Lp cleaning - scrubbing records - any downside?

I've got a VPI record cleaning machine (which I've had since the 80's, stored for 15 years, and only started using again when I got back into vinyl last year...that's one sturdy piece of equipment!)

I've "modernized" by getting myself some Mo-FI brushes, fluid, etc. And, after reading a bunch of posts on Audiogon, I recently started "scrubbing" records while they're rotating--just short, with-the-groove scrubs, not too hard.

Amazing results. Much better cleaning of "problem" Lps.

So I'm converted. (Why did it take so long? Habit, I guess.) BUT, I have the impression that certain Lp makers (EMI and DG, in particular) used vinyl that at least SEEMS softer than other vinyl, and more easily damaged. And one of the 2nd hand Lp dealers I know is of the same impression...so I guess it's not just me.

Does anybody have any negative experience with scrubbing to report? Could it damage some records?

Many thanks.
My arm gets tired . . .
I'm not a fan of scrubbing. I use only carbon fibre brushes for wet cleaning. Figure I ruined a record the only time I did heavier scrubbing with the Nitty Gritty brush. I'm convinced that I simply ground whatever was there into the grooves either further embedding it or causing groove damage by grinding it in.

There are very few records I can't get into excellent condition with a couple of thorough cleanings/steamings/vacs. If they still sound crappy I put it up to groove damage and toss them. I'd rather let a really troublesome record soak for a while than scrub it.
Scrub away. It helps with the problem discs, doesn't hurt with the others, and i've never damaged one. I use Last brushes with a manual Nitty Gritty RCM, for what it's worth. Been doing it since the early 1980s. Good luck, Dave.
I scratched the dead wax on a DG just by setting downforce too high on the vacuum arm on my Loricraft. (BTW, "too high" means "per Loricraft's instructions".)

I don't know if other record labels would be as easily damaged, and I don't want to find out! I reduced the downforce as soon as I saw the damage.

As far as cleaning goes, while I do use DD brushes for two of the solutions in my regimen I'm not convinced that scrubbing very hard is beneficial. I'm more in Hdm's camp. If I need more energetic fluid motion I'd try steaming or maybe ultrasonic rather than physical abrasion.
I guess it depends on the definition of "scrub." Using MY definition, I've never damaged an LP :-)

On the other hand, I do tend to buy a lot of used records from various sources where record cleanliness is not considered next to godliness. These frequently have nits embedded in the surface which, if not removed, can have very nasty effects on the sound (and maybe the stylus). So I keep a good strong light on the record while, yes, scrubbing, so I can find those suckers and banish them. I've never yet found steaming to be necessary but I may try it some day.
I scrubbed another batch today, including some EMI's. I'll report back.

What got me excited about scrubbing was a 50's RCA Toscanini disc of La Mer. I cleaned with w/ a regular cleaner and the VPI, with no scrubbing. The record looked pretty good, but there was that gravely surface noise that suggested deep grunge in the grooves. So then I used the MoFi Super Clean fluid (enzyme-based) and let it sit for about 5 minutes each side (but no scrubbing). Got, some improvement, but not enough.

A month or two later, I started playing around with scrubbing, and pulled out the Toscanini as one of my "experiments". I scrubbed for about a minute, AFTER letting the Super cleaner sit for several minutes to get the enzyme going. The results were amazing...most of the gravel was gone.

Part of the trick may be the MoFi brushes. My impression of them is very favorable.

I'll report back on the EMI's.
Eweedhome scrubbing to hard can drive debris further into the grooves if the lp is really in bad shape. After seeing the steaming thread so long here i took the plunge and have to say it works. I just picked up some very grungy lps and was amazed when i steamed and played them. You may want to look into steaming also. Using it in conjunction with Walkers Prelude.
Hello Eweed/All
Like you, I use the Mo-Fi brush pads, and use one for each of either a 3, or 4 step AIVS cleaning process on my VPI 16.5.

The combination of letting th fluids do thier job, and then a very light scrub seems to work perfectly for me.

When I say light scrubbing, I do not apply any downforce to the LP. All I do, is let the weight of the brush pad, and its fibers do the work. I do stop Platter, scrub in a back, and forth motion 6-10 times following the LP grooves, scrub roughly A 1/3rd of the LP's surface, rotate Platter to access easily the following 1/3rd, and so on, until entire LP has been scrubbed, then vacuum, and onto the next step.

In essence, I am only just "guiding" the brush pad on the surface of LP. I think some might resort to hard scrubbing because thier cleaners may be falling short of doing what they are supposed to do.

In my personal experience, with only thrift shop finds, I might resort to an additional application of AIVS Enzymatic Cleaner, and AIVS Super Cleaner before moving onto rinse steps.

Products are getting better, and better all the time.

