Cleaning flood damaged vinyls

My first post here and I was hopeing that someone could help with a perplexing problem. My vinyl collection (~2,000 collected over the past 50 years) was left standing in about 2" of water due to a burst water pipe - all the albums were stacked vertically and now they have a mold/mildew growth on them. My insurance carrier will pay to have them professionally cleaned. Any ideas of who does this? I could sure us the help. I currently clean my albums utilizing a Nitty Gritty with their cleaning fluid and the system that I play them through consists of a Lyra Delos mounted to a Michell Technoarm on a Michell Orbe. Preamp/phono is a Thor Audio TA 2000 connected to Sophia Electric 845 monoblocks. Speakers are older McIntosh XP-25's. CD player/dac is an Ayon Audio CD-2s
I think you might be hosed. I had a similar event occur in the 70's and the records were trash. Mold gets into and beneath the grooves and wrecks vinyl. If it is surface only mold they might be salvage worthy.

I use the SOTA lp record cleaner, Mofi Enzyme and Record Wash, then LAST and mofi sleeve. Works for me. I sometimes find some Salvation Army or other scores just will not clean up although overall the lp cleaner and cleaners have been a fantastic investment.

I would recommend you contact Mike Fremer at Analog planet as perhaps the new ultrasonic cleaning machines might be up to the task or perhaps a poster who owns one can chime in.

Good Luck but fear you may be in for some long term replacement. please do a follow-up post on how this works out.
I think Steelhead has it right. Insurance companies hate paying claims. I would tell them that there are no more vinyl cleaning specialists. The only way now, is to buy a machine and do it yourself. Then just try to get them to buy you the best machine you can get out of them.
You might try this person
Here are a couple of articles from Analog Planet about flood damaged records:

Can steam save this record?

Yes, that flood damaged record can be saved.
An ultrasonic clearer might help. They are not cheap, but they do a good job.

Dave Burton - the Record Genie will clean them. He has two different ultrasonic machines. He has experience with moldy records and uses a Spin Clean on those, I think. I think he charges $3 a piece to do them with one machine or $5 to do them on both machines. He also has quantity discounts, 25% for 100+. Don't quote me on price, but he posted those prices not long ago. You could try some and see how that goes.

His business is Record Genie and he is outside Boston, but he has business around the country. You can find him on Facebook or at his website.

Record Genie
CALL, don't email, Duane Goldman (The Disc Doctor). He may have some suggestions and might be willing to mix up some special cleaner to address your special cleaning needs. He has been studying record cleaning for probably 40 years, I doubt there is a better source on the planet.

Worst case, he might give you some advice or steer you in the right direction.
Nothing to add except to commiserate. It is also why I store mine 24" off the ground.
Polyvinylchloride is very strong and resilient. Your records are definitely recoverable. I lost many of my records to a flood too, but my problem was that well-meaning in-laws stacked the albums horizontally on a mantel that warped the records. That was in 1979.

I saved some that I couldn't bear to dumpster and about 38 years later I found that detergent and a handheld steamer could completely clean the mold out of the grooves.

Unfortunately that is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially when 2,000 LPs are involved. So you need to hire a professional cleaner. My point is that they can be recovered. Just find a good cleaning service, get the estimate, and make the claim with the insurer.

The record jackets, however, are another issue. :(
Would insurance pay for ultrasonic machine and cleaning fluids? I would get KL Audio machine and Audio Intelligent three step original or Archivist kit. I would also get something like Walker kit for comparizon. Maybe Last too.
Steaming is risky, you must be able to control the temperature. Professional cleaning would be more expensive and most likely no better. If you have the machine you can clean any record a few times, a professional is unlikely to do it. In fact, if I were the one I could refuse working on it because nothing is guaranteed.
How about jackets? Records loose 75% or more of value if not with jacket.
Thanks!! - This will give me a direction to proceed - There is not a lot of info on the net on professional vinyl cleaners.
Some thoughts. I doubt the insurance company will pay $6,000 for cleaning, but try. Try to get them to also pay for the shipping, both ways. Ultrasonic is best way to go. Still leaves you with the problem of how to recover the reattach the labels. Suggestions?
My ultrasonic bath can fit upto 9 records at a time.
Dave Burton - The Record Genie is reading this thread and is trying to get an account set up to respond. He is having trouble getting the account set up. But, contact him. He knows about your situation. I think he will propose doing a trial of a small number of your records.
It may be advantageous for your ins. company to pay YOU to buy a KLaudio cleaner - cheaper than the approx $5-10/LPreimbursement or $5/LP cleaning charge. You already have a NG that you coulr use enzyme cleaner on then follow up with the KL for the sonic cleaning.
Miner 42 - 2,000 records would take hundreds of hours to clean. The cleaning cycle along on a KLaudio is 5 to 10 minutes, let along all the other handling. At 5 an hour, that would still be 400 hours. I would expect insurance to pay for that time.
Sorry to hear about your flood damage Aceduck, and thanks for the mention Dtc.

