When I first started collecting records as a teen, one of my uncles gave me a vinyl cleaning brush. It had a spot on top where you put cleaning fluid on it, which cleaned the record when you brushed it across the dirty record. However, since he just gave me the brush, I thought that’s all you needed. Here I was brushing my records with the dirt that was stuck in the grooves. The joke was on me. As I got older, I trusted some other vinyl heads to pass on their knowledge of how to clean a record. Some of these have to be total bullshit, or maybe just file them under weird record collector stuff. These are actual suggestions from a variety of vinyl people, and while I am writing this, I still can’t believe people were doing this.
There was a dude I became friendly with in the 90’s who owned a record store. He was the usual record store guy, always buying collections, wheeling and dealing etc. He was constantly cleaning his records in the store. When he told me what he was cleaning his records with, I took his word as bond and followed suit. I trusted him, and as I think back to it, what a dope I was. He cleaned his records with a mixture of Windex and water, and used a soft toothbrush to help clean the grooves. Put the record on your turntable, spin the record and put the brush with the mixture on it. Voila! Clean record, right? Well it looked clean. Who knows how much damage I did to my records in the time I listened to him. Instead of cleaning them, I was just getting more gunk and chemicals in the grooves. Not a good move on my part. I lived and learned. In other instances, I have heard a suggestion of butter. Yes butter. Um..a bit greasy/ oily no? I never tried that, and would stay far away from that advice. Some record dealer at the market suggested I use kerosene, lighter fluid, or even gasoline. What what what??? Good luck not blowing up your house. I’ve never had the balls to try to the wood glue method, but that just seems to risky/ time consuming. “Man, my Stark Reality could use a deep cleaning, I think I will just put some wood glue on it.” Not on my watch pal. I finally managed to get a Spin Clean a few years ago that worked out for the most part. They have their own cleaning solution, and the moveable rollers worked on LPs and 45s. Still a bit of a pain, but it does clean records proper. I’d like to get a fancy vacuum machine at some point because they are proven to be the best. However, they are expensive. That will be on my want list for sure. Recently, I met up with a digger/ dealer who has a simple solution and method that I’ve been using. With only a few ingredients and a soft cloth, I’ve seen a lot of records in my collection and ones I have recently acquired go from shotty to looking brand new. I can’t believe I didn’t discover it earlier, but besides always diggin’, we’re always learning. I’m sure I’m not the only one with an effective, personal way to clean my digs, so here is my question to you: What methods have you tried in the past that failed, and what has worked for you? Have you ever destroyed a record completely trying to clean it? I know you guys have some stories out there, so let’s hear them! A clean record is a happy record, so tell us some of your war stories.