ALL the dirt and grime of every record I tried, on the first cleaning too. One record was completely which with mold/mildew. After cleaning, the record is visually perfect and plays well with barely any pops/clicks!

For records with only light amounts of dust, I would recommend just brushing them off with a carbon fiber brush before playback. As any record collector knows, only about 10% of used records actually come in that condition. For the other 90%, wash them off.

Remember, the best cleaning in the world just removes all the dust and dirt. Some records will have scratches and groove wear. No amount of cleaning will fix this. So after cleaning, some record may sound “perfect” and others maybe not so much.

Step 1: Gather the items

You'll need the following:
-A Basin of some kind
-Dish soap (any kind will work)
-A record cleaning brush/pad (Discwasher style)
-A few washcloths
-A source of warm water
-A sink with faucet
-Records to wash
-A clean surface to put the records on (their cardboard sleeves)
-Two hands
-Rubber gloves (if your going to be doing a number of records at a time)
-Towels to dry off the records
<p>All my records are clean and nice. I do not have any garage kept stuff . Why should i wash my records this way? There is no need if you do not have badly cared for records. All of my records and some of them I have for 40 years, are still as shiny and clean and sound as good as they sounded when I first got them. </p>
<p>Thanks for this useless post! This is for when you score some used records and need to clean them, not for your Mel Torme LPs you bought 40 yaers ago.</p>
<p>The only useless post here is yours. I buy records from Goodwill, etc, that have decades of detritus to remove. Not every record is mint. Critical reasoning is a rewarding skill set.</p>
In the article he calls out that this is more for used records in rougher shape. Near the end he says that he never has to washed his records twice, he just uses a brush. So from what I read in this instructable, I'd hazzard to guess the OP agrees with you.
<p>Bravo! I just purchased a new Turntable, and broke out some of my albums from the 1980's. All, I might add are in terrific shape. :-)</p>
Any tips to getting sellotape off vinyl, my husband had a record that was framed, has take it out, but it was secured by double sided tape, any good advice???
<p>I hate to admit it, but WD-40 would remove it. When ever I have had issues with removing labels from anything, WD-40 comes to the rescue. Word of advice, once removed, make sure you remove all signs of the oil.</p>
One of the most overlooked items that every household has, is PERFECT for removing sticky adhesives from tape, labels, dirt from dust, fingerprints, drink spills etc. It is a cleaner for nearly anything you want removed, it is made from fish oils and is really inexpensive. What is it you might ask? WD-40.<br><br>I have cleaned many, many, many records with WD-40 (I have thousands), I've removed the little sticky &quot;dots&quot; that some DJ's use on the vinyl prior to my getting them, it works like a charm.<br><br>To remove most kinds of dirt from a non-porous surface, simply spray enough WD-40 onto the offending matter to saturate it, then let it soak for 10 minutes or more. Wipe it off and the gunk will come with it. For stubborn material like double-sided (foam) tape, several applications will be needed to get it all off. Don't forget, it will work best if you remove as much of the material you can before you soak it. Labels that have a shiny surface are tough, you need to peel off as much of the label as you can, otherwise the WD will not penetrate into the sticky part.<br><br>If you are worried about the oily residue left behind, you can clean this with Windex or rubbing alcohol, otherwise it will tend to evaporate by itself. I have found that simply wiping the vinyl record with a soft dry cloth will remove most of the WD-40, but I've never had any problems by leaving it dry by itself.<br><br>WD-40 is my first choice for cleaning almost anything. Hope this helps!
While WD-40 is certainly popular with people, I have used both this and lighter fluid and I think lighter fluid is superior. Lighter fluid seems to work faster in many cases and doesn't leave that nasty residue behind.
<p>I'll make sure I'll never come your house with a lighted match. :-)</p>
You have a tough one and Goo Gone might work but has pretty powerful solvents in it (xylene if I remember correctly). I would try vegetable oil or oil squeezed from an orange or lemon peel, but just on the sticky and try to roll/peel up the residue with a Q-Tip then carefully clean the remainder with Goo Gone and a soft cloth. I admit this is a guess, I have never needed to attempt what you are trying to do. I would not let vinyl soak in Goo Gone.