I've read many threads on Audiogon, over many years, and should have signed up years ago! Anyway, it's my first post here..

Lots of good points made in previous posts here, and moldy records can be cleaned and improved, although the ultimate results depend a lot on how long they've been moldy and how bad they are. There's more than one kind of mold, and I've seen irreparable damage, with an "etched effect" on some customer's "problem" records. If this is the case then there may still be audible effects if the mold has damaged the vinyl, even if cosmetically the records are much improved.

You have a quality system that will be revealing enough to know if the "after cleaning" results are good enough, so I think the best thing to do would be to get me some sample records that I can pre-treat and then double-clean for you, so you can see/hear how you like the results.

The prices quoted above for Record Genie are correct (since March 2014) although mold remediation is something I normally charge $1 extra for unless it's just a couple of records as part of a larger batch.

Moldy records can't go straight into the ultrasonic cleaners (nor would you want them to) and must be carefully pre-cleaned before ultrasonic cleaning. I have a Spin Clean and a VPI 16.5 with a variety of products I've used successfuly, which can tackle almost any problem record. I avoid anything with alcohol in it, although I know others do use alcohol based cleaners.

Logistically, I'm based near Boston MA and have customers as far away as California who have had me clean as many as hundreds of records for them. I have special packaging "shipping kits" that I can send you to safely send a small sample batch of records, up to 18 of normal pressing weight. Just the records not the jackets. I don't normally deal with them, but jackets are a whole other problem, and likely cannot be saved if moldy, though it may be possible to clean and dry them, at least some of them, and there may be specialized equipment not normally used for record jackets that could be adapted and used to good effect.

As others have said, your insurance company is going to want to pay out as little as possible, and depending on the damage to your collection, you may be better trying to get them to settle for the whole lot, although if they're not insured as collectibles with some kind of higher or agreed value, then you may be out of luck. Food for thought for many of us I'm sure - What is my collection worth? What would it cost to replace? Is my collection properly insured?

If I was doing the whole job then I have large "shipping kits" you can use that take 60 records. I provide packaging to almost all my customers now, for free, with a refundable deposit. If you are near enough geographically then picking up the records would be more cost effective than shipping them, but USPS Media Mail rates are surprisingly affordable, it's less than $20 to ship a box of 60 records (weighing ~35 pounds) from anywhere in the USA. 2,000 records will take a lot of shipping kits, but keep in mind that it takes me 20 minutes to ultrasonically double-clean each record anyway, and mold will take longer.

The comments about maybe getting your insurance company to buy you an ultrasonic cleaner (or two) are valid, but there will be serious time constraints if you have only 1 machine to use, and if you also have other demands on your time, like work! I started Record Genie with an Audio Desk in September 2013, but as demand has grown, I needed more cleaning capacity, and now have 2 Audio Desk machines, 2 Klaudio machines, plus a VPI 16.5 conventional cleaner, and a Spin Clean too.

Perhaps 10 boxes of 60 records arriving per week, being cleaned and returned, might be the best approach. That's still 50 hours of cleaning for me, using 4 machines, PLUS the extra time needed for mold pre-cleaning. 600 records per week would get the job done over the course of only 3 or 4 very busy weeks. I'm quite sure time is of the essence to remove the mold as soon as possible.

Please contact me if you would like to have me clean some samples of your damaged records, perhaps a dozen favourites that you know well, or some of the worst ones you have, just to see if you would be happy with the results of pre-cleaning and ultrasonic double-cleaning..

