Do you clean your records before play, after play, or once (and then never again)?


All my records have been cleaned at least once, but after play, I'll drop it in my Klaudio ultrasonic cleaner for a quick re-clean. I figure if my stylus is digging / loosening anything in the grooves, it's a good opportunity to get that junk out of there. How about you?
Ac1fa327 57fb 43aa 91b9 a83520426f7cnrenter
Can you come over to my place? I have never cleaned a record in my life.

That is the purest definition of OCD, my friend.

Marketing and Forums have a lot to answer for.... ;^)

Substitute the words "melting and reforming" for "digging" and it doesn't seem quite so bad, even if only a half-truth...  ;^)

I don't like using the stylus as a dredge, but even after cleaning, some old records will still sound distorted or churn up stuff or foul the stylus- I will do an intensive re-clean, but at a certain point, if the record isn't playing cleanly, I'll look for another copy. I did manage to revive some old copies by multiple cleanings using different cleaning methods, including ultrasonic, but my practices vary, depending on the condition of the record. Every once in a while I'll get an old record that is pristine, but that's the exception. 
I clean on KL Audio once if they look dusty i clean again.
nrenter,

I feel this is a luxury to those, like me, who have put in the time and effort.

If I see unwanted (crap) on an lp after I've played it, I put in my AD before packing it away!

Why have all of the equipment if you don't use it to it's max?

Cheers!
Not sure where crap comes from on a cleaned LP (dust when playing it?…na…) so I clean 'em once and clean my stylus often as that's pretty quick.
After receipt of a record and prior to first play, I clean the record using a VPI 16.1. If the record is old/used, I use 2 different cleaning fluids and two different types of brushes.  If the record is new I use one type of cleaner and brush (Record Doctor). Before and after each play I use a carbon fiber brush and in the groove record cleaner roller.

In addition to the benefits of a clean record during playback and all the attributes of a clean groove.  I have included below a excerpt (and the link) of a discussion / contribution by Jonathan Carr (Lyra Designer).
If your not already aware of the following condition, being aware of it should enhance you understanding of another objective when cleaning records, that results in preventing or at lease minimizing magnetic particles attaching to the motor windings and restricting and causing misalignment of the stylus. I had actually experienced this with a Lyro Dorian cartridge.


https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/rega-rp10-vta-shims?highlight=Rega%2BVTA
>what is your advice on de-magging Lyra cartridges? I see small metal filings, I have no idea how they get there playing vinyl, but I see them in my magnifing glass?

"Demagging" or fluxbusting a ferrous-core MC cartridge is a low-level process intended to "reset" the magnetic alignment of the ferrous core (over which the signal coils are wound) to the magnetic field. Doing so will not exert any significant effect on the magnets or magnet yokes (unless the magnet is vintage Alnico or a similarly weak material), and will therefore not be effective in removing ferrous particles that have collected on the magnets or magnet yokes.

The ferrous metal particles that you saw with your magnifier exist in the environment (including the LPs and their sleeves), and are attracted to the very powerful magnetic field that energizes the signal coils. Any cartridge with powerful magnets (not only Lyras) will suffer from this to a greater or lesser extent.

The existence of these tiny ferrous particles is why we cover our private parts (aka gap and coils) with a pressed-paper "washi" dustcover. Other companies use a thin rubber skin (white, gray, black are typical colors), and so have we on occasion. But in our experience, the washi does a better job in allowing pressure waves inside the gap to dissipate, and sounds better.

That said, the cantilever moves in a big way when VTF is applied and removed, requiring that the hole in the front magnet (front yoke for other cartridge manufacturers) is clearly larger than the cantilever diameter. This leaves a ring-shaped space between the two. Over time, the aforementioned ferrous particles will find their way into this space and collect there, also within the gap.

So the washi (or rubber) dust cover slows down the ingress of the tiny ferrous particles, but does not prevent it completely.

When the amount of collected particles becomes excessive, it can hamper the movement of the cantilever, thereby impairing performance. We see these all the time on cartridges that are returned to us for servicing. Since the particles' ferrous composition causes them to adhere securely to the magnet (or yoke), they won't always come off easily. The best way to get rid of them is to clean them off carefully and thoroughly by hand.

We clean off this ferrous buildup, along with other grime that may have collected where it shouldn't be, as an integral part of our inspection and servicing program for any of our cartridges that is returned to us (caveat - the cartridge must not have been retipped or rebuilt by any other company). We don't charge for doing this.

