Vinyl cleaning and alcohol


What is the latest truth about alcohol being harmful or not harmful to vinyles?
I'v read that yiu should never use alcohol in the cleaning solution because of "this and that". I've never read anyone saying; "I've destroyed all my vinyls due to alcohol in the cleaning solution". On the other hand I have read several posts saying that they have been using alcohol for 5, 10 even 20 years without hearing any degeneration of the vinyles.

I got worried after have been cleaning all my best old vinyles with Okki Nokki cleaning fluid, so I searched the net for facts. I found hypotheses why alcohol is harmful and statements that it's not.

So what is the truth? 
I remember some of those threads.  It turned out that some guys actually use undiluted alcohols. I'm not sure I would recommend that or do it myself. I have always used a solution that is about 10% pure ethanol, laboratory grade, not drug store bought. The best you can get is 98% pure, I think. As you probably know, "rubbing alcohol" is a definite no-no, because of additives.  Given my own 10% solution (plus distilled deionized water plus a few drops of non-ionic detergent), I have had no discernible problems with alcohol.  But there is sure to be someone who says it is a bad idea.  Let's also argue about ultrasonic machines and damage those might do.
The truth is it won't destroy your records, but you can do a whole lot better. But audiophiles are always about one-upping each other on tinier and tinier details. 
Well...there is really NO truth, because all of this in it’s infancy.

Alcohol, what I find disturbing is, that over time it may cause vinyl to become brittle.

I use a product developed to clean plastics. Versa-Clean from Fisherbrand scientifics. I dilute it.

Read on "Thumbs up for Ultrasonic Cleaning"
Is there any scientific research proposing alcohol as a good vinyl record cleaner?
Show me the RESEARCH on alcohol's effects on vinyl records!


What's are "vinyles"? Oh, you mean LP's. Yes, LP's are made of vinyl. Do we call our car tires "rubbers"? I for one don't. We older guys reserve that term for a different product.

If you clean your LP's once after acquisition on a vacuum-type cleaning machine (VPI, Nitty Gritty, Keith Monks, etc.), and the alcohol-containing fluid is on the LP for only 30 seconds or so, what's to fret about? 

For those wanting an alcohol-free cleaning fluid, the good folks at Brooks Berdan Ltd. (specifically Sheila Berdan and Joe Knight) have reintroduced the TM-8 RCM cleaning fluid developed by a chemist friend of Brooks' back in the 1980's. Sheila and Joe are calling it Groovy Solutions, and it's good stuff. I have some of the original left in a gallon jug, right next to my drinking alcohol.

Exactly... I also wanna see some scientific evidence that states alcohol (in reasonable amount, like in these sold to be used for vinyle cleaning. Or atleast hear from someone who have had bad experince with these solutions. And I don't mean those that are home made.
Evidence does exist that alcohol does damage both the vinyl surface as well as to the stylus itself.
However, rumor has it that this evidence is kept highly secret by those directly affected.

Some conspiracy theories suggest the alcohol was only lightly diluted , often with ice and not applied directly to the lp ......
Excuse me...I meant LP:s. And singles. But I didn't want to write that I was cleaning singles too. So I just called them vinyles. Someone could missunderstand me for thinking that people that are single are dirty and have to be cleand. 

I have actually tested L'Art du Son which I find much better than the Okki Nokki solution.
I've never heard it before but I love the term "vinyles." Even if the spelling doesn't quite work (though I gotta say I can't come up with a good alternative), it demonstrates a cardinal rule of linguistics -- that language and languages are ever evolving.
There is lots of BS and little if any science other than Isopropyl alcohol has zero effect on PVS. Nothing, nadda, zilch. Then you hear arguments that the alcohol removes stuff from the vinyl like plasticizers. Having just had to research this stuff on account of my own misunderstanding on record PVC content the additives present are in amounts less than 1% and frequently less than 0.1% and are there to assist with pressing not sound. Plastizisers soften the PVC. If you remove them you just harden the PVC making it more durable. 
Having said all this the best way to clean your records is to not let them get dirty in the first place. If you use a conductive sweep arm and a dust cover you will never have to clean a record you buy new. Other helpful measures are keeping fumes and smoke of all kinds out of your Hi Fi room. 
If you have dirty records using distilled water with just 1% alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaning device is the best way to go IMHO. The alcohol is to help remove oils. Oil loves to stick to PVC. Just put a few drops of any oil on an old record and try to get it off with water. 
bdp24 if you are going to use L'Art du Son you need to rinse the record well in distilled water. A friend of mine has found that it leaves a residue on the records enough to gum up his stylus. I believe he has stopped using it because he does not have the patience to rinse the record.
@ mijostyn
How do you suggest the rinsing should be done?
Destilled water, with or whithout rinse agent?
Does your friend use something like an Okki Nokki or does he/she just let the records dry?
He uses a VPI machine. Just distilled water will do fine.
goofyfoot, I do not know for sure about record "shellac" but alcohol is the solvent used to melt the shellac used for finishing so my instinct says, not a good idea.
Just to clarify, alcohol is a generic term and there are thousands of alcohols. I believe most people are referring to isopropyl alcohol although one poster mentions using ethanol. I would recommend isopropyl alcohol and not ethanol.