Please let me know if you have any questions - I'm here to help!
I would not pursue a solution that does not assure you that it will kill the mold... else the problem can return
I have purchased 3 lots of vinyl that were flood damaged. The bad issue is the covers will be pretty much screwed. But the good news is the vinyl can be cleaned. I have used very successfully 3 step process. First, get some bleach and dilute 50%. Use a separate brush for the bleach solution. step one, put bleach solution on the record and spread to cover all of the grooves. let stand for 3-5 min. Then using the same brush, scrub the side. Vacuum off bleach solution. second step- use your normal cleaning solution and brush you use for it and follow your normal regime. Third step, rinse with distilled water.

If you are a steamer (some do and some dont), it works well with the bleach step.

I now use an ultrasonic bath, but have not brought any recent moldy records but i am sure the bleach would work with it also. The bleach will kill the mold on the record and will not hurt the vinyl if you follow your normal cleaning regime and rinse well. I have about 350 records that i recovered this way. Final warning, Throw away the old liner and use a new liner for the record. This is a lot of work, but it will recover them with this method
If they are going to pay for the cost of sending them out, then jump on it!! Unless you have replacement cost coverage or have separately "scheduled" your collection, I highly doubt that most insurance companies will give you much more than what a used LP dealer will pay for a record. They are most likely going to come up w some kind of average cost when new and then depreciate them from there. If the cost of "cleaning" them is more than that number, they will probably declare them a total loss and just pay the "book value", just like if you wrecked your '97 jeep w 200K miles that still runs like a top and has no rust. They'll give you the Kelly Blue Book (in that case, maybe $500.00).

If you have replacement cost, then they will give you what they can be purchased for; if no longer "in print" they would probably look to a used LP guide on the 'net or ebay records.

If I'm wrong (could be...just sayin') send me the name of your insurance co and I'll switch in a heartbeat.
A couple (actually five) thoughts:

1. Having the insurance company pay to have the mold damaged records cleaned will not return them to their full value as CZ noted above. If the insurance company would treat them as a total loss and you could be compensated accordingly, that would be the best option (unless you have rare, irreplaceable pressings).
2. I wouldn't assume that conventional record cleaning methods, including ultrasonic, will kill that stuff. (Aside from not wanting to pollute an ultrasonic machine with a living organism). I haven't really researched cleaning moldly records in depth, but my impression is that you need something pretty aggressive to kill that stuff. There are various mold remediation chemicals, some of which may be suitable for vinyl- I think one fellow on the Net was talking about Sporicidin, but I have no hands-on experience with that, and as I think the Record Genie noted, some mold may have 'etched' or damaged the record so even if you kill the active growth, the damage is done. You also have the issue of not using something so volatile that the cleaning does damage.
3. If you are going the cleaning route, I would go with a professional, like the Genie (who I have not used, and have no hidden agenda to promote).
4. As others have noted, get the records out of their damp sleeves and jackets, pronto. That stuff is alive! And keep all of it segregated from other things; I would imagine mold on vinyl could migrate to other things within your household. Not to be alarmist, but you have to treat this like the biohazard that it is; I would think touching the records or sleeves, and touching other stuff in your house could cause contamination, but maybe i'm being alarmist.
5. Bummer. Hope you get this sorted. It's an issue I've thought about researching more fully, but I haven't had the need (thank goodness) or the time. I didn't see much on the web in the vein of archivist recommendations regarding vinyl records, there are some pieces about mold on books and documents, but that's a whole other thing. (And they are wearing gloves too).Nor was there anything I saw in a quick glance on the Library of Congress guidelines on archival matters re mold remediation for records. (I didn't look real closely but I don't remember seeing anything).
Let us know what happens, and I'd be interested to hear from the Genie, if he does do this kind of remediation, exactly what he does (unless he considers it proprietary).
Curious about your thoughts on KLaudio vs Audio Desk cleaning machines. I currently have a Nitty Gritty Minipro2 but would like an ultrasonic system, too. There is no review quite like an end user review.
Miner- for what it's worth, I have owned both. I would actually recommend a DIY ultrasonic and a point nozzle vacuum system. My best results have been obtained with one or another ultrasonic, after pre-cleaning, but rather than using fan dry, vacuum drying using a big Monks. You can buy a used Loricraft for far less than the Monks (or there is a new baby Monks I haven't used). Be curious to know if the Genie has tried this- I have played with and written about this extensively, including visiting the LOC and spending time with their preservation specialists. One of the methods I use is named after the famous Syntax, here on the 'Gon, but it risks damaging the KL because you are not supposed to remove a wet record from the KL (and you really can't do that with the ADS). You need to use both manual/vac clean and ultra sonic for best results, at least with used vinyl, but you didn't ask for my opinion, so take it for what it's worth.
To answer Whart's question about cleaning:

There's nothing "proprietary" about any of my cleaning processes, I simply use the Audio Desk machines with their cleaning agent as the manufacturer intended, and I use the Klaudio machines with frequent distilled water changes. I buy my water from CVS pharmacy in cases of 6 gallons, it's more expensive than Walmart's distilled water, but I like that it is also filtered to 0.5 micron.

