How do you clean very dirty vinyl record and not damage it is a question I am sure you have all put into your Google machine on more than one occasion. When you go out in the wild looking for vinyl, chasing down things online and using the old eBay to get vinyl. The condition of the vinyl can sometimes be bad…. Like really, really bad!
I can tell you some major horror stories about the kind of vinyl I have found before. Once at a thrift store they had this huge ox of vinyl full of albums from the 70s. There was so great stuff in here, but you could tell it had been in someone’s attic or basement for decades. The amount of dust, spiders and other gunk that had gotten into the sleeves was crazy. So I know firsthand how dirty vinyl collecting can be.
Today I am sharing with you some tips for cleaning vinyl that is really dirty. One other place you can look is the Discogs forums which is a favorite of mine and a place I have gotten some great advice from over the years.
Give It A Good Looking Over
In the thrill of the hunt, you do not always take the time to look over a record properly before you buy it. I get it when you find a box of vinyl and they want like a buck each a piece you just grab up as many as you can and hope for the best. When you get your records home, take your time and give each one a good looking over.
I always find it is best to look at one, clean it and then move onto the next. Look not just for scratches and dust. Look for larger particles that could very well scratch the record if you were to try taking a microfiber cloth or record cleaning brush to it. get off anything that is larger that could cause damage when you are cleaning it.
How To Clean Vinyl Records With Soap And Water
Hey, we have all thought about doing this, but it is something that I strongly advise against. Using dish soap or soap that is made for cleaning your hands is one of the worst things you can do to a record. The stuff that is in here is not designed for vinyl records and while in the short term it very well may clean the gunk off, you do not know if it is going to break down the actual record in any way.
You can make your own solution of distilled water and some very mild rubbing alcohol, but even that is something I would take a great deal of care with. Towards the end of this YouTube video, YouTuber and vinyl enthusiast Channel 33 RPM gives you a good home remedy record cleaner that is way better than soap and water.
Check Inside The Sleeve And Jacket
One thing that I always do is look inside the jacket. Depending on how the vinyl was stored these can be full of dust. So taking the record out and cleaning it and then putting it back in is a huge waste of your time. Be sure to make sure there is nothing in the sleeve or in the actual record jacket. If there is give that a clean. I would actually recommend if the sleeve is super janky and dirty that you buy a replacement record sleeves like these ones I found on eBay you can get them pretty cheap and it does not hurt to have a few in a drawer somewhere just in case.
Cleaning Vinyl Records With Vinegar
Before you rush to the cupboard and grab the vinegar that you use to cover your pizza, fries or whatever in… STOP! I am talking about white vinegar. This stuff is seriously awesome and actually, I have used it to deep clean my kitchen and bathroom in the past, but what about vinyl records? Well as I stated it has to be white vinegar and if you ask me it actually works really well.
There is a great post on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums that talks about this and it is something I agree with. Just make sure you do not use pure white vinegar. I cannot say for sure that this will actually not damage your record. I would recommend a nice mix of white vinegar and distilled water. I would say go for a 50/50 mix and you will be amazed at the results. The only downside to this is if you hate the smell of vinegar.
How To Clean Vinyl Records With Windex
No, just NOOOOOOOO! How on earth did the whole “you can clean records with Windex” thing get started? This is something that you should never do. Windex is full of all kinds of chemicals and I am not a scientist so I do not know exactly what Windex will do to a vinyl record, but I sure as heck do not want to find out. So while some people may say that Windex is the way to go. It is not something that I would ever do to my vinyl.
Vinyl Record Cleaning Solution
For me, this is the way to go. I have not found one that is any better than the others to be honest with you so I am assuming they are all made of pretty much the same stuff. On Amazon, there is a ton of different vinyl record cleaning solutions available. Also most of the time you get a kit that will have the cleaning solution, a brush, cloth and so on. Using an actual vinyl record cleaning kit is the way to go.
Do Not Turn Into The Hulk!
By this I mean you do not have to use strength like The Hulk in order to clean your vinyl records. When you look up, how do you clean a very dirty vinyl record and not damage it? too many of these “guides” will tell you to use some real elbow grease. I would greatly advise against this. I know the temptation is to go really hard while you are wiping it down. The trouble is, vinyl records are not made of steel and if you are too rough, you could quite easily snap it and that would certainly not rock!
Is It Ok To Clean Vinyl Records With Alcohol?
One drop of Jack for the record and one drop for you. Hey I know that sounds like a dream scenario, but please do not try and use the alcohol from your fridge to clean your records. You may think there is something beautiful in cleaning your Motorhead album with some whiskey (that is what Lemmy would have wanted) but trust me do not do this.
When people are talking about is isopropyl alcohol when they talk about using alcohol to clean vinyl records. Even then you want to really dilute this down with some distilled water. You want a mix of around ¼ of the isopropyl alcohol and ¾ of the isopropyl alcohol.
When you do find a really cool record in a thrift store or get one sent to you from eBay and it is covered in gunk, dust and god knows what else. All hope is not lost! Just take your time, do not be too rough and for the love of god do not start using anything weird like cola, butter, Windex or anything else that claims to be a vinyl miracle cure.