Regularly cleaning your vinyl records is one of the most important habits to establish if you want your record collection to last for years of enjoyment. Even the most meticulously careful audiophile is going to have bits of dust, oil, and grime accumulate on their records, meaning they need the best record cleaning machine around.


The natural oils from your fingerprints can erode the quality of the vinyl, the unavoidable dust particles that accumulate in a room can nestle into the record grooves, and even the simple act of playing the record can transmit small specks of debris onto your most prized albums. 


If you love crate digging for rare used records, it’s important that you wash the vinyl before it even touches your record player. Used records are often kept in old (and potentially dusty) sleeves, and can sit in crates inside stores for months on end accumulating dust. Plus, you never know how often the former owner cleaned them, and if they gave them a wash before selling. So, regardless of the record grading quality, it’s absolutely necessary to wash secondhand records before giving them the first spin on your turntable.


Likewise, new records should also be washed before playing because they oftentimes come positively charged with static electricity right out of the sleeve. When a record is statically charged, it can stick to the turntable mat when you swap sides or remove the record, and the static charge can attract surrounding dust and particles. 


Another factor to consider is that newly pressed records often come with residue from the factory itself. Unsurprisingly, factories aren’t the most pristine environments so a lot of dust can naturally find a way into the vinyl grooves. But on top of that, the production process itself can leave the faint dregs of a gummy release agent on the record surface. If the release agent doesn’t get washed off before the record hits the turntable, you could potentially damage your stylus without knowing it.


Beyond the potential to look dusty or compromise your needle quality, records that aren’t regularly cleaned will eventually start making surface noise, regardless of how well you store them. So if one of your most played vinyl starts randomly hissing or popping, it’s likely it’s in need of a deep clean with the best record cleaning machine around before you blast it once more.



Luckily, keeping your vinyl clean isn’t rocket science, and there are plenty of different methods and top-notch record cleaning machines out there to add to your repertoire.


Record Brush

There are a handful of viable ways to keep your collection in tip-top shape by hand, and using a vinyl record brush is one of the simplest and most effective methods. A static-dissipating carbon fiber record brush (such as the Brush It from Pro-Ject USA) has bristles that remove dust particles from LP records, 10-inch and 7-inch records by reducing overall static. Since static electricity can be a magnet for dust and eventually lead to those surface-level pops and crackles, a brush with the carbon fiber bristles can work both to remove what’s there, but also to prevent more grime from accruing as quickly.


The process itself is simple, as all you have to do is gently hold the brush in place during playback to catch both the static charge and the dust.

pro-ject record brush

Record Sweep

If you’re a fan of listening to your records while hand cleaning them, but you’d like to give your hands a break, then a hands-free record brush (also referred to as a broom) might be a great fit. Rather than standing to brush the record while it plays, this contraption can be set up to do the sweeping during playback, both cleaning and preventing grime all-in-one.

The Sweep It E from Pro-Ject USA places the brush right before the needle, so the grooves are freshly brushed before the stylus makes contact on every spin. The base is heavyweight, so you don’t have to worry about the brush falling or toppling, and the bristles are fashioned like a soft hairbrush, so it’s naturally gentle on the record surface.

sweep it e record broom

Stylus cleaner

Just as the surface of your records require love to preserve the sound quality, so does the stylus itself. Keeping both your records and stylus clean can create a positive feedback loop, since they both make contact and affect the quality and longevity of each other. There are very simple but effective anti-static brushes, such as the Clean It Stylus Cleaner from Pro-Ject USA that will help keep your needle in pristine shape. 

Made with carbon fiber bristles, the stylus cleaning brush will help dissipate static while also cleaning the tiniest dust specks without scratching the needle. All you have to do is give the stylus a gentle touch to keep it in top shape, and this brush requires no cleaning solution.

clean it stylus brush

Microfiber Cloth

As simple as it sounds, when you’re in a hurry to make your record cleaner, a microfiber cloth can be the ultimate tool. In order for it to be effective, you want to pick a cloth that is truly absorbent and lint-free, and on the newer end so it doesn’t have any leftover residue. You’ll want to pick a safe record cleaning fluid (the Wash-It from Pro-Ject USA is eco-friendly, non-toxic and non-flammable) and use the clothing in gentle circular motions following the grooves of the record. Once it’s been wiped, you’ll let it dry on a straightened out dry microfiber cloth.


Anti-static Slipmat

While a slip mat is not technically a vinyl record cleaner, reducing static on your turntable is a great way to keep your vinyl cleaner and reduce overall damage. The multi-colored high-end Felt Mat from Pro-Ject is a great practical accessory to keep on your audio desk, since it lends both style to your turntable and protection to your records during playback. 


Turntable Dust Cover

The whole process of keeping your record collection clean is far easier if you have every form of maintenance covered, which means anything that prevents your phono set-up from accruing more dirt is crucial. A dust cover for your record player is about as straightforward as it sounds, it’s a box that keeps the whole turntable from gathering dust while it sits unplayed. The Cover It Signature 12 from Pro-Ject USA comes in clear acrylic so you can look at the beauty of your record player while keeping it safe.

turntable cover cover-it


Vacuum Record Cleaner

If you’re in the market for the best record cleaning machine money can buy, then vacuum cleaning is definitely one option to consider. A vacuum-based machine combines cleaning fluid with a vacuum tube to literally suck out dirt and dust. 


The VC-S2 record cleaning machine from Pro-Ject USA is designed to withstand excess fluid spills without damaging the chassis and cleans records in as little as one or two spins. For the best potential clean, it’s recommended to clean with one forward rotation followed by one backward rotation. The spins themselves take only 2-3 seconds, which means you could potentially clean multiple albums thoroughly in a minute. Of course, you want to be gentle when handling the sides of the record before and after the process, so it’s best not to rush the process even with the quickest and best vac record cleaning machines.

record vacuum vc s2

The VC-S2 comes with a durable motor and an aluminum clamp that seals onto the record label to protect it from any damage or wetness during the vacuum cleaning process. The machine includes a 2.5-liter container that collects all the used cleaning fluid and is easy to empty.


Ultrasonic Cleaner

Ultrasonic record cleaners can run a very high bill, but the results are usually hard to argue with. The cleaning system works by using high-frequency pressure sound waves to create tiny cavitation bubbles in a cleaning liquid. The tiny cavitation bubbles then gently lift dirt and dust and all the nitty-gritty from your record grooves, making ultrasonic cleaning a safe and effective way to keep your hi-fi gear in tip-top shape. 

These are often some of the best record cleaning machines around, but far out of reach for most consumers.


Spin Cleanspin clean

A record bath system, like the Spin Clean from Pro-ject, uses a bath of distilled water to clean your precious albums. Your records are spun through the bath with the help of two rollers and applicator brushes, and the dirt and dust are removed during the spinning process. This method cleans both sides of the record equally at the same time and can be pretty fun to watch. You do have to remove the records from the basin by hand for the drying process, so you want to keep your A-game when it comes to gentleness.


The Best Record Cleaning Machine Gives You The Best Playback Experience

At the end of the day, the cleaning method you pick is going to entirely depend on your budget, personal preferences, how often you blast music through your amplifiers, and how extensive your record collection is. Naturally, a cleaner collection is going to equal better and more consistent sound quality, but that doesn’t mean you should get too in your head about which machines or tools you can afford. Collecting vinyl should be a fun and joyful activity. So while knowledge is power, it’s also helpful to keep a healthy perspective and remember that even the most pristinely preserved collection is going to need a refresh every now and then, and that’s only natural.