Has anyone tried LOC? It is great for getting sticky things off and is very gentle.
I used lighter fluid, the kind used for zippo lighters to get sticker &quot;dots&quot; off. I can't say I've tried it on the vinyl itself, but if on the label, works perfectly. Used book stores use lighter fluid to clean book covers. Evaporates faster than rubbing alcohol. Highly recommend. When you find the right products, I don't know, you get giddy about cleaning stuff.
Goo Gone and a soft cloth or paper towel.
<p>Acetone is a major no no. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are conversing about a circular piece of vinyl that is vulnerable to practically anything It may touch. Harsh chemicals are, &quot;OUT&quot;. :-)</p><p>My major concern is not a clean record, because I have always taken care of my records. Periodically I will hold my records to the a bright light. Tilt the record slightly, and it will reveal the record's usage history.</p><p>My concern is..., How to eliminate the faint pops during quiet segments of a particular song. I think we can all agree that most of those little pops are caused by static electricity. I have performed searches via the internet trying to find an &quot;Anti-Static&quot; cloth that I can apply to the record before playing it. Everyone refers to a cloth made up of Micro-fiber. Personally, I can't stand the way they feel to the touch. Most of them are made out of synthetic fibers. I prefer more cotton in the blend.</p><p>I also recall reading where one individual places a small percentage of fabric softener mixed with &quot;distilled&quot; water in wash tub. Takes an old T-Shirt, places it in the tub, allows the fabric softener to penetrate the cotton. Then, wrings out most of the fabric softener/ water to where the T-Shirt is at the damp state, and applies it to the record. This person has also followed the same procedure and applied it to his flat panel TV. He claims it to be a guaranteed fix.</p><p>What is your opinion? If you disagree, what would you suggest?</p>
Don't use tap water... that's just dumb when distilled water is so cheap and readily available. And the posters who want to clean a record just to digitalize it I have to ask why you would want to ruin a perfectly good analog recording by reducing it to 0 and 1s?
<p>Are you really that obtuse, or just that clueless? You digitize em for backup, for deejaying, for archives, for when you want to listen to the song(s) in your car, or portable media device. C'mon use that grey matter.</p>
Is that a Herb Alpert record? Nothing quite like Jazz or Classical on vinyl from the peak of the era. : )
<p>I thought he chose the herb alpert because those are staple cheap records you find everywhere for less than buck, and if you damage it who cares.</p>
Yes, it's "Sounds Like Herb Alpert." This is the stereo version I picked up at Savers (for $.99) the other day. I previously had the mono edition. Most of the records I get are dirty, so I just wash them off before I even think about playing them. As I mentioned in the tutorial, I clean any dust off with a carbon fiber brush before playback, so I think cleaning is really only a one time thing.
Vinyl records are very special to my family. We have an extensive collection of <a href="http://www.groovedis.com">vinyl records</a> in our home, and my father is basically a Nazi about keeping them clean.
<p>What does 'basically a nazi' infer? Are you perpetuating the jewish mythos?</p>
<p>shut up, you know exactly what he means. </p>
<p>Nazi in this context means strict and thorough cleansing. Just like the Nazis tried to cleanse the world of homosexuals, artists, thinkers, non arians, etc, etc, pcastle-1's father wanted to cleanse his records of dirt. To imply he was perpetuating the &quot;Jewish mythos&quot; is a bit rude.</p>
Well, I love the instructable, and reading all the conflict that was going on in the comment section provided me something to do, but I have a question. It's not really about cleaning records, more about a record I found the other day at a garage sale. It was the original Star Wars soundtrack which I got for a dollar. My buddies said I could sell it for a lot more than that. I probably won't but I was just wondering how much it could possibly be worth?
<p>Considering that I see this in the wild often, it's not worth much, unless its in mint cond. or contains auth. signatures, etc. You might be able to flip for some extra cash to someone who doesn't know what records are worth, but its a 2 - 3 dollar record, at best. The Star wars records that are pictures discs are worth more, and the ones that contain dialogue and stoires are good too.</p>
<p>It's worth in general about 5 bucks. So they are 'kind' of right -it's worth 5 times what you paid. Pretty good return. Now a still sealed copy with signatures from the cast on it from 1978 - could fetch around $120 bucks - but the chances of anyone finding that would be very slim.</p>
