Best Record Cleaning Fluid


Greetings All,

I’ve spend the last few days searching and reading about record cleaning fluids for my cleaning machine (Okki Nikki).  Wow - there are a lot of options out there.  Many more than I originally thought.  Some real esoteric stuff that costs a pretty penny.  I’m currently going through my entire collection, cleaning it, listening to it and adding it to a Discogs DB.  Want to finally know how many I have and have a list of them.  But doing this has resulted in me going through cleaning fluid rather quickly.

So many options, so many perspectives on what are the best fluids.  What do you all say.  I understand that alcohol is a no-no for fluids, but I can’t find out if some of them include alcohol or not.  Currently using up the fluid that came with the machine, but no where can I read it if has bad ingredients.

The 2-stage or 3-stage cleaning systems are not going to happen.  I did get a bottle of Revolv that I was told was good, and use if for new high quality pressings (as opposed to those I bought in high school).

Anyway, would appreciate some perspectives on good quality record cleaning fluids that don’t bust the bank.  Thanks for keeping the sarcasm in check.

Happy Listening,

Ag insider logo xs@2xpgaulke60
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Alcohol is a no-no?  I've used 70% water / 30% isopropyl alcohol for 25 or so years with excellent results.  It doesn't get any cheaper and in my experience it doesn't get much better either.
For the past several years, I have used L'Art Du Son.  Found it to be quite effective and provide excellent cleaning results.

Once I run out of this, I plan on trying the Audio Intelligent line of fluids.  I have heard great things about them.

I've tried many different brands and DIY fluid concoctions and these are the ones I like best.

YMMV
Denatured alcohol is bad news on vinyl but Isopropyl is fine. I mix 75% distilled water to 25% 91% isopropyl. The alcohol increases the vapor pressure of the solution (drys faster). I tried  L'Art Du Son. It works but you have to rinse the record well of you will leave a residue making it a PITA. The real trick in having clean records is don't let them get dirty in the first place. The talk of records having some kind of residue from the factory is pure BS. If you use a dust cover, a grounded sweep arm and never smoke or cook around open records you will never have a problem. Buying used records is another problem altogether. Those I always clean first because you have no idea were they have been. It is always best to buy large estate sales. Larger collections have much less wear. You pick out the discs you like then sell the rest to Michael Fremer:)
mijostyn
Denatured alcohol is bad news on vinyl but Isopropyl is fine.
The matter of whether alcohol solvents are safe on LPs has been the subject of such debate for so long that I don’t think you can authoritatively state that "Isopropyl is fine." I’d be interested in any evidence you have to support the claim, though.

The question I ask is: What is the need for such a solvent? I use nothing but an ultrasonic RC machine and pure distilled water to clean records, and haven’t yet found any contamination that they can’t remove. And yes, I buy the occasional used LP.
If you use a dust cover, a grounded sweep arm and never smoke or cook around open records you will never have a problem.
I don’t care for grounded sweep arms - though I have used one in the past - but even they won’t eliminate dust from LPs.

The issue of whether to use a turntable dustcover while playing records is also subject to debate. In particular, I have seen a dustcover’s static charge completely lift a pickup arm off of the record! That makes me wonder if VTF can be affected even in the absence of such an extreme situation.

The only way a clean LP can remain completely dust-free is to keep it in a clean sleeve within its jacket. Once it’s taken out to be played, some amount of accumulated dust is inevitable.
I use  Audio Intelligent - Premium One-Step Formula #6
I tried L'Art Du Son. It works but you have to rinse the record well of you will leave a residue making it a PITA.

Well, after almost 6 years of using this and after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of records later, I have never had this problem?  My records are pristine without any residue and sound fine.

I use Audio Intelligent - Premium One-Step Formula #6
That Formula #6 is the one I am going to try next.
My favorite record cleaning fluid is Scuttlebutt Tripel 7. One bottle usually is enough to reveal those records were clean enough already, and sound better than ever. Just whatever you do be sure not to get any on your actual, you know, records.
Sorry, I meant to add:  I've used enough of the "concentrates" to know that the number 1 factor, the top thing, the Big Kahuna, the most important part, is what you use to mix it with.

