If you’re an audiophile or just getting into vinyl, you need to know how to clean your record collection. Old records build up static electricity and collect dust and other impurities. This static electricity builds up over time, which affects the sound quality of vinyl records.

Even new records should be cleaned before being listened to because the records are statically charged during storage. The residue is often found on the record’s surface as a result of the packaging process in the factory.


Breathing Life Back into Your Records

Cleaning record revitalizes old and dirty records. If you don’t see scratches on your vinyl, most likely, the reason that your vinyl does not play as well as it should is because of lint, dust, and grime. Luckily, the most common reasons to clean vinyl records are easy to manage and take care of.

Clean records play with less distortion, and it helps the vinyl last longer because the friction that happens when dust is on the record will no longer happen. In fact, keeping your records clean can even extend the life of your record player’s stylus, which can save you from having to replace your record player needle. Your entire record collection will sound better with the right cleaning process than when you purchased it at the record store.


Importance of A Good Brushing When Cleaning Records

brush it record brush

One of the most important tools for record cleaning that you should own is a carbon fiber brush, like Pro-Ject’s Brush It record brush. You can also use Pro-Ject’s Sweep It record broom, which is directly mounted to your turntable and cleans the surface of your vinyl as the table spins. These record cleaning brushes are anti-static tools that will not only remove dust but also get rid of static build-up on the vinyl surface. This static attracts dust, so getting rid of it will help eliminate future dust from accumulating. The bristles of the carbon fiber brush easily get into the groves of the record without damaging the vinyl.

You simply need to secure the record on your turntable and move the brush in a circular motion to clean it. Move from the inside of the record near the record label and slowly move outwards as the record spins. Always follow the grooves when you are cleaning vinyl, and don’t apply excess pressure, which would cause the brush’s bristles to scratch or damage the surface.

Never use your fingers to remove dust from vinyl because the oils on your fingers damage vinyl. Only touch the labels and the edges of your records any time that you handle them. The record should be the first place to clean, but to truly keep clean records, you will need a stylus brush to ensure that you don’t miss a beat on your favorite vinyl. This is because dust is often transferred from records to the stylus during playback, a stylus cleaner is paramount to perfect sound.


Record Washing

Of course, you can wash your records like you would your dishes. Simply put a few drops of dish soap into a tub of water. Avoid using tap water if you are creating your own solution. This will help to keep minerals that could damage the vinyl away from the records that you are cleaning. Di-ionized or distilled water is ideal for cleaning records. Never use Isopropyl alcohol in your vinyl cleaning solution because it removes the shine from the vinyl’s surface and makes it more vulnerable to damage.

Instead of making your own cleaning solution, you can purchase a record cleaning solution that will work for your entire collection. It can be purchased individually or in a cleaning kit like the Spin-Clean Vinyl Record Washer System. This is a full cleaning system with soft brushes, cleaning fluid, and microfiber cloths that won’t scratch the vinyl.

Once the record is clean, rinse the cleaning solution or any soap off with distilled water, being careful not to get the label wet. If water or cleaning solution does get on the label, make sure that you quickly blot it dry with a microfiber cloth, and don’t put it away with your other records until it completely air dries. This helps to ensure that the ink doesn’t bleed and the label doesn’t tear.

Always make sure that the records are dry before playing them on your player. It should also be allowed at least 30 minutes to dry before it is placed back in the sleeve because the excess moisture can damage the records and cause the inner paper sleeves to mold. One way to ensure this is avoided is to use plastic sleeves instead of the paper ones that come with most records.


Vacuuming Records

record vacuum

Vacuuming records is one of the better cleaning methods to consider using. Using a vinyl record cleaner that is vacuum-powered will suck up any dust and debris found in the grooves. Using the vacuum cleaner should be done after the record is brushed to remove excess dirt on the surface. The VC-E Compact Vinyl Record Cleaning Machine falls into this category of record cleaner.

Record vacuuming machines will apply a cleaning solution to the records, scrub them, and vacuum away all of the wet solution and debris. It is the superior way to clean vinyl because it combines all of the cleaning methods using a machine that is quick and safe for the records. It may not be the best option for someone who has just a few records because of the price of these machines, but if you have a larger collection of albums, it’s a solid investment to make.


Cleaning Records and Storing Without Worry

Once you have cleaned your record collection, you need to ensure that the vinyl does not get damaged or become warped because it is stored improperly. The first step that you need to take to keep your records safe is to store them in an inner sleeve that will not scratch the surface of the vinyl.

To add more protection, you should also use outer sleeves on your vinyl to keep the dust away from your records completely. Records should always be stored vertically because stacking them on top of each other on a shelf causes warping that hurts the sound quality.