Record Cleaners / RCMs

I've been reading with interest in previous posts about how important it is to have a record cleaning machine. I can understand the great importance of cleaning records using the scrub/vaccuum mechanisms of these RCMs if the records are filled with finger prints, or were purchased second hand (and require a deep cleaning) but what about newly purchased vinyl? If one has purchased vinyl new, and has taken extreme care of his records in the past(ie..not touching the playing surface with dirty fingers, lightly cleaning the playing surface with an old discwasher pad, etc) would it be benficial to use an RCM. I've not seen these RCMs up close, but it would appear that the scrubbing and vaccumming of these machines might possibly do more damage than good.

When I purchased my Linn Axis many years ago, I was told by the Linn dealer that one did not need to clean the records (if you didn't smugdge them up with finger prints,etc). He had said the time that cleaning pads such as the discwasher did more damage than good. Armed with that advice, I stopped using the discwashwer as well.

I'm about to bring out my record collection again after storing them the past 15 years. Should I clean them using the discwasher?....or perhaps get an entry level RCM? Or should I continue to do what my Linn dealer told me before and not clean them at all?

I would appreciate your comments.

I would suggest getting something such as the VPI 16.5, which has a motorized turntable and powered vaccuum. The Mobile Fidelity cleaning brushes work well. I recommend Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions cleaning fluid. The recently changed ownership, but the website for direct ordering should be back up in a week.

Here's the thing with cleaning and not cleaning: First of all, new records have mold release on them, which allows the record to more easily be removed from the press. This is a petroleum/parafin based material and it attracts and collects dirt. Vinyl is subject to microbial grown on its surface. Both of these need an enzyme based cleaner to be removed.

The body oil left on records by touching them with your fingers is harmful, but not so much so as the two things that I just mentioned. The damage to the record surface caused by fingers is just easier to see.

The stylus exerts a great deal of force per square inch in the grooves of the record. This force creates heat which, under some circumstances, can cause microdust to fuse to the groove walls. It's best to keep as much of this cleaned up as possible, especially organic matter based microdust. Inert particles normally does not react to the stylus force by fusing with the vinyl.

Especially since your records have been stored, I would expect that they should be cleaned very thoroughly before they are played in order to avoid any damage to them.
Hi, I listen to vinyl exclusively. I have over 4,000 Lp's. I listen to my records on a VPI TNT HRX turntable. My cartridge is a Lyra Titan. I firmly believe that if you plan to invest thousands of dollars on records and the associated playback equipment. You owe it to yourself, to invest in a good record cleaning machine.

I buy many used records at shops, ebay and Audiogon. I wouldn't think of playing these records on my $4,500. cartridge, without a thourough and careful cleaning. Handle your records with care, and they will last a lifetime. I don't know why someone would discourage careful record cleaning.

New Lp's benefit from cleaning also. The new Lp has releasing compound residue, and needs to be removed carefully with good cleaning fluids. You can find them at any reputable highend dealer. I like music Direct, the staff is very knowledgable and they have been in business for many years.. I own a VPI 17F Record Cleaning Machine. I wouldn't be without it. I like this machine mainly because it cleans in both directions.


To tell you the truth I think the cleaning thing is overdone. Your Linn dealer gave you what is reasonable advice for clean records.I have found that a dirty stylus can veil a lot and if you use something like the Linn green stuff or the White Magic abrasive stylus cleaners,it shows how you can easily be fooled by baked on grime on the stylus.Both Rega and Linn I think recommend playing a record with a clean stylus to clean it.An anti-static brush or cloth is the only other thing you'll need unless you have some records that are genuinely dirty.
Even brand new records benefit from a good cleaning and will sound better. There are those, in fact, who will argue that a brand new record should absolutely be cleaned first before playing to prevent damage. And by cleaning, I mean wet cleaning/vacuuming. Using any cleaning method that deposits a liquid on the record and does not remove most or all of that liquid with a vacuum is not something that makes much sense.

The Linn/Rega suggestion is absolute lunacy. Think about it. Cleaning the record with the stylus? The stylus, while it is collecting that crap is literally grinding it through the grooves.

