DIY Record Cleaning Solution

I just purchased a vpi 17 record cleaner. I'd like to make my own solution. Any suggestions? What has worked for you?
this might help :
Why do it when you can have top quality cleaning solutions for 25 cents per record?

Buy a quality, purpose designed surfactant based cleaner such as MoFi Super Deep or AIVS that will clean a record for 15 or 20 cents and then buy the highest quality rinse/final wash available which is either reagent grade or ultrapure water which may cost another 5 cents a record if you're buying in bulk.

I'm always amazed at the number of audiophiles with megabuck collections and cartridges that want to skimp on cleaning solutions. Even those with budget setups will benefit.

Trying to DIY to save pennies is false economy after spending the amount of money you have on the VPI. Your ears, your records and your cartridge/stylus will all benefit from doing the right thing.
Jimateo, I gotta agree with Hdm.
I've tried to convince many in another forum, but with little luck, as many are very headstrong about thier (IMO garbage) DIY solutions of Dawn Dishwashing Fluid, Kodak Photo-Flo, 99% Alcohol, Distilled Water. Then to top it all off, throw all these makeshift chemicals into an inappropriate, unsuitable container.

All the products I mention above have no place on vinyl, but of course, there's the naysayers that the best products made on the market are nothing more than over-hyped snake oil. Trust me, they're only fooling themselves.

High quality cleaning products will insure a proper job is done, and no future damage.

There's tons of information right here in the archives, all you have to do, is a simple search on products like AIVS, Walker Prelude, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs (Mo-Fi) L'Art Du Son, Buggtussle, etc.

Thanks to certain folks here, and one in particular, I have become a religious AIVS user (Thanks Doug D!) Once you use products like this, your worries, or concerns if you are using the proper products, and treating your vinyl as it should be treated will vanish, and your search for the very best cleaners will end.

I too, use a VPI RCM, and my only regrets were not doing this many years ago. Mark
Do any of you know what chemicals are actually in your expensive proprietary record cleaners? Of course not - the manufacturers aren't going to tell you because they know you'll go out and make up your own cleaning solutions for a fraction of the cost of their over-hyped products. It amuses me that virulent critics of DIY cleaning solutions happily spread expensive stuff all over their precious vinyl without having a clue as to what it is or what it does.
Hey, if Harry Weisfeld (head of VPI) recommends a home-brew cleaner of his own devising, it can't be that bad, can it? I'm a long-time AIVS user myself (was one of the original beta testers), and like it a lot, but if you want to make your own, it costs a bunch less than 25 cents a record and does a more than decent job. Weisfeld's recipe: Take a clean gallon jug, add 16 oz. of isopropyl (not rubbing) alcohol), fill it with distilled water, add 3-4 drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid as a surfactant. Then shake it and use it. I think you'll find that it works just fine with your new VPI RCM. Good luck, Dave
Agree with HDM, why screw around. Get best - Record Research/ MOFI Super Wash and Deep Cleaner.
I'm more interested in something that is very good instead of not bad. I'm not a fan of the VPI fluid. It works ok, not great.
Headsnappin, didn't realize you started the thread. BTW, Harry's recipe (he posted it on Audio Asylum) isn't the same as what's sold as "VPI fluid." Anyone can make of that what they will :-)
"...Of course not - the manufacturers aren't going to tell you because they know you'll go out and make up your own cleaning solutions ...

Do a search for the product's MSDS (material safety data sheet). If you can't find it on the web, then ask the Mfg as they are required to supply it. Some MSDS's wll give you both the idenity of the contents and a close estimate of how much they use. Others will just give the compounds used. Markups on simple & extremely cheap chemicals, solvents, surfactants (soaps) can be stunning.

also...dopo...IPA (isopropanol, isopropyl alcohol) is rubbing alcohol..maybe you're thinking of ethyl alcohol?
Looks like the opinions are across the board on this issue. I really wanted to try to make my own fluid, just to see if it made any difference. The fluids available seem expensive, and I'd like to try some "home made" if possible. What has worked for you, and what is the content/formula you've had sucess with?

