Post By: Alan
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Vinyl records are high maintenance. They're like the hot, high maintenance girlfriend (or boyfriend) who takes two hours to get ready to go out. Of course, when they're ready, they look good. In the case of vinyl, they sound amazing, but they take a little extra work to get there. Part of this maintenance is keeping them clean. Here is how to do it:
Before and After listening to a record...
First of all, before listening to a record (and after), give it a quick once-over with a carbon fiber brush designed for records. These brushes are great for removing small particles of dust and lint. They also de-staticize the record, reducing the chance that the record will attract more dust and lint. Most of the time, this is all you'll have to do to keep your records in great shape. If you're noticing that a record is popping and hissing a lot, a quick brush will clean up the sound considerably.
Giving the records a more thorough cleaning...
After listening to a record several times, it will probably get dirty. When your records get dirty, it's a good idea to clean them. Cleaning records doesn't have to be done very often if you treat your records with care, but it's not a bad idea once a year if you listen to a record more than a few times in that year. When you clean a record, the goal is to remove grease, dirt and other contaminants.
To do it properly, you have to use some sort of cleaner. There are many products on the market that are designed for cleaning records. If you want to clean your records on the cheap, you can make your own cleaning solution with some distilled water and isopropyl alcohol.
Here's what you do: Mix up one part 90%+ isopropyl alcohol and four parts distilled water. Add 5-6 drops of dishwashing (non-moisturizing) soap to the mixture. Next, apply the solution to a clean paper towel or record cleaning pad. Do not use your "dry" brush for this! Stroke the paper towel around the records, moving with the grooves. Sometimes it is helpful to use a back and forth motion. Repeat if necessary. Next, rinse the record with more distilled water. Dry with a clean towel. Let the record sit out for at least a few hours to ensure that it has dried completely. Just set the record on a clean towel, vertically leaning against something. After the record has dried, place it in a brand new paper or plastic sleeve, and put it back in its cover. Paper sleeves can be purchased on the internet and eBay, as well as in local record and audio shops.
Using a machine to clean your vinyl...
If you're a baller, you can always buy a Nitty Gritty (or similar device), which is a machine that sucks dust off your records. This system works very well, is very easy, and will help you clean a large vinyl collection. These machines are pretty expensive, but worth it if you have a large collection and listen to a lot of music.
Most of these devices have a platter that you place your record on. Put the record on the platter, and get it spinning (Some machines are motorized, others are manual). Apply some cleaning solution to either the machine's brush (If it has one), or to your own (again, never use your "dry" brush for this!) Add a few drops to the record too. As the record is spinning, hold the brush directly on the record, allowing it to pass several times. Don't use too much pressure. After the surface of the record has been brushed, push the vacuum opening over the surface of the record, and turn it on. Let the vacuum suck the debris off the record for a minute or so. To do the other side, make sure the platter is clean before putting the clean side of the record on it. Repeat for the second side.
Once you have cleaned both sides, let the record air out for awhile. It's true that the solution evaporates quickly, and the vacuum gets most of the moisture off the record, it's still a good idea to let it dry for maybe a half hour or so before you put the record back in a sleeve or play it.
Once it's dry, put it in a brand new paper or plastic sleeve, and return it to its cover. Easy, right?
Keeping your records clean will give you plenty of years of listening enjoyment. In addition, when they start to sound bad, you can just give them a quick wash, and they're back to like new. Enjoy the music!
Join the Conversation: Post a Comment!