You do not need to spend huge amounts of money to get quality record cleaning. A DIY or KAB EV1 with quality fluids and the right approach/technique will equal, if not surpass all of the RCM's short of the Monks and Loricraft which offer a technically superior, more concentrated vac of the record.

In my opinion, records do not need to be "scrubbed". You need to get the proper solvents/fluids deep into the groove to suspend what's there so it can be vacuumed away. "Scrubbing" is probably detrimental in the same way that using a stylus to "clean" your records is.

All that being said, if your records are super clean and you're not planning on buying much in the way of used, or even, new records, you may feel you can get away without an RCM. If you have any kind of committment to buying much vinyl, though, I consider some kind of cleaner to be absolutely essential.
Thank you for your responses. Interestingly enough, when I acquired my Linn Axis, my dealer had given me the semi-abrasive green mylar squares to clean my stylus. I'm not sure if they ever were effective or not. I don't think the green pieces could remove any larger deposits on the stylus.

I have a question about the KAB EV1: if I connect my home central vac to this unit, will it not short out my central vaccuum motor? Unless you're using a shop vac, I don't think most vaccuum systems were designed for wet and dry suction. I think the same thing would apply to someone connecting their stand-up/upright vaccuum to the KAB as well. How much fluid is used to clean one LP?

The KAB traps all the fluid. As such, it can be used with a wet or dry vac and I use it with a Filter Queen dry vac. KAB does not recommend its use with very high powered shop vacs; your central vac would be fine with it.

As to fluid usage, it will probably depend on what system and brushes you are using and perhaps what fluid you are using. I have a scrap turntable (arm ripped off, motor still functioning) beside my KAB for applying the fluid. I use the RRL fluids. Using carbon fibre brushes, you need to get enough fluid on the record simply to have the fluid pooling in front of the brush. Not very much and having the fluid puddling all over the record will not get you a cleaner record than using a minimal amount. I use a pipette/eye dropper to apply the fluid to the record before brushing, about 7-8 decent sized drops from inner to outer edge. $70 Cnd. worth of RRL (Super Deep and SVW) will clean approximately 250-300 records using this method.
I also clean all new records- I clean every record that comes into my collection these days on my Loricraft and place them into polylined paper sleeves after. All the new records I buy have a lot of static build up and collect dust like a Swiffer. Once they get cleaned, the static build up is gone. That in itself is a good reason to clean them. In my comparisons though, I do really believe that new records that are cleaned do stay cleaner longer, and also play cleaner loonger than new records that arn't. That is just my experience-

I used an old Hoover upright motor when I built my DIY RCM a few years back. If you are cleaning properly there should not be much liquid and it won't hurt anything.

I believe in cleaning new records. Better safe than sorry.

As for cleaning the sylus, do a search for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser here and over on AudioAsylum. This works very well.


With several records I have purchased used and that, after an inital wet vac cleaning with a VPI 16.5 and Record Research solutions, still have a bit of surface noise, I have found that going back with the Deep Cleaner and the Musical Fidelity sponge, just scrub with fairly hard pressure for about 20 revolutions and then a brief "rinse" with Super Wash, helps greatly in reducing surface noise and results in bringing out all the dynamic detail of the recording. There is no way I am damaging the recording, just getting the deeply seated gunk in the groove out. And the point of cleaning is to do this until the improvement reaches a plateau. Sometimes the gunk in the groove needs time and patience to solubilize so that it can be removed by the vaccum. The combination of fluid, time and pressure with the right sponge brush is the answer.

And I always clean new ones too with RR Super Wash.
Off a slight tangent to this thread; I also recommend cleaning records. However, I personally would advise anyone to save their money on a RCM and clean their records by hand. I don't believe a RCM can do as good a job as one could cleaning their records by hand.
Another vote for cleaning all records, including new ones. I've ruined new records by playing them without cleaning, so I learned the hard way. The reasons (mold release chemistry) were well explained by others, above.

Also as said above, RCM's are about vacuuming, not about scrubbing. Scrubbing too hard is more dangerous than scrubbing not at all. High quality cleaning solutions like RRL are designed to work with little or no scrubbing. The designer of RRL actually recommends using only carbon fiber brushes like the Audioquest. It's impossible to scrub with that, the bristles are too soft.

