Home brew cleaning solution

Does anyone have a secret recipe for a safe solution ?
$30 + seems just a little steep for 99% distilled water.
For what it's worth, I say spend the money on a commercial cleaning solution even if the price seems high. I'm a reformed consumer who resisted commercial products for the same reason as you. I tried just about every diy formulation on the web, but none work as well as on a dirty record as stuff from Buggtussel, Nitty Gritty, and others. After cleaning used lp's with diy solution, I still hear ticks, pops, etc. Very often, recleaning with the Nitty Gritty (or Buggtussel for really dirty ones) makes for substantially quieter playback. If you consider what equipment and vinyl costs, the cost of cleaning solutions is insignificant. However, if you want to try diy, just do a search on the subject, it's been covered before.
For what?
Do a search in Vinyl Asylum under "cleaning fluid DIY" and you will find many different recipes. One of the more common is:

"Here's Harry Weisfeld's recipe (the VPI president, who seems to prefer it over the VPI fluid they sell!). Put 16 oz. of isopropl alcohol in a gallon bottle, fill the bottle with distilled water, add approx. 8 drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid as a surfactant, and use it happily. I do, works great."

The recipe that I have used to clean 8,000 LPs is 40% isopropyl alcohol, 60% distilled water, with a few drops of Kodak Fotoflow as a surface tension reducer and a couple of drops of pure ammonia window cleaner.

These DIY solutions will do fine for getting the record clean enough to hear if it is a 'keeper' or not. If it is a keeper, then you can always go back and use one of the proprietary fluids to get the last little bit of grundge out of the grooves. If it is not a keeper, why spend the money?
I clean all my bottles, caps, carboys and blow-off hoses, etc. with bleach/water solution ;) Sorry, couldn't resist.
Thai is about what I thought. Thanks. It is not a matter of spending $30 for a bottle, but the fact that their can't be anything to the liquid that should make it cost just that.
I am not about to spend money to have my dedicated outlets cryo treated as I am not going to spend $30 for a 16oz. bottle of distiled water with 50 cents worth of additives either.
I have read that Kodak photoflo shouldn't be used due to its other ingredients besides the surfactant that may contaminate the record. A photographer friend of mine gave me some Ilford surfactant and he said it was pure, but who knows?
I saw a specific disclaimer pertaining to use with Kodak Photo-Flo and its' lack of suitability for use with vinyl. I can't remember where i saw it, but it was from Kodak if i remember correctly i.e. they didn't want to be held responsible for someone mis-using one of their products for something that it wasn't intended for. I've been looking to find this for some time now, but haven't stumbled across it again. Sean
Kodak does not recommend Photo-Flo's use on vinyl. This is a true statement. However, it is based on legal liability and not chemistry. If you call Kodak you will find out that they will say "not recommended for ......." on anything unless they have specifically tested it. Kodak has never tested Photo-flo on vinyl. Thus, it is not recommended. This does not mean that Photo-flo is harmful in any way to vinyl.

Photo-flo is a heavy alcohol. Alcohols do not damage vinyl in normal record cleaning usage. In order for ethanol (a much more reactive alcohol than Photo-flo) to damage vinyl it needs to be 90-100% pure, in contact for over 20 minutes, at a temperature exceeding 130 degrees fahrenheit. Isopropyl is even less reactive than ethanol and Photo-flo significantly less than isopropyl.
I'm with Sean on this one. I, too, saw the specific disclaimer from Kodak, stating that Photo Flow was unsuitable for use with vinyl records. In this case, legal reasons or not, I'll take the advice from the manufacturer.

Best wishes,
Vodka. Gin leaves a juniper oil residue.
I'm with Photon46.If I could make stuff that makes vinyl as quiet as RRL fluids for a fraction of the price, I would. I tried some DIY and tried some of the various commercial fluids, and none of them gave me vinyl as quiet as RRLs. My $0.02. It's expensive, but for many, even with modest systems and my $300 table it was worth it.
Like Photo46 and Aroc said, and if you want to save $10 Galen Carol sells RRL for $20/bottle.

When you've found a DIY secret recipe you like let me know. I'll be glad to ship you a small sample each of RRL Deep Cleaner and Vinyl Wash, no charge, so you can compare. Unless you're a better chemist than Brian Weitzel, I'll wager you'll end up preferring RRL like virtually everyone else here or on VA who's tried it.
I must say that although I was sceptical at first, I most certainly agree-- RRL products are by far the best I have tried.

There is a significant difference! I absolutely notice a much lower noise floor and blacker background. (I also use DD brushes and a VPI RCM with my RRL products.)

Galen Carol is certainly a pleasure to deal with, and provides awesome service too.

Not affiliated, YMMV etc--

Happy listening,

I agree with Richard & Doug. After countless threads here & on VA, RRL seems to be preferred by a significant margin. I like it. The only time I use anything else is when I have to sink clean an LP before it goes on the 16.5. I also like dealing with Galen; great prices & service.

As much as I like to tweak, I like to listen to music more. Screwing around trying to make a better mousetrap is fun for some things, but it does get ridiculous.

