How to Clean Your Dirty Records

Vinyl records have made a comeback and are more popular than ever. In fact, the vinyl industry has seen year-after-year growth for over a decade. This milestone is very impressive for a product that goes against the grain when it comes to our modern philosophy of digital disruption and convenience.

With more and more people diving into vinyl as a hobby, there is one thing that may shock new enthusiasts: unlike digital music files, records can get dirty. Dust, dirt, grime and fingerprints can easily accumulate in the grooves of a vinyl record and can impact the sound quality. To enjoy vinyl to the fullest, you must keep them clean.

Thankfully, it’s not all that difficult. There are a plenty of tried and tested ways to clean your vinyl, even on a tight budget, and doing so will keep your precious collection clean and clear for many years you come.

OPTION 1 – GET A MACHINE TO DO THE HEAVY LIFTING FOR YOU

Buying a machine is best for those of you who don’t want to risk damaging your records cleaning them by hand or have ample free time. In fact, many agree that a proper record cleaner is the easiest and most effective method, and can clean a record better than any manual process.

In fact, many agree that a proper record cleaner is the easiest and most effective method, and can clean a record better than any manual process.

There are many brands of cleaning machines out there, ranging in price from the approachable to the absurd. 

Our Favorite Is: Sumiko’s Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine

Made in Germany, the Okki Nokki record cleaning machine is a well-designed device that looks good and runs quietly. It consists of a heavy duty motor/turntable that provides forward and reverse operation.

 
When used with the supplied record-cleaning concentrate and goat-hair brush, it allows for extremely efficient groove scrubbing.
 
Once cleaned, the record can be vacuumed using the aluminum suction arm. The residual dirt and fluid are then transferred to an internal reservoir which is equipped with a sensor that will shut off the machine when full.
 
It’s no wonder that Sumiko’s Okki Nokki is our favorite record cleaning machine.
OPTION 2 – CLEAN YOUR RECORDS BY HAND

You may not want to drop money on or have space for a machine to clean your records. Thankfully, if you don’t mind a little work and mess, cleaning records by hand is a straightforward process.

First things first, you will need a clean surface to place your record on. The surface should be soft and lint-free to avoid further contaminating the record with dust, fibers, or dirt. Your safest bet is to purchase a record cleaning mat. You will also need a record cleaning kit. Preferably one that includes two cleaning solutions (cleaner and rinse) as well as two microfibre cloths – one for cleaning, and the other for drying.

Now that you have your tools in place, let’s drill deeper and take a closer look at the complete cleaning process:

Step 1: Spray the cleaner solution 2 – 4 times on your record’s surface avoiding the center label.

Step 2: Use your first microfiber cloth to gently wipe the surface in a circular, anti-clockwise motion (with the grooves). Make sure the fluid fully penetrates the grooves.

Step 3: Repeat step two, this time with your rinsing solution (if supplied).

Step 4: Dry the record surface with your second microfiber cloth using the same anti-clockwise method.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1 through 4 until your records are clean.