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How To Clean A Vinyl Record In 3 Easy Steps

how to clean a record
Matthew Paul Argall

Here at Rocks Off, our vinyl record collection is constantly growing.

Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t complaining about this, but any lover of vinyl records knows that the more you own, the more cleaning you need to do!

Fortunately, cleaning a vinyl record isn’t nearly as hard as online music lessons or rocket surgery, but there are a few key points in knowing how to clean a vinyl record you should know about.

Below we will take you through 3 quick and easy steps to cleaning your vinyl records, and a bonus tool if you have older vinyl that needs a deep clean and a little more TLC!

Rocks Off Magazines Best Way to Clean Vinyl Records

how to clean a vinyl record

If you plan on starting a vinyl record collection or are uncovering an old collection that has been in storage, knowing how to clean a vinyl record safely is absolutely crucial to ensuring the longevity of your collection.

Let’s get started!

What You’ll Need – The Key Tools

Fortunately, the kit you need to clean your vinyl records quickly and effectively is simple to use and inexpensive! This small investment will make your life much easier and can save you countless dollars in damaged vinyl and turntable styluses in the long run.

  • Anti-Static Record Brush: We recommend the Boundless Audio Record Cleaner Brush. It’s really good at removing dust and dirt without damaging the vinyl. Its well-made with carbon fiber bristles and it’s anti-static properties eliminates static charge which attract dust in the first place.
  • Velvet Record Brush and Record Cleaner Solution: We recommend this Record Cleaner Kit by Big Fudge. It includes a velvet brush and cleaning spray which is perfect for cleaning into those deep grooves. It also includes a stylus brush to remove debris from the record needle safely.

Step 1 – Brushing Your Vinyl With The Anti-Static Brush

The first thing you want to do is get your anti-static brush and remove any loose dust and particles that may have gathered on the surface of the record.

With the brush, you want to hold your record firmly and run the brush along the grooves. Make sure to run the brush around the record in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion, moving with the grooves.

Alternatively, you can place the record on your record player instead of holding it. You can then lightly place your vinyl brush on the record and spin the turntable with your other hand. After a couple of rotations, slowly move the brush towards the outside of the record away from the center, taking the debris with it.

If you’re using the BoundlessAudio Record Cleaner Brush we recommend, move the handle side to side to clean the bristles.

If you’re buying records from thrift shops or have had them for years, you will most likely need to give them a deeper clean than a gentle brush can provide. For this, we have the perfect solution for you below in our bonus step.

Quick Tips on Using an Anti-Static Record Brush

  • Always keep the brush perpendicular to the direction of the grooves and held upright.
  • Never touch the bristles, always hold the brush by the body and handle.
  • Always store the brush in a dust-free case with the handle covering the bristles.
  • Do not apply a lot of pressure on the brush and record. The record brush is most efficient when it’s not being pushed down into the grooves. Minimal pressure is ideal – it’s designed to remove loose particles, not deepely embedded grit.
  • If you clean vinyl records with the brush every time you use them, you’ll significantly reduce how often you need to give them a deep clean

Step 2 – Cleaning The Vinyl Record Grooves

Once you’re finished removing the dust and debris with the anti-static record brush, it’s time to use your velvet record brush and record cleaning solution. Again, it can be easier to place your record on your turntable for this step.

Using the specialized record cleaner solution, apply several drops or sprays to the edge of the velvet vinyl brush. With the brush in one hand, apply it to the record and move it in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion around the record, or, rotate the record with your other hand keeping the brush in one place.

You should apply a bit more pressure with this brush than you would with the anti-static brush, this is designed to get into the grooves.

If you’re doing this step with the record on your turntable, make sure not to get the turntable mat wet with any of the record cleaning solution. The record cleaning solution will typically contain a little bit of alcohol, which will help clean deep down into the grooves, but is not great for turntable mats!

Step 3 – Prevention!

It’s best to let the record dry by itself after using the record cleaning solution. However, if you want to help speed up the process, you can repeat Step 1 with the anti-static brush to speed up the process.

We actually encourage using the anti-static record brush as the final step before storage to make sure everything has been removed from the vinyl records surface.

This third step is probably the simplest and maybe the most important – storing your records correctly to prevent dirt, dust and grime building up in the first place is key!

We are not trying to be condescending here, but we are guilty ourselves at times of leaving our vinyl out and uncovered to gather dust and dirt.

You can save yourself countless hours in cleaning and maintenance by limiting your vinyl records exposure to the elements. When your finished listening, take it off your record player and put it straight back in its protective jacket.

There are plenty of great vinyl storage options as well, including vinyl racks that let you stylishly display your vinyl collection or secure boxes for longer-term storage and transport.

Bonus Step – The All In Solution That Gives the Deepest & Quickest Clean Of All!

If you’re dealing with more than a small personal collection of records, vinyl cleaning can quickly become a mammoth task. While the tools above are excellent for keeping on top of. a few of your favourite LPs, you’ll need something a bit more serious if you have a big collection or anything that is particularly dirty.

One of the best bits of kit you can buy as a super quick and effective ‘all-in-one’ vinyl record cleaning system is the Spin-Clean MKII.

As much as we love the Boundless Brush and Big Fudge Record Cleaner Kit, if you’re dealing with anything more than 5 to 10 records, you really need something that can move much quicker – and the Spin-Clean MKII is your solution.

Our friends at Audio Advice have an excellent video below on exactly how the Spin Clean Works and the best way to use it!

That’s A Wrap

There we have it! Cleaning your vinyl records isn’t a particularly difficult task, but is a particularly important task. Some guides will tell you cleaning records is as simple as dish soap and a microfiber cloth, and while this can work, you’ll get much better results and longevity out of your vinyl with a small investment in the right gear.

Prevention is the definitely best cure, by keeping a quick regular cleaning routine with the right tools you can save yourself a lot of time in the long run.

We hope this article has helped you out, if so, please share with your fellow vinyl loving friends!