DIY stylus-cleaning magic long

Some people brush with a liquid cleaner, though a few cartridge makers advise against it. Others dunk their stylus into a ZeroDust or ExtremePhono. A few experienced folks just scrape their styli clean using the striker from a matchbook cover.

I’ve tried all the above and they all have their pluses and minuses. Then my partner thought of something that presents little or no long term risk, costs next to nothing and WORKS BETTER THAN ANY OF THEM. I wish I could sell this stylus cleaner, but it’s based on an existing commercial product and it’s so easy to make your own that I’d feel foolish asking anybody to pay me for one. Interested? Follow me…

Next time you’re shopping, swing down the household cleaning products aisle and pick up a package of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. This will set you back a couple of bucks, but you’ll only use a small portion of one eraser to make two stylus cleaners. You can use 95% of what you bought for keeping the house clean. Major WAF points for those so burdened. You’ll also need two plastic toothpicks, a dab of clear silicone adhesive and a clean razor blade or very sharp scissors.

First, try to avoid touching the white foam with your fingers or anything else that might be oily or dirty. Don’t let it get wet either or its structure will begin to collapse.

Slice the end off a Magic Eraser. Something like 6-9mm will do but it’s not critical. Cut this small piece in half to make two stylus cleaners. Slide a toothpick about 2/3 of the way into the thing lengthwise to make a pilot hole. Pull the toothpick out, coat it with a thin film of silicone adhesive and slide it back in. This is your handle, you need never touch the white foam again.

Once the glue dries you’re done. I suggest keeping them in a ziplock bag when not in use.

By abrasion. The white foam is actually woven micro-fibers with spikes pointing in every direction. Those tiny spikes will loosen stubborn dirt particles that chemical stylus cleaners leave behind, and the soft foam lets you get into corners that a match striker can’t reach. The proof of the effectiveness of the stuff is this - if you use it properly you’ll use it LESS often. A clean stylus playing clean records tends to stay clean.

This device could damage your cartridge if you’re careless. The foam is both abrasive and “grabby”. USE WITH DELICACY and AVOID SNAGGING THE STYLUS! Used too aggressively, it might even damage the glue that holds stylus to cantilever. I’ve never seen this happen, but please be careful. If you have difficulty seeing your stylus let someone else use this product for you. You need to see and feel what you’re doing.

Don’t touch the foam with your filthy, oily fingers. That’s what the handle is for.

Don’t let the foam get wet. If an edge or corner becomes soiled just snip it off.

I recommend a three stage stylus cleaning procedure and no chemicals whatsoever.

1. After every side, brush your stylus and cantilever gently with a dry, soft brush. Always brush from back-to-front (BTF). The corner of a carbon fiber record brush works fine. Always brush before using the stylus cleaner to keep the foam from absorbing loose dirt.

2. If a cleaning is needed, very gently scrape all sides of the stylus with the foam, always BTF and downward. Leave your system powered up and the audible feedback will help you judge how much pressure you’re applying. YOU DON”T NEED ANY PRESSURE! A touch is sufficient.

You can also scrape along the cantilever and even up into the back corner behind the stylus, a spot that loves to grab dirt. BE VERY CAREFUL doing this. It’s easy to snag the stylus. You can also dunk the tip of the stylus vertically into the foam, but NEVER brush across the stylus tip nor across the bit of the stylus that pokes above the cantilever. NEVER put any downward force on the cantilever.

3. After cleaning, ALWAYS brush the stylus and cantilever again with your soft brush to remove loosened particles.

If you inspect your stylus with a good magnifier before and after using this cleaner you may be amazed. I was.
Sounds risky. I'll stick with LP#9. It works great.
Ditto LP#9 on my Urushi.
Ditto LP#9 on my Insider.
Sounds great but risky, you must have very steady hands. I had read a while ago that jewelers use gin - yeah that's right, the delicious alcoholic beverage - to clean their diamonds. Apparently some ingredient in juniper makes an excellent cleaner. So on the small mirror I use for azimuth adjustment, I put a single drop of gin, and rest the stylus there for a few minutes, then brush it off. All my things are still in boxes so I do not have access to my better magnifiers, but at least I feel I've done something to clean my stylus. Does alcohol/gin dissolve glue (assuming glue was used to hold the diamond in place)? I'm suddenly worried. Any chemists out there? Perhaps someone with a magnifier could try this and report back on whether this is a placebo or not. It's certainly cheap, and an excuse to mix a cocktail (which makes it more expensive, however)!
LP#9 here too, but I'll try anything once. After all, after the tracking force tweak worked so well, this may be another winner.

