How to Clean Vinyl Records

What You'll Need
Lint-free cloth (or old T-shirt)

Whether you’re an avid collector of vinyl records or you have only a few albums, it can be frustrating to find that a record is unplayable because of debris, dust or even mold. Not only that, but records and the stylus on your record player can become damaged when you play dirty records. Furthermore, records with dust and debris can create unpleasant crackling sounds when played. It is possible to remove dust and debris from your vinyl, leaving leave them clean and usable if you use the right cleaning methods and materials. Refer to the information below to clean your records properly.

Step 1 – Storing Your Records

Preventing dust is key to having your records remain in good condition. Store your records in individual sleeves and jackets to prevent dust from accumulating on them. To preserve your records and prevent them from warping, keep them where they are not exposed to the sun. Also, never stack your records on top of each other. Instead, store them vertically where they will not become too tightly cramped together.

Step 2 - Handling Your Records

Avoid touching the inside surface of your record when you handle it. Try to touch only its edges. Your skin oil and other residue from your hands can damage your records when you touch them.

Step 3 – Dusting your Records

Each time you use a record, dust it's surface with a soft, lint-free cloth. Lint from certain cloth can reduce the quality of  the sound from your record. Even better than a lint-free cloth, use a special carbon fiber brush that can be purchased at stores that sell or distribute records. When you dust or clean your vinyl, move the dust cloth or brush in a concentric circle pattern, so as to damaging the record.

Step 4 – Cleaning Your Records with Water

If you have dust or mold embedded into the grooves of your record, you will need more than simple dusting. Rinse the record with cool distilled water. When cleaning you records with water it is important that you avoid moistening the record's label.

Step 5 – Cleaning with Alcohol

If more serious cleaning is necessary use a cleaning solution of 20 percent isopropyl alcohol and 80 percent distilled water. Add a small amount of the solution to a soft (lint-free) cloth and move it concentrically (as noted above) across the surface of your record. Once you have cleaned the record, dry it with the same soft lint free cloth, using the same concentric motions.

Step 6 – Hard to Clean Records

For the serious record collector who values his records and doesn't mind paying a premium to keep them clean, consider acquiring a record vacuum cleaner for about $500. These cleaners will usually perform a deeper cleaning of your records.