I have two Audio Desk machines. At this point, one is really a backup machine, and I have modified the other one to work with 2 gallons of cleaning solution. Dirt settles on the deeper tank bottom, below where the pump pick-up is. I can clean the bigger water tank easily and completely, and I also modified that machine to allow early release of the record, to skip the Audio Desk drying cycle. When I am "double-cleaning" the records go straight from Audio Desk washing into one of my 2 Klaudio machines for the second part of the double-cleaning, and drying. Klaudio fans are more powerful fan and dry better than the Audio Desk, although I always run the full 5-minute drying time before putting records away in new sleeves. I use MoFi and Diskeeper 2.0 sleeves.

I use a water testing meter (measures TDS or "total dissolved solids" in PPM or "parts per million") and check often to see exactly how "dirty" the Audio Desk solution and Klaudio water is getting. I change the Klaudio water when it reaches 5ppm which is still absolutely crystal clear. Some of the increase in PPM can be attributed to small amounts of Audio Desk solution still on the record surfaces from the first cleaning. Audio Desk solution measures 3.5ppm when new.

Klaudio themselves recommend changing water every 100 records, and 5ppm comes up well before then, although of course that's entirely dependent on how dirty the records being cleaned are. The discarded Klaudio water might look perfect, but I know I want the best results for customers, so I check often and maintain strict quality control of what I am doing. It's only half a gallon of distilled water per change for each Klaudio machine, with no expensive cleaning solution added.

Any pre-ultrasonic cleaning steps are equally obsessive, for mucky garage sale finds, and especially for moldy records, which I rarely clean. I have "Vinyl-Stack" and "GroovMaster" label protector "handles" that make manual cleaning easier, and I have used Spin Clean, MoFi enzyme, Sporicidin, and also L'Art Du Son cleaner for pre-treatment. My VPI 16.5 machine obviously vacuums off fluid, but there is always the problem of clean and dirty sides (face down) so cleaning by hand, using dedicated brushes, and thorough rinsing with distilled water avoids risk of cross-contamination. I use a "pump-up" pressurized tank for easy spray rinsing with distilled water. When I need to pre-clean, I use a lot of extra distilled water.

I do all of this to make sure no mold goes into the ultrasonic cleaners, although the Audio Desk cleaning solution must be somewhat antibacterial since I've observed that stuff doesn't grow in old fluid (drained into gallon containers) like it can with Klaudio drain water that's been sitting for months. My precautions might be overkill, but I have an extra set of microfiber rollers that I swap in just for cleaning previously moldy records, and those records have to wait for cleaning right before I dump the Audio Desk cleaning solution at the end of it's useful life. When I clean the Audio Desk and start with new fluid, I also clean and refill the Klaudio machines.

To answer Miner42's question about Audio Desk vs Klaudio:

I know there are fans of both machines, and if you have only one then you might naturally consider it the best, that's human nature perhaps, but I have both machines (two of each) and consider them both equally essential to what I am doing for Record Genie customers..

I started with an Audio Desk in August 2013 and was going to buy a second one that September once I got started, but chose a Klaudio instead, and am glad I did as the machines both work differently to solve the same problem of dirty records. Later on, when I needed to add a third machine for more capacity, I asked customers which machine I should buy, Audio Desk or Klaudio? There was no clear answer, so I added another one of each, which maintained the same balance of cleaning capacity.

Early on, purely by chance, it was discovered that when used together the two different machines could offer even better results, as reported by one of my customers who is a jazz collector and had me double-clean a particularly noisy Blue Note for him. He reported back that the record went from very noisy to amazingly quiet, so we did some more testing, and that was the reason I started offering double-cleaning to other customers. It has been very popular.

