I have a VPI 16.5 record cleaner and would like some idea's on some of the stuff people use to clean their records with. I'm not having a lot of luck getting these clean. I need some help.
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good listening
Quest For Sound
Many analog freaks swear by the dick doctors miracle record cleaner, on the vac, undiluted if really dirty, then folowed by two rinsings of distilled water. The rinses are critical. Also look at using the disk doctors brushes, one each for cleaning and rinsing.
My process: Clean off surface dirt with Discwasher. Using clean baby cotton burping cloths cut in squares, go over record with Torumat and rinse with triple distilled water(bought at Giant Food Mkt-Finast brand, Bottled in Lancaster,Pa.-$.49/gal.)Go over again with Disc Doctor and dry with Orbitrac. Repeat on second side. Then clean on 16.5 with VPI fluid and brush. Gruv'n'Glide if desired (I like it.)That's for used records, and I try to buy only those rated mint or near mint condition. I get real quiet records this way. New ones- Orbitrac + 16.5.
There have been several threads posted on this topic over the past 6 months, so you might search the archives for the ideas already posted.

As a quick response to your question, I have used the following cleaning solution on my LP's for more than 20 years and found that it does an excellent job:
1. 1 gallon of distilled water -- pour off 1 pint
2. Add 1 pint of 99% pure isopropyl alcohol, available in some drugstores, to the distilled water
3. Add about 1 TSP of a good surfactant (I use a surfactant that I bought from a chemical supply house).

You will get some folks who strongly advise against using alcohol, but I have never had any problem in the quantity described above.

You can also buy a non-alcoholic cleaning solution concentrate directly from VPI, the turntable manufacturer.

For removing really stubborn material from LP's, I have read some recent posts that one of those small, portable steam cleaners works very well. Remove the worst material using the steam, then clean the LP with the regular cleaning solution.
Gmc...Dick Doctor?!? Ouch, that sounds like it's really for the Analog Freaks!
In addition to all the good, standard advice related here, Michael Fremer, in Stereophile this month (March), discusses using a Eureka Hot Shot 350A handheld steam cleaning device on LP's before cleaning them with Disc Doctor's brushes and fluids and a vacuum machine. He says it works real well, especially on mistreated and mildewed records. Read it for yourself.
Sorry about that typo. I have a mischievous fore finger.
The steamvac idea for tough jobs intrigues me, but one would need to be careful of heating/warping the record.

As far as formulations, mine is similar to SDC's but with half of the alcohol and one or two drops of dishwashing soap per pint. (Any more soap causes sudsing) It's cheap, so one can use a liberal amount. The VPI brush seems to work OK when used with the 16.5. I clean a second time with a few drops of Record Research Lab's cleaner.

Many years and thousands of records ago I found Torumat cleaning fluid really worked with my 16.5. The really dirty records may need a second cleaning. The Torumat cleans the record well and somehow nearly eliminates static electricity. While it's expensive when you figure what is costs per record it's nominal.

The people that pre clean are trying to keep the felt tube from getting contaminated with dirt. I've found that wiping the felt on the tube with a clean cloth moistened with Torumat does the job. I agree it's important to keep the felt clean.

Remember that the angle you set for the tube is critical and you should replace the tube once you see any worn felt. I've found that the suction slot should be very slightly tilted toward the front as opposed to vertical.
I wouldn't recommend getting records wet before you suck or sweep out all the dust or the vast amount of dust and than you should apply liquid.
If you will apply a liquid onto dirty vinyl the dust will get stuck onto groves.
So the first thing to do is to vacume it than use Discwasher record-conditioning brush with a small amount of discwasher liquid(or other professional brand) along the groves until the liquid dries out.
Place your record back onto VPI16 and vacume it from statically accumulated dust particles.
What's a good source for Torumat cleaning fluid?
Music Direct in Chicago, a measly $70 a gallon. But, a gallon cleans a ton of records.
Never use alcohol to clean records. Alcohol damages vinyl, over time it will become brittle and you may see visible streaking on the surface. As far as not putting a liquid on the vinyl before you vacuum, that's just ignorance, any good detergent / surfactant breaks down any bonding between the dirt and the vinyl. For 90+% of records, the proper surfactant and relatively pure water will do an excellent job. As a Chemist, I can tell you that we used this 30 years ago to clean absurdly expensive analytical equipment that had vinyl measuring tubes.
This recipe came out of the Absolute Sound about nine years ago and has served me well since:One gallon of pure distilled water,one pint 97% alcohol,10 drops of Kodak photo-flow and 10 drops of windex.This will run you about a dollar per gallon.Alot further than a gallon of gas will get ya.No sonic degregation has occured on any of my records since using this formula and the sound is as good if not better than those so called mega buck cleaners.
a GALON of record cleaner?????????? What for???
Do you need to dip a record inside the bucket with record cleaning solution??

I own a vintage 8oz Memorex anti-static cleaner-conditioner which was sold as a kit along with Audio Exchange brush for a number of years. I acquired it from the record collector who was liquidating his vinyls and he gave it to me for free arround 3 years ago. He used it approximately for the same number of years if not more. Let me tell you -- the bottle doesn't seem to bring the level down so far(still have more than one half left).
Aren't there smaller bottles of Torumat?
If music direct sells their record cleaning solution in galons than whoever lives next to each other have to cooperate to buy one galon for at least 4 people.

The first time I used Torumat I bought a 16oz bottle. I suspect it's still available in that size. It's just cheaper to buy a gallon and keep refilling the smaller bottle. Of course, over the years I've cleaned maybe 3000 records and used several gallons. Someone with a more modest collection certainly would use much less.

Geez: I have gone through a couple gallons of a mix (similar to what Frank uses but sans Photo Flow) in the past two months cleaning 600 or so LP's. I clean them by hand (no machine) and do not reuse the fluid. I also clean the brush with electricians alcohal between each LP and then rinse it as well as the LP. I purchase used/mint vinyl that needs a good bath and am mainly afraid of mold being spread from one LP to another through the cleaning process. If I were using a high ticket solution I would of course use less. I also need a good/cheap source for quality liners.
You know, record cleaning and care tips seem to be all over the board. I even once had an audio dealer tell me NOT to clean old records if they didn't "LOOK" dirty because cleaning them would only make them sound worse! I truly believe that most tips and suggestions, unless the person is overtly trying to sell you something, are offered in good faith and with good intentions.

However, I do have a question with regard to the statement above that alcohol will damage polyvinyl records. While not saying this is WRONG (because I am not an expert chemist), it is contrary to almost everything I have ever read. Of course, it has ALWAYS been held that alcohol is a definite "no-no" on shellac 78's. After searching and viewing about 50 sources, nearly all recommended brews for cleaning records have alcohol as a content ingredient and mention alcohol damage ONLY in the case of shellacs. A couple say that "some" have claimed alcohol damage but that experience has shown that unless the percentage of alcohol used is more than 40% and that alcohol does not come into prolonged or continous contact witht LP, that damage is not an issue. Some sites have mentioned that the BBC and Library of Congress use solutions to clean records that have alcohol as an ingredient.

I have about 2,000 LP's that I have recently resurrected and plan to start cleaning them in batches as I begin to play them again. Does anyone else out there know of any solid evidence to say that one should NOT use alcohol? I certainly don't want to in any way damage my old vinyl.