How to clean vinyl records

How to clean vinyl records

To clean vinyl records and keep them playing well for years,you will need to learn the best ways to your records or else you may potentially hurt your LPs. Do not worry; we will explain several different solutions so it will be an easy task to clean your records. Throughout this article will link to product searches to show you available products. At this end of this article, we post some recommended record cleaning products

The first thing you need to be aware of is that when you play a dusty record, it will harm your record and adversely impact the records’ quality of sound. You should also know that when looking for the ‘perfect’ solution to clean your vinyl records, the reality is that you’ll lots of recommended solutions, and they all have their faults. The best tip I can share with you to clean vinyl records is; Be cautious. Be careful. If you are an LP collector and need safer cleaning results — spend appropriately. That famous saying  ‘You get what you pay for!’ applies here. While no cleaning solution will “purify”  your Vinyl LPs, there are various methods to get rid of dirt and ensure better sound quality.

Clean Vinyl Records Tips

These suggestions will help you in your journey in keeping clean vinyl records. A clean record surface will produce a higher dynamic acoustic range. If you’re a newcomer to vinyl LPs and not sure the best way to care for your vinyl, this article will lead you in the right direction.

  • Always handle your vinyl records with care and avoid touching the grooved surface.
  • Always clean your vinyl using a carbon fiber brush just before and just after each play to ensure they will always sound great. Using a brush carbon fiber eliminates dust particles and debris on the surface of a record, it is not a full cleaning. For the best results use a Record Vacuum cleaner; it is the most efficient method to remove dirt and grime from record grooves.
  • If you want high-quality acoustic clarity, invest in a high-quality record washing system for your vinyl records.
  • It’s impossible when cleaning a vinyl record to restore it to its virgin state and it will not repair a scratched or damaged record.
  • Do not use tap water to clean your records; you should always use either de-ionized or distilled water.
  • If you use a soft cloth to clean your LP, ensure that it’s lint free.
  • If your stylus is worn out or warped in the shape, it may scratch your vinyl record.
  • Nearly all cleaning solutions leave a residue; even alcohol contains tiny amounts of greases.
  • Do not use concentrated isopropyl alcohol to wash a vinyl record; it will remove the shine and possibly damage your LP.

A new vinyl record does not mean it is a clean vinyl records

A new record does not necessarily mean a clean record. New records have a coating of a mold release compound that you should clean off if you wish to attain the finest quality of sound from your vinyl record. We recommend cleaning your record before making their first trip round the turntable.

Clean vinyl records for newbies

There is a variety of vinyl LP cleaning techniques these days. You should fully investigate any record cleaning methods you read about as some don’t do anything whatsoever and a few will do damage to your vinyl LPs.

Please remember the most efficient way to cleaning, playing and taking good care of vinyl records would be to have a conservative and gentle approach. You’ll discover that the best cleaning techniques don’t require complicated steps or costly solutions.

Be cautious, and your collection of vinyl will gleam and sound good for many years.

How to hold a vinyl record

Any easy method in caring for your vinyl records is to ensure that your LPs don’t get so dirty in the first place.

The most important rule is to make sure that your oily hands do not touch the grooved surfaces of your LP. Your fingertips contain oils and acids which will chemically eat away at the surface of the record.

Just hold your records gently and touch only the sides or the center label.

Preparing to play a vinyl record

In a perfect world, the best way to clean a vinyl LP is to do it just before as well as after each play to ensure its protected against any build-up of particles and dust on the surface.

A carbon fiber brush run lightly over the grooved surface will do the job. If you don’t possess the recommended carbon fiber brush, look for a microfiber or soft cotton cloth you would use to clean the lenses of your glasses. Move the soft cloth gently across the grooved surface of the record in a circular pattern of movement.

Be gentle. You do not want to drag particles over the surface area or lodge dirt into the small grooves of your LP. You only want to clean off loose dust and particles.

To obtain a far deeper clean, make use of a more simple, and affordable vinyl cleaning method written below or take advantage of a record cleaning kits.

Cleaning a damaged vinyl record

No amount of deep cleaning will return a record to its former glory. However, a tiny scuff or noticeable scratch does not mean your record is unplayable, or that it will skip. You will still get to enjoy listening to your record with a minor reduction in its quality of sound.

If you’re able to feel the visible scratch using your fingertips, then you will know it has irreversibly damaged the surface area of your vinyl record, and there is a good probability that it will skip.

Turntable Cleaning

Vinyl records give life to static electricity, which will attract dust to the record and its player. Though you cannot see the dust, you will be able to tell when they need to be cleaned by the distortion in the music. It is important to keep the record player clean, as dust can scratch and/or damage the vinyl playing surface. To clean the turntable wipe the surfaces of the record player with an antistatic dusting cloth after each use. If your turntable does not have a cover keep it covered in between uses with a dust cover.

Stylus & Cartridge Cleaning

Your stylus along with the cartridge will affect a record sound quality and longevity. The stylus, also called needle,  on a turntable, is a diamond tip that trails in the records groove to play its music.  The cartridge on a turntable is the piece in where the stylus attaches.  Which needle or stylus replacement your turntable requires depends on which cartridge you already have. Make sure to keep the tip of the stylus clean. The stylus is the part of the cartridge that drags across the surface of a vinyl record to create sound, and it can gather dust and small fibers. To give the stylus a thorough cleaning of, dampen the stylus brush or household paintbrush with rubbing alcohol. Do not wipe the stylus with your fingertips; you may bend the stylus accidentally or deposit your fingertip oils onto the stylus surface.