I have no idea. There are record collectors guides and stuff that will give you all that information, though. Do a little googleing and hit up your local library (mine has a few record collectors guides.
<p>Dish soap, alcohol, WD40 and other chemicals are not good to use on Vinyl. Do yourself a favor and go buy a spin clean.</p>
<p>Would a saline solution for contact lenses be damaging to the lps? Was reading these and multiple other threads and curiosity got me wondering.</p>
<p>Yes, it will leave salt behind.</p>
Thank you. Good thing i didn't try it on my own. I did end up buying a lp carbon cleaning brush and using that alone has done wonders.
Is there anything I can use instead of a record cleaning brush?
<p>Tap water is a bad idea. It can and will leave minerals behind in the grooves, especially if your water is relatively hard. Ever seen mineral deposits on the door of your shower? That's minerals in the water, and that will be left in your grooves. Sure, dish soap does make it less, but there will always be some of it left, enough to make pops that can not be removed. Distilled water is the only way to go. Also, label protection is vital, as I have had vinyls that didn't like getting the label wet, all post-1975. I also heavily recommend getting some kind of record to test your method on. Any cheapo thrift shop/flea market/given record will suffice, as it's only to see if it damages the vinyl or not. Better safe than sorry!</p>
<p>does anyone know how to remove lenco clean?</p>
<p>To those not sure or who are even bagging this idea, I've done this many many times. I do a couple of extra things though... I put a dowel rod through the middle of the record so that it can freely spin it in the bucket of water. I only put the water up high enough so that it covers the actual vinyl. I then use an old record brush to wash the grooves while spinning through the soapy water. try to avoid using just any old dish washing liquid... pure soap is best but comes down to how well you rinse. I also use 2 scrap CDs to water seal the label! So, get some blu tak or other reusable putty adhesive, roll out to a long 'snake', stick around the very edge of the CD then stick to the vinyl .. NOT on the grooves OR on the label but on the blank space between.. do it on both sides. Rinse THOROUGHLY in DISTILLED WATER - see I also use a very soft paint brush in the rinse to ensure I have removed all the soap (can also use distilled water in with the soapy water if you're worried about tap water). Dry with microfiber towels. Finish off with your fave cleaner. I use Buggtussell Vinyl-Zyme Gold for records that were heavily soiled, covered in mold etc and for most initial clean of records I haven't played for a long time that don't need the above wash. I try to avoid alcohol based cleaners but of course have a bottle of AM for very quick once over cleans.</p>
<p>thanks</p><p>underground resistance hey, nice one.</p><p>will take up your record cleaning advice</p>
<p>... further to the above </p><p>http://www.questforsound.com/analog/analog_buggVynalZyme.htm</p>
Good info and worth a try. But if you find you need deeper cleaning abilities, using nonionic, ethylene oxide condensate surfactants such as Tergitol 15&#8209;S&#8209;3 and 15&#8209;S&#8209;9 with distilled water would be better. Also, these will leave virtually no residue.<br/><br/>More info at-<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.vinylengine.com/care-and-handling-recorded-sound-materials.shtml">http://www.vinylengine.com/care-and-handling-recorded-sound-materials.shtml</a><br/>
What about acetone, 70%? or 50%? to clean records.
<p>I know this was a long time ago, but for anyone else pondering this idea:</p><p><a href="http://www.coleparmer.com/Chemical-Resistance" rel="nofollow">http://www.coleparmer.com/Chemical-Resistance</a></p><p>Select PVC for the material, and acetone (or whatever else is of interest) for the chemical. I'd only use this to rule out ideas, anything not rated &quot;A&quot; or at least &quot;B&quot; gets rejected.</p><p>TL;DR: acetone *will* destroy your vinyl.</p>
I would be cautious putting something as harsh as acetone- it might very well dissolve the vinyl... But I am not a chemist.
<p>Dish Soap (any kind!) washcloths and tap water. This is precisely why I do not buy used vinyl. Ever. </p>
<p>I would stay away from the dish soap. I use Genesis 950 to clean my records - both the wax and to remove stickers off the label. http://amerikal.hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Clean-Stickers-Off-45-rpm-Record-Labels</p>
OMG! Terrible idea! I highly recommend not to do this!!!