The purer the better.
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mofimadness, I do not know what cleaning technique you use and it is probably more advanced than what I do but if you use a Spin Clean with L' Art if you do not do a separate rinse cycle with distilled water the residue will gum up your stylus after just a few plays. I rarely have to clean a record so I am not about to spend a fortune on an elaborate cleaning machine so my experience with them is limited but perhaps a vacuum pick up might remove enough so this does not happen? 
cleeds I must be a genius as you keep following me around. Lets see how perceptive you are. Lets run an experiment. Get a big frying pan, bigger than 12" diameter. Fill it with 91% isopropyl  alcohol, put a record in it and cover it tight so the alcohol does not evaporate. Leave it in there for a week, dry it off then give it a play. Tell us what happens.
Correct. Nothing will entirely eliminate dust from the surface of an LP. Using a grounded sweep arm keeps the dust away from the stylus and shorts out the record so it does not collect static electricity and become a powerful dust magnet. I can't imagine why you can't learn to use one correctly. They are very simple devices. 
millercarbon, cheers!
mofimadness, I do not know what cleaning technique you use and it is probably more advanced than what I do but if you use a Spin Clean with L’ Art if you do not do a separate rinse cycle with distilled water the residue will gum up your stylus after just a few plays. I rarely have to clean a record so I am not about to spend a fortune on an elaborate cleaning machine so my experience with them is limited but perhaps a vacuum pick up might remove enough so this does not happen?
Understood. I use a VPI and do not rinse, but have never seen this before. So let’s add to my comment about the fluid used, to include, the method used also. Thanks.
mijostyn
cleeds I must be a genius ...
Ha ha.
Lets see how perceptive you are. Lets run an experiment. Get a big frying pan ...
Please feel free to run your own experiments. If you choose to do that, you’ll need to employ a "control" if you want it to be scientific, which you don’t mention in your little scheme. In any event, I don’t use alcohol to clean records. I’ve found it unnecessary.
Anybody have experience with the Okki Nokki record cleaning fluid?  How about Mobile Fidelity or the Revolv that I mentioned? Sometimes I think they are all about the same.  Hard to do a comparison because, one the LP is clean, well, uh, it is clean.
I have tried a couple of the MOFI fluids and they were fine.  I have never heard of Revolv, so I had to look it up.  Never used the Okki Nokki fluid either.
You must all own LPs. No alcohol for 78s. I use deionized water with a couple of drops per quart of dish washing detergent to break the surface tension of the water on my 78s. Keep the alcohol in my glass... usually Scotch.
Another fluid delivery mechanism I don’t care for is spray bottles.  Invariably I get some on the label or on the machine itself.  
Decades ago I was discussing this topic with an audiophile record store owner near Ohio State. He had a chemist friend who came up with the following formula:
1 gal of distilled water
90 ml of isopropyl alcohol
1 tsp of Alconox (a surfactant frequently used for cleaning labware; Photoflo should also work) 

If you use Alconox, slowly add water to it and stir to get it to dissolve without clumps.

He claimed that the chemists tested the records after cleaning and that there was no residue. As I recall, the alcohol was sufficiently diluted to not worry about any potential damage to the vinyl. 
Decades ago I was discussing this topic with an audiophile record store owner near Ohio State. He had a chemist friend who came up with the following formula:
1 gal of distilled water
90 ml of isopropyl alcohol
1 tsp of Alconox (a surfactant frequently used for cleaning labware; Photoflo should also work) 

If you use Alconox, slowly add water to it and stir to get it to dissolve without clumps.

He claimed that the chemists tested the records after cleaning and that there was no residue. As I recall, the alcohol was sufficiently diluted to not worry about any potential damage to the vinyl. 
DiscWasher D4+ fluid on the tried and true DiscWasher cleaning brush. I’ve been using that for 40 years and have zero complaints. 
cflayton has an excellent suggestion. I have no experience with Alconox but am quite familiar with Photoflo, also a surfactant which reduces the surface tension of a liquid. It comes in liquid form so no need to dissolve a solid substance. It is a product produced by Kodak meant to eliminate drying spots and residue on films. Can be easily found on the net or at most any place that sells photographic supplies.

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I use Tergitol surfactants from TALAS (talasonline.com), put 10-20 drops per each into a gallon of distilled water to form a solution. This is what the Smithsonian uses to preserve records for their archives. No residue.

I rinse with Distilled water.

I do not use isopropyl alcohol because a chemist friend claims alcohol dissolves plasticizer molecules and can make the surface of the record brittle raising the noise floor. I also found that using alcohol increases record static.

I use a device I designed and prototyped myself using a special bristle material that I prefer. It’s a mechanical agitation system.

Sometimes, for moldy records, I use TTVJ Vinyl-Zyme Gold. It helps quiet records by removing light mold infestation. It will not fix mold damage.

I believe Liquinox (from Alconox) is a concentrated, anionic detergent good for manual and ultrasonic cleaning. I talked to a tech rep at Alconox and he said it is perfect for vinyl record cleaning. 

