I have no experience with ultrasonic cleaners but it does make sense that a good surfactant is important though! Interesting question, I'd like to see the comments!
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One of the best ultrasonic RCMs ever built is the Klaudio, which relies solely on distilled water. It is effective at cleaning just about any LP - although perhaps not a used LP with old encrusted crunchy peanut butter in the grooves. There are advantages to this approach because by not using additional chemistry in the cleaning process, there’s no residue that then requires removal.
The Klaudio unit is not in current production and used ones are hard to find.
I have the Kirmuss Ultrasonic RCM and all you do press the clean button and it cleans 3 records the in 5 minutes. There are no steps.
All ultrasonic cleaning systems, whether for records, jewelry, medical instruments or eyeglasses require that the initial tank of water be degassed. That is a given. The Kirmuss makes it easy by having a separate degas button. Push the button and the water is degassed. Once degassed, you are ready to go.
At some point yes, you have to change the water as dirt and debris collect, but that is the nature of any record cleaning system. The water gets dirty and you need to change it at some point.
I have been impressed by the degree to which ultrasonic cleaners work relative to other record cleaning systems and the nice thing about it they are automatic. I then dry the record with my Nitty Gritty record vacuum and you are good to go.
@lubachl based on reading about the Kirmuss and their utube https://youtu.be/49qDRPabAU0
there's a lot more to cleaning with the Kirmuss than what you have stated.. Even a dealer told me his just sits unused. I'm sure it cleans superbly but...
"I then dry the record with my Nitty Gritty record vacuum and you are good to go."
If you get good results, great. But the fact you're STILL using the Nitty Gritty AFTER the ridiculous regime(based on the video) seems a little much.
I'm holding my breath for SOMEONE is able to design a Audiodesk knock off, have it made in China and offer it for $1K!!!
Good records and my Spin Clean will just have to do until then.
@tablejockey The Spin Clean works fine, I have one of those also, but you still have to dry the record whether using the Spin Clean or whatever. So your point that the extra step of drying the record further adds to the complexity is moot. The post cleaning steps described with the Kirmuss have to do with restoration of older records. Why bother? For the most part if you just want to clean your records, you push the button and dry them. Simple as that.
My only issue with the Spin Clean is the sponges do not last very long once they dry out. If you leave them in solution, the solution gets grows fungus within a few days depending on ambient temperature. Of course, the same is true with any record cleaning system that has a reservoir.
I have read many positive things about the Degritter. It seems to be very well thought out and engineered. I also like the fact that it is a one step process (hit the button and at the end of the cycle you have a clean dry record that is ready to be played). It is on my short list, but other priorities keep it from rising to the top.
For the time being, I will continue to use my trusty Nitty Gritty 1.0 with L'Art du Son and a rinse of distilled water. I also use carbon-fibre brush to remove static.
1) Cleans better. Less ticks and pops
2) No assistance needed to get the lp to fit and rotate. With degritter, you just drop the lp in and it will always rotate. With autodesk you have often jiggle the lp in to slot before it will rotate
3) degriiter dries perfectly. Autodesk sometimes leave a little water on the lo since it relies on rubber lips in the slot to wipe off residual water
4) degritter is waay quieter
5) easier maitenance with degritter since the tank can be removed. So easier to drain and refill. With Autodesk, you have to move the entire unit over a sink and tilt it a little
6) Last but not least, degitter is cheaper....
I have a Klaudio. In this particular machine, Hepastat 256 is what you want to use at a concentration of no more than 2.5 ml per 2,500 ml water (0.1% concentration). I’d suggest between 1.5 ml and 2 ml, actually.
I love my Klaudio, but since they are no longer available, if I were to buy new, I’d get a Degritter.
ml89009, Triton X-100, recommended by Mijostyn, is a non-ionic detergent, otherwise known as "2-[4-(2,4,4-trimethylpentan-2-yl)phenoxy]ethanol". It is a true surfactant used mostly in biology and I suppose for industrial processes. Kodak Photo-flo is a mixture of propylene glycol (20-40%), aka "anti-freeze", and a non-ionic detergent that is probably in the same family with Triton X-100 but is chemically a bit different. The non-ionic detergent component is less than 10% of the make-up of Photo-flo. (I just looked this stuff up; I don't pretend I always knew it, but I have known not to use Photo-flo, though many do.) Propylene glycol is arguably not good for LPs. I always use Triton X-100 which comes in near 100% solution, and little bit, a drop or two in a liter of cleaner, is all you need. There are other pure non-ionic detergents, e.g., Tween-80, Nonidet P40, etc, that are either identical chemically to Triton X100 or work just as well. These compounds make the water "wetter"; they lower the surface tension so the cleaner can get into tiny more hydrophobic spaces on the LP. Mijostyn is right. I'm a biologist, used these chemicals throughout my career in molecular biology.