Great instructable. I actually asked some <a href="http://www.selective-cleaners.com" rel="nofollow">dry cleaners in Los Angeles</a> what they would do to clean records and they told me it was impossible. But then again why was I asking the DRY cleaners....
It's definitely a bad idea to get the labels wet! They are, after all, just paper and paper + water = mess. So, be careful to only immerse or run water over the vinyl, *not* the labels!<br> <br> Also, under &quot;Drying&quot;, you wrote &quot;With one had, hold the record, and with the other, dry it off.&quot; It's a good idea to hold the cloth so that it moves along the grooves, tracking with them, rather than scrubbing against them. The cloths should definitely be either all-cotton or microfiber; many other synthetic fibers can abrade the record surface.<br> <br> Finally, it's a good idea to use rubbing alcohol and cotton pads to wipe down the record after you've washed, rinsed and dried it. Alcohol mixes with any water that remains and helps it evaporate away, and it breaks down any remaining oils. Again -- always move anything over the surface of the record *with* the grooves, not against them.
CLEANING VINYL RECORDS<br><br>I have been cleaning vinyl records for over 30 years and have tried every crazy technique known to audiophiles at one time or another. Most involved lots of money and risk and many do not make a measurable improvement in the surface noise of the vinyl. I have settled on a system much like this article with a few significant differences. First, I begin by washing my hands in a roughly 3% to 10% solution of cheap &quot;lemon&quot; dish detergent. Then I wet the records EVENLY in water that is about at hot as my hands can take under a running faucet; I never immerse the records. Then I clean the records in the same detergent solution WITH MY HANDS. I do this mostly by feel. I rub in both directions. I make sure the detergent makes suds. I feel for irregularities or embedded particles in the grooves. I never use my nails of anything other than my pristine finger tips. I rinse under the faucet when the disc feels done. I NEVER let any detergent dry on the vinyl. I never let the records cool or heat unevenly. I never rub the label at all but only press it dry with a new clean towel. I never let any detergent remain on the disc or let any water dry on the disc. I always dry with a newly cleaned towel dried without fabric softeners! I try to keep any loosened dyes from the label off of the vinyl by rinsing the detergent off away from the center, etc etc etc I never buy detergent with hand softeners or pumice or other miracle additives. BUY CHEAP. Dish detergent is not made to clean records and there is always a risk of damage. I have cleaned several thousand records this way and have measured and heard increased surface noise on less than half a dozen. Most sound marginally better. A few sound spectacular, but no heavily played disc will ever sound great again unless one switches to a stylus that rides the groove differently than the one that did the damage! Keep this one thing in mind: There are risks to cleaning records, but there is no risk at all to playing them dirty; playing a dirty record WILL DAMAGE IT FULL STOP!<br><br>If you try this use a few records you do not care about first. Give them a good listen afterward. I sometimes even use the statistics function in Sound Forge on a silent section of the disc to measure surface noise before and after cleaning. Also, if you are leaving any oil from your body on the vinyl then you are not cleaning carefully enough. The tissue in your finger tips must be very clean for this to work right. I MEAN CLEAN DOWN INTO THE SKIN! Finally, the discs are yours and so is the risk. Be careful.<br>
Hello Mitch, you said in your article you have used many methods of cleaning records, have you used a spin clean and if so, did you like it. Also, have you ever used Shaklee Basic H cleaner, it's a concentrate that I mix with distilled water. Thank you for your advise. Arvid
Ok, I use this method myself &amp; there is some good advice here but a precautionary word of advice. A lot of washing up liquids contain salt which is corrosive as do normal hair &amp; body shampoos &amp; other detergents. A far better cleaning medium which does not contain salt is either Eufora or Pureology, a hair shampoo which is used in salons for ladies who go in for Brazilian waxing. These shampoos are nearly completely petro-chemical free &amp; are of course PH neutral. If its good enough for a lady's sensitive bits it should be fine on records! Also for the macho types who can't bring themselves to buy pum pum wash, the stuff that is used to shampoo cars &amp; motorbikes also does not contain salt. Mer is a good one &amp; its chemical make up is listed on their website.

About This Instructable


145 favorites


More by mattdp: Cleaning Vinyl Records Cheap Shock Cord
Add instructable to: