The question of the best cleaning cloth to clean your vinyl record with is a hotly debated one. Many swear by microfiber cleaning cloths and have various methods of using them that they’re willing to vouch for, while other audiophiles are even fully opposed to the idea of using microfiber at all.
And it’s no surprise. Nobody wants to compromise the quality of their vinyl records, and it only takes one bad experience with a cleaning technique to completely ruin your trust in certain methods. Some might even turn to the more unorthodox but fairly common wood glue cleaning method we discussed in our DIY record cleaning tutorial to avoid any doubts towards cloth entirely.
However, we’re not here to play favourites to any particular material. What we are here to do is tell you what the most recommended products are and the advice that plenty of audiophiles out there have for using them. As always, we can’t speak to every experience out there so we always advise that you be careful with any cleaning materials you use since quality varies from company to company.
1. Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloths
You can find these in a lot of cleaning kits such as the KAIU Vinyl Record Cleaner and the Big Fudge Record Care System. They’re often lauded as the best solutions to cleaning all manner of delicate things such as vinyls. They’re often recommended for all kinds of cleaning purposes because their structure and micro-sized fibers lend particularly well to trapping dirt, meaning they are effective at cleaning dust, particles and even gunk from small spaces like the grooves on vinyl records.
However, naysayers against microfiber cloths often argue that this method of trapping runs the risk of just redepositing the dirt back into the record as you wipe it. There’s also plenty of complaints about them developing lint that only risks damage to records. The general solution that microfiber cleaners have to this is replacing their cloths regularly and even washing them separately in basins instead of just dumping them into washing machines and dryers where they can accumulate lint from other pieces of cloth. Some have even gone through the effort of picking the lint out themselves and report no wear on their records yet.
Accounts vary, but as long as you don’t leave lint and dirt in the cloth or avoid pressing too hard with microfiber cloths, the quality of your records should be just fine after multiple rounds of cleaning. However, we do recommend getting the best products on the market when handling the cleaning of your vinyl. ECloth Microfiber Cloths is a great choice, and so is the Record Cleaning Anti-Static Cloth. Both are soft and of fair quality, just take note of the advice we’ve shared about using them and you’ll be just fine. In fact, almost every video recommends microfiber cloths above all else, as seen here:
2. Cotton Pads
This is the next most recommended method. Most vinyl enthusiasts prefer microfiber for the lack of lint and worry about the quality of disposable products like cotton pads. However, the argument many cotton pad users have is that by disposing them right after cleaning, you get to avoid redepositing the dirt onto the vinyl record.
In fact, you may even find that their absorbent nature and soft texture is on par with microfiber cloths, and touching one will reveal that they shouldn’t be able to damage your record should you use them to wipe off dirt and water after a wet cleaning session. The most commonly recommended cotton pad are diaper liners mostly due to the fact that they’re specially made to prevent diaper irritation for babies. If they’re soft enough for infants, they’re definitely soft enough for your vinyl record. We recommend Wegreeco Diaper Liner as it comes in a big package that’ll last you multiple cleaning sessions.
3. Cloth Free Cleaning
Some vinyl owners won’t even entertain the idea of touching their records at all for fear of scratching it in some way. I’m scared just reading all the horror stories I’ve seen doing research for this article!
But if you want to avoid trying either of the above options, it’s fairly doable. Some vinyl owners only use the microfiber cloths or cotton pads to wipe specific areas that they’ve spotted gunk or dirt in then leave them to air dry. Another option that removes cloths and thus any form of risky rubbing of the vinyl record is the wood glue method.
Simply apply a layer of wood glue over a spinning record and then spread it out with a silicone spatula without having it touch the record. Then leave it to dry and peel once done. This way, only the fluid glue ever touches the surface of the vinyl so there’s no friction or risk of lint scratching up your vinyl grooves. We go into a bit more detail in our DIY vinyl record cleaning article, so check it out if you want to avoid cloths altogether. Or you can check out this video about applying wood glue:
Another tool we’ve seen used in place of cloths works with softer brushes like in this 4-in-1 Vinyl Record Cleaner Kit. This video shows a more generic brush being used too, though do make sure the brush is a soft one.
And those are the best cleaning cloths around for vinyl cleaning! If you’re new to cleaning, we do hope that this helps you get a better sense of what’s safe to use for your precious collection of music. Otherwise, we hope that you can at least appreciate the various methods available for you to clean your vinyl. It’s fine to stick to tried and true tools with something quite as delicate as vinyl record cleaning, but now you know there’s other options available should you ever find yourself in a bind.
And if you’re still in disagreement with our points, tell us why in the comments below! We’re open to hearing different opinions out, and it may help other vinyl enthusiasts too!