OTOH, given the painstaking nature of the particle removal process, I can easily understand why companies such as Soundsmith or Andy Kim would perhaps want to ask payment for this.

In many cases, a thorough cleaning of the stylus, and / or the magnetic gap surrounding the cantilever, is all that a cartridge needs to sound pristine again. Of the cartridges are returned to us nominally because the owner feels that the stylus or suspension is worn or damaged, frequently the problem is stylus buildup that prevents the stylus from touching the LP groove properly, or accumulated ferrous particles that clog up the cantilever's freedom of movement.

BTW, if you have the opportunity, please read the following thread, from page 3 to the end.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?14082-Sme-30-2/page3

It talks about the factors that affect cartridge loading, but unlike similar threads here on Audiogon, or the Kleos' user manual, there are frequency charts and test schematics which should give you a better visualization of what happens.

kind regards, jonathan carr


Hope's this helps
Brad
99% of the time i clean them and stylus ever time .. when i used to use the last products i did a serious clean then not everytime .. I dont use last lately no real reason though 
In addition to the above, I am with oleschool, I clean my stylus prior to play of each side of an LP.
Always use onzo zerodust, and some times a strip of magic erasure with the onzo zerodust
RCM initially, then brush record before i play and ME the stylus before i play. On rare occasion will reclean via rcm if i hear many pops or clicks, 
I clean mine once on the VPI 16.5 then only a second time if they seem to still have issues when I play them. Otherwise I use a Furetech de-stat and a Carbon brush from acoustic sounds each time I play. I also clean the stylus frequently but not every side. I use the Lyra stylus cleaner but am re-using a Last Bottle and brush for convenience.
Never clean new records, all used ones go thru VPI16.5 once, if still bad then second spin on VPI with thorough scrubbing (yes I know that scrubbing does not do s#%*t but it makes me feel better about myself!) decides if LP stays or goes. Mapleshade grounded brush and Zerostat before each and every play. Still dreaming of ultrasonic cleaning machine but not going to buy it. 90+% of my listening is thru Naim CDS3 for CDs and Wadia 781 for SACDs, I am old and clinically lazy! Vinyl sounds sooo much better to my ears than digital that I am afraid to upgrade my TT or vinyl: it will spoil 90% of my listening sessions further still... 
I clean every record I buy (used or new) before first play. I clean the stylus before every play. I should probably clean the records more often, but mostly it is just one time. 
I use a Hunt brush before playing a record ..removes dust, but not peanut butter.   ....for that I use my Nitty Gritty, but it is usually not used much.
Once.
But I have a backlog of unwashed LPs, and if I want to hear one of those, I will play it regardless, if I can see no visual evidence of deposits on the surface.  

I wash new and used records  on a VPI 16.5 one time and one time only.  I give a record a quick sweep with a Hunt brush before play and clean the stylus with a brush, sometime ME and onzo zero dust after each side.

I seriously dislike cleaning records!  But it is my only form of playback so I have no choice.  My first Basis table ruined digital for me.  


I clean records thoroughly once then just use carbon fiver brush to remove dust after that normally.

I clean records manually which is a chore. If I had a nice automatic ultrasonic cleaner I would probably use it more often. Those things are a significant investment.
Map- check out Rushton's thread on DIY US if you haven't-the price of entry isn't crazy, and you can arguably get better results, but it isn't about convenience. And in my estimation, you still need some sort of vacuum machine, to take advantage of different kinds of cleaning, which work synergistically.  

I also clean every new or used record before I play it the first time on my KL Audio and put it in a new sleeve with the date that I cleaned it. The next time I play the record I generally don't clean it again before or after, I probably should do it more often since it is so easy. I wish I could say I clean the stylus each time but I often don't unless I see junk on it.
I always run the stylus through a stylus brush before playing.  

