Deep Cleaning Records With Steam?

It has happened again. Major tweak and record provider has available a steam cleaner made especially for records. Anybody try steam for cleaning lp’s? What were your results? Since a unit can be had for about $20 at Target, 15% of what the tweak provider is charging, is it worth a try?.
Do a search you will find many threads about steam cleaning. You want a hand held unit that does not exceed 180 degrees. and you want to use distilled water.

It's cheaper then buying the anti-fungus cleaners for records and works better.
Hello All,

Steam is not produced until the water reaches a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature drops below this after leaving the nozzle, then it is no longer steam vapor. Under normal atmospheric conditions, water must boil in order to produce steam.

180 degrees F will not produce steam nor sustain vaporized water.
who is this major tweak and record provider?

And what is the unit you are looking at for $20 at Target. If you are talking about a fabric steamer, I don't believe this one will do. You need a pressure steamer. Something like the Shark Steam Blaster.
I'd like to try steam cleaning LPs as well. May be after the Audio Intelligent clener I am using runs out, I'll give the steam cleaning a try....
If water boils at 212 degrees how can you get steam at 180?
Good point, Herman.

Water boils at 100 centigrade (212 F) at standard air pressure - 1 atmosphere. It will boil at a much lower temperature if you climb to the top of Everest. The rule of thumb is the boiling point drops by 1 degree F for every 500 feet. So at the top of the world, water is boiling at around 160 F. Can't make a decent cuppa.

Under pressure, the boiling point is raised. Approx 40 degrees F for every atmosphere (15 psi). Hence, the old pressure cooker could cook faster because the water is much hotter.

Perhaps the original poster means 180 C?

No problem, in the pursuit of audiophile nirvana I am willing to scale Mt. Everest with a few thousand records and clean them there.
Thanks guys for the correction, the point is don't buy an industrial steamer as it will COOK your records instead of cleaning them.
Be careful with distilled water as it will not boil. But it will get as hot as boiling water. If you insert anything into distilled water while it is at boiling temps it can and will become violent.
Mapleshade is advertising a cheap steamer in their latest catalog...
Yes, the major tweaker is Mapleshade.
As I understand it,this steam-cleaner should be kept 6" away from the LP.There are two additives you can use-one for basic cleaning and another for deep cleaning/grundge removal.Mapleshade MSRP is $150,they will add a maple box for the Xmas version at an additional cost. has the mapleshade unit for $35. With a 3M microfiber brush from the supermarket your set to go.
As per Michael Fremer's notice in Stereophile a couple of years ago, I bought the Eureka "Hot Shot." It works great. I use it before a regular cleaning on particularly dirty LP's. It can be had for a double saw or two. Google it to find one.
Distilled water will not boil? Please explain where you live because it's been boiling at my house for decades.
I use a shark steamer bought for $10 on eBay on every record I clean. It is a must for me. I use the same expensive water that comes with the Walker or any other cleaning system. I even use the steam on mega expensive Tom Port hot stampers. Here is the clincher...I hold the steamer less than an inch from the vinyl... most records will go into a wild warping motion as you steam them...steam them from the outer lp edge toward the center of the record, it takes maybe 7 or 8 long seconds as you get to the inner grooves slow down...the record will begin to flatten out and stabilize. I even use this to remove record warps. It takes some balls to do this on a $600 or $700 record! I use the enzyme based cleaner first, then strong cleaner, then steam, then rrl super deep and finish with the rrl wash.
Onhwy61, Decades is a long time to boil water. You must be watching it.
In order for water to boil it must have impurities in it. It will get as hot as boiling water. And if anything is inserted into it can explode and injure someone. Your water must have impurities.
Rwwear, you are misinformed. Distilled water will boil when subjected to a sufficient amount of constant heat. Impurities can alter by a small amount the exact temperature at which boiling occurs, but even the purest of pure distilled water will boil. Your statement that distilled water will not boil is incorrect. - 62k

Aiken heated water to 244 degrees Fahrenheit (118 degrees Celsius) before it exploded.

How did he do it? Bohren gives a recipe: a vessel with smooth sides (a glass flask, for example), really clean water, and ridding as much dissolved air as possible.

"Preparing ultra clean water is a heroic task," says Bohren, who finds ordinary distilled water "intolerably filthy". Many years ago during light-scattering experiments, he had to doubly distill the water and pass it through micropore filters before he could use it.