Don't necessarily take me literally about 2 drops but a small amount on that order of magnitude is what I personally use. Others may do differently and they are not necessarily "wrong". I use a higher concentration of isopropyl alcohol, maybe 20%; I have forgotten. 2% of alcohol would do almost nothing, IMO. It would evaporate away rapidly, first of all.
Degassing is nothing more than running the ultrasonic cleaner with no records in it each time you fill the tank with water, prior to starting your record cleaning. It removes oxygen from the water and allows proper ultrasonic cleaning. If you have a unit with the degas feature installed you simply fill the tank and hit the degas button/feature. If not, fill the tank, turn it on and run it with no records for about 12-15 minutes.
Here is a vote for Perfect Vinyl Forever.
It is an excellent service and will clean your records better than any one machine you put in your home will. You never have to clean them again afterwards, if you take care of them. At worst dust them with a carbon brush. So, expensive, but one time not recurring.
I bought a degritter a couple of weeks ago. Prior to that, I was using an old nitty gritty I bought used on agon. I was happy with it but kept reading about the ultrasonic machines being so much better. However I couldn’t get past all the problems people had with them plus the cost just seemed crazy and hard to justify. Finally COVID craziness got to me and I broke down to buy one. Apparently they are in very high demand and many dealers sell out quickly. I will have to say with my brief experience I am very happy with the purchase. Most of my records are very clean so wasn’t sure if it would make that much a difference. But now I would highly recommend the machine before upgrading any of your equipment. It really makes a difference even on records you think are in perfect condition.
Bought a Degritter this year after using a VPI 16.5 for almost 10 years. I used 3 steps (enzyme, cleaner, ultra distilled water rinse each step with its own brush and vacuum wand) with the VPI and had very good results, but the time for each album was almost 30 minutes... the Degritter, using their surfactant additive, requires at the most 10 minutes (usually about 5 minutes) and I am not participating in 95% of that time. The results are better than my previous three step process. Highly recommended.
Triton X-100 contains compounds with aquatic toxicity and is being phased out by the EPA. Recommended alternatives include Tergitol 15-S-9 or Ilford Ilfotol. Tergitol 15-S-9 requires less concentration to do the same job as Triton X-100, which means it is more efficient and leaves less residue. Ilfotol is similar.
I use Ilfotol because it also includes a biocide and has anti-static properties. Ilfotol: 0.9 tablespoon in my ~3.3 gallon Elma p120h tank. I also use 1.3 cups IPA (3%). Otherwise for Ilfotol use 20ml per 1 liter distilled water. Available from photographic supply stores such as B&H.
If you want to learn more about various chemicals for record cleaning, and vinyl cleaning processes generally, take a look at Neil Antin's paper: Precision Aqueous Cleaning of Vinyl Records.
The ILFOTOL contains no 'anti-static" ingredients. It contains only a non-ionic surfactant and a biocide. The wetting by the surfactant dissipates/removes any static charge that may be on the record.
Otherwise, for those that may be using Tergitol 15-S-9 or Ilford Ilfotol in an ultrasonic tank, both of these products can produce foam. Degassing the tank prior to adding the chemicals will reduce the development of foam. There are a number of different chemistries available for defoaming. Most are associated with an insoluble component be it a hydrocarbon oil or a silicone oil.
Tergikleen which is a blend of Tergitol 15-S-9 and 15-S-3 does not foam, and the reason is the water insoluble 15-S-3. Because the 15-S-3 is not water soluble, you may leave a film on the record if you do not rinse.
However, I was working with someone who was using a blend of ILFOTOL and Kodak Photo-Flo 200 and they were not seeing any foam, but the solution was not clear. Kodak Photo-Flo 200 is a blend of 10% non-ionic surfactant and 30% propylene glycol. The non-ionic surfactant in Kodak will foam and has a low cloud point, but the propylene glycol is a weak solvent, is a preservative, is very water soluble and can act as weak defoaming agent. Propylene glycol is also very hydroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air) so you will see where it is used for humidors. Note that 100% propylene glycol is not compatible with records, but diluted sufficiently is safe.
