Cleaning Vinyl

I have recently gotten back into vinyl. Questions regarding what type of cleaning and treatments for my abums would you suggest. I used to use the discwasher system and zerostat gun, have never tried the record cleaning machines... any suggestions? How about any type of album treatment solutions... gruv glide, etc. HELP!!!
If you can afford to, purchase a record cleaning machine like the VPI. It is the one I choose, having previously owned the Nitty Gritty. All of the popular record cleaning solutions are better than nothing. If I had to choose one, it would be the Record Research. I like Last record preservative, but prefer to wash it off with the Record Research fluid afterward (Last's done it's job at that point anyway.) I do not like Gruv Glide, but my understanding is that Grove Glide's performance is dependant on what phono cartridge and stylus tip is used.
I love Gruv Glide, but Albert does know of what he speaks. I feel it reduces friction very well, therefore groove wear is also reduced. It needs no post cleaning after application. It is of course paramount that you get a cleaning machine, either of the VPI's. I'm still trying to decide if there are better dust brushes (for VERY minor cleaning just before play). My AudioQuest carbon brush has put extremely faint scratches on a blank LP side, and that troubles me. Anyway, if you have LP's that are extremely dirty (30 year old fingerprints in the grooves, etc.), you can use diluted alcohol and a soft cloth, BEFORE the cleaning machine. Perhaps I'll take heat for that last one, but I'm not concerned about it in the least. Good luck, AND DO BUY THE CLASSIC RECORDS REISSUES, if at all possible...
I have owned a VPI 16.5 machine for many years and have been very happy with it. I use the brush that comes with it for really dirty records (flea market and thrift store acquisitions) and a discwasher brush for normal cleaning before play. I still use VPI record cleaning fluid; it's about $20 per gallon but it seems to last forever. I use nothing else on the records; many of the protectants add somewhat of a glaze and I have been nervous about using them on old records that are not easily replaced.
i was using a watts dust-bug while the record was playing; recently upgraded to a nos kieth monks record sweeper. this is all-metal, & is actually grounded - helps reduce static. i have no problems w/dust accumulating on the stylus. i also use a zero-stat gun, and last record preservative & stylus preservative. re: record-cleaning machines, - *have* used a friend's machine, & it *is* nice, but, with what *i* have, i get perfectly acceptable results w/a sponge, mild dish-soap, and luke-warm water in the kitchen sink! dry w/a soft towel. doug
"Carl" is absolutely right! (as usual). I use "Gruv Glide" exclusively. It completely kills static, so there is no particulate attraction, it enhances trackability so the sound is better, and best of all it does not affect or "eat" the vinyl like other products. It can be completely washed off. 1 can does about 150 albums so it's very economical too. Phenomenal stuff, worth a try at 24$!! By the way Gruv Glide is/was a previously "Stereophile Recommended" accessory if that's important to you.
Thank you for the compliment, Bhrowe.
Good advice by others. I never felt comfortable using dishwasher soap of any kind. Buy a new or used record cleaning machine! I have used a VPI-17F for years and it is great. I use a three step process, clean (homemade recipes), preserve (last), clean unwanted preservative off (Record Research). New and clean records are cleaned with distilled water and minute portion of photo flow (16 oz H2O - 2 drops photo flow ratio). For dirty records I add 1 or 2 oz of acohol. I think these work well especailly if you follow up with Last and Record Research. Good brush (there are several), wipe stylus with brush, clean stylus once in while (I like last products), I have anti-static gun (don't remember brand, as I don't need to use it very often)and most of all enjoy the music! Good luck.
While I agree with most of the comments I have been mixing my own cleaning fliud and it seems to work the best. It has just enough lab grade alcohol and a surfactant that it takes out all of the syubborn grime. I had heard that Kodak Photo flush is not good for the vinyl and in some cases causes the vinyl to dry out. I also got have switched to a decca record brush and discwasher zerostat gun just before I play records. Definitely get a VPI machine as all the others just don't clean as well.
Thank you very much guys, I have purchased some of the Gruv-Glide and am looking for a VPI record cleaning machine. Have been purchasing some of the audiophile recordings (LP) and don't want to pound grit and trash into the grooves.
Yes, and the stylus generally doesn't like it when that happens either.
Do not use Photo Flow at full strenght on vinyl! That is not what I was suggesting. Two drops of it in 16 oz fluid solution shouldn't hurt new or old dirty vinyl, but I only use it on cleaning those very dirty records. Do others have a better suggestion?
Cleaning Kit list, All available at the local drug store:Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol-proportion of mixture is 50% isopropyl alcohol + 50% distilled water by volume. Read the label to confirm that. Lint free tissue sheets (ladies lint free facial cleaning tissue will be fine!), come in small sheets pack. Soft chamois drying cloth or equivalent. Method: Apply liquid to just dampen the lint free tissue to go gently over the LP surface inline with the grooves. Apply more liquid to inundate the grooves of the really bad LP to dislodge the dirt therefrom. Use this sheet for one side only. Dry off with the clean chamois and replace LP back to a clean (new) inner sleeve. Play it and you will notice the crisp and twang you had from a new LP! One CAUTION though; avoid liquid contact with the label, it will leave a watermark on paper. A small amount on a stylus brush will clean the stylus beutifully too, But ENSURE the diamond is SHANK FITTED and NOT ADHESIVE FITTED. Isopropyl will DISSOLVE certain glues. Welcome back to Vinyl. regards Phil.
I use the VPI 16.5 cleaning machine with VPI fluid and have always had good results. I also use Last 2 Preservative on all records that I purchase, both new and used. The VPI fluid use to come in a gallon jug, but now it comes in a concentrate resulting in lower shipping cost.
Sedond -I am curious about the metal device you mentioned that is similar to the dustbug. I am using an old dustbug and have found it to be the best device short of a VPI or NG machine. However, my dustbug is beggining to wear out and I am seeking to replace it until I can afford a proper machine.... - this is arthur salvatore's www; he still has some of these kieth monks record sweepers on his site, so mebbe he still has a few - they're n.o.s. there seems to be some carbon-fibre mixed in w/the animal-hair on the brush-end; the arm & base are all metal, w/a grounding wire coming outta the base. it tracks the grooves well, like a dust-bug; i couldn't imagine playing records w/o one of thes types of devices...
Think that 50% alcohol might be too much.Empty gallon of distilled watter into container pour in one pint of alchohol 2-3 drops of clear dish liquid and photoflow.Works great.I use Last Power Cleaner on really gummed up LP's or if there not I just use an Alsop Orbitrac beofre I run it through my VPI 16.5.Thereafter unles it really has collected with dust from sitting out for a few days I use a brand new Allsop pad or one that has only cleaned LP's that have been thuroughly cleaned on machine.Last Preservative is worth it's weight in gold (Mike at VPI say's folks bring him Lp at shows treated with it that have used LAST and they sound like they have been played half a doz times not hundreds like they have.There are some disagreements about if one should clean after LAST treatment with just plain water after all the other steps are done.
A few questions-
EVERYONE seems to prefer the VPI to the Nitty Gritty. I've got a Nitty Gritty. Am I stupid? Uninformed? Having never used a VPI, I need an explanation--hopefully not just an opinion, but from someone who has actually USED both.

