Vinyl: Cleaning and Maintenance

auralflea

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Having rediscovered the joys of vinyl with my recent TT upgrade, I have noticed that some of the older records sound a bit 'crackly' and, in some cases, a bit muted.

My vinyl cleaning over the years has been limited to running a "dust brush" over the surface [either the vinyl pad-type or fibre brush-thingy]. Styli I have tended to leave alone apart from a small soft brush to clean off visible accumulation (as and when, of course - I do keep my stuff cleaner than that probably sounds !
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)

My thoughts have now turned to considering a more formal cleaning process for my 1000 or so LPs. Had previously heard about the big record-cleaning machines - looking around, i have noticed such animals as VPI, Moth and something alled Nitty-Gritty in the States. Frankly, all of these are outside of my budget, with lowest prices I have seen being some £200.

I remember discussing record cleaning many moons ago, in the heyday of vinyl and pre-shiny discs, when mention was made by some of warm water & dishwashing liquid then leaving to dry in the sun between sheets of glass to prevent warping - this always seemed likely to me to lead to damage and build up of more crap in the grooves over time due to the stickiness of the cleaning liquid than anything else.

I was also once given a can of 'Sonics Record Spray' to remove some unpleasant residue left on a hard-to-get 2nd hand acquisition - lets just say that didn't really prove entirely satisfactory - vinyl now no better than a frisbee and donor no longor an acquaintance.

Point of posting:

Is there a more affordable, realistic alternative which can be considered which will do a decent job and not actually just make matters worse? Whilst I would like to keep my collection clean, I am not going to be cleaning 200+ per week to justify spending 400 quid
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. Maintenance of the collection is intended to be a slow and steady process as I revisit old favourites.

Any old hands with sound ideas to share / wisdom to impart / good kit to recommend (or move on at a price I can afford/ justify to myself?)

Kevin

 

George 47

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Kevin,

Not sure about the old hands bit
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For the stylus I use the Audiotechina AT637 vibrating cleaner. Works a treat and better than the Linn green sandpaper. It also warms up the coils and suspension system so you get great sound immediately. It also keeps the stylus nice and clean.

Records: Avoid water, soap, homemade remedies, sheets of glass and warm sunshine. Yeuk!!! A small bit of grit and you will get it totally stuck in the vinyl, especially in the sun, when things may just warp.

The various machines use water/iospropyl alcohol/detergent mixes which have the advantge of drying off after a vacuum. You can buy a kit of parts to build one (they are just a pump) but I suspect you would still be in the £150-£200 region. You could look out for one second hand or just use the fluids but wait for it evaporate a bit longer. Last used to make some products for this but I can't help feel it is better to get a vacuum device as it removes the solvent and gunk thats been mobilised. If it only affects a few albums then get them cleaned by a shop that has one of these machines. The better ones will clean them and give you a nice new record liner.

Broadly, leave well alone as you could just move it all around unless you use a made for purpose machine. Some of this vinyl stuff is precious and there may not be an easily available spare.

 
G

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Kab ev1 all manual, small and neat, and uses your hoover as a vacuum, alot more convoluted than an automatic machine, but cleans just as well, from £100-120 from usa, depending on exchange rate and wether get hit for duty or not.

 

rockmeister

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Best way to clean vinyl?

we've had loads of threads on this topic recently (see above, about 5 pages back). Three opinions mainly saying DIY, Only the finest machines will do and / or make your own. I'm happy for people to say dont DIY if they have tried it properly and it hasn't worked. However, I wash mine in lukewarm water with a few drops of washing up liquid. I use a soft cloth or better still, a record cleaning pad (it's like a long fibre velvet with a foam backing), and gently wipe round in the direction of the grooves, with plenty of the liquid. Rinse with distilled water and gently pat dry with a clean soft towel. This works well. Those who say it may scrtach are possibly being clumsy and anyway, think that the inner walls of the grooves are rubbed with a pointed diamond and that puts you wiping a little watered down dust into perspective. This works very well if the pad you use has fibres that get to the bottom of the grooves, so experiment a bit first. If nervous, try it first on an old and worn LP. Save enough this way to but £20 albums a year?

I also use a vibrating pad to clean my stylus with a little stylus cleaning fuid on the pad.