Keep 'em coming Doug!
Steady hands are certainly necessary, though not really much more so than when brushing with LP#9 or anything else.

The biggest benefit might be for users of cartridges with hollow cantilevers (ZYX and ?) whose manufacturers recommend against using any liquid. Their options have been limited to the ZeroDust, ExtremePhono or a matchbook striker. Now they have something that works much better.

I used an ExtremePhono for months. I thought my stylus was supposed to be yellowish, just an industrial grade diamond you know. Then I tried this thing. After just a few cleanings the stylus was as clear as the best diamond you ever saw. And it stays that way.

YMMV as always. I've got a couple extras made up Joe. I'll send you one with the Wally, if it ever gets completed!

I forgot to respond to your spirited suggestion! I don't know if all styli are glued to their cantilevers, but mine certainly is. I can clearly see cantilever, glue and diamond by reversing a 50mm or shorter lens for a 35mm camera and looking through it.

In three months of steady use of the Mr. Clean Magic thingie, the glue around the top of my stylus has not been damaged.

As far as glue and alchohol interacting, someone told me it's okay as long as you drink one and sniff the other.

YMM definitely V.
I'll wager that if the gin does make the stylus fall off that it won't be the first time that diamonds were shed as a result of alcohol! :-)
You see how audiophilia has this strong philosophical component? Great suggestion re. the camera lens, I'll be using it henceforth, Blue Lagoon in hand, wary of any temptations...
I've tried Doug's stylus cleaning system, and it works very well. You have to be careful, but he has already warned about that, and you have to be careful any way you clean a stylus.

I don't think that Doug is trying to change anyone's way of doing things. He is just letting people know of a very useful method that he has found, and you can try if you want.

I think he is performing a good service to the membership, by posting good tweaks he's discovered.
Thanks Doug, I tried it today, and based on what I see under magnification and hear, it works! I tried mounting the eraser on a quarter with some blu-tak type putty, and I lower the stylus in after lying the quarter/eraser on the platter. Seems easier on the nerve vs. lifting up to the cart. Especially since my Spacearm has no locking mechanism.
Between this tweak and the AIVS fluids, it's been a great couple of months for getting more music out of my vinyl. Cheers,
Spencer, just noticed your post. Glad you found Mr. Clean as effective as we have. Next month will mark one year of cleaning our styli exclusively with a dry stylus brush and the Magic Eraser. Nothing but continued good results to report from here. Someone on VA also suggested the method you're using. It makes good sense. Just don't let the Magic Eraser touch your vinyl, it's too abrasive.

I enjoyed Jes45's "3 to 1 in favor of LP #9" post above. At that time I was the only person on earth who'd actually tried both LP #9 and Mr. Clean, so his election results seem suspicious. I believe Jes45 counted three unregistered voters. He may be an ex-Soviet Ukrainian bureaucrat!
Der Premier Poofski dos Britannia!
I was over at Spencer's on New Year's day to listen to some music, and he sent me home with the Magic Eraser/Blu Tack/Quarter stylus cleaner. Works really well! thanks for the tip. I like it better than the Extreme Phono container-o-goo that keeps oozing out all over the place.

I like the efficacy of the Extreme Phono cleaner used properly, but a better storage/delivery container needs to be devised.
You guys are too rich, wasting quarters that way. On VA the first guy to use a coin got flamed for wasting a dime! When it reaches the Phonogram lists they'll probably use cryoed Spanish doubloons. LOL.
Ex-soviet? Nope, not me Doug. I have since registured and have tried your dry cleaner (works great), but I still follow up with LP#9 to rinse away any residue that the Magic eraser might leave behind. Why not? I'm still have an almost new bottle and I know it is safe.