Those are essential ingredients to a successful boiling-at-high-temperatures explosion. Be careful. [Editor's note: Again, don't try this at home.]

For more on bubble growth in water, please read pages 83 through 90 in Craig Bohren's wonderful book, What Light through Yonder Window Breaks?
Rwwear, your original statement was distilled water will not boil. The article you quote describes a procedure for superheating water. The key elements to superheating being the removal of all air pockets within the water, using a very smooth surfaced container and keeping the water motionless while heating. All these factors lead to the suppression of bubbles formation. Superheating is a process where the boiling point is raised, but it still boils (if only explosively).

Here's a quote from Wikipedia:

A popular myth about distilled water is that it has the dangerous property of being more easily heated above its normal boiling point without actually boiling (as seen in Mythbusters) in a process known as superheating. When superheated water is disturbed or has impurities added to it, a nucleation center for bubbles form. These bubbles are then new nucleation centers, and a sudden, explosive boiling can occur, possibly causing serious injury to those nearby. However, distilled water and tap water do not differ in their ease of or danger in being superheated. The dissolved impurities in motionless tap water do not present enough disturbance to inhibit superheating.

If you really believe distilled water will not boil, then secure some distilled water and heat it in a normal pan on a stovetop at high heat. Ultimately, who will you believe - some article in USA Today or your own eyes?
I concede that I was mistaken although it does take higher temps to make it boil and it can be explosive.
I've used a Black and Decker steam cleaner on records with problem spots. I had no problems with warpage. You would have to apply the steam for a very long time to actually heat the vinyl enough to have any sort of problem. I have done this as an experiment, but do not use it regularly because it is NOT very practical (requires way too much effort).

Get a decent wet cleaning/vacuum machine. A very basic model is fine and reasonably priced.

Record Steam Cleaning has been my passion for 15 years. My record steaming ideas have been published in Listener , Stereophile and Positive Feedback. Michael Fremer was referred to me by Art Dudley ; our email exchanges resulted in his article & recommendation for the Hot Shot Sream Cleaner , as well as subsequent articles on record cleaning (2/06) in Stereophile where he did attribute the steam cleaning method to me in print.

I have never sought any financal gain from my ideas. I have always been more interested in the acknowledgement and giving away those ideas so others can reap the benefits , particularly LP folks. What others do is fine and maybe I should reconsider giving away my ideas but not today.

A few years ago I shaired my record cleaning methods with "The East Coast Audiophile Society" a loosely formed group of Audio-Heads; Pierre Spray learned of my work thru his friendship with the group. We share mutual friends all of whom have auditioned steam cleaning or use the process on to enhanse the listening experience. Please note that while I have spoken to Mr. Spray in the past, we have never discussed "The Phonophile Deep-Cleaning System" (...I wish he would have given me a call E-Jass has my #).

Cleaning records with a hand held consumer steam cleaner has advantages over all other record cleaning devices, mainly because most skim the surface or vaccum top surfaces but not deeply into the LP grove.

Steam Cleaning on the other hand projects a head of steam directly , deep into the record groves softening any accmulated gunk for easy removal. Should you wish to get Steaming, here is what you shall require in terms of stuff to start along with my recommendations:

I personally use Peak deionized & demineralized super-pure water that I purchase from Pep Boys @ $4.00 per Gal. For lots of reasons I do not use tap or distilled water. An excellent thread on Water exisits on Audiogon-please read it. I no longer use the Hot Shot 350A. Currently, I highly recommend the Perfection Hand Steamer that can be purchased @ Walgreens for $30.00. I find the Perfection does everything the Hot Shot does only far better and cheaper. Of course you can use any steaming unit you choose , but I do feel the Perfection is the way to go. As for micro cloths & brushes take your pick dozens to choose from. I personally developed a device that de-statics and drys that is not presently for sale. Initially, I used soft 100% cotten hand cloths and a 2 1/2" Purdy paint brush , but I've moved on to a Static Wisk model # SW-140, a scientific cleaning brush from that my buddy Barry gave me. I believe that Anti-Static Brush costs $30 bucks. As brushes go the Prudy's are hard to beat but they have no anti-static properties at $9.00 a pop. Record cleaning liquids abound and can cost next to nothing to Mega bucks. I use Disc Dr. Products but home-made brew works just as well.