Fishboat, you're right of course about the alcohol. I just rechecked Weisfeld's recipe and he did say Isopropyl.
Not that I have any axe to grind with Harry Wiesfield, but maybe you don't remember a time back, where VPI was selling some really bad funky stuff that coagulated in the bottle, and Harry's-VPI's recommendation, was to throw the mixture in the Fridge. Not that his products still do this, but just an example that even Harry's stuff had issues. No doubt VPI buys from someone else.

To answer your question about do I know what's in the products I use, meaning, do I know what is in AIVS Cleaning products? Yes, I do, I've been told by the owner of the company exactly what is in them, and what isn't in them. I am also aware of the type of Storage vessels that these products are marketed in.

Do I know the exact proprietary formulas, of course I don't, and wouldn't expect sch info from any company. If you were making these products, would you give out your exact formulas?

Sure, DIY can be done right, but I wonder just how much money you would actually save? Do you think AIVS, L'Art Du Son, MFSL/RRL runs to Wally world to buy bottles of Dawn, off the shelf Alcohol, Single Stage Distilled water? to mention a few?

Remember the cost of lab testing, and approval, beta testing, marketing, shipping/handling, packaging, etc, etc, do you think this all comes for free? What about a profit? What is your time worth?

Please do thoroughly explain, and give detailed information about what level of quality chemicals you use in your DIY, I'd like learning. Mark
Here is one i have used sucessfully. 28 ounces distilled water, 4 ounces isopropyl, and 1 teaspoon of dawn diswashing detergent. I have also substituted an enzyme detergent solution instead of dawn. Both work very well with a steaming regiment. I have a diy rcm that i use also. I have used the solution with dawn for many years.
Those of you that use Isopropyl you must be careful. Isoproply will harden vinyl. Use Everclear 190 proof grain alcohol. It will not harm your vinyl.
I use a combination of Distilled water, Everclear (190 proof grain alcohol) and Dawn original blue dishwash. Three parts water 1 part Everclear and about 3 to 5 drops of dawn. The alcohol and dawn will give a sudsing action on the vinyl surface. If you use a brush like the scrubbing brush that comes with a VPI it will get allot of dirt off those LP's. I have friends that just use the Everclear and distilled water with great results also. After scrubbing pat the record dry with a lint free cloth. I usually clean both sides then pat it dry. I haven't used my VPI Record Clean machine in a long while.
What do you mean "isopropyl will harden vinyl", how so? This is the first I ever heard of this. I have been using isopropyl for awhile without any problems. Do you have any other information or source for this? Not that I doubt you, but I don't want to damage my records.
Maclogan, your always thrashing folks on threads about record cleaning. I'd be interested to hear what you use for cleaning your records.

For Jimateo, search the archives. Use whatever the hell formula you want on your records. Be aware that there is no one cleaner that will work in all circumstances if you buy used records. You will need an alcohol based-cleaner (not on those old 78's!) and you will probably at some point need an enzyme-based cleaner. You will always need a good, quality rinse water.
Dan_Ed, I welcome Maclogan's comments, and with my participation in this thread, only hope to perhaps help him, make him see another side, rather than alienate him, and make an enemy. Enemies are easy to make, and who needs enemies, in the real world, or online.

And your comments are well taken, and that's exactly why I use either a 3, or 4 step AIVS process to clean all my LP's. None get discriminated against. When my new Mo-Fi Santana's came a month ago, out came the 16.5 an AIVS. The LP's were the ugliesy Mo-Fi's I have in my possession. Looked like somebody walked over them, but they played dead quiet.
My biggest concerns about DIY, is using friendly chemicals, and chemicals, waters that have the lowest solidity content. Mark
Yes, you are correct Jimateo, you did initate this thread, and sorry that it went off on another tangent.

