As fans of Vinyl Records, we here at Maplewood Records find ourselves defending the artform more and more as the "Vinyl Revival" spreads. Most of the complaints stem from the quality of the sound; the pops and hisses are said to be a nuisance. While a few pops add to the allure of the medium, a dirty record can vastly affect the sound quality of an LP. That being said, a thorough cleansing of your record is paramount to achieve the proper sound.
While there are some things that one should definitely avoid when cleaning vinyl, by far the most contentious of the lot (one that will get audiophiles screaming) is pure isopropyl alcohol. It can be horrible for vinyl. The worst part is it is also included in many commercial record cleaning products, so keep your eyes peeled. Pure alcohol strips away alot of the gunk and dust from the record's grooves, but it also removes the protective coating that sits atop the groove walls/floor.Once that layer is gone, music sounds harsh and brittle (see mp3).
Some other things to avoid are commercial cleaning products (i.e. Windex, Comet, Borax, etc.) under the kitchen sink. Most often they attack the vinyl itself or, at the very least, block your grooves with even more gunk than they are trying to clean.
Both old and new records need cleaning. New Releases are often infested with dust, on a microscopic level, and covered in an oily pressing plant release agent. Please, please do not rinse vinyl under a tap. Doing so risks you damaging the fragile record label. Tap water also includes plenty of impurities which re-infect record grooves.
The use of a record cleaning machine is probably the best way to clean a record, but they are often way too expensive to justify cleaning your copy of Supertramp's Breakfast in America. Luckily for you the staff at Maplewood Records has dug up some more affordable, manual methods of record cleaning that will work just fine. What follows are some suggestions of the different types of cleaning gadgets that you can buy.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
The easy way to keep your wax fresh and clean, is to invest in some non-abrasive, microfiber cleaning cloths. This type of cloth is good at absorbing oils and hangs onto dust and gunke.
CO-RODE Anti Static Carbon Fiber LP Record Clean Brush
This is a bit different from the cloth for two reasons. One, it has a better chance of getting into the grooves to remove dirt. Two, because of the fiber type, it neutralizes static electricity - which is what attracts dust in the first place.
Mobile Fidelity Record Cleaning Brush
The most common tool used for cleaning records, this brush is easy to use and, because of its wide surface area, covers more of your record at one time. Place the brush on a rotating record and the dust will build, sweep it off, and the rest of the pad traps the muck. Simple and easy to use.
This Japanese classic uses a sticky roller which, when pulled across a record, lifts dust and grime from the upper surface and the grooves. The roller never loses its sticky action and can be washed to renew it. Although it is no longer made, if you check eBay you may find one. Or search for unused ‘Pixall’ Rollers which operate on the same principle but uses sticky paper.
Spin-Clean - Starter Kit
This is by far the best manual record cleaner out there. Simply mix a few capfulls of Spin-Clean Wash Fluid solution with water in the tank. Rotate the record slowly through the solution as the record brushes on either side scrub the record clean. Remove the record, place on a drying cloth and wipe dry with another drying cloth. 15 Reasons To Buy A Spin-Clean Record Washing System Spin-Clean is the only record washing system on the market that is a "bath type" complete.
Have a favorite not listed? Better method?
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