Cleaning old record collection.. advise please

Hi folks,

Been wanting to get back into listening to my albulms for some time. I have 1200+ that have been in storage for 20 years or so. Most of the record jackets were protected with a plastic sleeve. At one point in time, some were subjected to some mildew and mold. I don't think it really got to the vinal as much as it did to the covers.
The covers were all wiped down and have been stored properly since. The few records that had some mildew on them, can they be salvaged? The bulk of the collection should be fine.
What would you all suggest???
Any of the enzyme record cleaning solutions (Buggtussel, AVIS, etc.) will take care of the mold. The LPs should be okay afer the good cleaning.

The AVIS fluids are a three step process: enzyme, cleaner, and distilled water rinse. Because you have a mold problem I would recommend it over the RLL fluids, which also do an excellent job, but do not contain enzymes.

I had good luck with my collection that was stored in a concrete floor basement. Moisture wicked up into many of them, and mildew grew on the covers and some of the vinyl.

Patiently cleaning them with Record Research Deep Cleaner and then RR Vinyl wash, several times depending how bad they were, restored them to almost new. I think with some TLC, you should be fine.

Goog luck.
If you could use a vacuum record cleaning machine and one or more of the better liquid record cleaners such as The Disc Doctor's Miracle record cleaner (my personal favorite). If you don't have access to a machine, manual cleaning would be next best. Do some searching thru AudiogoN and you will find many, many past threads on record cleaning, enough to fill a book I would dare say. I have contributed to several.
vpi machine and record research cleaning fluids
With mildew I'd be inclined to use a two stage process. I'd start off with a manual wash using the Knosti Disco Antistat washer (available and other places £45). I'd use a solution of 35-40% isopropyl alcohol (not for shellac records though), with rest purified water and a few drops of wetting agent (Ilford for instance) per liter. The Disco antistat has a good scrubbing action, which is what you want. Pass the mildewed record through the brushes several times. Then vacuum on a convential vacuum machine, and repeat the process but don't use the Disco Antistat - instead use your favourite cleaner -- Disc Doctor, Art du Son, whatever. Change solution in Antistat every few mildewed records. If you don't have a vacuum washer, then use the Antistat twice, but change liquids between washes. The result will not be as good, but may be acceptable.
Disk Doctor will get rid of the mold, from my experience.

I would do them by hand.

If you plan on cleaning all 1200, definitely get a machine.
visually inspect for signs of mildew, and get youself some discwasher and cloth. until you begin to play them, its hard to tell....i've been collecting vinyl since i was 8 and a cleaning machine hasn't done any better than washing by hand. take care of your records and your records will take care of you.
Tod914, the challenge with mildew is that it actually destroys the vinyl over time. So, for those few records, you won't know until you actually try cleaning them up and playing them.

Definitely use one of the LP cleaning fluids like Disc Doctor Miracle Record Cleaner, RRL, or Audio Intelligent. A vacuum cleaning machine like the VPI 16.5 or 17 will definitely make the process easier, but it's not a requirement. The cleaning fluid will be the key to cleaning your LPs, not the machine. You can do a very effective manual cleaning job with Disc Doctor, some soft cloths and a dish drying rack.

Good luck, hope you can get back to enjoying your vinyl!
Steve, I guess I'll clean a few (good and bad) and see if I can audition them someplace to verify the condition prior to making a commitment to a turntable and phonostage. I wasnt sure what impact mildew had. Didn't find anything when I did search.

Thanks for the reply
oops and Rushton

I concur with the recommendations above, except that the otherwise superb RRL fluids will not remove mildew and mold spores. For that an enzyme-based solution needs to be added to the cleaning regimen.

My preference is Buggtussel's Vinyl-Zyme. Using it is SOP for every used record I clean.

Good luck,
Try something cheap and easy to see what the possibilities are before investing in an expensive machine, which will vacuum records dry (good), but will scrub them wet no better (or worse) than you can do by hand.

You do need to get a fine-nap velvet record brush to clean down into the grooves, but the heck with designer cleaning fluids, you can make an inexpensive mold-combating fluid with ingredients you probably already have around the house or can pick up at any discount/drug store. Combine a 1/2 cup of clear 70/30 (isopropyl/water) rubbing alcohol (not "denatured" or containing lanolin, etc.) with several drops of a dye-and-perfume "free" laundry detergent formulated with enzymes (such as Tide Free) and several drops of standard chlorine bleach.

Prepare a flat working surface on a kitchen countertop, using either a towel or something if you must, but a better bet is a rubber turntable mat that you can easily rinse and dry periodically during a cleaning session, and won't recontaminate the turned-down side of a record with lint or absorbed dirty fluid. Thoroughly wet the the playing surface of the record (none of this 2-3 drops of fluid business, you need to be able to float whatever contaminents are released) by spreading out a bead of fluid with the brush and then scrub concentrically with the grooves for a solid minute, working your way back and forth around the whole record side, putting a little elbow grease into it. Rinse with filtered water if available (either under a filtered tap if you have it, keeping the record angled down from the label while rotating through the stream, or in a large bowl filled to just below the label of a vertically-dipped record, rotating the record through the water), and dry gently with premium paper towels (such as Bounty, which won't shed fibers) again going concentrically with the grooves.

You may have to repeat the process if the contamination is bad, and if two or three cleanings don't change the appearance any further, play-test it anyway -- the permanent damage might be mostly cosmetic. You'll also need some kind of bristle brush to help clean your velvet brush under rinse water between passes -- a new toothbrush will suffice. If you decide to clean a lot of the records by hand (even if you eventually get a vacuum machine for final cleaning and/or drying) and want a better working surface, and happen to live near an Ikea store, try this. Best of luck!
Dear Tod: This is all about:

Regards and enjoy the music.
Great!!! Thanks for all the replies. Think I will start off by cleaning a few of the good ones and see how they play prior to investing in all the gear (VPI, turntable, phonostage, etc.). I've been reading up on turntables as well. Seems like there are so many choices out there. Im under the impression turntables have their own signature much the same as amps and cables do. I don't want to go for my lungs getting into this. Id like to purchase a turntable, phonostage, and cartridge for under 2k.. closer to 1500 would be ideal.
I'll keep poking around the forum here and try to educate myself more. Playing LPs brings back so many great memories. Real excited about getting back into this. If you all have any turntable suggestions within my budget, I'm all ears. Im running Cremona Auditors with a Manley Stingray and Aural Symphonic cables if that makes any difference in turntable selection. Im looking for something with a rich midrange and would like to tone down the highs abit on the speakers.. Not sure it that helps narrow down my choices or not.

This thread I found quite helpfull as well..
If you really need the enzyme fluid, use the Buggtussel Vinyl-Zyme.