I remember reading in Stereophile that one of the reviewers used some sort of acid on his records. The theory was that it removed the molding compound. Anyone remember this?

On the subject of molding compound, my understanding is that one needs either the aforementioned acid to remove it, or a high concentration of IPA (50%), or a slightly less strong concoction of IPA and methyl Alcohol in about a 2:1 ratio.

I personally use 70% steam distilled water, 20 % IPA, 10% Methyl Alcohol, and a few drops of dishwasher liquid, and a few more drops of PhotoFlo. Then sometimes I put Last on it, play it once, clean the stylus, and clean the record again with steam distilled water and PhotoFlo. I look forward to trying Groove Glide ( however it's spelled) after that. I also look forward to trying a Milty Zerostat.

The whole point of the chemicals is to wash off contaminants, dirt, grease, molding compound. The PhotoFlo is a nessesary surfactant if one wishes to clean the bottom of a groove. None of these chemicals come in contact with the vinyl for long, hopefully not long enough for adverse chemical changes to occur. Therein lies much debate--how long is too long? Any susequent washings would be done with Water and PhotoFlo.

I gotta figure if you're playing your records on a $200,000 rig with a Rockport centerpiece, your requirements may be different than mine. The Rockports are having their people buy mint unplayed records, and their clening requirements are different. Most of the records I buy need strong cleaning, and I feel that the benefits of getting that layer of molding compound off so that MY stylus is the first to play the vinyl (and not just ride on the molding compound)is worth the risk that the record is being subtly damaged. Hopefully, the Last more than makes up for it.

The Cheapskate
I have a Nitty Gritty 1.5 FI record cleaner, which I got as a second at Upscale Audio. I don't really see how the VPI could be any better and it is more expensive. The VPI has the Cork mat in contact with the side not being cleaned, while the only contact with the Nitty Gritty is the vacuum slot. The 1.5 FI is quick and effective. The fluid is injected on the underside of the record, the plush pad applies the fluid evenly over the record. After the record turns for about 20 seconds, the switch is moved to the vacuum position and quickly, all of the fluid is removed and the record is clean. I have bought many used record which appear to be in very bad condition and sound like a new record after cleaning. Also, the plush pad replacements are relatively cheap and easy to apply. The VPI requires occasional replacement of the cleaning brush and the vacuum tube. The Nitty Gritty products may not be as pretty as the VPI's, but I believe that they work just as well for a lower price.
Save $500 to 750 dollars, depending on the vacuum machine and purchase a wet/dry vac for $25 to $50 dollars. It also will double as a great vacuum for spills when not in use as a record cleaner.

Also don't DIY a solution with alcohol. It is not good for the vinyl.

I would recommend using Tourmat record cleaner and/or the Disc Doctor cleaning solution with a shop vac and some steam distilled water.