So, the best (and cheapest) ultrasonic cleaner 'may' be a blend of the following two ingredients. Just he advised that I have not actually tested this blend. It will not harm the record (the Hansen solubility analysis shows 100 ppm propylene glycol to be essentially the same as water), but you may need to adjust the Propylene Glycol concentration for best defoaming results.
Tergitol 15-S-9 at about 0.01 to 0.02% (100 to 200 ppm). The Tergitol 15-S-9 is 100% concentrated, so 0.01 to 0.02% = 0.1 to 0.2 mL/L; which is equal to 2-4 drops/L. If you are outside the USA, use ILFOTOL instead. If you add 0.9 tablespoons (= about 15 mL) of ILFOTOL to 3.3 gallon of water you will get 62.5 ppm on non-ionic surfactant.
Propylene Glycol USP/EP (PG USP/EP) CAS # 57-55-6. This is a concentrated pharmaceutical/food grade version that is quite cheap, very safe and easily purchased - such as Propylene Glycol - 250mL (8.45 oz.) - USP Food and Pharmaceutical Grade - Highest Purity, Humidor Solution, Humectant, DIY, Cosmetics: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific Adding to get 50-100 ppm Propylene Glycol may do the trick to control foam (and act as a preservative) and this would be 0.005 to 0.01% or 0.05 to 0.01 mL/L or 1-2 drops/L.
FWIW - when mixing chemical, you may find disposable LDPE pipettes to be very convenient. They are very cheap - 100pcs Plastic Disposable Transfer Pipettes - 3ml Plastic Calibrated Graduated Eye Dropper Suitable for Lip Gloss Transfer Essential Oils Science Laboratory Experiment: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific
Hope this is of some help,
As a follow-up to my post of 12-18-2020, some further research indicates that propylene glycol at <1% will provide no biocide. I am also a bit skeptical that the one data point I have may be purely circumstantial. At this time, I would hold off doing any mixing with propylene glycol until I have done a few simple experiments. I will mix some Tergitol 15-S-9 and PG in a container and do some shake tests - shake the solution and see how it foams. Sorry for any confusion.
Just got my Degritter. I had been using the Clearaudio ultrasonic cleaner at my local audio store. I played and then "rewashed" several (so far) LPs that had been cleaned with the ClearAudio. The sound is improved. There is lower noise level, so more articulation, separation of instruments, more natural timbre and tone. I often wondered what reviewers meant by "veil". The Degritter lifts the "veil" providing a clarity that is throughout the spectrum. Bass is better and cleaner and treble is "crisp" and "bright" in the positive sense of the terms.
I am using the Degritter supplied surfactant.
Noteworthy: The unit I purchased was used. When I received it, it had washed approximately 2740 LPs. I emailed the company prior to purchase and asked what the duty cycle (life expectancy) of the US generator and pumps was. The company replied immediately informing me that they warranted the unit for 2 years or 10,000 (yes, ten thousand) washes and that I should purchase the unit. After 10,000 washes, they would refurbish the unit. The software is user updatable. Mine had the latest version.
The footprint is about the size of a shoebox, so convenient to place.
Note that nothing touches the surface of the record-- no pads, no rollers. A mechanism turns the record by its edge. No water reaches the label. The water is continually cleaned via an inexpensive and easily replaced filter which is if you want, washable. (Took me about 1 minute to change.) The company welcomes you to make your own filter (they suggest the material) if you do not want to buy the precut ones.
The unit is extremely easy to use. (Easier than the Clearaudio) Nice manual. The cycles are very customizable. Even the heavy wash cycle is nearly silent. The fan makes as much noise as you want to tolerate-- the slower it blows, the quieter (which can be very quiet indeed, or reasonably loud on full blast), but the slower the longer to dry. It remembers your preference, so a wash is merely pushing a button.
Since it uses just distilled water (about 700 cc per tank) and a small amount (1-2 ml per tank) of their surfactant, the cost per record is very little. (about 1-2 cents per LP-- each bottle gives 50 tanks and a tank is good for 50 records).
Glad I finally got one. Highly recommended.