Cleaning Vinyl Records

Get rid of those snap, crackles, and pops.

The importance of maintaining clean records is undeniable. The benefits are numerous: extending vinyl life, improving playback, and preventing needle wear. You can even increase the value of some records with a good clean. We made and sold our own cleaning solution at my record store, Circle Sky Records when we were open.

Tap water is a quick, easy method to use on a filthy record. It is sometimes used before using a better method. A method for a really dirty record is wood glue. Coat the whole side, let it dry, and peel it off. Pretty pricey if you do it a lot and takes a long time per side. For our record cleaner, we used a small bottle with a push-button mister sprayer. You get the amount of liquid you want without wasting it. You can buy these types of bottles on Amazon or in places like the Container Store. Typical liquids are easily made, one part Isopropyl alcohol, three parts water, and a couple of drops of dishwashing soap.

Here are some tips for making your own solution. Use 99% Isopropyl alcohol which can sometimes be found at pharmacies and easily found on Amazon. The normal alcohol, Isopropyl 70%, will leave a residue on your record after drying. Do not use tap water, use distilled or purified water. Deionized water is good also. Same as the 70% alcohol the tap water can leave minerals and other particulates behind after drying. For the Circle Sky cleaning fluid, it was recommended that we use Kodak Professional Photo-Flo 200 Solution instead of dishwashing soap. It is hard to find, but one bottle should last forever since you only use 2-3 drops per gallon. DO NOT use the alcohol solutions on 78RPM records. I love the Discwasher brand of record cleaning products and have been using it since I’ve been collecting vinyl.

The brush fibers all face in the same direction, shown by the arrow, cleaning the record surface well. The RCA version of Dishwasher is not as good as the previous one, which went bankrupt in the early 2000s. Discwasher said that tiny, invisible dust particles hide in delicate record grooves and can be ground into the vinyl. Only a slanted (directional) fiber using special ultra-small fiber tips can scoop up, rather than rearrange, this micro-dust contamination.

I used to buy the handy Dustbuster cleaner at Turtles when it was open. It was a convenient spray bottle and cleaning brush all in one. Bags Unlimited, where I get my record storage bags also makes a record cleaning solution, called Groovy, that is sold as a kit or separately. Donnie likes the Pfanstiehl Pfan-Stat SA-14 Anti-Static record cleaning fluid which can be found at a good price. He really likes The Disc Doctor’s Record Cleaner but it is fairly pricey. They advertise that with The Disc Doctor’s Miracle Record Cleaner and Brushes, one cleaning is all a disc will ever need. Just keep it free of dust, fingerprints, and other contaminants and it won’t need to be cleaned again. Dry brushing with a carbon fiber brush for vinyl or velvet duster for shellac, acetate, and Diamond Discs is all the maintenance necessary.

“I use the Disc Doctor’s fluid & brushes…I like this fluid a lot…these are my favorite brushes.” – Michael Fremer, Editor, & Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile.

Next time I’ll talk about record cleaning machines.


The Disc Doctor
Bags Unlimited
Gamma Electronics
Tips Bulletin
Your Sound Matters
Discogs Blog

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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