What do you think about record cleaners?

I consider vinyl cleaning machines unnecessary and ridiculously expensive and I’m not one of those guys that generally has a negative view on hifi equipment and accessories.

If you’re careful you can clean using distilled water and/or record cleaning product in a sink which is considerably cheaper and you’d probably do a better job.

Personally I clean using tap water and dish cleaning products and buy a new cheap cleaning cloth every time I clean to dry the records off. Before I play I use the anti static brush on each side as the record rotates in case there is any dust that has settled onto the surface.

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With all respect here I have to disagree.

I used to have a Disco Antistat that pretty much immersed the records in such a way. The result was that often the labels got damaged and the records are much noisier than when using my vacuum cleaning machine.

Also combining with the right fluid it will discharge static electricity from the record. I used to ALWAYS use an anti static brush on the records before I owned the cleaning machine and it kept attracting dust and clung to the mat of my Rega P6. Now the records stay much cleaner and it comes off with no fuss. This is of course also by storing them in anti static sleeves as well.

My purpose here is not to say you are wrong but as it is about record cleaners my experience has been vastly different to yours.


It’s interesting you say that, the PDF/paper mentioned a few times in other threads (Google for “precision aqueous cleaning of vinyl records”) shows pretty much exactly that setup, even if the liquids used to perform the cleaning are very specific.

The author backs up the choice of cleaning fluid based on the contaminants expected to be removed, and uses tap water, a sink, specific cleaning solutions and brushes, followed by passive air drying (actually a three stage drying process, the last of which is passive in a rack)

I’d recommend anyone interested to dig it up and have a read. 190 pages, but well worth it IMO.

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The liquids are key here.

Tap water will differ from location to location in how much dissolved solids it carries. And using just dish washing liquid pretty much makes organics water soluble so when the water dries whatever was left in the remaining water will deposit in the grooves.

I’ve read many of the points that you’ve made many times and also tested record cleaning machines as an alternative along with cheaper alternatives. It’s taken a little while for me to come to my conclusion.

I understand it is not a popular opinion or method but I’m just sharing it regardless as I think it’s important for the community to have more than one point of view.


The final rinse stage uses distilled water. I would take a read of the paper. It appears to be well researched, and is written by an experienced practitioner of “precision cleaning techniques”

Me too. There is/was a myth that some sort of release agent was used when making records and it needed to be cleaned before playing, but that was nonsense. Except for one record, I’ve never bought a used record in my life. I have lps bought 30 plus years ago, that I put on my LP12 and still don’t hear any surface noise, so I’m not sure how long I need to wait before the apparent gunge builds up. Perhaps when I’m dead? Brand new vinyl, clean stylus bumps anything out of the way on first or second play and there it stays.

I am not saying the paper is wrong, rather saying that the solvents are the key. There is a large difference between tap water en distilled water. The latter won’t contain the dissolved solid of the former. You cannot swap the one for the other and expect the same results.

There is also a difference between distilled and demineralized water.

Sorry if it comes across that I am commenting out of turn but FWIW I have university level training in chemistry so trying to help folk to not end up with calcium carbonate deposits in their record grooves.

I actually agree with what I saw during a scan of the paper (sorry but not going to read 190 pages in detail to respond to a comment about tap water vs distilled) .


My experience is once tap water has touched the surface of a record, you’ll never get the residue off with anything.


Sure, understood :slight_smile:

I almost edited my other post accordingly too.

The author addresses dissolved and suspended content (plus other aspects) of tap water (page 68) and justifies it’s use in pre rinse, and rinses between each stage.

I was really (trying at least!) helping to raise the awareness and profile of the approach of (relatively) cheap brushes and cloths, plus specific solutions, as an alternative to a RCM.

I really would read the paper, and definitely not just for the section on dissolved solid content of tap water. It is a nicely structured and well researched thing, in a topic dear to many of our hearts :slight_smile:

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Yeah you’d need something as polar as water with lower surface tension. And the normal record cleaning fluids will focus on dissolving organics so be non-polar and the deposited salts will stay stuck.

Oh definitely!! I already bought one so, like the dark side, it will forever dominate my destiny!

No doubts. Thanks for tip by the way.

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Ok, hopefully within forum AUP, the source of the following quote is the paper you can find by googling the phrase I mentioned above. Here’s the rationale for use of tap water

The use of tap-water (drinking water) for the pre-rinse and rinse after each cleaning agent
application is acceptable because while tap-water will have dissolved solids, the amount of
insoluble particulate (suspended solids) is low. The occasional larger particles are removed
by the faucet aerator that has a fine mesh strainer and tap-water is cheap and readily
available in quantity. Additionally, tap-water is used only in a flowing stream that assists
with particle and cleaning agent removal. Additionally, the ratio of tap-water volume to the
cleaner being diluted/removed is very high eliminating any adverse reactions. Furthermore,
once the cleaning process starts, the record is maintained wet throughout until the final spray
with DIW, so there is no risk of dissolved solids (minerals) residue.

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THIS is the key. But once the water dries off and the salts deposit you are borked.

I have never come across being ‘borked’ before. I assume from the context that this is not a pleasurable experience, like being ‘bonked’, or have I misunderstood?

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I see it as one of those words you can use to substitute words that will get your post moderated into moderation hell. Where all the bad posts go…

I other words, you are right!

I’m not going to read any paper, especially when even in the limited quoted paragraph you posted there’s clear flaws. “Insoluble particulate (suspended solids) is low”, low but still there. A few crackles, but not too many then? Once that tap water has hit the record surface, staying wet or not, it’s there in the grooves and nothing gets it out. Also, wiping with anything only scratches the vinyl. Any detergent has solids too.

Cleaning is reserved for secondhand records that have been treated poorly.

From what I understood from scanning the paper the next steps and the solvents used during these stages will eliminate anything left on the record surface. So the argument makes sense at least.

This is not really accurate. As long as the liquid is present other solvents and the distilled water will instantly mix with it and lower the concentration of the impurities to acceptable levels. It is a problem if the salts have deposited as then you need to break the structure up into ions to get it into solution.

So, if I see a lovely young lady when I go out, do you recommend that I proposition her with something along the lines of "Do you fancy coming back to my place for a lovely long bork?’

I reckon that I’d be more likely to get a slap around the chops!

I shall have to think about this.

I think you can possibly bet on a slap if you use that sentence ending it with most words that ends in K. I dunno.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s probably fair to assume that the boyfriend has put me in A&E.