I use a KAB EV-1/Nitty Gritty with Tergitol too, then a rinse with distilled water. 
Just like @voiceofvinyl said, the Smithsonian uses it, and if that’s the case, it’s good enough for me too. I’m sure they did their research, as did I. No residue, and a super clean n’ shiny LP after the rinse. 
BTW...Surfactants and Detergents are not quite the same. Photoflo is a surfactant with limited ability to dissolve oils and grease. It’s purpose is to break the surface tension (wetting) of the fluid it is added to and minimize the appearance of film deposits.  

Dawn dishwashing liquid, Tergitol and Liquinox are detergents. They dissolve a lot of the nasty stuff in/on the record. They also have some “wetting ability” like photoflo but I have found I you use distilled water I don’t get spots.

In the late 70's-early 80's, Los Angeles resident, chemical engineer, and audiophile Toy Shigekawa developed his Torumat TM-7 Record Cleaning Fluid, and sold it though audiophile hi-fi shops until his death in the 90's. He was a regular at Brooks Berdan Ltd. in Monrovia, California, where I often saw him. Brooks sold Torumat, and used it in the shops' VPI, Nitty Gritty, and Keith Monks Vacuum machines, all of which he sold. Brooks also used it at home, on his legendary, insane LP collection, the largest I have even seen in the flesh. It made my 5,000 LP collection look pathetic!

After Brooks passing, shop employee Joe Knight and Brooks' widow (and now shop manager) Sheila Berdan arranged with Toy's estate to put the solution back into production, and formed Groovy Hi-Fi Solutions to do just that. Joe is himself an engineer (as well as a vintage tube expert, collector, and dealer), and he developed a slightly updated version of the alcohol-free Torumat, new model designation TM-8. Great stuff, the best I've used in my own VPI HW-17F RCM. I also have gallon jugs of Last, Nitty Gritty, and VPI RCM fluids, all of which are very good.

Quite a few responses about home made stuff. but not relative opinion on off the shelf purchases - maybe 2 recommendations? For a simple person like me I can only glean one or two options, when the original poster though there were many off the shelf options, but needed relative comments. I have an Okki Nokki too and notice different effectiveness from each different one I try, but by the time I finish the bottle I cannot remember the name of the one I preferred maybe 2 bottles back! I seem to remember the original fluid was one of the most effective for me (a concentrate then doing  a simple add distilled water) but cannot remember if that was an Okko Nokki version or something that I picked up at the time. 
If someone says I should take detailed notes of each ... I would say I don't have the obsession needed for that to take place.
I ask my dealer and he says try them and see what you think. Fair enough but the old memory box is a bit deficient to monitor all the nuances of each product over many years
I don’t have a fancy cleaning machine but I use 
Lasermedia VNC-8 Professional Vinyl Record Cleaning Fluid 8 Oz Spray Bottle by TME https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017U7LK40/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_rAxqDb8SJYTS2 
For $19 and some microfiber cloths like koala cloths it has been the best solution for me.
No residue, and makes my vinyl audibly sparkle.
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Voiceofvinyl, plasticizer molecules? Another myth. You can take brake cleaning fluid and spray it all over a record and rub the crap out of it with a white cotton cloth and you will not see any residue on the cloth (assuming the record was clean) and there will be absolutely no damage to the record. I know that for a fact because I am listening to the one I just did that too!! Damn clean to but the stuff stinks. No residue!! That is it! The best record cleaning is Brake cleaning fluid. Dirt cheap, just spray it on and blast it off with a little compressed air. Do wear a mask.
I use audio intelligent one-step to clean manually with microfiber clothes. I’ve been very happy with the results. Best wishes!
Many years ago I had the opportunity to evaluate record fluids and brushes. I found little to no differences in the cleaning effects of the 6 fluids I checked. Methodology - I sectioned a dirty record, cleaned them with commercial record cleaners borrowed from a nearby audio dealer and then evaluated the number of particulates per unit of area with a SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope).
Be careful with Alconox, especially solid Alconox as it is very concentrated and will need extensive dilution or rinsing to eliminate the possibility of leaving a residue. And yes, I am a chemist.
Nothing like having an SEM at your disposal. scott69 how were you cleaning the records? A lot of people are going to say if you did it one way or another you would not have gotten the same results particularly the ultrasonic people. Since you are a chemist do you have any comments to make about PVC and "plastasizers?" My understanding is that PVC is very inert stuff. I find it hard to believe that there is anything that could somehow change the molecular characteristics of PVC to say make it more durable under the 4000 lbs per square inch that it is subjected to every time a stylus passes over it.  
The force of a stylus in a groove is tremendous, it will dig any grub out.

