As more and more of my friends and family start, and add to, their record collections, they’ve found that it’s very easy for them to begin collecting dust; and have asked me on the best way to keep their collection clean. So I collated this list of some simple tips and tricks on how to clean a vinyl record.
Keeping your records clean both helps your records sound better and extends their life. However, they’re notorious for gathering dust, static, and grease from fingerprints as well as other things; and these can all create unwanted noise and crackles when you want to play them (and potentially damage the record long term). Follow our guide on how to clean a vinyl record and keep them sounding great.
Table of Contents
Before you start, and depending on the condition of your records, there are some different pieces of equipment that can be used.
- Anti Static Brush – a mainstay for any record enthusiast, these are designed to remove dust and static effectively without damaging the record.
- Microfiber Cloth – used in conjunction with a cleaning solution for when you need to get those smudge and fingerprint marks off your favourite record.
- Cleaning Solution – we would generally recommend using a dedicated vinyl cleaning solution; and avoid alcohol based solutions as can strip the protective away.
- Anti Static Sleeves – For storage
Remove Static and Dust
Dust can build up on a record notoriously quickly; it seems to be as attracted to a vinyl record as a moth is to a bright light. Thankfully it’s also very easy to remedy.
Use an anti-static brush or a (clean and dry) microfiber cloth to brush any dust and static from the record. An anti-static brush is the preferred choice of the two as removing the static will help keep the dust at bay just that little bit longer. I find that generally, repeating just this step whenever I get my records out helps keep them in good knick long term – and takes very little time and effort to do.
When you start to notice smudge, fingerprint and “whatever else” marks on your record, its time to give them some more TLC (tender loving care).
In a well lit space, inspect each side of the record for any fingerprints and smudge marks. Keep a mental note of these areas as they will require a little bit more attention when using the cleaning solution.
Now that you have identified the areas of attention, place your record on a dry, non-abrasive surface – you can use a specialist Cleaning Mat but any non-abrasive surface will do.
Spray a small amount of the cleaning solution onto the problem areas you identified with your inspection; and then, using a microfiber cloth, carefully apply pressure in gentle circular movements to help rub away these blemishes.
Make sure to avoid getting any of the solution on the inner label at the centre of the record, as the solution can damage this and cause it to peel.
Rinse & Dry
Using a spray bottle (or carefully under a tap), wash away any of the remaining solution and dry with another microfiber cloth, before allowing to air-dry for a few minutes.
Make sure the record is bone dry before storing – you do not want any moisture stuck on the record when it’s put back in its sleeve, this can damage both the sleeve and, if left unchecked, begin to erode away at the grooves on the record.
Once the record is dry, give it one last brush with the anti-static brush and store it safely by tucking it in its sleeve – we’d recommend storing your records in anti-static sleeves! It is also recommended to store your records vertically rather than piled up on top of each other – otherwise the weight of the pile can compress and damage the vinyl at the bottom.
And there you have it, my step by step guide to cleaning a vinyl record. I hope it helps you all keep those collections in good shape!
I would recommend getting into the habit of always brushing your records with an anti-static brush when you get them out as this will go a long way to keeping your vinyl in the best condition possible. When thinking about how often you should clean the turntables with a cleaning solution, really whenever you start to see these smudge marks and blemishes appear should be the sign to go through the whole process; but depending on the size your record collection (and time you have available), it’s good to go through the entirety of the process every 6-12 months. I actually find going through this process really fun as I often re-discover records that I didn’t realise I had!
For ideas on the best ways to store your record collection, check out our Record Storage Ideas.