As digital technology is growing at an exponential rate, and platforms such as Spotify and Apple music are taking hold of the music industry; you’d be forgiven for presuming vinyl records were a thing of the past. However, that’s just not the case! As reported by the Rolling Stone, vinyl began outselling CD’s in 2019 and the trend is continuing into 2021. The first time this has happened since 1986.
Given the resurgence of vinyl, it’s no surprise that many newly-found enthusiasts and audiophiles aren’t well versed in maintaining and cleaning their records. Even shocked at how quickly your once new and shiny piece of vinyl can become a breeding ground for dust and grime. Causing unwanted noise, and over-the-top pops and crackling that can ruin the experience of listening to vinyl to begin with. While even causing damage to your stylus and turntable.
In this article, we give you the audiophiles guide on how to clean a vinyl record. Covering a few of the different options you can use to clean your records and maintain their condition. Ensuring you can enjoy audiophile quality music from your vinyl for years to come.
- Maintaining Your Records
- Carbon Fibre Brushes
- Cleaning Solution
- Stylus Brush
- Record Cleaning Machines
Maintaining Your Records
The best way to clean your records is to maintain their condition in the first place. By utilizing proper handling techniques, and storage when they’re not in use. Therefore, limiting the amount they get dirty to begin with and preventing other unwanted changes such as warping.
We recommend storing your records vertically while keeping them away from extreme temperatures and humidity. Both laying your stack of records flat and exposing them to extreme temperatures can result in unwanted warping of your vinyl. Resulting in an unpleasant wobbly sound coming from your records.
Given that dust and grime are a records worst enemy, it’s important to limit the amount of time your records are exposed to dust particles that are floating through the air. This is why it’s a good idea to make sure your vinyl is kept both in the inner sleeve, as well as inside the cover. Maximizing the protection you’re giving your records.
To many it may be a given, although plenty of vinyl enthusiasts seem to neglect the importance of correct handling. Taking care of the way you handle your records can be imperative to preventing dust and dirt from getting attracted to your records. The best way to hold your records is to avoid making contact with the delicate grooves, and parts of the record that store information. Instead, carefully grasp your records by the edges and the inner label if you need to.
As important as it is to keep dust away from your records, the same goes for your turntable. Letting your turntable sit and collect dust, then placing your precious records on your slipmat is a sure way to go about transferring all those nasty particles to your record. Counter-intuitive if you’ve been following the two steps we’ve just covered. So, if your turntable has a cover/lid its a great idea to keep it closed when not in use. As well as during playback, limiting airborne dust from landing on your vinyl.
Additionally, always set the counterweight on your tonearm in accordance with your stylus and cartidge requirements. If you fail to set the counterweight correctly, you could be putting too much pressure on your records. Causing significant wear and loss of performance from both your stylus and your records.
Even with the utmost care and proper handling, there are always going to be times where your records require a good clean. However, with several methods available for helping you clean your records, it seems to be a much-debated topic regarding the best way to do it. So we’ll go over a few of the most common ways to go about it. Best of all, cleaning your records doesn’t need to break the bank. While keeping your vinyl in pristine condition for years of quality listening.
Carbon Fibre Brushes
One method of keeping your records clean is to make use of a carbon fiber brush. A simple and inexpensive tool that alone will go a long way in cleaning dust from your records. It’s important to use a brush designed specifically for vinyl, like the Reloop one shown above. You can pick up one of these Reloop Carbon Fibre Brush’s from DJ City for as little as $10.00and is a must-have to accompany your vinyl collection.
Simply place one side of your brush onto the record, then gently sweep the dust outwards away from the vinyl. It’s important to use a light touch here, as heavy motion could potentially scratch the vinyl. Repeat this process over until there’s no dust left. Perfect for removing dust sitting on the surface of your records. A good idea to help prevent a build-up of dust is to give your records a gentle brush before each listen, making it part of your normal routine.
For cleaning records with a bit more dust and grime built into the grooves of your records, it’s a good idea to use a record cleaner solution such as the AM Record Cleaner Solution sold at DJ City.
The AM Vinyl Cleaner is the original non-abrasive deep cleaning solution, specially formulated to eliminate dust, dirt and static build-up. Giving you improved sound quality and prolonged record life. While the reduction of friction during playback will also hugely benefit the longevity of your stylus. Ideal for everyday cleaning as well as even the dirtiest vinyl.
How to apply a cleaning solution
Using a non-abrasive cleaning solution is both easy and effective, by following these simple steps:
- Remove all dust by gently using a carbon fibre record brush
- Inspect your record for visible marks and blemishes
- Spray cleaning solution across problem areas
- Wipe clean using circular movements
- Ensure correct handling by only touching the edges of the record
- Dry your record with a clean microfibre cloth
- Store your record properly to minimise future problems
As important as it is to clean your records, it’s just as important to clean your stylus. Which is where a compact stylus brush comes in handy. A dirty stylus can remove the vibrant dynamics from your favourite records, and even damage your vinyl.
A Stylus Brush is the perfect option for cleaning and removing dust build-up on your stylus. A must-have for keeping your stylus operating at its peak, and reducing unwanted vinyl wear.
Again, an inexpensive tool that will provide a wealth of value to your vinyl collection and turntable. Pick one of these Ortofon ACC-Brush‘s up from DJ City for as little as $5!
To maximize effectiveness and maintain optimal sound, we recommend cleaning the stylus both before and after each playback. Use the stylus brush a few times along the cantilever in the direction of the stylus, whenever you play a new record or change sides. Be sure not to brush either side-to-side or front-to-back, as that could potentially damage your stylus. And that’s the last thing you want!
Record Cleaning Machines
Finally, another method you can use for a complete and detailed clean of your records is using a record cleaning machine. Although typically a much more expensive option, a good record cleaning machine can go along way to cleaning those records you thought might have had their day. Removing all that dirt that has been deeply entrenched in the grooves after years of neglect and lack of cleaning.
Record Cleaning machines use a bi-directional cleaner with a powerful vacuum and are simple to use. The most common method to these machines is to clamp a record into the machine, distribute cleaning solution around the record, and then use the powerful vacuum to suck it all up. A quick and easy process that usually does a pretty good job at cleaning your records.
Go clean those records!
You need to make sure you’re looking after and maintaining both your precious collection of vinyl and also your turntables. And with the cleaning methods above, you should now have enough knowledge to get those filthy records clean again. Therefore, improving your audio clarity and quality, while maximizing the longevity of your records lifespan. Don’t forget to maintain proper storage and handling techniques, because you can’t clean a damaged vinyl record!
If you’re looking for vinyl record cleaning products, DJ City has got you covered. Stocking a range of record cleaning products and maintenance kits to help keep your records and turntables in tip-top condition. So check out our range of cleaning products or come in-store, and make sure you’re on top of your vinyl maintenance!