How to clean Stubborn Records

I've been having trouble with a few LPs that just don't want to come clean. I've been able to reduce the crackle and pop, but there is still a decent amount of it, along with constant surface noise. This may just indicate that the albums are worn out, but I hear no distortion in loud passages, nor is there a lack of dynamic range. To clean the albums, I first apply a solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol, 2 parts distilled water, with a few drops of detergent. I then use a paint brush to do a little scrubbing (the bristles have been cut down to about 1.5 inches long to enable scrubbing). After that, I put the LP on a dish rack vertically and rinse off with steam. I repeat for the other side, then put it through my Spin-Clean unit to remove any left over residue. The record is then lightly wiped, then air dried.

Are there any suggestions here to help me remove even more of the crack and pop? The method I described does clear up sound clarity in the higher frequencies, but it seems like there is still dirt on the record, as if the cleaning process loosened the dirt, but didn't fully remove it. Would a vacuum dramatically improve this?
Check this out: Steam cleaning seems to be the best way to get the real nasty stuff.
use teh steamer after you apply the solution but before the scrubbing with the brush. The steamer will heat the cleaning solution and make it more effective at removing the Gunk. also, you need to rinse (and scrub) with pure water following the scrubbing technique.
May not be "dirt" but, just a bad pressing. Ever buy a brand new album and have it not be perfectly silent? I know I have. ;^(
It would be helpful if it were possible to visually inspect the groves before and after cleaning. Has anyone tried something like a 10x or 25x Radio Shack pocket microscope (or another type) and would that even be enough magnification to see anything?


It may well be the vinyl is "worn". I have tried cleaning some records using dish soap/water, then on my N. Gritty with Audio Intelligent solution. Still I could not reduce the surface noise.
2 LPs were especially heartbreaking- original pressing of Dylans and an early pressing of Robert Johnson. Both looked clean and pristine to the naked eye.
One day i took them and another (excellent sounding) Lp to work. I looked at them through 3 very powerful microscopes (used for neurosurgery). On the noisy Lps, the grooves were marked with vertical "cuts". It looked as if a sharp knife made shallow cuts every millimeter. Of course, these individual cuts are much closer in proximity to each other. These cuts were everywhere on the LP. The clean sounding Lp was smooth, no marks.
My guess is a damaged stylus is to blame.
Of course, this cannot be "cleaned". Some LPs are simply ruined.

Very interesting observation. What magnification did it take to see the detail you described. Thanks.


Either 300 or 400.
Leica optics.

Again, it looked like cuts made by a knife, on both walls of the groove, in even intervals. My only explanation is that a stylus which was broken, or chipped, perhaps, or, completely broken off the tip of the cantilever and that the cantilever tip created the marks, or cuts.
I have observed, on what otherwise seem all but perfect records, a uniform pattern of tiny radial cracks on both sides.

My theory is that these are shrinkage cracks along flow lines and between flow zones from the pressing. If the puck of vinyl was not blended sufficiently or the record not "cooked" in the press long enough to completely melt adjacent zones it might crack this way as it cools.

PVC has a relatively high coefficient of expansion.

Further, perhaps these records are superficially in good condition because they where unlistenable or even returned as defective.

Oregon, are the "cuts" you describe on both sides of the record? I would take that a supporting this explanation.

I once read somewhere about a guy who drained a can of tuna juice on his records and then let his cat lick them off!!! He reported excellent results when using tuna packed in spring water. ;^)

Just having a little fun.

Many old pressings are dynamic as hell and sound beautiful with exception to an over abundance of pesky surface noise. Unfortunately, it is (sometimes), what it is.

Have you considered that it may have to do with your decks bearing and/or its tonearm/cartridge set up? I know this idea will drive you crazy but since upgrading my platter bearing (overall improvement on all records) and then my cartridge (specific improvement on replay of old vinyl) surface noise wise, I have found we blame the records individually when (for me) more times than not, it is the inability of the deck to transcribe. I've listened to many decks with the same pressings over the years and found a world of difference in their ability to pull the music out of the surface noise.

In other words; lost in translation.

Happy Listening!
Can one of you guys let me know what you use to steam clean. Also, how do you avoid warping the album?