BTW Doug, nice seeing you back, and posting, hope all is well with you your end. Mark
Have you tried steaming. Often works better then any fluid. I've steamed many records and I have found it much better then just only scrubbing. Many units avialable for about $30.

All is fine, thanks for asking. I've been swamped at work and will be for the foreseeable future, so my free time is limited.

Of course there's a silver lining: shorter posts! ;-)
Markd51, nice informative post. I follow exactly the same process except with the Walker Audio Prelude and brushes. The light scribbing with the brushes in the manner you've described has given me far better results in my VPI 17.5 than using the included nylon bristle brush.

One additional thought: be sure the brush or surface of the LP is well wetted before applying brush to LP surface.

I have found that when i look at my lp under a 30x microscope i can see what looks like a clear liquid or maybe a crystal like substance in the grooves . This is in a very small area but there are a number of these throughout the album. The album has been cleaned 6 times using the following process with AIVS cleaning system.
Enzyeme formula ,light scrub and soak for 30 min. then steam .
Super clean formula , light scrub soak for 30 min. and steam.
I have repeated this 5 times, with an inspection with the 30x microscope each time. After each cleaning the lp is getting cleaner but the clear substance in the groove has only reduced by about 50% . On the last clean i lightly scrubbed for about 3 min which did reduce it a little more. I have noted the location of these deposits in relation to the label and i am able to view it after each cleaning to monitor the progress so far. I am sure the pops i here are these deposits.
Does anyone know what these deposits are or what is the best way to remove them?
I notice when i play the album i have a buildup of white powdery residue on the stylus that is easily brushed off or removed with a Magic eraser lollipop. The albums are New old stock direct to disc that have been stored sealed for about 27 years.
yep- i wiped out a beautiful near mint chet baker album by leaning too hard on a specfic section where there was a small smudge---you should let the cleaning agent sit for a few minutes and then lightly brush for 30 seconds following the grooves but i learned the hard way, don't keep rubbing a section---now it ticks when it gets to that area
Agree with everyone that recommends only a light scrub, not a heavy scrub. Cleaned a couple of batches yesterday, and so far, they sound great. No damage that I can tell. Very little in the way of pops or ticks. No grunge. In fact, overall, this batch is NM- (after cleaning), and that seems pretty darn good for 30-50 year old records!

I appreciate the references to steaming, and did look up some of those posts. Frankly, I'm just afraid of what would happen if my wife caught me steaming a record...it's hard enough every time a new package of records shows up at the door...
Eweedhome the worst thing that will happen when the wife sees you steaming is you will have to use it for all the other things it does so well. Stains, wrinkles, general cleaning and on and on. No really i was a hold out on steaming and like i said above it works and i wont look back.
Now if i could only find a way to scale back the amount of static developed by my 16.5. I only make one or two passes with the vac but man the static is hair standing. It seems some lps are worse than others in holding a static charge. The thing is the spindle is grounded on a 16.5 so you would think the charge would drain.
I just don't understand this, Siltrains. Maybe it's because I use a Nitty Gritty rather than a VPI, but I have MAJOR static electricity problems and the use of the RCM will alleviate them on any newly cleaned record. Sometimes (in very dry weather), it's the only thing that works.
Static electricity is a science that stymies me, and have a hard time fully understanding just how it works, and why it affects people living in certain areas, and oddly, doesn't substantially affect those in others?

As an example, I now live in the desert southwest, New Mexico. Here, it is a very dusty envoirnment, a car dosn't stay clean for 12 hours, it has a patina of dust. Often very windy as well. Same with the house, it is a 24/7 job of keeping things clean, and within a couple of days, you can take your finger, and write on any piece of furniture.

Realtive Humidity today here was 11%, and weather at times is so dry, that it creates horrible skin problems, itching, dry skin. I've read reports years ago about CD Players getting fried in this type of climate.

Yet, I've never had any major issues with static. Of course after I pull an LP off my 16.5, I'll see a few particles of dust wish to cling to the LP, but nothing major, nor not to the point where it's affecting LP Playback, or getting shocks everytime I touch an Audio Rack, etc.

I had more a problem with static shocks when I lived in Chicago. Usually, in the dead of winter, in extreme cold, with very low relative indoor humidity.

Wish I could explain why some others have greater problems than I?

I used to on occasion have to wet mop an LP when I lived in Chicago, with a small LAST Cleaning Brush Pad, and LAST All Purpose to reduce the static "magnetic" effect of dust quickly clinging to LP on the Platter. Here, it seems I hardly have these issues, and usually just use the Hunt EDA, or AQ Carbon Fiber Brush before play. Mark
Readers: The scrubbing LPs does not imply pressure. Heavy pressure against the grove is not what you want. I personally use extremely soft shower brushes and gently ever so gently "scrub" the LP surface following the grove from the outside in and reverse w/ fluid of choice. And I also steam clean.