Record cleaning - before and after photos

Over the weekend I experimented with a cheap and cheerful hand held illuminated microscope (for checking the stylus) to see if it would show up record debris - and it worked quite well. For ref, the before and after shots are of the same record section and have not been enhanced, and this record looked superficially very clean as well. You can clearly see all of the groove contamination lit by the microscope LED, and in contrast, the clean grooves in the second photo.

My cleaning process involved warming the cleaning fluids first, as it gets very cold in my studio (7 deg C this morning), then two lengthy cleaning passes and a rinse. Firstly with a home made mixture of isopropyl alcohol, distilled water and Ilfotol (proportions from London Jazz Collector “home recipe for vacuum record cleaning machines”), a second clean using L’Art du Son and the third a rinse with just distilled water & Ilfotol. I always leave the liquid to sit for a little while to dissolve any soluble crud, and then use the brushes to agitate the liquid in the grooves for more stubborn contamination - brushed in both directions for a good couple of minutes before vacuuming.

The three brushes used are an Analogue Studio goats hair brush, a decorators microfibre paint applicator (cut down in size, and very effective) and a fine bristle kabuki (non metal ferrule), tied with an elastic band around bristles to stop the bristles splaying out too much. All cleaning via a wet vacuum machine, an Okki Nokki in my case.

Anyway, thought the snaps may be of interest. No sophisticated photography techniques involved, just holding an iPhone camera to the lens of the microscope and focusing on the record surface.


Very good photos, @YetiZone
I’ll have to try - I have the same 'scope.

I wonder what the visible difference would be using only dry brushing without the wet process? May show the efficacy of various brushes at least…

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There was a small amount of light dust on the record surface which I removed prior to wet cleaning with my Audioquest carbon fibre brush, but after that pass, it looked spotless, with a deep lustre and shine to the record surface, but was anything but clean!

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Interesting, shouldn’t it be in Hifi Corner?

I don’t know - should it? As the post isn’t discussing a piece of hardware, perhaps best here, in the music section.

Record cleaning usually is in Hifi and I just thought more interested people would see it there. It’s certainly not about music. But your choice obviously

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OK, I’ll see if @Richard.Dane can please move the thread over to Hi-Fi Corner if that would be better?

I think you can do it yourself when you click the edit (pencil) icon in your original post, I think top right

@Suedkiez and @Richard.Dane - many thanks.

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Makes me think I should use my RC more often but I’m lazy. Maybe when I retire I’ll have more time. Good pics though. Food for thought.

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It basically shows superficial debris on the surface of the vinyl being removed, which has no effect on the level of the surface noise created by the stylus.

@Count.d : “level of the surface noise created by the stylus”

By the stylus?

My recipe:

Isopropyl alcohol 20%
Distilled water 80%
Couple of drops of washing up fluid.

Cleaner (Okki Nokki):

Todays records:

Bad Case 1:
This is encrusted dirt, but it doesn’t really show.
Before -

After -

Completed Rack:


The rack is a great idea :slightly_smiling_face: I use upturned IKEA cups which work well…

What model of scope is that? I think I should buy one for my “bits” box.

Look on Amazon, Ebay etc They’re dead common, in various brandings (I’m not sure if there is one which not just a rebrand).
Mine is branded ‘Nessie’ with switchable white or blue lights (white is the one you need - don’t know what the dim blue is for. Spotting counterfeits maybe).

Thanks. Is the zoom optical or digital?

I’ve just remembered that I’ve got an illuminated jewellers loop with 30x and 60x magnification hiding somewhere in my “bits” box. At least that’s where I think it is - although I could be wrong :thinking:

No zoom only mag. Optical - they’re pretty basic really. But the light is really helpful for showing up crud. I use mine mainly for my stylus.

Thanks. I use my loupe mainly for reading very small text (like that which Sony insist on using on the PS4 for the serial and model numbers. The drawback is that being wholly optical, you have to get at just the right distance from the object to use it.

Before I had my catararact operation (right eye), I was an extreme myope (-10.5) in that eye and I could just get very close to small text and easily read it. Alas, that ability is no longer present.

As @steviebee outlines, these things are just simple devices, but they work remarkably well for the task of inspecting a stylus for contamination. I think mine cost around £10 or so (inc delivery) off ebay, items unbranded and has the white and blue light for examining / spotting fake currency. Just search “mini microscope” on the bay and loads come up.

If you have a decent jewellers loupes then that should be all you need.