I sort of agree with the advice Linn gave you way back when, ASSUMING the only choices were DiscWasher or nothing. The problem with the DiscWasher method is what happens after the solution emulsifies or dissolves the grunge. If this sludge isn't promptly vacuumed away, the liquid evaporates but the grunge is still there, broken down into much finer particles that will cling to groove walls and floor even more stubbornly. You would indeed have been better off doing nothing.

With the advent of vacuum RCM's that scenario need no longer exist. After the solution emulsifies/dissolves the grunge you immediately vacuum it away. Nothing is left behind but cleaner vinyl. This is better than not cleaning and MUCH better than letting grungy solution re-dry on your record.
Doug is correct about scrubbing. Not only with RRL but any of the good cleaning solutions. All of these products contain a small amount of surfactant which stands for SURFace ACTing AgENT. I have no idea why "they" used an A instead of an E; chemists are strange folks.

Surfactants have many applications, industrial and otherwise. They are used in shampoos, cosmetics, hand cleaners, etc. Their purpose is to reduce surface tension of the solution in which they are contained.

For grins and giggles, put a few drops of water on a non-permeable surface such as your kitchen countertop. Now take your favorite record cleaning fluid and add a single drop. Watch how the water spreads. The surfactant has lowered the surface tension or friction of the water in regards to the countertop.

In a record cleaning liquid the surfactant lowers the friction of the solution in regards to the record groove and enables it to penetrate quite easily making the amount of scrubbing minimal and in many cases unnecessary.

Thanks for listening.
The cost of a highly effective DIY RCM is so little today that it is hard to imagine why someone wouldn't at least have this solution. Yes, you can drop a few thousand on a Loricraft and achieve superior results but for a few hundred you can have a shop vac and a modified crevice tool for cleaning that will not only do an excellent job on your records but a dozen other chores around the house. Heck, your wife might even buy this for you!
Ignore my stupid spelling effor. SURFace ACTing AgeNT.
if you want to go cheap, i recently purchased the
" spin clean record cleaner" its a manual tub with a couple of brushes in it. very low tech. but effective.
it set me back 60.00 . got rid of alot of snap , crackel and pop on most of the records cleaned with it. and after about 20 or so records my cleaning solution told me why. i have always taken great care with my records but there was dirt in there , even though they looked clean. good luck.
So I've decided I'm going to buy an entry level RCM and get my hands one the Zerodust and Magic Eraser as well for stylus care. One final question...Do I get the KAB EV1 for the Nitty Gritty Model 1? My central vacuum connection is conveniently located in my living room right next to my stereo, so hooking the unit up would not be a problem. I do think that a built in motor would be less 'messy'. Is the suction on the Nitty Gritty strong enough....or would the KAB combined with my central vac clean my records better? By the way, my central vac has a built in valve to provide variable suction.
The KAB with your central vac will give you both better suction/lift and on top of that much quieter operation. The Nitty Gritty will be deafening compared to the KAB/C-vac combo. On top of that, if you are cleaning a lot of records at once, the Nitty Gritty has a reputation for being prone to overheating. I would be surprised if Kevin at KAB who sells both products wouldn't advise you to buy the KAB under the circumstances. The one drawback with either, as I've pointed out, is applying fluid. With either one it's a pain and you'll be best, as I've said to source a junk turntable for this.

I would talk to Kevin at KAB and see what his advice would be.
Update. I had decided to purchase the KAB and called them twice and left messages for them to call me. No response. I'm assuming he didn't call me back because I was located in Canada. Who knows.... Instead, I ended up purchasing the Nitty Gritty Basic Model from an online dealer here in Canada and love the machine! It's amazing how clean the records get when they are vacuumed! wow! Thanks for all your help.