While I put the record cleaning liquid directly on record, Pierre claims to have developed a cleaner that goes into the steaming unit. I am personally weary of putting anything other than H2O into any steamer. While the Mapleshade product may well be able to handel the cleaner , I know of no steaming unit on the market that does not void its warranty by placing any liquid other than water into its heating tank. Some go as far as to caution that explosion COULD occurr. I don't know and don't want to find out. Lawyers and Law Suits drain Mula from my audio account. I think Pierre has mo'green in case of explosion but so many respect his opinion sometimes you might go on trust...Oh well.

As for the process its quite simple. First, you bring the steamer to a head of steam. Using eye and hand protection hold the LP away from your body and face,and steam the groves of the LP. Gently wipe with a soft cloth of choice, re-steam with a liquid record cleaner that has been spread/lightly scrubed with a record cleaning brush re-steam , lightly dry and steam again to remove any residue of the cleaner before hand drying. That's it ... Unless you own a record cleaning machine (RCM) as I do. I combine the two as to steam , vaccum/clean , steam ,vaccum/clean, steam and dry. Using both methods a steamer and RCM cleans lp to perfection. One disclamer : Steam Cleaning can not remove manufacturing defects or prior owner inflicted abuse to a recording. Gunk can go but nothing can save deep gouges and scratches.

Try Steaming my way or his for $150. Either works. Good Steaming To All !!
Threaders : Do yourself a favor invest in a hand held consumer steamer unit and get to work steaming your LPs. Regardless of which method you choose mine(koz its so much cheaper) ,or mapleshades the results will please your ears. For those of you who already have LP collections and record cleaning machines add a hand steamer combining the effectiveness of both to getting the groves as clean as possible. The less grime between the stylas and the grove the greater the listening experience. Just remember nothing can bring back a damaged grove or LP. You can clean it ridding it of gunkey noise...Not abuse.
Thanks for the tip on the Perfection Hand Steamer.
Try using Grade 1 water in your steamer (especially for the last cleaning/rinse in lieu of the Peak Water and see what you get....
Cello : Thanks Larry for the suggestion. According to the Water Thread Grade 1 can be purchased @ Whole Foods , a health oriented supermarket nearby to me. I shall buy a Gal. and advise on the results.
Threaders :
I have a feeling that most of you are already into analog and have several record cleaning products/machines in your home. Some of you also own some-type of hand held steam cleaner and for those that don't take my suggestion : Purchase a Perfection Steam Cleaner($30.US) @ Walgreens either at the brick an' morter or via the internet.

In my opinion, the most significant difference between steamers (besides cost) is what I term "splatter and splurt". That why I suggest the Perfection because it leaves S&S out of the mix, although any steamer, ie the Shark will do the job, some more a tad more/less messy.But what the hay ...Its only water. As for water we have an excellent Water Thread and Grade 1 appears to be the way to go but other options exist some "better" than others.

A critical difference between my suggestions and Mapleshade has nothing to do about effectiveness, but safety. Mapleshade recommends placing water and a cleaner inside the heating tank. This is where we part company. I urge you not to put anything but water into the heating tank. Neither, Mapleshade nor I invented the hand held steam cleaner ;however, all the manufactures known to me list a CAUTION in the Operating Instructions, a term defined as "a potentially dangerious situation", recommending that NO cleaning agents be used inside of the steam cleaner. The choice is yours to make...choose wisely.

My point is ... Get steaming, use the record cleaning liquids you own , combo-up with exising analog stuff or machines , and reap the benefits.

Just for safety's sake hand-paint the record cleaning solution lightly on the LP , lightly scrub then steam and vaccum (should you have a RCM). Enjoy
Threaders: The web site now reflects the term rinse rather than cleaner. To the best of my knowledge, a rinse solution other than pure H2O is also prohibited ,via the manufactures comments from being put inside a heating tank. Should the rinse solution now be pure H2O (Water) why not mention that fact.

Should any of you require the exact steamer as noted on the Mapleshade Web Site , may I suggest viewing www.wal Query, Steam Cleaners : The SteamFast Hand Held Steam Cleamer SF-227 has the identical front-end selling for $35US , inc. shipping & handeling.