Play, keep em clean, leave em alone, UNLESS, when you check your stylus, it is grubby. Then, clean that one. I need to clean VERY FEW. 

I got a batch of Jazz records when young, been in a flood, mold, mildew, yuck. I filled the sink with soapy water, washed them with a soft sponge, rinse with tap water, let them drip dry in the dishwasher rack. Made a bath of distilled water, rinsed them, back in the dishwasher rack to drip dry.

1st play, a few had junk dug out by the stylus for me. Next play, wonderful. That was my free intro to Jazz.




elliottbnewcombjr
The force of a stylus in a groove is tremendous, it will dig any grub out ...
Nonsense. You will not get a dirty LP clean by playing it - even if the stylus is perfectly clean when you start. I’ve become increasingly convinced that many listeners have never heard a truly clean, pristine record, even after using the alcohol and other potions for which they have such faith.
Looking back voiceofvinyl obviously has a lot more experience cleaning records than I do. Tergitol would certainly be a reasonable additive to distilled water and it is quite true that certain fungi will grow on records. Down in Florida I saw many records that were stored in high humidity conditions destroyed by the stuff. You could see it on the records and sleeves not to mention smell it. I suppose if the growth were not that bad you might be able to bring them back. But in reality this is a record storage and handling problem. Records should be stored below 75 degrees in relative humidities no greater than 50%. They should be stored in clean plastic sleeves, upright under pressure by which I mean you should just have a little trouble getting another record in there. The classic orange crate works great until you can design record storage shelves which you can see in any Michael Fremer video. You should never leave your records flat or leaning. Ideally a record should go right from the shelf to the turntable preferably with a dust cover and grounded sweep arm 
( https://www.sleevecityusa.com/Antistatic-Record-Cleaning-Arm-p/tac-01.htm) then returned to to the sleeve and the shelf immediately after. 
The grounded sweep arm has been downplayed by various members on this forum. It does two things. It sweeps incidental dust out of the way of the stylus and discharges the record while it is playing so that the record never collects a static charge. The static charge is created by the stylus rubbing in the groove. Play a record without the brush and if you position yourself in the light right, as you remove the disc from your table you will see dust fly right to the record along with smoke and anything else that happens to be in the air at the time. Play a record with the brush and nothing flies to the record. The only way to improve on this is to play your records in a clean room. The brush is a little finicky in ways. The spindle to bearing distance has to be just right or it will not track the record correctly. Same if it is not clean. I have a piece of felt stuck to the table that I wipe it off on between plays and every so often I'll clean the felt with alcohol and a standard record brush. In 50 years of doing this I have not found a more effective way of keeping records clean in my hands anyway. I do not have a record cleaning machine. No need for one. For the rare outside or used record I use a spin clean with distilled water and alcohol. Anbody who thinks isopropyl alcohol damages records....how should I be politically correct about this. How's about," is susceptible to Marxist marketing schemes." 
I should also note in regards to my previous post that there are different kinds of brake cleaning fluid. The one I used was one of the old fashioned chlorofluorocarbon type (Freon).  Some of the newer ones might melt your record.    

mijostyn
"
You can take brake cleaning fluid and spray it all over a record and rub the crap out of it with a white cotton cloth and you will not see any residue on the cloth (assuming the record was clean) and there will be absolutely no damage to the record. I know that for a fact because I am listening to the one I just did that too!!"


This advise is reckless, dangerous, and uniformed brake cleaning fluid is not intended for use on vinyl just read the warning lable on the product  why would anyone take advise from this guy?? That mijostyn does not see any residue on the cloth does not mean that there is no residue on the cloth and to state without reservation, limitation, or qualification that brake cleaner does "absolutely no damage" to vinyl is not supported by any evidence presently offered by this user who seems to think that his simple observations carry any weight, value or authority this guy would benefit from an Introduction to Basic Science course perhaps he will get one when he reaches high school in a few years.

scott69
"
Many years ago I had the opportunity to evaluate record fluids and brushes. I found little to no differences in the cleaning effects of the 6 fluids I checked. Methodology - I sectioned a dirty record, cleaned them with commercial record cleaners borrowed from a nearby audio dealer and then evaluated the number of particulates per unit of area with a SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope)."

What a load of fantastic, imaginitive, misleading nonsense this guy does not know what he is talking about! One of my companies actually has one of these microscopes so I have talked with my engineering and scientific staff about how it might be used for this purpose because if anyone knows anything at all about SEMS they know they only work on electrically conductive surfaces! You will get all kind of errors and bad data otherwise this is just how they work! You could use an ESEM but they have their own problems mostly related to the pressure the sample is under this guy is bogus so I wouldn't belief anything he says.
What a load of fantastic, imaginitive, misleading nonsense this guy does not know what he is talking about!