In terms of double-cleaning, the Audio Desk's cleaning solution, rollers, and ultrasonic are good for the first step, especially for records with minor crud or fingerprints on them, and the cleaning solution has excellent anti-static properties too. The Klaudio's higher wattage ultrasonic in pure distilled water is the perfect second step, and you might say it's the better choice for "already cleaner" records. Water changes are important, especially the Klaudio, to get the second step closer to a pure rinse effect. I have also experimented with expensive "lab grade" water in the Klaudio machines, but customers (who all knew) did not report any difference that justified the extra expense.

Long answers I know, and maybe not what you were looking for, but hope that helps!

Bottom line is that if you're curious about ultrasonic cleaning, and the Audio Desk and Klaudio machines in particular, then I'd be happy to clean some records for you! Choose some favourites you know well, and have me do a mix of Audio Desk and Klaudio single-cleans, and some double-cleans (both machines), then play them afterwards and compare. Then you'll know how well either (or both) can work with your records, played on your system!

Dave you are a good guy for giving all that detail. I have come to the conclusion that there is no 'one way' and that with access to a variety of machines, fluids, etc, I used combined approaches. Some records just require more work than others depending on the contamination. Best,
bill hart
Whart - Unfortunately I haven't ever used a Keith Monks or Loricraft, but would love to have one to be able to experiment with, especially a Monks since I grew up in England and it would actually be really nice to use British rather than German and South Korean equipment! I know those machines have a good following and I understand why the results would be good on either, although time consuming because the point vacuum has to follow the entire length of the groove, and separately for each side.

I'm not sure why you're thinking it would be a problem to remove a record from a Klaudio during washing? There's really no need to do that, you can adjust the wash time from 0-5 minutes at any point, and the same for dry time. You could wash records continuously if needed, although I'd recommend a later version for that, as early ones didn't have any cooling, and the water would get hotter than you want. The early version didn't have the dual time selectors or nifty record light either..

I would be fascinated to visit the Library of Congress and talk with their experts about record cleaning and preservation, and I have read quite a bit on their website. Are they using any ultrasonic cleaning processes yet? They recommend the surfactant Tergitol, which I considered trying, but decided against it after checking the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for safe handling and disposal. Tergitol is readily available online, but is really nasty stuff for the environment, fish etc, and would pose a problem for safe disposal of used fluids. Since the Klaudio machines just use water, and the Audio Desk solution is biodegradable, they are not a problem for disposal and the environment.

My goal for Record Genie is always going to be getting the best results possible while still being practical, and while I'm obviously not afraid of investing in expensive equipment to do that, the resulting service still needs to be priced affordably for customers. I am interested in other technologies of course, not just ultrasonic, and am actively reading whenever I can. Have you any experience with the newer Clearaudio audio machine that uses vibrations (not ultrasonic) and cleans both sides at once? I think it's $5,500 retail, but I've read some good comments on at least one forum where it was compared with ultrasonic..

While I really feel sorry for Aceduck, and think it's an awful situation, it's great to have this discussion about record cleaning - So glad I finally joined Audiogon!
Dave and i compared notes briefly by phone- and since he is new to the 'Gon, his posts lag, b/c they have to be moderated. The issue with the KL is simply that KL (per Tim, the guy I think most customers deal w/ at the US company) has advised that removing a wet record from their machine risks damaging the electronics because water droplets may hit the electronics within the machine. I have a KL that is a year old, and as Dave said, it allows you to 'zero' the dry time. That's not an issue. If KL could eliminate the risk to the machine that I was advised of by their US representative- which would permit wash only without possible damage to the machine, I would score it higher since this is a great way to use it in my estimation. (I don't know if the drying function is also tied to the cooling function, the water in the KL does get hotter if you use it serially at 5 minute wash settings for a number of records and you can hear the auxiliary cooling system -part of the later KL models- kick in. The heat caused by cavitation may actually enhance the cleaning, not sure). The fan dryers in the KL work fine, but dry does not always =clean. I think using the Monks to point nozzle dry the record achieves more- at greater time, greater cost. That's why, for now, I recommended a DIY kit for ultrasonic and used Loricraft combo.
Otherwise, I think Dave and I are on the same page, except I only clean records for myself! I think anybody looking for a service would probably be in good hands with this man, who also has a charming Brit accent.
Agree re Aceduck's situation- over and out!
bill hart