I will tell you the same as another has mentioned, but in a kinder fashion, to search archives, here, and others, like Audio Asylum, an Audio Karma. The more knowledge you gain, the better armed you will be to ultimately decide what path you choose to take, and what products, whether DIY, or commercial.

Probably nothing is perfect, as vinyl is not a perfect medium, and never will be.

As I think I earlier mentioned, and touched on, the purer, and higher quality-grade ingredients you use will only be a benefit. Naturally, the base ingredient in any cleaner will be water, and if you can acquire water purer than single step distilled, this will be a large help. Places like Nerl sell reagent grade water, and something like 20 liters is only something like $28 shipped. This quality of water will help when rinsing off any cleaners-residues, regardless of who makes them.

From what I understand, alcohols in of themself, don't really do a heck of a lot, as one would think they do, as far as removing certain contaminants. It actually serves more as a surfactant I understand, helping make water "wetter". Many commercial cleaners avoid alcohol as an ingredient.

Again sorry for the "wandering" of your post, and I hope some of what was written here, was of some help, best of luck. Mark
Mark, I appreciate your position. However, by talking down to people Maclogan is alienating himself. I simply asked if he would be willing to share his own formula for cleaning LPs. I have no plans to attack him on this, even if he uses brillow pads.
One point brought up by others, the purity of the water in the mix or in your rinse is critical. Low purity water may leave deposits. I used Distilled water that has a second RO polish step. I get it from a laboratory in the refinery i work at. Good luck with trying some of the formulations. Again, the one i highlighted earlier has served me well for many years.
Hello Dan_Ed/All,
Of course topics such as this have been beaten to death across the internet over the years, and it's an age old battle. I reckon nothing will ever change in regards to this, and the different "camps" as to who's wrong, and who's right.

The issue at hand, is what is actually good enough?
If a person wishes to use Dawn, Windex, 409, Spray+Wash, and the many other off the shelf products, and feel that they accomplish the needed tasks, well then, I reckon that's fine if they're happy.

The questions that arise in my mind, and I'm sure other's minds as well, is the consideration of a product being either too agressive for it's task, or not agressive enough. The correct answer, just like the "Three Bears", is you want a product-products that do the job "juuust right".

One might think "well, if I only use just purified-6 time Distilled Water to clean my records, how can I get into trouble, and I cannot harm my valued records", but the truth is, by not removing dirt, grime, biological contaminants (Molds-Fungus-etc) and then running a Stylus through this mess, one does indeed harm thier Vinyl, as well as placing additional wear on Stylus too. Lastly, and just important, you will not fully achieve extracting every nuance, and sould quality the vinyl is capable of producing.

The choice of course as said earlier, must be each, and every vinyl fan's choice to use what they please.

I would only suggest again for the original poster, as others have suggested, you have gone to the length, and expense of acquiring a great RCM machine, now go the rest of the way, and acquire top quality cleaning brushes, and the highest quality Cleaning Products. You will then see the synergistic match of how they go so well together, and your vinyl will look, and sound the best that they can. You will not regret using high quality trusted cleaners Mark
Spot on, Mark!
Well said, Mark. First, do no harm. Second, get everything off. Third, be proud you did it your way.
Charlie: this post is one of the best on this forum. Lots of ideas that help many people. Thanks for keeping it going
Only hard particles can harm stylus or record. The rest of the contaminants only compromise the sound reproduction nothing more.
(Well , boogie-man can harm your records ,but there is no repellent for him.)
I do better job of cleaning dirty LPs by hand than any VPI machine. It is a matter of being too lazy or not.
2 parts water 1 part alcohol, few drops of dish washing soap without lubricants.
Clean brush and clean sponge.
Total cost $20 dollars.
Markd51, or anyone else on the thread - Does anyone know what VPI is using in its fluid now?