Anti static sleeves are a must, as is a regular going over with a Hunt EDA or the like anti static brush.
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George 47

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rockmeister wrote:

Best way to clean vinyl?we've had loads of threads on this topic recently (see above, about 5 pages back). Three opinions mainly saying DIY, Only the finest machines will do and / or make your own. I'm happy for people to say dont DIY if they have tried it properly and it hasn't worked. However, I wash mine in lukewarm water with a few drops of washing up liquid. I use a soft cloth or better still, a record cleaning pad (it's like a long fibre velvet with a foam backing), and gently wipe round in the direction of the grooves, with plenty of the liquid. Rinse with distilled water and gently pat dry with a clean soft towel. This works well. Those who say it may scrtach are possibly being clumsy and anyway, think that the inner walls of the grooves are rubbed with a pointed diamond and that puts you wiping a little watered down dust into perspective. This works very well if the pad you use has fibres that get to the bottom of the grooves, so experiment a bit first. If nervous, try it first on an old and worn LP. Save enough this way to but £20 albums a year?

I also use a vibrating pad to clean my stylus with a little stylus cleaning fuid on the pad.

Anti static sleeves are a must, as is a regular going over with a Hunt EDA or the like anti static brush.
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The bit that made me nervous was the place the vinyl between glass and dry in the sun. That could make bits of grit a real problem. The gentler drying process works and I have done it myself.

 

auralflea

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George 47 wrote:

rockmeister wrote:
Best way to clean vinyl?we've had loads of threads on this topic recently (see above, about 5 pages back). Three opinions mainly saying DIY, Only the finest machines will do and / or make your own. I'm happy for people to say dont DIY if they have tried it properly and it hasn't worked. However, I wash mine in lukewarm water with a few drops of washing up liquid. I use a soft cloth or better still, a record cleaning pad (it's like a long fibre velvet with a foam backing), and gently wipe round in the direction of the grooves, with plenty of the liquid. Rinse with distilled water and gently pat dry with a clean soft towel. This works well. Those who say it may scrtach are possibly being clumsy and anyway, think that the inner walls of the grooves are rubbed with a pointed diamond and that puts you wiping a little watered down dust into perspective. This works very well if the pad you use has fibres that get to the bottom of the grooves, so experiment a bit first. If nervous, try it first on an old and worn LP. Save enough this way to but £20 albums a year?

I also use a vibrating pad to clean my stylus with a little stylus cleaning fuid on the pad.

Anti static sleeves are a must, as is a regular going over with a Hunt EDA or the like anti static brush.
smile.png
The bit that made me nervous was the place the vinyl between glass and dry in the sun. That could make bits of grit a real problem. The gentler drying process works and I have done it myself.
You are quite right about that sounding mildly insane - please bear in mind that, as off my rocker as I am, I have never tried to do that! This was a dubiuos suggestion made to me many years ago.

I didn't see the previous threads in this line (blame the copious amounts of waffle I have to dig back through
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). I'll read all suggestions here with interest as well as trawl through the back-issues for more ideas.

I guess the bottom-line is, I want to clean the LP collection properly, staged over a reasonable period of time. However I just cannot justify to myself the idea of spending upwards of £200 in this way.

An alternative I suppose would be to track down another vinyl nut nearby who owns one of these contraptions and 'rent' use of the machine for a bunch at a time. Any takers near Birmingham??????

Len's mention of a Knosti (?) looks like a possibility at that price - will need to investigate.

Cheers folks for the input

Kevin

 

TIU

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I don't understand how these records get so dirty to need cleaning in the first place. What the hell do some people do to them? Do they do the gardening in the rain then come in and start handling LPs without washing their hands? I have many albums over 30 years old and they are still like new. Why would anyone put their grubby fingers on the playing surface and/or not return them to their sleeves straight afterwards?

The few I have bought second hand that have been a bit grubby I just wipe over with IPA antistatic cleaning fluid on an ABD cloth. This gets rid of finger marks and any dirt and dust and the stylus takes care of any residue in the grooves during a subsequent couple of plays. Surely using warm water and detergent will risk damaging the paper labels if cleaning them by hand?

