Stylus Cleaning Schedule?

Ok, I have read in Robert Harley's "The Complete Guide to High End Audio", that you should clean your stylus every album side.

How many of you actually do that?

I like my albums and think I take care of them pretty well. I use a RCM to clean them. But I honestly don't clean my stylus that often. I pretty religiously clean my stylus before every listening session. Most sessions consist of listening to 2 to 6 album sides, usually on the lesser end of the scale unfortunately. (I use the Last stylus cleaning fluid. I put it onto the stylus cleaning brush and then clean the stylus to avoid getting too much cleaning fluid on the cantilever. Sound about right?)

(By the way, I like Harley's book and have gotten a fair amount of knowledge out of it, although I may not actually agree with absolutely everything in it. I recommend it to anyone interested in this hobby.)
I've settled into the pattern of cleaning my stylus (also using the Last brush & cleaner) before each session and dry brushing after each side.

This is the result of a couple of things: I recently got a magnifying glass and was alarmed at the amount of stylus gunk it revealed. I also recently started using the Disc Doctor fluid and brushes, and the stylus is dredging up a *lot* of debris on some of my used records. I really don't like the idea of that stuff being dragged through the grooves, so I have been pretty diligent lately about keeping the stylus clear.

I also have and like the Harley book. It's a useful reference and a good intro to the hi-fi hobby. A lot of the info can be got from magazines, websites, forums, etc., but it's nice to have it all in one place in a format that you can take out on the deck or to other preferred reading spots.


I clean my stylus with LP9 every album, but not every side. I also use a RCM.

Happy listening,

You really should clean or dry brush the stylus before every side. Both the stylus and your records will last much longer. Playing a dirty stylus is like dragging sand paper inside the grooves.
Unless you are competely rinsing off the DD fluid (which I am not sure is possible), you can expect to dredge up residue.
After VPI-ing my records once in-a while I found that I only need to dry-brush after the whole record played or even two of them.
I wash the stylus with liquid every listening session.
I clean the stylus with Disc Doctor fluid after every listening session.
There is little lost time in doing a wet before every session and a dry for each side. There are some nasty physics and chemistry in them micro mechanics.
I clean each side of my LP's before each play with a VPI vac, RRL fluid and Disc Dr. brush, then a carbon fiber brush. Based on Len Gregory's advice for his Music Maker cartridge I "dry" clean using a short bristle brush (that comes with the RRL #9 stylist cleaner) before each side (maybe 3 swipes forward). Every 4 albums or so I clean using the brush and a very small amount ot fluid applied to the brush. Too much fluid used too often and or applied to the cantalever is detrimental to the cartridge. At least that is what Mr. Gregory says and since he makes the cartridge I go by his instructions. Combination works great. Music sounds wonderful. Very few ticks and pops, very quiet playback and the stylist rarely gets any grunge.
I have been using the ZeroDust (gel pad into which one lowers the stylus tip) before each side, followed by very light brushing on of the Last Stylus treatment that is called "Stylast".
Last Needle cleaner at the beginning of every session. ZeroDust after each side. I don't trust liquid cleaners for the above mentioned reasons. Nive thing about the ZeroDust is that you can see how much debris accumulated by looking at the ZeroDust after cleaning. Also very easy and fast to use. The ZeroDust can be had here on Audiogon for very little. I would highly recommend it.
Take a flashlight & shine it on the stylus. If it is clean, you should see light passing thru it ('cuz the stylus is translucent). If no light passes thru it, then the stylus is dirty & needs cleaning.

Depending upon how well you clean your LPs you might need to clean the stylus with a cleaner every LP or every few LPs. Dry brushing the stylus each side is very helpful to get the dust bunnies off. However, these dust bunnies do not always blacken the stylus hence a mere dry brushing is sufficient.

The key to keeping a stylus cleaning is to enact a thorough LP clean regimen. The less casual you are about cleaning your LPs the better off you are & the cleaner your stylus will be & the less frequently you will need to clean it. Cleaning LPs is pretty anal, as you know, but vital, I'm afraid!
As Bombaywalla said, the best stylus cleaner is a clean LP.

Since I play only well-cleaned LP's my need for actual stylus cleaning is fairly low. I do dry brush it after each side with a corner of the CF brush before brushing the record.

Once in a while I give it swipe with my DIY stylus cleaner, described on this thread:

I've tried LP#9, zerodust, the xtremephono goop and a matchbook striker. The DIY is quicker to use than any of them except the match striker. It does a better job than any of them.

But to reiterate, clean LP's make stylus cleaning virtually unnecessary.