I just bought my second VPI 16.5...My first VPI, the original 1983 design, finally gave up the ghost. I didn't use it from about '90 - '07, then started using it again after re-habbing my vinyl rig. In the early days, I used the VPI fluid, and marked all my cleaned records for the month and year of cleaning. I cleaned only with the VPI fluid back then. Twenty-odd years later, those records still sound great (and mostly I don't intend to clean them again, unless really necessary).

Now, I've been cleaning with MoFi fluids, which seem great, but a bit of a pain, b/c I have to leave them on for awhile, and do a light scrub, usually, to get best results on the dirtier records. And, on one old Toscanini RCA on which I used the Super Deep Cleaner multiple times, I'd swear the sound has become more bright (in a negative way) after about the 3rd run at it. (Darn clean by now, though.) But, can't say for sure.

I think the 80's VPI fluid had a bit of alcohol in it. I'm not convinced that the small amount used hurt the records. I assumed the new VPI fluid would be the same--but based on Mark's comments, I don't know. Does anybody know? I'm curious, frankly, to try it (since I got a bottle with the machine), but not if it's going to cause some gunky build-up.

To the point, directly, of the original question: I know several serious vinyl collectors and users that make their own fluid, which is mainly some combination of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water, probably very much as described in other posts, above. I'm not recommending it, and don't intend to do it myself, but there are some old hands at this game that scoff at the notion that a little bit of alcohol, used once, is going to seriously damage the vinyl. And they've got the empirical evidence of 20 - 25 years of use to support their views. Granted, anecdotal evidence doesn't win in the courtroom. But it's not valueless. It's certainly enough to make me curious to try some VPI fluid, if it's got alcohol in it (instead of some mystery gunk) on my stack of "really hard to clean" records, particularly given that my own anecdotal evidence seems to support these collectors' views.

Otherwise, I'll stick with the MoFi, for the exceptionally well-stated reasons Mark mentioned in his last post: The experts put it together so that it's "just right". (Yes, maybe I had an over-use incident on my Toscanini record, and that supports the notion that, whatever we use, restraint is necessary, except where you have a record that's a real problem, as this one was.) One relatively quick application of the MoFi regular Super Wash does a really nice job for most purposes, without negative side effects, so far as I can tell.
Just a quick comment for Oilmanjoe - "water may leave sediment."

I was fortunate enough to find some forty year old vinyl - and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful condition it was in. I found evidence of "care" in the faint watermarks that were left on the record surface near the label. Nothing on the label itself - which indicated to me that me that the former owner was careful when cleaning his collection.

According to my father, (who was a local broadcaster for many years in and around the time these records were made) -ordinary tapwater and soft cotton cloth was the preferred cleaning method of the day.

I cleaned these records using a Loricraft PRC-3 with top quality modern day solution - and those watermarks remained absolutely unchanged. Actually quite a surprise, but it made believer out of me. Suffice to say that I share your thoughts on ordinary tapwater - and to a lesser degree, this may also apply to steam.

All I have to do to check my local water quality is remove sediment from my kettle every once in awhile with CLR. It's always a dirty mess - and we are known to have very high quailty water in the region that I live.

Calcium and Flouride are great for your teeth, and ordinary water makes a pretty good drink - but none of it should be used on a valuable collection.
In answer to the query as to what I use, see:

I don't highlight this because (i) the stuff was available only in New Zealand, (ii) it is no longer marketed, and (iii) I bought up gallons when I became convinced of its efficacy.

It is a standard spray and wipe recipe containing about 20% ethanol*, buffering ammonia, a non-ionic detergent and an ethylene glycol mono-ether as wetting agent. No coloring or fragrance chemicals. I use microfiber cloths for application and for LP drying after thorough rinsing.

* Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol) would work just as well. It does NOT harden vinyl as claimed above - there is absolutely no chemical reaction between PVC and/or PVA and isopropanol at room temperature. Rubbing alcohol is NOT isopropanol. It contains this alcohol as solvent, but also contains other chemicals which might not rest comfortably in an LP grove. Only pure isopropanol should be used to make up the aqueous solutions required for LP cleaning. Never use a pure alcohol of any sort for cleaning - all it does is evaporate and re-deposit all the dirt and gunk it originally dissolved.
Probably nobody will follow up to your post, or has any interest in your link due to the "heated volatility" that these commercial vs DIY threads produce.

I read the Threads you pointed to in the other forum in its entirety.

Let's bypass the facts that you claim to be a Chemist, and have pretty much proclaimed yourself an authority of what works, what doesn't. And those that use RCM's, and commercial brand cleaners are deluding themselves, and the only thing they have actually succeeding in doing, is making the sellers of these products rich, and nothing more. Let's not for the moment even concentrate on commercial vs DIY cleaners.

As I see it, the original poster in this thread, Jimateo has already got you beat by a considerable margin, by the purchase of a RCM. Coming from a very good mechanical-engineering backgroud, I have absolutely no doubts that a vacuum process to remove whatever fluids you choose, or anyone else chooses to use, will be vastly superior to using towels for removal, no matter how clean, or expensive these products-towels are. He's most certainly got convenience working for him if nothing else.

You could as well, gain the same advantages, but it has to be an individual decision. My only regrets were not purchasing an RCM (VPI 16.5) sooner.

Like driving a car in winter with no heat, of course the car will get you from point A-B. But why suffer?
With that being said, what price, or no price would you place on such a convenience, better cleaning efficiency, better end results?

With my own record collection (700-800 LPs), (which I know is very meager compared to many other vinylphiles), I concluded that I would like to get these LPs all cleaned sometime within this century. If only for convenience alone, I surely didn't wish to slave over a kitchen sink, with such slow methods, to get through my collection.

Again, one doesn't have to fatten someone's bank accounts. I've seen a few very nice DIY RCM's in other forums. With some building skills, and a good working plan, it can be done.

I'm not even going to touch the debate of DIY vs commercial cleaners at this point, even though that was what this Thread was about.

I can only conclude that those who clean thier vinyl, use whatever they feel works best for them, whether due to cost restraints, or whatever other personal reasons. There's no set standard of vinyl playback, they're your records, it's your system, and we should all perhaps for the moment not ultimately forget what this hobby is about, the enjoyment of music. What I may use for my enjoyment, another may find no satisfaction.

Cheers, and happy holidays to all. Mark
In the December 1996 issue of Stereophile JA gives a formula that I have been using since. Costs nothing to make and my records are dead quite and super clean. The formula is found on page 19.


How about posting the formula or the link to the formula in Stereophile. I Googled it but to no avail. I also went to Stereophile web site but could not find it.

You bet.

Send an email to and I will email you a PDF scan of the magazine page.

Cameronbs==Thanks for the comment. as you say, even steamers can deliver impurities if the initial water quality is bad. I work in a oil refinery(hence the handle) and see the insides of boilers that use ultra pure water because they make 1200 psig steam. The water will leave a residue and in cases we have a small contamination of "regular" tapwater, the boiler will quickly shut down due to tube pluggage. Some may ask how steam can have impurities. Its due to carryover or small droplet entrainment in the steam. Bottom line, the purer the water, the less deposits you will get.
To Markd51:

Someone asked a civil question. I answered it.

So your problem is ????
I have no problems, but as I say previously, I read your posts "you" provided a link to on the other forum in thier entirety. Thank you for sharing those with all of us here, they clear up, any doubts "which camp" you come from. Mark
Anyone who makes their own DIY cleaning liquid ever substituted Simple Green (citrus based) for Dawn (or similar) dish washing detergent?

I know Dawn is considered safe. Even Sal Zaino recommended Dawn to me for use on my black cars before applying his world class polishes.

Simple Green has been rather revolutionary in our household.
Try Palmolive-It softens your hands while you clean records.