I'm doing the same as Pops…. 16.5, right down to the Magic Eraser, Onzow, and dry brush. I use Audio Intelligent fluids. When lazy or the LP is pretty nice, I use the 1 step # 6. Sometimes I do the 2 step process, with # 15, and distilled water. When I use the #15, I use a designated VPI wand to vacuum the #15. Talk about coincidence, it was Basis that ruined digital for me. I could never go back. I play my Cd's in the car (-: 
Mapman, Okki Nokki machine is only $500, with Audio Intelligent three step fluids it gives excellent results.
I clean every 10-15 plays without thinking about it. Stylus is cleaned before playing each side. It’s annoying but there is no way around it.
Yes, some old records require multiple cleanings with prolonged soaking. New records are dirty as hell too.
Forgot to mention: now that I have Next-Gen Sequencing in my lab, I am using 18MOhm water as the last step on VPI 16.5. $200k of business investment paid off for my true calling!!! ;-)
okki nokki...not bad!
And three Disc Doctor brushes, one for each solution. Double rinsing with pure water step three. I only have a few hundred records, and even in this case it is very inexpensive. I've had the Okki Nokki for a year now and it's been reliable.
I've thrown out my carbon fiber brushes. At best it simply pushes crap around the records (I believe anything a carbon brush would remove would not affect the play) and at worst, it's creating a static charge that attracts more crap to the record (yes, I know there are "anti-static" brushes, but I'm suspect).

I clean my stylus (primarily) with a Magic Eraser, but every now and then I'll dip it into some Fun-Tak (per the recommendation of the Sound Smith).
Good carbon fiber brush does work, one just needs to know how to use it properly. 
I clean every record before each play on a Loricraft. Most of my records have been cleaned dozens of times. But I am not anal about cleaning fluids etc. Any decent one will do. You only have to observe the dust in the air in your audio room as revealed by sunlight coming through the window to realize that any record exposed for more than a few minutes in a room will have debris on it so there is no point in going crazy.
I use Lyra stylus cleaner, it is claimed that this solution will not affect the glue. So far everything is in place, as far as I can tell, the needle is still where it should be. It cleans well too, and I think is anti-static as well. Excellent stylus brush included.
+1fjno4, the late AJ did a number on us for sure!  The first time I dropped in the groove I was stunned!

P.S. I should add that (IMHO) a record cleaner is the most important investment you can make in a vinyl system. Everything starts here.

It never ceases to amaze me how much people will spend on a turntable, cartridge, tonearm, interconnects and phono stage with a completely inadequate cleaning approach which will negate all the other investment. Nothing else happens if you can’t get it out accurately from the grooves.

I place carbon brush at an angle oriented 1 to 7 o clock (not perpendicular to grooves) then slowly move out till off the record.  That does a good job of getting trapped loose dust off the record as needed.
I only clean them if I spot contamination between grooves. That includes fingerprints. Wherever the fingerprint is the dust gets stuck and can't get airborn out of play surface. Otherwise I use carbon fiber brush before each playback with no professional RCM usage.
I have records in my collection I didn't clean for over 20 years and they still don't need cleaning.
This is not the case what you don't see won't bother you. Record may look just fine when in fact it is very dirty.
Yeah, it amazes me too that some don't pay attention to proper record cleaning. But cleaning before each play is probably too much, won't hurt though.
Interesting method Mapman - I always go perpendicular but I will try you method next time.

@inna 
Frequent cleaning can destroy smoothness of pressing in other words wax so it WOULD hurt. Cleaning should be as necessary. To me the best sign of cleaning is change to noisier playback or stylus contamination after going with just carbon fiber brush. Other than that, if stylus is clean after playback AND playback is clean, than no need no matter how long.
pops worth noting I also tend to rotate counterclockwise somewhat further while moving brush outward to help traps dust. Its a technique to hone a bit once tried. Main thing is end of brush is always extended beyond the perimeter of the record, with brush probably never rotated more than 20-30 degrees counterclockwise  max.
Czarivey, I don't use alcohol based solutions and I don't want to clean one of my records one hundred times to prove you wrong. There appears to be quite a number of people who clean records often. Most though not all of my records start sounding noisier after about 10 plays, I mean a little noisier and something that I can hear. Some others have much better playback systems than I do and more sensitive ear so they would want to clean their records more often.
On cleaned lps, when I dip the stylus onto the ONZOW, there are sometimes tiny black crud "crap" as well as dust. I find this more when I use my Dynavector Karat. I believe the stylus profile on this cart makes a difference.

I kind of find it hard to believe that proper cleaning no matter how often would harm the lp. A diamond dragging through vinyl? I think what harms the lp more is the actual playing of a record and playing  a dirty record.
On cleaned lps, when I dip the stylus onto the ONZOW, there are sometimes tiny black crud "crap" as well as dust. I find this more when I use my Dynavector Karat. I believe the stylus profile on this cart makes a difference.

I kind of find it hard to believe that proper cleaning no matter how often would harm the lp. A diamond dragging through vinyl? I think what harms the lp more is the actual playing of a record and playing  a dirty record.
Everytime time one visits the table..