PS. Vodka will not work, send it to me!
Has anyone used the RRL fluids with the Allsop Orbitrac? I'm generally happy with the Orbitrac until I can afford a vacuum cleaning machine, but I'm about out of the OEM fluid. If the the RRL fluid is a suitable match I'd go that direction, given all the recommendations here
I haven't used the Orbitrac, but I believe RRL would be at least as suitable as other solutions and more suitable than some.

Vacuuming is best of course, since any liquid that's not quickly vacuumed away will evaporate and re-deposit the crud it was holding in suspension back onto the vinyl. Given that (hopefully temporary) scenario, you want to use a liquid that is benign to your vinyl. RRL contains nothing that could harm vinyl if left on the record. It contains no detergents that could leave a residue of their own. It might actually be one of the better choices for an Orbitrac or other non-vacuuum method.
I have been doing A/B comparisons of RRL with my homebrew (distilled water with about 10% isopropyl and a few drops of detergent - no photoflow in the last batch). I must say that after 50 or more cleanings I don't hear any significant difference. This is not a knock on RRL products which seem to do an excellent job - but so does the homebrew.
One difference I did note which I would be interested in comments on is that the homebrew seems to disperse more easily on the record. A few drops wipped with the record brush dissappear into the grooves. The same amount of RRL seems to bead up more and sit on the surface. Has anyone else noted this? Again, I doesn't appear to matter since RRL does a good job. On dirty records, I have taken to doing a double cleaning with my homebrew first then an RRL rinse. I think the power of the vac is more of a factor in sucking out the dirt ... just my opinion.
RRL is supposed to bead up. That is what you want. It helps make your vacuuming all the more effective.

This couldn't be simpler - this is what I use with my Moth cleaner:

1 part of Iso Propyl Alcohol
Your chemist/pharmacy can order this for you in 500ml containers

4 parts of the purest water you can find
Once again your chemist can help - mine comes in 2.5L containers.

Then - the mixing ritual:

1. Pour out 500ml of the water using your Mrs' best pyrex measuring jug and discard (the water, not the jug...)

2. Pour the IPA into the water container.

...then add a couple of drops of photograph wetting agent (this ensures the liquid spreads over the surface properly and doesn't "bead up")

Finally, give the water container a good shake to make sure everything has mixed nicely.


Agree with Aroc. Brian Weitzel has explained this several times. If he'd wanted RRL to flow more evenly he could have made it do so.
When you apply the cleaning solution with a brush, do you start from the outer edge of the record or does it matter? It works best for me if I start from the outer edge of the record.
The Disc Doctor, Last and carbon fiber brushes are all about the full width of the grooves, so I start everywhere at once.
OK, sorry guy's I guess I missed this, why exactly is it good that RRL fluid beads up when intuitively everything would suggest that reduced surface tension is the goal. (that is, after all, the point of using things like photoflo) Is this "Voodoo Vinylomics" or is there a sound explanation?
I agree that reduced surface tension is important. It should be the goal of ANY type of cleaning agent to penetrate below the surface IF the design of that product is meant to do "deep cleaning" rather than just be a "surface rinse". After all, if you can't penetrate the surface, you can't clean anything below the surface, right???

You need something other than alcohol or water to really do a good job of this on vinyl, which requires the use of some type of emulsifier or surfactant. I am not a chemist though, so i don't know what the specifics of the situation really are. Then again, i would bet that a lot of these people marketing various "cleaning formula's" aren't "chemists" either, but that won't stop them from trying to make money. Sean
Here's one post on surface tension by Brian Weitzel of RRL. I know I've seen others but can't remember where offhand.


I don't know which theory is better. But like Jyprez with his DIY solution and RCM, I'm pleased with the results using RRL almost exclusively on my RCM, so...
Being able to penetrate dirt / loosen it and being able to keep it suspended in the cleaning solution are different aspects of a cleaning agent. You need both aspects of operation for it to be an effective cleaner.

Even with both of those aspects taken care of, you still have to be able to flush out / rinse off any remaining residue. If you don't do that, the cleaning agent and any residual grunge remaining will only contribute to the further adhesion of foreign particles and / or groove & stylus damage.

Think of it this way. Would any of you think that you were "clean" if you got your hands wet, soaped up and then tried to remove the soap / dirt by shaking your hands violently in the air? I think not. What do you think that you're accomplishing by dumping a liquid solution onto your records, agitating the surface with a brush and then shaking the surface violently through high levels of turbulent air flow?

There's three stages to any form of cleaning. They are as follows:

1) Surface penetration using a solvent, which entails breaking up and loosening of the foreign material. While doing this, good cleaning solvents will float the debris to the surface, keeping it suspended for ease of removal.

2) Removal of the material residing on the surface

3) Flushing and extraction of the entire area to be cleaned. This is done to remove any residual dirt and cleaning residue. Care must be used when selecting the flushing agent used, otherwise it will leave its' own residue behind.

If you can do all three of these steps effectively, you'll have a pretty clean area. If you can only do part of any of the given steps i.e. not achieve full penetration, not use a strong enough cleaning solvent to fully dislodge debris, not flush the area thoroughly, use of an impure flushing agent, etc... you've only done part of the job. Sean