Another generic term is vinyl for LPs. The vinyl is actually polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is not PVS as someone mentioned above.

The PVC in LPs do contain stabilizers and plasticizers. The stabilizers are used to prevent degradation of PVC. The plasticizers are used to keep the PVC plastic or flexible and reduce brittleness. Removal of the plasticizers does not make the PVC more durable but makes it more brittle and can cause cracking.

Alcohols can cause leaching of plasticizers and stabilizers from the PVC but with isopropyl alcohol it would be minimal with short exposures. 

Most commercial LP cleaners use some type of surfactant or detergent. In my experience, any surfactant or detergent that contacts the PVC  surface leaves behind some surfactant or detergent which can than be picked up by the stylus and gum it up. 

In my opinion, distilled water and dilute isopropyl alcohol works well. For stubborn or more tightly bound surface crud an ultrasonic cleaner can be used. Ultrasonic cleaning can speed up leaching of stabilizers and plasticizers, so I would not overdo it. Using these in a reasonable fashion will not degrade the LP over the owners lifetime. The stylus will probably do more damage than isopropyl alcohol.

By the way, the hardest thing to remove from a PVC surface are the residues from finger prints. The finger print residue is made up of ions, proteins, lipids and amino acids, which can chemically bond to the surface. Distilled water and isopropyl alcohol will not remove them. In this case a commercial cleaner and/or ultrasonic cleaning is required. 


thanks for letting us know about Versa-Clean


Any plasticizer concers with using this?

Fisherbrand Versa-Clean comments from FisherScientific site

  • Clean-out-of-place (COP): Manual labware washing, pharmaceutical washers, immersion soak tanks, ultrasonic cleaners. Clean-in-place (CIP): Mixing vessels, process equipment, piping, packaging equipment
  • Use where glassware and sensitive lab equipment must be totally free of residues that could interfere with analysis, tissue culture, manufacturing and other procedures
  • Third party lot specific tested for inhibitory residues to meet NELAC and State water lab audit criteria (Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater 21st Ed., 9020B-4A-2)
  • Does not contain: alcohol, ammonia, APE's, caustic , chlorine, fragrance, glycol ether solvents, NPE's, NTA, phosphates, silicates, solvents, sulfates, volatile organic compounds or ozone depleting substances
  • Readily biodegradable in 7 days (OECD 301D) and phosphate free
  • Mild pH of 9.75 it can be disposed of straight to the drain
  • Complete solubility, works equally well in hot or cold water
  • Formulated for controlled foaming
  • Fisherbrand Versa-Clean is manufactured using sustainable, low waste and low energy processes in an audited, modern plant, using state of the art, precision production equipment"

I believe goofyfoot accidentally left out the word "not" between is and recommended. 
I asked Okki Nokki about their cleaning solution and they answered this:
" We always did have 4% to the litre. (4% in the finished 1 litre, made out of the concentrate. Above 20 % to the litre, the alcohol is getting negative influences. We do only 4%."

I don't know what is in that Fisher Scientific Versa-Clean formulation but I believe it is designed for glassware. Personally I wouldn't use it on LPs but if it works for some people it might be ok.

I wouldn't worry too much about the plasticizers. As long as you don't soak your LPs for excessively long periods of time, they should be ok. The surface of an LP could loose some plasticizer but it would take a lot of exposure to totally remove plasticizers from the bulk of the LP. 

I always tried to take the simplest approach to cleaning LPs, distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. If the LP is really dirty (especially oils from finger prints) than use a commercial cleaner or an ultrasonic cleaner. Some of these cleaners can cause more problems than they solve. 
Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) does an excellent job and is quite safe unless mis-used. Do a Web search on "vinyl chemical compatibility". There is lot's of information available for those willing to do a little homework. Here's one chart:

You'll want to use the purest IPA. It is available 99% pure.Here's what I use:
I mix 1.3 cups of the above along with 0.9 tablespoons of Ilford Ilfotol photographic rinse agent in ~ 3.3 gallons of distilled water in my Elmasonc P120h USC. 

The IPA+Ilfotol+Distilled H20 gives a very 'clean' solution, measuring at 0000-0001ppm total dissolved solids (TDS).

If you're considering chemicals such as Versa-Clean, it's wise to check TDS.  Same for disinfectants. They add more to a solution than you'll take off a record.  Keep in mind that anything in the water on the record when it dries will be left on the record.

If you're thinking about using L'Art du Son, be aware that this is not really a cleaning agent.  In reality it is a  coating for the record surface not unlike Gruv Glide to "lubricate the groove".  It will leave a nice and shiny coat. Thanks but I"ll pass. YMMV.

