Power Wash Your Vinyl Records




About: Old inventor, reverted back to my 10 year-old self. A shop full of tools, a boat, race car, 3D printer and a beautiful wife who wants me to invent things for around the house... Now how cool is that?

A few years ago, my WaterPik bit the dust and I went online to look for a replacement.  I came across www.oralbreeze.com and thought they had a pretty good idea.  I purchased one, hooked it up and haven't regretted it since.  Then, as it often happens, I thought of another use for this neat device... Power washing records.

If you don't mind flooding your bathroom and having water dripping off everything in it, that's the entire Instructable... Skip the rest and go clean some records.

If, however, you want to keep peace with your family, read how I made a container to keep the destruction to a minimum.  I pieced my container together with odds and ends lying around my shop, so you won't necessarily have the same ingredients as me.  Use creativity to make your own container.  The most important thing to remember is, you'll want to be able to clean both sides of your record easily.

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Step 1: The Parts I Used Include:

1. The box.  I used a plastic file storage box.  You'll need to find something with over 12" in one direction on the inside and wide enough to allow you to fit a record without fumbling and enough room for your hand.

2.  You don't have to make a label cover, but I'm pretty sure a paper label would lose in a battle with a high pressure water jet.  A 4-1/2" diameter wire spool is about the right size.  Also, try to pick up an empty Cool-Aid jar.  The cover is slightly smaller than the wire spool and is thick enough to hold the record away from the box wall so you can clean both sides.

3. Stuff to put it all together.  Here's what I used:  Plastic to make the mount, a 90 degree 1/4-20 threaded rod, a plastic endcap, a heavy plastic spacer, closed-cell foam tape, assorted nuts, bolts, washers and epoxy.

Step 2: Putting the Box Together

First, drill a fairly large hole into the bottom of your box.  This allows dirty water to drain away and not contaminate your record.  I drilled a small hole and then ground it to the size I wanted with a Dremel.

Cut the Cool-Aid container in half.  As you can see in the pictures, I left the cover on the jar and cut at the point they met.  This leaves a portion of the jar inside the cover, adding strength.  Drill a 1/4" hole through the center of the top.

Next, cut the wire spool in half.  One of these halves will be permanently mounted on top of the Cool-Aid cover.  In order for the record to fit, the nuts holding it on need to be below the mounting surface.  This is where the endcap comes in.  These caps are commonly used to close up the ends of tubes and plug holes in sheet metal.  Whenever I come across one, I'll save it.  If you don't have any, you might try poking around an automotive or hardware store.  You'll need something that looks like a thimble with a brim (or a mini stove-pipe hat).  It also needs to be large enough to accept a 1/4-20 nut and socket-wrench socket.

Drill a hole in the center of one of your wire spool halves, large enough for the endcap to fit snugly.  Place a steel washer in the bottom of the endcap and push them into the hole.

On the other wire spool half, you need to add something solid enough to withstand some compression.  I had a spacer that fit perfectly, but anything with some beef to it will work.  Drill a hole through the center, sized to fit a 1/4-20 threaded rod or bolt.  On this spool, plug any holes where high pressure water can enter.  I used marine epoxy.  It went on smoothly and it's been holding for over 2 years.

Wrap closed-cell foam tape around the perimeter of both spool halves.  This will seal the label from most of the water and all of the high pressure water.

You'll need a bolt long enough to reach through all of the components plus it's own mounting.  I happened to have a SS 1/4-20 threaded rod with a 90 degree bend to it.  I fashioned a mounting plate from plastic to hold it and was able to be bolted to the side of the case.  A block of wood, with a straight bolt running through it would work just as well... Only one caveat... Use stainless hardware.

Once the bolt is mounted, slip the Cool-Aid cover and the spool half with the endcap onto it.  Thread a nut onto the bolt and slide a wrench socket down on top of it.  The socket will allow you to snug the nut into the endcap.  When that's done, run another nut on top of it to lock them in place.

That's it.  You're ready to clean records.

Step 3: Cleaning:

Slip your record over the threaded rod and up against the foam tape around the mounted spool.  Sandwich your album with the other spool and bolt everything together with a stainless wing nut.   You can see in the pictures, that I have something on top of the spool.  That's a PVC pipe fitting to take up space so I don't have to spin the wing nut forever to tighten everything up and off.  Someday, I'll cut the rod shorter so I won't have to use it, but for now, it saves time.

Put everything into the bathtub, or as in my case, the shop sink (had to have an Oral Breeze in there too... Power washing is a very, very handy thing).

If you normally use a wetting agent, spread it around before turning the power washer on.  I wet the record and spread a small amount of Dawn dishwashing detergent on the playing surface.

Fire up the Oral Breeze and hold the spray at about 30 degrees to the record.  By turning the record and spraying a pattern you can cover the entire surface in a few minutes.  Try not to spend too much time near the center, as some water will make it through the tape and onto the label.

When you're done, pull the record out and dry it with a soft towel.  Store the washing box away, or do as I do and fill it with cables or other home theater detritus... And then store the washing box away.

The last photo is a close-up of one of my freshly washed albums...  Clean!


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    9 Discussions


    2 months ago

    I would rinse with distilled water just in case the tap water is mineralized a lot? You can tell how mineralized your water is by looking at the buildup in your kettle. Actually, I was looking through Instructables to see if anyone had made an Ultrasonic record cleaner? The commercial ones are around $USD4,000 each. I think it would work well, especially if the record was left to soak for a few minutes.


    3 years ago

    I would have never even thought about cleaning a record this way. I'm going to have to give it a shot. Although I think I would like to try it out with a random record that we don't care much about just in case something goes wrong. Seems like getting the <a href='http://www.underpressurepro.com/#!about2/cdlf' > power washing</a> pressure right and shooting from the right distance and at the right angle would be absolutely essential.

    Tara Lea

    4 years ago

    I watched a few of other people's instructions about washing & fixing & yours was by far the most informative & especially helpful for fixing. I am a lover of my albums & I have one that was a collection of multiple great artists that was sold on TV around 1977 called my girl that I'm hoping your fixing method will improve at least a little. I'm a fan of all music & I still believe it is the best playback sound. I hate CDs. But I thank you I just wish I had your work shop. I'm good at I'm provision I'll make it work thank you. Sincerely Tara ? Lea


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This reminds me of the old "wet-playing" method. When you put drops of water in the grooves before, and while, playing the record, making the sound smoother and richer. The bad thing was that if you didn't use distilled water, the minerals in the water tended to get stuck in the grooves when the water dried, making the records sound really bad after few dozens of wet-play.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Ah, those were the days:) I remember ruining a few albums that way myself. Distilled tap water would be nice, but using a wetting agent (I use Dawn) should eliminate most, if not all of the chances of leaving contaminants in the grooves, plus there's no mechanical device grinding away, digging the minerals into the vinyl.

    I also use a number of cleaning methods, depending on the condition of the album when I get it. Check out:


    Between these methods, I'm extremely happy with the results, and my records sound great.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    im going to suggest this to my cousin she has a bunch of classic rock vinyls. im more a funkster though

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    And the device is also good for healthy gums... She'll get two advantages... Should be a nice gift:)