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How to Clean Vinyl Records

It’s one of my biggest pet peeves: I’m listening to a record, my favorite song comes on, and about halfway through… it skips. Unfortunately, when you buy used vinyl, it comes with years of wear and tear. Sometimes the scratches just can’t be fixed. But there are ways to clean your vinyl to prevent further damage, and it’s important to take extremely good care of new vinyl as well. Dust builds up so easily on records, and larger particles can cause scratches and affect the sound quality of the record. I did some research on how to properly clean vinyl and wanted to share some tips, as well as a recipe for a homemade cleaning solution that the majority of the articles I’ve found swear by.

First and foremost, if you have records, you should have a record cleaning brush.  I ordered this one online, but you can also find them at some record stores.  These brushes are a quick and easy way to clean your vinyl before and after you play it. The carbon fiber bristles are static resistant and eliminate fine dust particles. To use it, spin the record slowly while holding the brush gently over the vinyl.

Make sure you clean the dust off of the brush in between records, too. When you’re finished playing a record, use the brush to clear any dust off of it and store in an anti-static, non-scratching sleeve like the one pictured below (these can also be found online or in record stores).

I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve cleaned my records. As a result, some of them needed a deeper clean. You can purchase record cleaning solutions, but I decided to make my own using a tried and true method I found online. This works for removing fingerprints and dirt and grime that the brush can’t effectively remove.

The ingredients: Distilled water, isopropyl alcohol, and a couple drops of laundry detergent free and clear of fragrance or dyes.

It’s important to use distilled water because it doesn’t contain any natural minerals that could be harmful to the vinyl. It’s also recommended to use at least 90% isopropyl alcohol.  When making the mixture, I used a ratio of 6 parts water to 1 part alcohol, with the exact measurements below:

12 oz distilled water

2 oz alcohol

2 drops free and clear laundry detergent

Add the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well.  To clean the vinyl, spray the fluid on the record, avoiding the label.  Use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe the vinyl in a circular motion.  Flip it over and repeat.

I was amazed with how effective this was – even some of my most worn records look brand new again!

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