This question to all Nitty Gritty RCM users. After using the RCM on an LP, the machine seems to be leaving a very small band of dust on the record (right where the velvet pad/vaccum slot is located). I didn't notice this band of dust previously, so I'm thinking that the recent cold weather we've had (creating a very low humidity level) is the cause of this dust accumulation. How are other users getting rid of this last bit of dust on the record? Any suggestions?
Try it. When you don't hear a diference, then it's ok for you. When I would have the decision between a expensive Cartridge AND NO RCM or a cheaper cartridge and a good Cleaning Machine I need no time to go for the last. The difference in my System is huge.
Once the velvet lips are moistened, do you still have this problem? If I don't use the little bristle brush on the lips when they are dry, I sometimes see a line of dust when I flip the record over to do the second side. But once the second side is cleaned, there's no more dust, if that's clear. Dave

PS -- A hint, to extend the life of the velvet lips. Alternate the way you turn the records you're cleaning. First clockwise, then counterclockwise on the next one.
Thomasheisig, buy the good cartridge and clean your records by hand. You'll have a great cart and records cleaner than any macnine can get 'em.
Calgarian: My thoughts are that you just may not have noticed this before. When doing your final vacuum on the machine, just make sure to turn it off, leaving the record on the Nitty Gritty until the vacuum has completely (or almost completely) cycled off. I think you will find that this will completely take off all moisture and any possible "debris" in the moisture along the vac slot, resulting in a clean record.
I do hope people are vacuuming your LP's after hand cleaning. It is the only way to be sure that all of the crude gets remove immediately after the cleaners loosen it up. I built my own RCM so I have a combination of hand washing with vacuum and this does a very effective job for the amount of money I have invested in it. However, Thomas' Keith Monks or a Loricraft are by far the most effective cleaning machines available.
...agre with Dan_ed. I use a Wet/Dry vac with a modified attachment that I by hand. It really sucks.

I long ago owned the Keith Monks record cleaner but sold it when I moved into a smaller house. I then tried the first VPI then the Nitty Gritty. I then went back to a series of VPIs. Then I heard the benefits of the Loricraft. I bought one and did a string of records that had previously cleaned with the VPIs. On listening to them first and then after recleaning with the Loricraft, I decided that all needed to be recleaned.

The vacuum head on the Loricraft where it rides on a string like the Keith Monks keeps the cleaning machine from scratching records as my VPI once did when I somehow got a very small piece of metal stuck in the vacuum head.

The more expensive Loricrafts have greater vacuum power which is tempting I must say. Perhaps this would clean all records in one cleaning.
I am trying the eBay Groovmaster along with a used Record Doctor. I got it here for $60 plus shipping. I still think records DO need some soaking time, so the Groovmaster will take care of it.


I am awaiting delivery of Audio Intelligent cleaners.

I Would suggest that you also look into the Disk Doctors Cleaning Fluids, they are manual as well as can be used with machinces. I personally use multiple processes to help clean the records, as I do have very old records most of them came from the attic of old shops and relailors.

I use the Following Steps:

1) Removing the dust, dust grains that can damage the LP surface, so a very soft brush should be used for that.

2)Than I Use the VIP 17 F with VPI stock fluid for the first time. Usually clean each side twice or as need be.

3) Use the Disk Doctor manuls process using their Cleaning fluid and that a distil water wash.

4) Than use the VIP Fluid mixed with 99% Alcohol. The ratio is 80% VPI Fluid and 20% alcohol. Use the VPI 17 F for this as well.

5) On last wash by distil water.

6) Leave the record to dry for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Than use a new Sleeve to store it.

If I use a new record, I do not do the steps 1 and 2 but the rest of the procedure I follow.

Always remember to use an anti static brush befor playing any record, this will enhance the life of your investment both Record and Stylus.

I hope this will be help ful and you will feel the difference.

Happy Listening
2nd Update: I previously had the entry level Nitty Gritty RCM and most recently have acquired the VPI model that seems to work much better; there are no longer any more lines of dust on my freshly cleaned records.

I have a question to all the RCM owners and the fluid that they use. I have read some posts on this forum regarding the fluids, and as I understand it, the liquid is designed to get into the grooves of the lp to help dissolve the grunge trapped inside. I've noticed that some fluids bead up on the record surface, while others seem to coat the grooves like a big puddle. Am I wrong in assuming that the fluids that form the puddle are better for dislodging the dirt? It just seems a bit strange that fluid manufacturers would intentionally make a liquid that beads up; this doesn't allow the the entire record surface to be covered in liquid and thus doesn't help to dislodge all the dirt on the entire surface. Any comments?