Plain soap(Dawn) and luke warm water works fine. Dry them off with cold air from your hair dryer or a fan after wiping them off ever so gently.
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R U guys serious cleaning records with alcohol or soap???
50% of alcohol will make the grooves flat(forgive me for exhageration but in some way it's true). I do recognise vinyls cleaned with alcohol that have unremovable and visible traces and I bet it means something in terms of sonics.
Why break your head and experiment when you can easy order a professional VPI record cleaning solution $16 a bottle of which you mix with 1/2 galons of distilled water??
I have been cleaning records for thirty five years with soap and water like I said. A Dj I knew way back when used it so I tried it and it worked great. Never had a problem - I would not use alcohol - messed one up about thirty five years ago like that. The discwasher brush is helpful with the soap and water. I guess you could spend money on a solution but I would rather buy records.
FWIW, The 50/50 solution is direct from Kieth Monks. Haven't screwed up a piece of vinyl yet using this solution. I admit that I don't buy garage sale items so rarely have to do this type of cleaning. Never-the-less, don't knock it unless you try it. I swear, if people believe what they read from the manufacturers regarding vinyl cleaning solutions, you'd be buying their tap water for $100 a half pint.
Go here and read the various recipes:
There is also a very detailed explanation about cleaning vinyl records that are 33 1/3 rpm from The Library of Congress:
Go read up and then critique the practice of using alcohol.
So the Library of Congress is the final word on record cleaning? Do they have better hearing than any of us here? Should we always blindly trust Government Agencies?
The fact is that most record vinyl contains plasticizers that make the vinyl more pliable, to aid the stamping process. The plasticizer of choice is diocytl phthalate, a dibasic fatty acid, which is IPA (ISO-Propyl alcohol) soluable. (It will disolve with IPA). Will you see it with the naked eye? No. The time of contact will determine the ammount that disolves, as well as the solution concentration. I realise the time of contact is short, (less thn 1 minute) and most use a concentration that is less than 50%, however, there is still loss.
I've tried DIY cleaning solutions made of dishwashing soaps, all which left behind a film which caused loss of detail, loss of high frequencies, and dynamics. Granted, this is to my hearing and with my system. Results may vary ...
In my opinion, there are many commercial cleaners that work well, are IPA free, and cost less than 5 cents per record cleaned. Turomat TM/7 and Record Research come to mind. Disc Doctor is also alcohol free, but requires a rinse cycle, so it leaves a film behind. (And also is more labor intensive). With the Disc Doctor, you should also have another wand for your VPI machine so as to prevent cross contamination with the rinse cycle. It shouldn't harm your records though.
My point; the "expensive" cleaners cost pennies per use and won't harm your records. Is it logical to spend a few pennies on your vinyl?
Just to clarify my previous posts, the question was about garage sale vinyl. Keeping that in mind and having tried very hard to acquire vinyl at this type of venue (I have since given up because the time spent exceeds the value received) I have purchased albums which didn't come clean using commercial cleaners. For the record (pun intended) I clean most of my vinyl with disc doctor followed by a deionized h20 rinse, gruv glide and protective sleeves.
I clearly recall buying three Jimmi Hendrix discs that had no inner sleeves but otherwise looked salvageable. There appeared to be hard spots deposited on these discs. Commercial cleaners only broke down the surfaces of these spots and smeared whatever was disolved on the rest of the album surface. It was only through several washings with pure denatured alcohol that the matter was removed. I estimate the number of cycles to clean these records at about ten apiece and each of these cycles required scrubbing, not a mere wipe-down. I was very careful about cross contamination and used old discwasher brushes for the process and washed them in deionized water and rinsed with alcohol between cycles. Eventually I applied the last h20 rinse and used my vacuum machine, applied gruv glide and auditioned the finished product.
The finished product was as good as a freshly opened, factory sealed LP, with even the run-in groove being silent. These records proved to be worth the effort and the RISK. Without the last ditch effort to clean these rare pieces of music history they would have been tossed in the trash. The jackets are perfect and I have since bought junk copies just for the inner sleeves (white) to keep the history accurate.
Remember, the post was about garage sale vinyl, not the care and feeding of your average audiophile's vinyl library. To the nay-sayers, please go buy a junk piece of vinyl and try it. Then post your experience.
I close by stating that I would rather have melted these discs in the attempted process of clean-up than cross contaminating my stylus.
Which commercial cleaners had you tried? I've found a few 1500 series Blue Notes that were junk (VG condition) when purchased, but cleaned up fine with safe commercial cleaners. That said, maybe we came to the same final results, just from a different approach. Mine is safe though.
You may wish to use only deionized water to wash your old discwasher brushes, as the denatured water will also break down the adhesives that hold the velvet on your Discwasher brush, which will most likely contaminate the record surface that you are attempting to clean with the solvent/adhesive slurry. And, with added pressure, you could be doing more harm than good. It sounds like this wasn't the case, the records cleaned up well.
I'm happy that you are attempting to salvage what may be deemed unplayable records. I applaud your efforts.
By the way, I believe that you meant to say that you'd," ...rather have melted discs in the attempted process of clean-up, than by contaminating my stylus". Or that you'd risk melted discs, rather than contaminate your stylus. There are stylus cleaners that work well, should this happen.
Patrick, want to thank you again here for communicating with me to set up the tonearm!