For someome that demands continuious steaming times of 25 minutes rather 12-20, the SteamDart can be found on the internet for $70 plus S&H. The choice of Steamer options is up to you.
Threaders :

I purchased a SteamFast Steam Cleaner for $36.71 via the Wal-Mats Web Site. When the unit is delivered (in about a week) I'm going to give it a work-out on a couple LPs.I will let you know if a few bucks buys you a substantial improvement over the Perfection: Who knows I maybe be throwing my money away. Nevertheless, all hand steamers work producing steam.
Wal Mats ? = Wal-Mart
Crem1, I have not had a problem with the Hot Shot with "splatter & spurt." I get a tight stream of steam, not using any of the attachments. Can you explain why the Perfection does it "better and cheaper," as I already have the Hot Shot?
BTW, I set the LP in a dish rack in the sink so I don't have to hold it in my hand.
Thanks, Neil.
Hi Neil :
Thank you for reading the Thread. Neil, I have a feeling that perhaps you have a better verson of the Hot Shot than I .

What I observed was that my Hot Shot unit would throw a splat of hot water out of the nozzel for a mil-a-second whenever I pressed the trigger. I compensated for what I felt to be as a problem by "shooting" the unit (with or without the nozzel) into a folded over towel before starting a project.

When I first used the Hot Shot the splatter thing was not a big deal, only following hours of useage. I use the Hot Shot to lessen household tasks and it works just fine, its just that that S&S would sometimes wet unprotected LP labels something I try to avoid.

In regards to the Perfection Steam Cleaner, that unit has yet to splatter & splurt. In my opinion, the steam mist from the Perfection is finer with greater head of steam pressure than the Hot Shot 350 version # A. Taking off the nozzel the Perfection produces a controlled "tear-drop" of steam that seems to me to have better defined boundaries, ie no splatter & splurt and longer steaming times.

I note that quality control issues for the Perfection units have occurred : A steamer emailed me stating that his first unit was defective. It was returned to Walgreens and replaced . That person sayz he feels the Perfection is easier to use, holding a head of steam longer than his Hot Shot. His observations are the same as mine. I recall that Michael Freemer complained to me via email over the short steaming times for the Hot Shot. When I emailed him recently about the Perfection his response seemed to be that steaming times didn't really matter to him anymore.

Today, I am awaiting the delivery of a SteamFast that I believe to be identical to the unit sold by Mapleshade in its steam cleaning package for $150US. We will wait an' see if its money well spent or down the drain.

Neil, If your Hot Shot is operating well with a tight head of steam , go for it. Get Steamed and enjoy the results... I think your use of a dish thinger for drying LPs is a smart idea. Keep'im Comming
I bought my Hot Shot from a place in Texas I found on-line after googling it. It was a rebuilt and cost me $45, delivered, I think, just after Fremer's mention of it. I haven't had any problems at all with it and it performs perfectly. I have to let it heat up for about 10-15 minutes and then the steam is consistent.
As for the dish rack, I actually use it to set up the LP to shoot the steam at it. I got the idea from Duane, the Disc Doctor. He suggested it for drying the records after using his brushes and cleaners. After I steam the LP, I use his stuff to clean it, and then dry it on my VPI 17, which I use to clean LP's that are not that dirty.
The steam and disc doctor process is more rigorous and I only use it for really bad records that I'm interested in. I'd rather use the RCM and spend more time listening.
I wonder if, as a practical matter, there's that much difference among the steamers. I see there is a McCulloch. similar to the Hot Shot, for $49:

Thanks for the tip. It brought back valuable vinyl back to life. Learning as I am going. Got quite a few to clean so... I try to speed things up by steaming on a Nitty Gritty. Applying solution, steaming, vacuuming. All the stuff that can't be removed previously is coming off. Thanks.

Got a Hotshot and it spits and splatters. Letting it heat up for awhile and not overfilling helps.
Secips : Good to know the results of your steaming efforts. Its amazing what life can return to vinyl thru steam cleaning. Have you ever pondered how many critical reviews for decks , tonearms & cartridges would have been different had the reviewer steam cleaned the LPs ? I know I have and I am regularly astonded by the steaming results even on new,clean vinyl. I use a VPI.16 to augment the cleaning process . In some cases the results are beyond expectations, simply breath-taking. Since I discovered steaming I always look in the cheap LP bins for that dirty "gem". I smile all the way home and to the bank.

