Turntable Belt Care—talc or corn starch?

While servicing my belt driven turntable recently I discovered my 15 year old container of unscented talcum powder had disappeared. While shopping for more, I found that drug store talcum powder isn’t really talcum powder anymore. Because of cancer concerns, the talc has been replaced with corn starch. For our needs, both can be considered a lubricant.

VPI said using corn starch on the belt is okay, just make sure to wipe any grease off of the belt, pulley and platter rim before you powder and install the belt.

In the past some manufacturers put talc in the bag with the belt. Anthrax fears ended that.

I was able to find real talcum powder online and some dive/surf shops have it (to ease donning wetsuits).

If you’ve forgotten how to powder the belt, put some powder in a baggie with the belt and shake, take the belt out, shake off the excess powder and reinstall.

Why do this? The powder allows the belt to slip slightly on start-up acting like a clutch, reducing/eliminating belt noise and extending belt life.

Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer using talc (a mineral) over cornstarch (a food). Perhaps it’s that talc isn’t water soluble so it’s unaffected by humidity or moisture like corn starch? Is that really a concern? Or that manufacturers have recommended using talc in the past and not the more common corn starch?

Either way, now you’re aware. If even you care.

And if you have a direct, magnetic or idler arm turntable, no belt, no worries—you can stay out of your wife’s kitchen domain looking for corn starch. I recommend that like I recommend talc.


Absorbs is the issue in talcum. I’ve never seen anyone use cornstarch. I would’t use it.. I don’t keep my belts in a bag with powder.


I clean the belts with warm soapy water. I rinse them in hot tap water and turn them inside out and put them on the right size jar. I let them dry and spray them with silicone spray and let them dry a second time. I remove them from the jar and flip them the correct direction and in a dry new bag they go.. NO POWDER!!

Before I install a treated belt I put it in a talkum dust bag. I powder it. Take it out of the bag with your (powdered) nitril gloves on and drop it on a paper towel a couple of times. Drop it on the narrow side of the belt a couple of times..


It’s ready to install. DON’T breath the powder or any powder for that matter.


Clean all the pully surfaces with alcohol. Clean and service the platter bearing at the same time.. Same with the motor. Clean, oil and reclean as needed.


101 TT maintenance.. Enjoy..




Yep, all good. You have flat belts, mine's a single O-ring. I've never used silicone, just talc. My spare is in a dry bag, like you said no need to store them in talc. My maintenance includes all your suggestions along with checking the cartridge mounting screws and VTF since I'm going to all the trouble. Although it's not really trouble is it? It's all in the fun of owning a turntable.

Why do this? The powder allows the belt to slip slightly on start-up acting like a clutch, reducing/eliminating belt noise and extending belt life.

And then what? Magically knows to stop slipping when playing music? Why on Earth would anyone want slipping???!

Wipe the belt, platter rim and motor spindle with a clean lint free cloth and alcohol. Put the corn starch back where it belongs in the kitchen cupboard.

Oh shoot, while composing my post above the "belt" magically transformed itself into an o-ring. So there is magic involved after all. Nevermind.

Put the corn starch back where it belongs in the kitchen cupboard.

The post was about using talc and where to find it, not advocating corn starch.

Please forgive me, but I cannot help the thought that powdered sugar would sweeten the sound.  Very bad joke, I know.  But I gotta agree with MC; don't you want both the belt and the platter rim upon which the belt rides to be as clean as possible?  Slippage may occur at start-up only because that is the moment of max torque.  Belt compliance or lack thereof will determine what happens after that.  And then when the platter is up to speed, you want zero slip, ideally.

Belts are relatively inexpensive(in audioland)

LP Gear supplies my VPI belts. Keep 2-3 on hand- replace yearly or every other depending on use/enviroment.  "Maintenance" of a big rubber band seems ridiculous to me. 

The slipping you desribe is increasing wear on the belt, making the surface smoother. Not giving the platter a spin while turning the motor encourages more wear.




I agree...

Why do this? The powder allows the belt to slip slightly on start-up acting like a clutch, reducing/eliminating belt noise and extending belt life.

When the drive belt (re: O-ring) squeals on start up talc silences it. Once the platter is up to speed there should be no slippage. And there isn’t, I test the speed periodically with a strobe disk. On my TT it’s a 25lb. platter and the rim is wiped clean when the bearing is lubed. FWIW, this is per VPI.

And Lol, you’re forgiven, but we're sure off the subject about talc.

I had forgotten that talc is now hard to find, because of its proven toxicity, not only because it physically resembles anthrax spores.  If one must use something similar, what about the current version of baby powder?  I personally don't think it's helpful when responders try to talk the OP out of the idea behind his or her question, but what is so terrible about a little squeak at start-up?  And are there real studies that show talc or the like extends belt life?  I no longer own or use a belt-driven turntable, but I did own several in my past audio life, and I never heard a belt squeak even without the benefit of talc.  Apologies for doing the very thing I have an adversion to, trying to talk you out of talc, in this case.

@lewm  Logic would indicate the belt squeak is the belt saying it's unhappy with the motor's pulley torque starting a heavy, stationary platter. This would likely stretch the belt eventually, or snap it. Because I follow the manufacturer's recommendation on servicing, the belt is still functional at 7 years. In the end I'd rather save the $30 for a new belt and buy a new record.


@tablejockey Yes, giving the platter an assist helps but isn't necessary if the 'rubber band' is serviced properly.


With TALC...😂


I like the LP storage unit-brand?

Also like the choices of albums on display.

I have a 47lb platter it takes a little help to get it started with 2 motors. I quit using it and went back to the same TT I've used for 1000 years.. TD124s and Russcos

Belt drives, Rem drives. outside O-Ring.. It's still the platter bearing and how it's set up..


Anybody have a TD124DD?




The LP storage is from IKEA and way simpler to assemble than the usual IKEA stuff. Those albums are favorites I've sort of worn out over the years and replaced with reissues so I could hang them on the wall. Colorful, interesting artwork for sure.


Nice to know somebody around here is older than me...

A 47lb. platter, no wonder you go by oldheavymec!


Neither! I use ArmorAll occasionally on TT belts. My Ariston from 1977 still has the original belt in pristine shape!

I use talc on my VPI round belts after a cleaning in soapy water, rinse, dry. It does sound better. 

On my flat OL belts, I just clean them as above. Performs better without talc.