 

jimi

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George how long do you use your AT637 for to warm up thecoils?

I also use theKnosti system then rinse the records in distilled water for excellent results.

 
G

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! wrote:

I don't understand how these records get so dirty to need cleaning in the first place. What the hell do some people do to them? Do they do the gardening in the rain then come in and start handling LPs without washing their hands? I have many albums over 30 years old and they are still like new. Why would anyone put their grubby fingers on the playing surface and/or not return them to their sleeves straight afterwards? The few I have bought second hand that have been a bit grubby I just wipe over with IPA antistatic cleaning fluid on an ABD cloth. This gets rid of finger marks and any dirt and dust and the stylus takes care of any residue in the grooves during a subsequent couple of plays. Surely using warm water and detergent will risk damaging the paper labels if cleaning them by hand?
:goodone:i have never cleaned any of mine ( no need to) i never touch the surface and always put them back imediatley. some of mine are 30 years old and not a crackle or pop on them.

 

ClassikFan

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KAB EVO1

Mine cost about £120. You have to turn it by hand, but not dificult to do and you would be standing there watching it any way. Plug it in to the vacum cleaner and switch that on and off with my foot. I keep the disc turning as I switch off the suction as it leaves a bit of residue otherwise.

I like the way it sucks away the rubbish rather than just spreading it around with normal wet cleaning

 

George 47

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jimi wrote:

George how long do you use your AT637 for to warm up thecoils?I also use theKnosti system then rinse the records in distilled water for excellent results.
Not long 1 minute or two at the most. It is mainly for cleaning but the Io seems to take a normal LP side to get really on song. However, with the AT it is nearly always there after a little clean, particuarly if it is warm. Today no problem:)

 

rockmeister

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turnitup....I've only ever cleaned records purchased pre hi fi (back in the 60's, I played everything on an EMI stacker...don't think HiFi was invented) and neither knew nor cared about caring for my collection. Anything from about 1979 on, when I got 'into hifi has never needed a clean...anti static treatment only. I guess we buy second hand do we from oxfam and places? Or maybe those newer to vinyl treat their LP's like CD's were supposed to treated?!:Not Sure:

 

auralflea

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TIU - not sure if you think that I use LPs as agricultural implements or if the comment was purely general - I promise that I don't (sacrilege!).

The question has been raised as from comments that I have seen here and elsewhere, it is possible that I could improve sound quality and listening pleasure by some level of regular cleaning of the vinyl itself. Bear in mind that I have been collecting since the 70's and, given my tastes, some of these are much older platters. Natural use over the years and natural sediment from the airwhilst in use (? it seems possible) must have led to some crud build-up.

Following earlier posts re cheaper cleaning methods, found the following item:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ih=015&item=250003589804&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&rd=1

It seeeems feasible (after all the method is used to remove lint from clothing
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) but I can't help picturing a gummy record afterwards!?! Anyone tried this or come across it to speak with any authority?

Kevin

 

TIU

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Hi Mr Flea, my comments were general and not directed at you. I haven't used that roller cleaner you mention and don't see how it can get into the grooves, unless the act of rolling over the surface creates a static that picks up the dust.

Why not try some smaller independent record shops that may offer a record cleaning service? Spending £200 plus seems extravagant unless you are a second hand dealer in vinyl and will use it all the time. A private collector will only use such a machine once or twice as once an old record has been cleaned, it won't need redoing if it's looked after.

I use an old Hunt E.D.A record brush which has carbon fibre brush sides and a large felt pad. This is very effective in getting into the grooves when used with IPA liquid. I also have one of these which also cleans the grooves well without any risk of damage that wet cleaning may cause.

http://www.maplin.co.uk/Search.aspx?criteria=record%20brush&doy=3m7&source=15

 

auralflea

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No problemo
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I have a quite similar brush to your Maplin link, although rather ancient by now. I always thought that was good enough for the surface dust only really rather than any real difference in the grooves - that said, I have never heard a record after a 'deep clean' anyway to tell the difference!

Comments re a small record shop make sense, now if I can only find one......

I'll start at Hard to Find records in B'ham - note they specialize in vinyl, particularly DJ focused, so probably would need such equipment themselves
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or could make a suggestion or 2 where to find one.

 

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