What you need to clean with soap and water

Soap and water is an affordable and simple way to cleanse a vinyl record. However, in my opinion, using water with soap is not the most ideal or smart way to clean a record. Here are two main reasons I avoid using soap when cleaning my record collection:

  1. Even the highest quality soaps will leave fragments of residue
  2. It’s better to lessen or avoid any type contact with the grooved surface of any record

If you do have any record cleaning alternatives available. Here is what you need:

  • Dish Soap
  • Bowl
  • Distilled or De-Ionized Warm Water
  • Lint Free Soft Cloth
  • Dry Carbon Fiber Brush
Step 1: Remove Any Dust or Particles

Remove dust and any particles from the grooved surface before beginning to clean a record. A carbon fiber brush passed gently along the grooved surface will work. The brush should not enter into the grooves of your record. The brush’s carbon bristles will readily get rid of any static charge causing dust to cling to your vinyl record. An alternative to a dry carbon fiber brush is a lint free soft cotton cloth you would use to clean a pair of glasses.  Gently pass the soft cotton material over the grooved surface of the record going in the same direction of the grooves. Be very gentle. We don’t want to push dirt into the grooves or drag particles across that grooved surface on the LP.

Step 2: How to Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Add some dish soap to distilled or de-Ionized warm water. Most soaps and alcohols will most certainly leave a residue, so use it sparingly and make sure always to rinse well. A tiny bit of soap will help break down greases on a record.

  • Put the distilled or de-Ionized warm water in the dish. The water should be warm enough to dissolve the soap.
  • Mix in a minuscule amount of dish soap and mix. I strongly urge you to use as little soap as possible, if none at all.

Some collectors say to use scalding hot water to clean vinyl records. While, hot water may wash away dirt more quickly. You should be aware that any heat is not healthy for your vinyl records. The ‘point of melting’ vinyl records is well above that of boiling water. However, you should not risk putting your records in such extreme temperature conditions. The correct water temperature needs only be warm enough so that the soap will quickly dissolve.

Step 3: How to Clean the Vinyl Record
  • Use a soft lint-free cotton to clean the record; it should be absorbent. Do not use any old rags or t-shirts.
  • Wrap the soft cloth around your finger and dip into the dish of lightly soaped warm water. The lint free cloth should only be slightly damp; you do not want to make the record wet. You should not have to dry the vinyl record after cleaning.
  • Next, with a light touch rub the soft, damp cloth over the LP along the grooves of the record in a circle like motion going from the center of the record to the outer outside edge of the LP.
  • Next, go counter-clockwise in concentric circles; starting from the outer edge of the records and moving inwards towards the record label.
  • Keep your fingertips flat to make sure you do not scratch the record with your nails.
  • Avoid getting the record label wet or damp.
  • If there is still some visible wet areas on the record, use a clean, dry area of your cloth to absorb the remaining water gently and then brush with your dry carbon fiber brush.
Step 4: Repeat

When your cloth or water gets dirty, it is time to get a fresh dish of warm water and find a new clean area of your lint free soft cloth.

Step 5: Rinse

Make one more pass to rinse record using de-Ionized or distilled water only; making sure there is no soap residue remaining on the record.

If you have an extensive collection of vinyl to clean, we recommend using a high-quality vinyl record cleaning kit or vinyl record cleaning machine. See our product recommendations at the bottom of this article.

Difficult to clean records

Any genuine record collector who values his/her vinyl record collection will not mind paying any premium for clean vinyl records, if willing to consider purchasing a vacuum record cleaner for about $500. These vacuum cleaners will perform a much deeper cleaning of your valuable records.

How to store vinyl records

Preventing any dust build-up is essential to keeping your vinyl records in optimal playing condition, avoiding having to your clean vinyl records as often. Always store your vinyl LPs in individual plastic sleeves to protect them and keep any dust from clinging to them. Never stack your vinyl on top of each other you should store them vertically, they will not become too tightly cramped together.

  • Protect the records from dust. Always store your records in individual plastic sleeves to protect them and keep any dust from piling up on them. Replace the paper sleeves that often come with an LP.
  • Protect records from heat. Always keep your records in a cool, and dry place.  To protect them from warping avoid any direct exposure to sunlight.
  • Store your records vertically. Keep your records vertically stacked and do not cram tightly together. Do not lay your LPs flat, do not stack on top of another as this may cause your records to warp if kept that way for a long time. Avoid squeezing vinyl together too tight; they need some room to breathe.
  • Place clean records in a clean plastic sleeve. It protects the record. and will not transfer dirt from the old sleeve.

In closing, how to clean vinyl records

Please remember to keep your records clean and stylus changed out if it becomes bent or warped making your vinyl last longer. You want the stylus to translate what is in the grooves, not the dust and particles clinging to the grooved surface of your record.  Each time you play a record, you are in essence damaging it. The grooves on a record wear down each time the LP is played, so enjoy your record LPs and maintain them to slow their deterioration.

Finding the right method to clean vinyl records will ensure that your stylus, vinyl collection, and ears will all benefit!

Recommended products to clean vinyl records

Record Storage

Inner Sleeves

Record Brushes

Stylus Tools

Static Tools

Vinyl Record Wet Cleaning


Share with us your methods used to clean vinyl records and the products that have worked for you!


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