How To Clean Vinyl Records at HomeYou shouldn’t be in the record player world if you are not prepared for the cleaning and protection of your turntables to ensure optimal sound. The platter needs to be dust-free, the stylus must be grime-free, and the record player as a whole actually needs to be dirt free.

Vinyl records are another aspect of the TT world that needs to be maintained. Unlike the digitized music, the younger generation listens to vinyl records that need constant cleaning and protection.

Lucky for us these days, we have a lot of options. We can have it professionally cleaned, or we can buy cleaning solutions, and machines then do it by ourselves. But for me, nothing beats the satisfaction of learning how to clean vinyl records without the help of expensive gadgets or a third party.

This is why I am writing this tutorial to help you feel that sense of accomplishment when doing the cleaning by yourself. Here you will see various proven methods.

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1./ Method 1: The Basic Method​

Good for: surface dust and dirt​.

What You Need​

​LP Brush

When buying vinyl albums at the record store, you have probably seen this sitting at the counter, waiting for you to come to pick it up. Some call it an anti-static brush.

If you don’t have a brush yet, get a microfiber cloth or the one you use for cleaning spectacles.​

​Turntable

If you have a turntable that you don’t mind having dust or dirt on, much better, otherwise, use the same turntable you play your LPs with, but be very careful not to put too much pressure and any dirt on it.

The Steps​

  1. Plug the record player to a power source​.
  2. Carefully place the vinyl record to be cleaned on the platter.
  3. Press start.
  4. Once the platter starts spinning, carefully let the brush or the cloth touch the vinyl record. Start from the middle and work your way out.
  5. Check closely to see if there are remaining particles.
  6. Repeat as necessary.
  7. Do the same for the other side.

The Wrong Way

Simple as this method may seem, some will still get it wrong. Here are some of them.

  • Not working your way out. If you do this, you’re not cleaning your record. You’re just letting the dust and dirt go round and round as the platter spins.
  • Applying too much pressure . You’re damaging not only your vinyl record but also your turntable.
  • Using rough materials. The grooves on the vinyl require careful handling. Using rough materials such as brushes with hard bristles or cloths with rough fibers will scratch your records.

2./ Method 2: The Glue Method

Good for: deep-seated dirt and fingerprints​.

What You Need​

PVA Glue​

Many DIYers have sworn by the effectiveness of using a PVA glue or wood glue in cleaning a vinyl record, and I agree. The adhesive component of the glue attracts dirt from the record, and its elasticity allows it to penetrate the grooves for deeper cleaning.

If wood glue is not available, try the polyvinyl alcohol instead. It works the same way, and it’s even more elastic. The only thing to it, though, is that not many people have tried and proved it.

Thrift Store Turntable​

Using your current turntable is also possible, but I would advise against it as some glue may spill and go to the sensitive parts of your record player, which for me spells damage. Getting one from a thrift store for the sole purpose of cleaning your records is much better.

Old Credit Card​

The card’s flat yet sturdy feature makes it the perfect option to spread out the glue. You may use other similar materials such as ATM cards or something that has a flat surface.

The Steps​

  1. Plug the turntable to a power outlet.​
  2. Place the vinyl record to be cleaned on the platter.
  3. Press start.
  4. Slowly and evenly pour PVA glue on the record. Move your way out. Make sure each ring of glue is thick. That’s probably two to three rounds per circle. Be careful not to put anything on the label.
  5. Spread the glue evenly using the card.
  6. Let it dry completely for at least 18 hours.
  7. Peel off the dried glue.
  8. Do the same on the other side of the record.

The Wrong Way

There have been some complaints regarding this method. Some are saying it is absolute garbage. But here are some tips to avoid the ‘garbages’ these ignoramuses talk about.

  • Applying a thin layer of glue. Doing this may still attract the dust and dirt, but after the glue has dried off, peeling it will be very, very challenging. You won’t be able to do the one-time peel, as the dried glue will break every time. You’ll end up having more fingerprints on the record instead.
  • Using non-recommended glue. Yes, other glues may work just like the PVA, but you won’t know their chemical components that may be harmful to the vinyl.

3./ Method 3: The I-Didn’t-Know-That’s-Possible Method

​ Good for: Deep-seated, stubborn dirt and fingerprints.

What You Need​

Ammonia-Free Window Cleaner​

Yes, you read it right. A window cleaner. Some may say window cleaning solutions are harmful, but only when ammonia is present in the ingredients.

Soft-Fibered Towel​

Towels are known for their being super absorbent, which is necessary for this tutorial. This will be used to absorb the liquid.

Microfiber Cloth​

This will also be used for liquid absorption, but only the excess ones the towel has left out.

Circular Lid​

Use one as wide as the album label to protect it from getting wet and eventually getting peeled off.

The Steps​

  1. Place the record on a clean, flat surface such as a table.​
  2. Put the lid on the label.
  3. Apply the cleaning solution on the vinyl.
  4. Spread the solution evenly using your hands.
  5. Gently rub the vinyl to ensure deeper clean.
  6. (optional) Rinse off the solution using distilled water.
  7. Wipe off the liquid with the towel, applying only gentle pressure.
  8. Dry off the liquid completely with the microfiber cloth.
  9. Do the same on the other side.
  10. Let it sit for a few hours until you are sure the liquid has completely dried off.

The Wrong Way

This method has contentions, too because of the following wrong process:​

  • I am using a harsh cleaning solution. Window cleaners with ammonia are a definite no-no, as the chemical will surely break the vinyl. Ammo-free, on the other hand, is generally safe.
  • Using coarse cloth. “Unsoft” fibers will create more scratches on the vinyl than what you have planned, so be careful to use only the most delicate cloths.

4./ Method 4 The Risky-But-Fun Method

Good for: experimenting​

What You Need

Scrubbing Bubbles​

Yes, you read it right. The one you clean your kitchen tiles will be used in this method, and there’s no alternative.

Flat-Bottomed Brush with Fine and Soft Hair​

Cloths will also do this part, just make the fibers are soft.

Distilled Water

Tap water, if proven, clean, and natural is acceptable.​

Circular Lid

Again, this is needed to protect the album label.

Microfiber Cloth

Necessary to dry off the water. Otherwise, a drying rack will do.​

The Steps

  1. Cover the label with the circular lid.​
  2. Place the record on a flat surface.
  3. Wet the record using distilled water.
  4. Moderately apply Scrubbing bubbles on the vinyl.
  5. Spread it with the flat brush.
  6. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Thoroughly rinse off the Scrubbing bubbles.
  8. Do the same on the other side.
  9. Pat it dry with the microfiber cloth or let it dry on a drying rack.

The Wrong Way

Everything may seem wrong in this method, but there are users who have tried it and swore it works. But since this is somehow in the experimental period, do not use it on valuable records. Try it on thrift-shop LPs and see if it actually works. Also, don’t try to use it often. Stick to the wood glue method for the usual cleaning of very stubborn dirt.

I did it once, and it worked for me. The grime and fingerprints are gone, and the music sounded better too. However, it did not work for my friends, so I wonder what made all the difference.

In Sum​

The methods above have been tried and tested. Some by many. Some by the risk-takers. But all these methods are personally tried, and I’ve proven working. If you are new to DIY cleaning, however, I recommend the first two methods. If you want to try the last two, use an album you don’t care damaging but are still worth salvaging.

If all else fails, ask for professional help, then just keep on practicing next time. Then read more about what works and what doesn’t for a vinyl record.

Do you have other methods you can suggest? Tell us in the comments section. Like this article? Share it with your friends.​

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