As for the Hot shot's "S&S" it does appear to be a unit to unit thing. We all shall see if the SteamFast is "better" but for now I'm using the Perfection and maybe the Hot Shot 350A from time to time. Secips, thanks for the suggestion, I'll be more careful on the fil-line.
I just bought the Perfection steam cleaner at Walgreens. Since I was impatient, I tried it with filtered water on some records I didn't care about. Just blasted them with the steam and wiped with a nice thick microfiber auto detailing cloth from Target. Quick, simple, and more effective than my Nitty Gritty. Highly recommended.

One thing that bothered me was the nasty burning plastic chemical smell from the steam. We are all so worried about having the purest water, but in the end contamination from the plastic leaching nasty stuff into the steam is probably a bigger problem. The records sounded great, however.
Belyin: I regret mentioning that a run or two in the dish washer will greatly reduce that smell of plastic in the nozzel that is not imparted to the vinyl. Love the fact the records sound great ! Keep the The Revolution (that's a Beatle thing) going.
Belyin: I did reuse the Hot Shot ; no matter what caution I had with the fill-line, it still "S&S'ed" several times.
Crem, you are ate up with this steam cleaning thing.

Bravo, I admire your passion. My system is down for a move but I have this thread bookmarked and will be steaming when I am back up.
Herman: LPs are a blessed curse from the Audio Gods. They can sound like glass screaching across concrete or calm the beast within. As the 0&1 world of audio took off analog was shoved off into the corner. And why not? Records generally sound inferior to CDs koz of noise that you could "lower" but never really eliminate.

Steam Cleaning , done correctly can really help bring life into a LP. How much depends on the audio system & condition of the records just to name a few challenges. H, thanks for taking the time to give this thread a read.
OK, guys & gals. Count me as an A-1 convert to the synergistic combo of a handheld steamer, some record cleaning fluid, and those microfiber cleaning cloths with the deep nap with 90,000 fibers per square inch.

I had a Scunci steamer and an 8-oz. bottle of "Groove Solution" and a homemade record cleaning solution from a local chain of used record stores ($8.99 for an 8-oz. spray bottle). On recommendation of this thread I bought a 25-rag bundle of deep-pile microfiber cleaning cloths (16"16", 90,000 fibers per square inch) from Sam's Club.

This afternoon I took the noisiest used records in my collection--you know, the ones from eBay or from a used record store, you put it on the turntable to play, and go, "Aww, $#!+!," because they're too noisy to play.

I took 3 microfiber towels and the dirty records to the kitchen. I laid one towel on the kitchen counter to lay records on when steaming. I kept one towel for wet-wiping and another for drying and polishing.

My procedure was this:

1. Lay a record on a towel on the counter. (Note: You can place a small cup or bowl over the label to keep it from getting soaked.)
2. Spray it with record cleaning solution.
3. Run the steamer over the entire record, keeping the nozzle about 6" from the record surface.
4. Use one microfiber towel to wet-wipe the LP. Don't be afraid to press pretty hard to make sure you get the microfiber nap into the groove and dislodge the dirt.
5. Take another microfiber towel to wipe and polish the LP dry. In my experience, these microfiber towels impart a sheen to the record, much the way a brand new or barely played record looks when first pulled out of the sleeve.
6. Flip the record over and repeat steps 1-5.
7. Put the record upright in a dish rack to finish air-drying, though with the microfiber towel, it won't need much.

Here's how successful I was:

I have 4 LPs that were so noisy, I'd played parts of them once and put them away, never to play again. After cleaning them as described above, they are now completely playable with occasional crackles in the quiet sections.

I have 4 other LPs that were noisy enough that I only played them occasionally because I liked the music, the performance, or the recording so much I was willing to listen through the noise. In one case, I'd bought another rendition of the Brandenburg Concertos because I wanted a quieter copy to listen to. 2 LPs were a 40+ yr-old pressing of the Brandenburg Concertos. Another was a 45-yr-old RCA Living Stereo pressing of Julian Bream playing classical guitar, and another was a grimy 48-yr-old Everest pressing of a 35mm recording of Mozart woodwind sonatas, rescued from a thrift shop.

After cleaning the Brandenburg Concertos and the Julian Bream album became dead quiet and pristine, just like new. The Everest Mozart album became very quiet and extremely listenable with just the occasional crackle due to surface wear, but certainly not dirt.

Given the cost of a good record cleaning machine and even the cost of a set of deep-scrubbing Record Doctor brushes, I consider the hand steamer/microfiber method a gift. I feel like the cat who caught the canary. This is a very effective and reasonably quick and efficient way to deeply clean LPs!
Johnnyb53: Its good to know that steam cleaning has made a positive improvement on your audio life.