Huh?...this article talks about using a SEM and actually has pictures.  It mentions: " Because records are so dark, they absorb light. So we switched to the Scanning Electron Microscope."

https://www.dak.com/vinyl-record-grooves-magnified-1000x/
Voiceofvinyl, plasticizer molecules? Another myth.  
Sorry, a plasticizer is an additive to the vinyl formulation that keeps it soft and flexible and the right amount of it helps keep the surface of the vinyl, where it contacts the stylus- just soft enough to help minimize noise while not deforming while under normal stylus/cartridge/arm forces. 

I have been told alcohol dries out this additive and increases running noise.
I also was told long ago to beware of removing the helpful stuff, you call it plasticizer, I'll go with that name.


cleeds

I am not saying use the stylus to clean, I am saying, most do not need cleaning, the stylus stays essentially clean, meanwhile grub on the stylus will reveal those that do need cleaning. 
Can we please get back to experiences with off the shelf products.  There have been some helpful posts about several products.  Would like to hear from a few others about their experiences.  I do respect and understand those that have commented that they have tried many products and found them quite similar.  I think that is a valid point.

Thanks
Audio Intelligent three step (Enzyme, Super Clean, Pure Water) when they first enter my collection on my VPI 16.5 machine.  Place in a new inner sleeve and usually good for years to come.
What's missing from the article that's causing the scanning electron microscope kerfuffle is that in order to look at it with the SEM the record is first electroplated. It has to be, because being an electron microscope it uses electrons. 

As for me I still say the best liquid so far is the Scuttlebutt.
I use L'Art Du Son with a Loricraft rcm, using distilled water as a rinse- works great.
Clearthink, I never intended that we should all use brake cleaning fluid to clean our records. I know for a fact that there are no plasticizers on vinyl records. For fun I used the strongest non polar solvent that I knew would not melt the record to see if I could remove anything from the surface of an old Byrds Record (I have a digital copy) that I had never cleaned. I could not and the record was not damaged at all by the process. I performed an experiment for fun. 
Voiceofvinyl, the plasticizer thing is a myth. You can see how records are pressed in a number of videos. Raw PVC pellets are heated to the melting point and shaped into a puck at 300 degrees F. That puck is placed into the center of the press with the labels and several tons of pressure are used to form the record. Nothing is sprayed on the stampers. There is no "mold release" and there are no "plasticisers" added to the PVC. Vinyl has to withstand a huge amount of pressure from the stylus, thousands of pounds per square inch. The last thing you would want to do is soften it. Alcohol and even brake cleaning fluid remove absolutely nothing from records.  
Oh for accuracy's sake there is one additive to the PVC and that is the colorant which usually is carbon black. Unexpanded PVC is clear, expanded PVC is white (plumbing). 
I developed a system about 20 years ago using Disc Doctor fluid and brushes coupled with a vacuum type record cleaner like the VPI. Using a USB microscope, I see none of the debris on the stylus that Dr Kirmuss claims you'll always have unless you use his ultra-sonic system.

Thanks for the tip on the antistatic record cleaning arm. In my low humidity, desert environment, especially in the winter, static is a big issue. I had to modify my turntable motor power supply during the driest times since static discharge at the stylus would cause the turntable to change speeds from 33 to 45RPM.
I couldn’t read all comments but went through enough, and to the original poster ; I have been using homemade solution for years now that really works and I sell it to folks in MN. It is just amazing stuff and pint jar will last you long long time as you should only use few drops of it and scrub the record. You do have to rinse well.  I use the 50$ n under process and my solution by using 1 1/4 shop vac with my own homemade wand and a wooden lazy Susan with dowel rod in the middle for the record and I will say nothing and I mean nothing will beat that setup as I have used multiple systems including spin clean and machines and etc. So if you want to preserve and hear the best from your records then contact me and I will send you some for maybe a trade or work something out. Oh and by the way mofi....poster you should ALWAYS CLEAN your new records as they have pressing dust on them from the factory and static. If anyone wants more information and details contact me.
Take care everyone  !!
I use MelodyMate, Australian made, not sure if available and can be purchased outside Australia. I use MelodyMate in my VPI RCM, replaced the VPI fluid and does as good a job. I apply MelodyMate, use the VPI supplied brush, vacuum, then repeat the process with distilled water for a final rinse and vacuum.