Regarding Versa-Clean's high TDH ...... It is recommend to do, as terry9 says, " heroic rinsing". The L'Art du Son is pricey and has a limited shelf life.
@ jtimothya
About L'Art du Son: As long it's not harmfull for the vinyle and the result is good, what's the problem?
Regarding Versa-Clean’s high TDH ...... It is recommend to do, as terry9 says, " heroic rinsing".

No doubt. Using the solution formula I outlined gets records clean without need for a packaged product.

If the solution used is clean after records are washed then rinsing is not needed. Filtering that solution during the cleaning cycle will keep it clean and rinsing becomes an unecessary step. Take a look at the article referenced in the last link in my post for measurements and more info on this approach.
About L'Art du Son: As long it's not harmfull for the vinyle and the result is good, what's the problem?

It's unnecessary for cleaning imo. But If you want a coating on your records, do as you prefer. 


I use L'Art du Son, and have had wonderful results with it.

I only mix a single liter at a time so I don't have to worry about it going bad.

Transfer a small amount from that 1 liter to a small  bottle (50ml?)

I use that to "coat" the records with.

I store it dark as light will adversely effect it.

I do a soak with the cleaner for 4 min. Vacuum it off. Soak again for 4 min, scrub with one brush, and vacuum off. Soak again for 4 min, scrub with a new brush, then vacuum off.

Then, I do three rinses using different brushes, vacuum between each rinse and set aside to air dry any residual water before sleeving in fresh anti static sleeves

I also advocate a distilled water rinse after cleaning with my own mixture of isopropanol, non-ionic detergent, and water.  Otherwise, I do believe the detergent can leave a residue.  I heard an improvement when I added the pure water rinse step.  Moreover, you get a bit more crap out of the grooves along with the residual detergent.  I can see the results in the effluent from my VPI HW17.
Alcohol is definitely a good thing with vinyl, in moderation. These days I prefer bourbon 
I load the reservoir in my HW-17 with pure water for final rinsing, squirting cleaning fluid onto the LP from a handheld bottle. The VPI was the first record cleaner I found that satisfied my expectations and desires (the Nitty Gritty had failed). I started with a Cecil Watts Preener in 1968, graduated to the original Discwasher when it was introduced in the early 70's, which sufficed until the first affordable RCM's appeared in the 80's iirc. I didn't have the dough for a Keith Monks back then.
Post removed 
Gee, looks like no one uses this stuff anymore?;_ylt=Awr9Ime8lBZeQ.AAWAvBGOd_;_ylu=X3oDMTByNWU4cGh1BGNvb...

One of my neighborhood stores has been using it for years. Old t- shirt, couple squirts and give it a good wipe.

I've picked up countless stampers from him. I put them thru the Spin Clean with TAP WATER, and their good to go!

What the heck is a vinyles?
I also advocate a distilled water rinse after cleaning with my own mixture of isopropanol, non-ionic detergent, and water. Otherwise, I do believe the detergent can leave a residue

What detergent do you use?

Detergent can leave a residue if it is in the solution on the record when it dries.  When using IPA and a rinse agent, TDS tests on filtered solution done after record cleaning indicate 0001-0005 ppm which is pretty much the same that the test indicates before cleaning records. With that protocol, rinsing is not needed. 

99% IPA mixed with distilled water has 0000-0001ppm TDS count.  If you filter out the dirt coming off the record during wash, the solution stays clean. I suggest a 0.35 micron filter.  However, if you choose a detergent with a high TDS count when mixed with distilled water and do not filter, then yes, rinsing is advisable.

When the solution on a record is clean after wash, then evaporative drying becomes an easy option.  With a rinse agent in the solution, the solution sheets off the record when removed from the cleaning machine. Records will dry in ~20 minutes without a fan.

TDS meters are inexpensive, around ~$15.  Everyone cleaning records should have one.  Alternatively you can measure electrical conductivity.  Several meters measure both.  I use this one:

What do you mean the negative effect of this "coating" is?

Nothing, because I never said anything about a "negative effect".  I thought it was helpful to tell people what the product is.  I prefer not to use it.
We're talking about L'Art du Son fluid.

If you put a fluid on a clean record that stays on the record as L'Art du Son is designed to do, that fluid when dried will change the coefficient of friction between the stylus and the groove - and that will change the sound. 

Some people may like the difference in what they hear with L'Art on their records..  I prefer not to change the sound that comes from a clean stylus in a clean groove.  As I said, YMMV.  .

Let me refer you to a discussion inside a thread on WBF about my own DIY system. It's with another audiophile with a similar system who uses the L'Art du Son fluid.  I was very interested that he was using it and wanted to learn more.  The discussion is quite resonable and was helpful to me in understanding his approach.  Here is a link to the middle of thread when we start on the topic and it goes on for a few messages:

I took a budget approach, the drying rack to clean 11 lps at once is making a big difference,

Now I can use my AT440ml microline stylus on old LP's that were too noisy because I failed to clean them ahead of time.

And, new Grado ME+ Mono cartridge on clean Mono LP's, (were generally acquired used), sound much better than playing with Stereo Cartridge in McIntosh Preamp's Mono Mode.

now buying some old mono jazz LP's new.