The method you are using is cost effective . May I suggest another cost effective improvement ? The KAB Ev-1 Pro. Record Cleaner , a down & dirty Nitty Gritty Top (, , is the cheapest version of a vaccum cleaning unit. That's if you already own a vaccum cleaner for the home that can be attached to make it work. The combination of steaming & vaccuming is just as good as it gets.

The added advantage is you suck off the stuff solutions 'an steam have released from the vinyl. Micro-cloths do make a difference --I use them also to dry.

Welcome to the Steaming Club. We need new converts to pass the word to vinyl-heads. Save your greenbucks for more used vinyl!
In late Oct. I mentioned that I purchased another steamer from WalMart that I know to be identical to the one offered by Mapleshade. It is included in the record cleaning package they are selling for $150.

WalMart's Web Site claims they shall notify you by email when the unit arrives. What they failed to doctument is that having your "pop-up blocker" on the email does not come thru to you.

Today, after Days of calls I learned the steaming unit was @ my local WalMart and despite hours of telephone efforts the 'Mart never notified me . Go figure. Today, I shall pick-up the steamer and let you'all know if the results were worth all the trouble.
Threaders: My initial results with the SteamFast SF-227 are positive. The steamer costs $35 @ Walmart's Web Site, consumes 900 watts, holds 10oz of distilled/super-pure water and provides up to 13 minutes of continious steam flow. It quickly produces a powerful shot of super-heated steam ; safety is a must, not an option. The unit does produce a more powerful blast of steam than the Perfection but how much is over-kill is best determined by you. I think the Perfection Steam Cleaner is a best buy ; should already have one or other steamers use and bask with the results. If not ,the SF-227 may be an option for LP Cleaning. Should you use the SF-227 or any other Steam Cleaner please post your experience with us.
Anyone considering the purchase of the Perfection steamer, Walgreens is offering a $10.00 mail in rebate, making your total investment on this handy device $19.95.

I continue to be satisified with the Steamfast SF-227 that can be had on line from WalMart: I did visit Walgreens confirming that they were offering the rebate exactly as Badboss reported. How long the rebate continues I do not know. The Perfection certianly is the "best buy" and does work "perfectly".

Right now , KMart/Sears are selling the SharkSteamer for $35: from appearences the product seems to be quite capable of cleaning LPs; the only stat published on the box highlighted that it consumes 1000 watts.

For fun, I am testing "rinsers". I never pour rinsers into the steamer for the sake of your/my safety. Rather, I spray them or paint then on the LP , later to be steamed off. No conclusive results to mention , a combo of superpure H2O/white vinegar (30-1 , 20-1 or 10-1 ratio) does seen to be the way to go.

From your emails I appologize if I confused you regarding weither steam cleaning is be performed evertytime an LP is played . The answer is No. Usually one cleaning is all that is required , unless you live in a super dusty enviorment or the LP is subjected to gunk. Replacing the inner-sleve with a rice paper variety helps to assure the disc remains clean .

A 'Goner emailed me detailing his use of a conventional steam iron resulting in the warping of a vintage LP. Learn from this experience , never use a steam iron in lieu of a hand held steam cleaner. The heat footprint is far too large, causing the vinyl to absorb excessive heat and warp. Always use a hand held steam cleaner, always a safe bet for you and your record collection.
12-07-07: Crem1

A 'Goner emailed me detailing his use of a conventional steam iron resulting in the warping of a vintage LP.

Nominated for a Darwin Jr. Award.
"Let the one who is without error and sin cast the first stone", Jesus Christ.

Good words to live by especially in the realm of ideas good and not so good.

Steaming has its limits , the consequences become more understandable when experimentation demostrates that what you get is not what you wanted. No need for tags or flames, just knowledge. That way , we learn together some quicker but we learn together in-fellowship . No more, no less.
The best Audiogon thread EVER!

I went out and bought the steamer at wal-mart. Please excuse my ignorance, there are a few things I do not understand.

1) How far do I hold the steamer nozzle from the record?

2) What kind of motion do I use? Circular following the grooves or maybe from top to bottom?

3) Is there a particular brand or type of dish rack to get to prevent scratching the record?

4) I'm confused, do you physically towel dry the records, or air dry them in the dish rack??

Thanks in advance, GREAT JOB!