And, I wouldn't worry too much about the Phonogram list, they probably won't accept your methods or mine.
Jes45, removing any residue is certainly important, critical even. If the Magic Eraser compound is as microscopically abrasive as Paul says you don't want any left on the stylus.

We dry brush, since our cartridge maker warns against alchohol based cleaners. Wet cleaning would work too but I wonder if a final dunk in the ExtremePhone goo wouldn't work best? Mr. Clean to loosen the dirt and the goo to remove it. That almost sounds organized!
Hi Doug, that's why I use LP#9 as a final rinse, to make sure that no residue is left behind. I assume that my 2 step system works better than either one alone, but have not tried high powered microscope inspection (yet) to varify.
Count me in.

As a long time LP9 user, I have been satisfied with the product. But with all the magic and publicity this unique cleaning method has gotten I just had to try it ~

Well-- While I still use the LP9, I must say that I find the "Deacon-Clean" method now a part of my fastidious stylus cleaning ritual.

I must be doing something right because I have yet to see any debris or discoloration in the magic eraser after cleaning.

Happy Listening, and thanx Doug for the innovative idea--


I have used #9, in conjunction with a LAST stylus brush for quite some time and with satisfaction. I use two bottles, one for cleaning by putting a few drops on the LAST brush and one for "rinsing". I've even used it on quite a few styli of yore that I have been trying here and there. Before and after cleaning with the #9, I've inspected them under an old microscope I "acquired" when they built a new Chem-Bot building while I was in college. They all LOOKED pretty cruddy before, but spotless after. So, I guess it works as far as whatever can be "seen" is concerned.

I bought one of the Mr. Clean eraser that Doug suggests and tried that, too. I must say that I may not be steady enough of hand, keen of eyesight, or bold in confidence to use it on styli in the manner suggested. Reminds me of the old Linn “matchbook striker-type” paper that used to be around. Not sure I am that “stable” to do that these days!  I like much better the idea of up/down as recently initiated. I will try that method with a #9 flush.
I shared your fear about the "toothpick" method, and my nervous caffeine-juiced likely "user errors", as the Tech crowd would say. The quarter as a base made it handy, and allows me to let the cueing lever do the tricky part. One note of caution for all trying this methodology:
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR PLATTER DOESN'T ACCIDENTLY GET BUMMPED! If the platter turns a bit while the stylus/cantilever is suspended into the Magic Eraser, you could do so serious damage. Hopefully, this is obvious to all, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to mention it specifically.
Doug, as to my free-spending ways, I'll just say that compared those suckers who bought Brilliant Pebbles, this $0.25 is not a bad investment! Cheers,
I'll be damned, it does work. I just tried the magic eraser last night. I could hear that my stylus needed to be cleaned (it's been a while) so instead of the trustly Extremephono solidstate goop, I tried the Magic Eraser. I watched it pull a very small dark piece of dirt right off of the tip on the first application. Everyone is right, you do need to be careful. This has got to be the new budget cleaning tweak of the year. Thanks Doug!

Here's a further tweak for Doug's excellent tweak. The brush can easily rotate while in your hand, especially if you're using a round toothpick. I thought a more solid handle would be good. I picked up a couple coffee stirrers at McDonalds. It has flats on both ends. Cut it and you have two handles per stirrer. I find the flat, wide (compared to a toothpick, at least) handle gives me better control than a round toothpick.

Thanks, Doug, for sharing this great idea with us.

Best regards to all,
Glad to see so many people are starting to enjoy the marvelous cleaning abilities of Paul's stylus cleaner discovery. Also glad to see these new and improved ideas for use, like glueing a piece on a coin for "handle-free" dunking and Paul Frumkin's flat-ended stirrer handles to keep the eraser from spinning. Community brains at work!