I clean records once on a good record cleaner:  I own a VPI 16.5 but have used an Audiodeske at work (at an audio/video specialist).  New as well as used ones should be cleaned in my opinion as there are lubricants used in the record manufacturing process that need to be removed.  Usually I only clean them again if accidently fingerprinted, or if listening reveals something noticable has "landed" on the record and an annoying pop or click has suddenly appeared that wasn't there before.  Only use an Onzow stylus cleaner.  Our stylus microscope reveals it's very effective at removing  grunge from the stylus--better than most brushes and fluids!  PLEASE, please don't use a Magic Eraser as some suggest!!  I had one customer come in with a hopelessly clogged up stylus that took me many minutes to clean and guess what he was using?  Yes the Magic Eraser!  Folks, M. E. is NOT a good stylus cleaner!  It can leave a lot of stuff behind on the diamond that can clog up your stylus so badly it prevents proper playback!  Use an Onzow and be assured it will be clean.  I use one most every record just to be sure I'm not transferring dirt and debris from one record to another. My records sound clean and there's some I've owned and played quite often for over 40 years!  Trust me!  

For record cleaning, I have two vacuum units- a KAB EV-1 that uses our home vacuum for suction ($169) and a VPI 16.5 ($700 but I know a dealer that discounts them.)

All records get a deep clean using the KAB. The VPI is used as a maintenance/before play vacuum.

Deep Clean:

MoFi Pure Enzyme: 5 minute soak per side
Vacuum with KAB after each side
Spin Clean with fluid at 2x recommended strength using Aquafina water
Vacuum
Fresh Sleeve

Before Play:
Todd The Vinyl Junkie Vinyl-Zyme Gold fluid
Vacuum with VPI

Notes: don't go double strength on the Spin Clean fluid if you don't have a vacuum.

Also, you'll note that albums are vacuumed once before they hit the Spin Clean. You'll be shocked how much garbage still comes out in the Spin Clean vat. I'm thinking the Enzyme soak loosens the garbage in the grooves. The Spin Clean plus vacuum actually removes it.

Budget option: I get remarkable results using London Jazz Collector's DIY cleaning solution and a 3D-printed home vacuum attachment I purchased off eBay: 

https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/for-audiophiles/home-brew-cleaner-for-vacuum-rcms/

https://www.ebay.com/itm/291452416779

I clean new & used records on an as-needed basis. 

Add Blue Sticky Tack for stylus cleaning (every 5 or 6 spins), dryer sheets, and an anti-stat brush, and you'll have clean records for a song. 



I first used L'Art du Son on my Keith Monks. Then I used Walker 4 Steps enzymes and the Keith Monks fluid for re-clean from time to time. After that I tried AIVS and liked it better than Walker especially for a less "dry midrange".
now I have bought a KLAudio but kept the KM (because I 😍 this machine). 
Now all my record collection is washed first with enzymes and second with ultrasonic.
Recently I bought again a bottle of L'Art du Son for periodic re clean and find it is best sounding when I make a final clean with it. It is not expensive and if you let the fluid for 2 minutes on the record it cleans really well. And more than that it makes music sound really good to my ears.
@mapman 

I came across this ultrasonic cleaner, reviewed by Fremer on his web site,  Analogplanet. Even though I have a VPI 16.1, I am considering one of these in the future. I really like the advantage of being able to clean 12 records at a time. The price is considerably less then other ultrasonic on the market, and you can purchase options/attachments separately.
@bradf - you might look at Rushton’s thread here, which is based on an article he wrote for Positive Feedback. There is a relationship among size of bath, number and power of transducers, frequency, etc. viz surface area of records to be cleaned. (Sorry, I don’t remember the formula--it is buried in the long thread on DIY Audio about ultrasonic cleaning). @terry9 can speak to his experiments with the number of LPs in the bath v. cleaning effectiveness.
The bonus to DIY isn’t just cost-effectiveness either. You can take advantage of higher frequencies, heat control and other features that aren’t necessarily offered on the audiophile machines.
@whart  -Thanks for the info. I will go over content contained in  reference  to Rushtons and terry9 threads

Brad
I just got an Okki Nokki for Christmas. Since receiving the unit, I clean every record before playing it. I use a homemade cleaner made with distilled water, IPA, Triton X 100 and Kodak Photo Flo.  I rinse with distilled water having a little Photo Flo in it as well.