You're hell of an effort guy! I confess that I wouldn't ever launder vinyls so heavy -- slight damages maybe or I won't place them under my Lyra Helikon. I believe that paying more money for the same good condition record is much cheaper but say thanks to addiction!
I tried the Nitty Gritty cleaner (which I do not like) and the Disc Dr., both to no avail. The cleaning process I used for the old Discwasher brushes was a deionized water (actually the water I use comes from a computer chip manufacturer locally and is laboratory grade) soak, followed by a quick denatured alcohol bath, another h20 rinse and blow dry with compressed air. My compressor is set up for paint booth use and has an oil trap/filter and water trap/filter.
Denatured alcohol does not contain lanolin. It does contain some types of additives commonly found in gasoline. Yeah, I know, sounds spooky but rubbing alcohol contains all the above. I also added Kodak photo-flo to the 50/50 solution. I was shocked at the outcome because I felt that there should have been some kind of leaching of chemistry from the vinyl and maybe there was, but I certainly can't hear any degradation of sound. The vinyl remains very black and very shiny.
My TT is a Linn LP12/Valhalla/Nirvana/Ittok/Asaka. As difficult as this stuff was to remove from the LP I was really concerned about contaminating the stylus. It is difficult to describe how much elbow grease went into cleaning these records; it took an entire afternoon non-stop. Since the commercial cleaning materials I used failed to clean the vinyl I had serious concerns about commercial cleaners successfully cleaning the stylus.
PLEASE keep in mind that these aren't my regular cleaning habits. Most of my vinyl library was purchased new beginning in 1962. (I still have that first album by The Fleetwoods and it sounds as good as the day I bought it) I have spend thousands of dollars since that time buying just about every cleaning device I could find. In 1982 I contracted having my entire library professionally cleaned using the Keith Monks machine. It is only within the last six months that I purchased a machine for myself.
With over 3500 LP's in my collection I don't measure my life by time but rather by music. To all that are getting into analog, please set aside some money for a modest vacuum cleaning machine.
Guycom: You can make a simple cleaning mixture/solution using 91% Azeotropic Isopropyl alcohol and water.
I use 9 parts distilled water to 1 part alcohal, but some prefer using twice this amount (20% alcohal in the solution). Other things can be added such as a few drops of Kodack Photo Flow (helps the liquid to reach the bottom of the groove) and/or a drop of mild detergent. I do not find the Photo Flow/detergent necessary, but I also completely submerge LP's (in the solution) when cleaning and use a long bristled brush.
There are different types of Isopropyl/Isopropanol alcohal and the 91% Azeotropic is the one to use (check your local drug and grocery stores for it). Run a search of "azeotropic" @ the audioasylum.com Vinyl Forum for more info.
Other than the cleaning fluid, I would suggest picking up a Groovmaster Label Saver (approx. $30 on Ebay). This item seals off the label portion of an LP with "O" rings so that it may be dipped in liquid, sprayed with liquid, etc., without damage. The Groovmaster also comes with a long bristle brush for wet cleaning.
You might also pick up a carbon fiber brush (for dry cleaning) and a soft brush (for wet/dry daily use). Philips has a carbon fiber brush for $10-$12, but they seem to vary in quality/hardness. I have heard from other owners that their brushes are hard/stiff and scratch vinyl (I own two which are both soft). Maybe research these before buying one as it might be better to spend $25 on a good one than to go through a reject or two @ $10 a pop? I have never had much luck with the Discwasher brush (the nap does not extend far enough into the grooves), but maybe they have changed the design since I used/tried one? My favorite wet/dry brushes are the old style "tube" shaped ones, with long nap, which were popular in the 60's 70's 80's. Pickwick among others manufactured these (I just found a NIB Pickwick on Ebay for $5).
The only other thing that I use is a Water Pik (to sometimes pre-blast LP's and hopefully remove any hard grit). For this I use filtered tap water (guess this choice would depend on how effective the filter is). I also use the Pik to final rinse better LP's, though use double distilled water for this. The Pik is kind of nuts, but we had one on hand that was not getting any use and it does work quite well (just hold it close and @ an angle to the LP and it's not too messy).
If you want to use a warm soapy water solution, try to use the foam that is floating on the top of the water and not the water itself to scrub with. Not only does this have the most cleaning power, it leaves the least residue behind. Keep in mind that the hotter the water is, the better it will clean. Every increase of 15* appr doubles the cleansing / penetration power of water until you reach the point of boiling ( 212* ). At this point, you will be producing steam. Anything above that is overkill and may actually damage your vinyl if you concentrate on one area for any extended amount of time. Obviously, some type of clean water rinse is recommended when using any type of detergent. Sean
It won't harm the records if you're not submerging them into the water or exposing them to high heat for an extended period of time. I was suggesting that you literally "scoop" the foaming suds off the top of the HOT soapy water and use those to scrub the records with. You may have to use a small amount of water too, but so long as you don't go crazy, it should not create a problem. If you are going to dip the record in a water / detergent solution, i would suggest using a solution that had a low PH factor. An emulsifier ( water softener with mild detergent action ) should work pretty well.
The fact that some "fanatics" ( and they must be fanatics to even think of such a thing ) have written into Fremer and suggested using a portable steam cleaner on vinyl basically supports my suggestion also. The very high temperature steam will tend to break down the mass majority of "gunk" in the grooves and leave the least amount of residue possible. Obviously, once the steam has been applied, you still need to find a way to safely flush the grit out of the grooves and off the record and then find a way to dry it. Sean