Generic Record Cleaning Solutions

I own an Orbitrac record cleaner and the fluid ran out. I was about to buy replacement fluid and got to thinking about generally available stuff, like generally available in a hardware store. I've got some trashed records I won't play due to clicks and pops, so I tried denatured alcohol. It dries quite quickly and without residue or water left behind. I could find no softening of the vinyl or other deterioration of the record surface. Has anyone tried out something similar? I'm now wondering about carbon tetrachloride, xylene, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, god knows what other carcinogenic fluids I can try.
Unfortunately, you must only use audiophile record cleaning solutions sold at 1000% mark-ups.

You definitely cannot use readily available isopropyl alcohol, or Sporicidin Enzyme Mold Cleaner ($32/ quart makes 16 gallons of cleaner), or a $3.99 3M Lint Brush instead of a $20 record cleaning brush. Definitely not.

Methyl Ethyl Keytone will melt your LPs, so I don't think that's one to keep on the list.

What do you mix the isopropyl alcohol with and what is the mixing ratio ... Thanks!
IMO too much is made of what cleaning solution one uses.

Let's be realistic here. Record cleaning solutions are nothing more than mild detergents. Much like dish soaps, bar soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, etc. there is very little difference among products perfumes and colorants notwithstanding. The manufacturers of these product would have you believe otherwise and for good reason.

I spent almost 25 years in the chemical industry and you would be amazed at the marketing that goes into differentiating products. As an example Procter and Gamble makes numerous laundry detergents; every one has a different color and odor but folks believe me there is very little difference among them. The only exception is Tide which holds numerous patents and sells at a premium price. Same deal with most shampoos, dish soaps, bar soaps, etc. etc.

Now, back to the point. Almost every record cleaning solution will be effective with a proper application and removal system. Dirt is dirt and vinyl is vinyl. Polyvinyl chloride (vinyl records) is a very inert material and very difficult to damage provided one does not use aggressive solvents from the ketone (MEK, MIBK, Acetone) or aromatic (Toluene, Xylene, Benzene) families. These solvents have a relatively high Kauri Butanol value (a measure of solvency power). Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) will NOT damage your vinyl despite what you may read elsewhere. Neither is it a good vinyl cleaner which is also a common misnomer.

Buy a reputable product and apply the fluid and use mild scrubbing to force the "soap" into the grooves. A strong vacuum/removal system is very very important. Apply pure water and vacuum again. Done.

I've yet to steam a record simply because it's not been needed. Although I have never had to steam clean one of my records, I believe there is merit in doing so if the vinyl is very dirty.

All of course IMO.
Thanks everyone for the input. The MEK and other way aromatic hydrocarbon references were purely in jest. The denatured alcohol has worked remarkably well, and I'd use isopropyl alcohol if I could find some that did not have a good deal of water in it.

I do not have a vacuum removal system, and that is the missing link. I'm shopping around, but I'm whining about the cost of these units. I know, the record collection can cost 50X that of the cleaner, but I've probably got $700 total in a very modest collection. I'm working myself up to it, but it's a tough hurdle. Now, doing a RAM upgrade to my hca-2 amp, that's another matter...
How hard have you looked for 99% Isopropyl alcohol? A one minute Google search turned up many suppliers. Here's one:
I have experimented with several "solutions" and i have found a mixture of isopropyl alcohol, (or methanol, ethanol), mild dish soap, and water works pretty well. The key is to get the mixture into the grooves and the alcohol breaks down the surface tension of water so it gets into the groove easier. The soap acts as a surfactant and helps lift the gunk (dirt, grease, etc) out of the grooves. The key is to use mostly distilled water and a small amount of soap. Too much soap will leave a residue. I usually mix a pint of water with maybe 1 cc or 2cc of liquid soap. Then I add about 1 ounce of alcohol. The way i know i have about the right amount of alcohol is to put a drop on a record. If the drop spreads out into the grooves well, i have the right amount of alcohol. If it beads up, I add a little more alcohol. I have been using this generic solution for about 30 years. I use a simple (but old) discwasher brush and it works pretty well. I have used a friends VPI record cleaner when I have a record that I can not clean well with the disc washer brush. Those machines are great but most of my albums were brought new and since I clean them each time i use them, i never seemed to convince myself I needed a vpi. But they work extremely well.
TNT Audio has a paper on cleaning fluids (and other things) that includes many fluid recipes. I've had pretty good success with them. Here it is:

As for 99% Isopropyl, I'm not sure where the reference came from but it can also be purchased at Safeway.
Threaders : The key to cleaning solutions is the purity of the water and should you use iso alcohol the percentage of pure iso in the bottle. My personal favorite is GC Electronics , cat # 10-1507, 100% isopropyl alcohol , anhydrous pure that sells for under $10.

There are many , many web sites offering record cleaning formula's, just google a bit to locate them. Lloyd Walker said he buys his water from a company that sells H2O for reactor based power plants. Personally, I buy auto battery water from Prestone or Peak.

I'm obcessive about record cleanlyness. The clearner the vinyl the more potential information in the groves. In my opinion there are only 15 or 20 truly remarkable articles on the subject. One of the best is located on Michael Fremers web site just google until you find it.

Lastly, no matter how clean your records , should your reproduction chain be grunged with a poor/dirty preamp , phono section , etc., you may be hard pressed to enjoy the effort. Its all a part of a process. Enjoy the music.
First of all soap is an anionic surfactant by definition. That is, it has an negative electrical charge in water which enables it to reduce the surface tension of the water which in turn enables it to break down the grease, oil, and dirt molecules.

Secondly, alcohol despite smelling like it does something and accelerating evaporation, serves no actual cleaning function. It DOES NOT break down the surface tension of the water.

Most record cleaning solutions are 99.5% water, a small amount of surfactant, and then whatever fu fu dust, alcohol, or special ingredient is added to justify the seller's $35/pint price.

Remember folks, we're cleaning plastic here not cashmere.
You don't need to mix your own alcohol-based cleaning fluid. Try vodka. If it doesn't work you can still find a use for it.
uhmmm . . . Eldartford, what brand of Vodka is best for record cleaning? (I know which I prefer for "other" uses)
Bdgregory...After a few shots they all sound the same. But, for Bluegrass, you must substitute moonshine.
Using Vodka to clearn records is a bad idea. All vodka sold in the U.S. is charcoal filtered. This is good for taste, but bad for our purpose, because charcoal-filtering loads the vodka with hydrocarbons.

Best regards to all,
Threaders: Should you 'all want to go insane, just google "record cleaning solutions" dozens of options or skip to home page click on record cleaning. Either way you should find enought suggestions to test out to keep this blog going&going. Don't wipp it ! Clean IT ...
Paul_frumkin...How about gin? What say we organize a "shoot out".
A gin vs. vodka shoot sounds like what is needed here on the freezing Eastcoast.

But back to record cleaning ... Several contributors on other sites are recommending Ivory (a drop or so) and "clean H2O" has anybody had experience with that combo ?
Audiofeil, soap (saponified fat) may be an anionic surfactant by definition, but there are a lot of nonionic detergents: beta-octylglucopyranoside, Triton, Nonidet, etc.
Sorry Eldartford, but I swore off drinking vinyl cleaning formulas some 10 years ago. This way, there's actually some left in the house when I want to clean a record. :-)

Best regards to all,
Paul : Your light-years ahead of the rest ....