What do I need to effectively clean my records

I have some new and used records that are in need of cleaning. I'd like to buy some materials I can use from home, and I don't have space or money for a cleaning machine. I took a couple to the local store and cleaned them on the VPI there, didn't seem to do much. A guy there recommended I buy a more effective cleaning solution and stiffer brush, but then another guy said a stiff brush would damage the records. I read the post about the sketchy "spot remover" type cleaner being used, but I'd like something guaranteed not to harm the records or my rig. I keep hearing about Last, both the cleaner and protectant. Is the protectant worth it?

I'm a total novice. I have only a dry brush. Can I get some advice on exactly what to buy and how to clean: brands of cleaners, what to scrub with, what to dry with, how to clean them (use circles? brush inside to outside? how vigorously?). It sounds silly, but where do I set the records to dry? Also, should I buy replacement audiophile sleeves (which ones) to keep my really nice records in? Is a separate stylus cleaner necessary?
Hi Matt,
You can go to www.amusicdirect.com and find all the clean-
ing products you may need. If you dont have a machine you
can clean your records with a set of Disc Doctor Miracle
Record Brushes, Record Reasearch Labs Super Record Wash,
and then rinse them with distilled water.

They also have a few differant brands of record sleeves, you should put a formerly dirty record into a clean sleeve
if possable.

The Disc Doctor brushes come with complete cleaning and drying instructions for non machine cleaning, and they are possably the best cleaning brushes out there.

Meanwhile start saveing your pennies for a machine with a
vacuum for the rinse and dry, I cant imagine cleaning with-
out one.


There are a couple of (nearly endless) threads on this topic. Here's the most recent one.


Read the whole thread for an education, or look for a (very long) post by '4yanx'. His routine is either insane or remarkably thorough, depending on your POV. The cleaning solutions he uses are well regarded around here and available from amusicdirect.com and others.

Everyone seems to agree that vacuuming is essential to get the crud off the disc after it's suspended in the cleaning solution. If you don't have a RCM there are other/cheaper ways to vacuum, some of which are described on the thread above by people with more experience than me.

You can find still more information on an even longer thread named 'record playing rituals'. That's assuming the first thread hasn't already driven you screaming back to the CD player!
Here is my method.

You need: Disc Doctor brushes, Disc Doctor cleaning fluid, Distilled water, a plastic garbage bag, a 2-3 bathroom hand towels, 2-3 micro fiber towels (available at auto parts stores or sometimes at Costco), clean inner record sleeves especially if you are buying used records which sometimes smell like they have mold and assorted contaminants inside the jacket (Disc Doctor says you can just go to a print shop and buy some ACID-FREE 70 or 80 pound paper cut to 12” x 24” and then folded in half—Disc Doctor does not trust any plastic if you are into archival quality storage because of the outgassing that occurs with plastics).

Lay the plastic garbage bag on the table to contain any moisture. Spread the hand towel on the plastic. Place the record on the hand towel. Always start with the same side of each record so you do not forget and accidentally wash one side twice.

Wash Procedure: using one of the micro fiber cloths, brush (DO NOT SCRUB) away any loose particles on the record surface. The idea here is to prevent scratching the record by accidentally scrubbing grit into the grooves. Using the small dropper bottle provided in the DD kit, apply about six drops of DD cleaner to the first brush. Divide the record into imaginary thirds as if you are dividing a pie into thirds. Scrub one-third of the record at a time. Scrub up-and-down three times on each third. DD says three up-and-down cycles is sufficient, but I always do about ten up-and-downs per each third.

Rinse Procedure: once the record has been scrubbed, the record needs to be rinsed. The second DD brush is used for the rinsing. Drop about 6 drops of distilled water on the second brush. I have found that I can scrub half the record at one time with up-and-down stokes. I am right-handed so I rinse the right half first while holding down the record with the finger tips of my left hand. To rinse the left half of the record, I simply lift my left arm high enough to reach under with the right hand to rinse the left half of the record. Then I mop up the extra liquid using the brush. Then hold the brush over a bowl and use your index finger to squeegee the liquid out of the brush. I repeat the rinse procedure two more times to remove as much of the cleaning fluid as possible. DD says you will never get it all.

Drying Procedure: DD recommends drying the record in a dish rack or use Scott brand bathroom tissues to mop up the excess liquid. I personally have found that I can wipe off most of the liquid using the brush followed by a wipe with the micro fiber cloth. Then I use the second micro fiber cloth to completely dry off the the record and sort of polish it. You must wash the micro fiber cloths frequently and shake them out each time you use them in case any hard particulate matter has gotten stuck to it.

Finally, I cradle the record vertically on my thighs as I wipe the edges of the record with the micro fiber cloth to remove any moisture left there. I place the record in a clean acid-free jacket and I am finished.

DD recommends playing the record three times before it reaches its peak of performance, because the stylus will make new grooves in the now clean record. I find his advice on this to be accurate because the record does sound better after 3 plays! I have now cleaned nearly 200 records using this system and am very pleased with the results. I can do about 10-12 records an hour or about one every five minutes. The results are very gratifying, but it does take effort. I also have a VPI HW 17 record cleaner, but I prefer the results of the DD system.
Doug sez:
"Read the whole thread for an education, or look for a (very long) post by '4yanx'. His routine is either insane or remarkably thorough, depending on your POV. The cleaning solutions he uses are well regarded around here and available from amusicdirect.com and others."

The answer is that I am both, insane and thorough. How clean were the records you acquired from me, Doug? Yes, do buy RR products and be happy. But, buy from anyone BUT musicdirect.com, I cannot in good faith recommend them for anything except being ultimately rude. Of course, if you deal strictly via internet, you might be spared their snooty 'tudes. ElusiveDisc.com sometimes has it on sale.
Search the archives for "cleaning records" and see my post (JYPrez) for a cheapo home-made record cleaning machine that will "suck-up" a VPI's for lunch.
I've bought quite a few things from Music Direct without experiencing anything but courtesy and fast service. While YMMV and all that, I personally commend them.
Jyprez, i'm curious to read about your DYI cleaning machine but can't find your post anywhere. do you have a link?
Chris Brady (A'gon handle = Teres) also posted his DIY RCM info somewhere here. Can't remember where, but it involved a second hand TT and thrift store vacuum cleaner. Cost him < $50 IIRC.
go to the opening window for discussion forums and enter "cleaning records" in the "search archives" box. Click on the discussion entitled "cleaning records" which comes up. You will see my post as the last one (JYPrez) to this discussion. This approach will cost you about $15 or less and IMHO work as well as a mega-buck cleaning machine
Thanks Dougdeacon for the teres link below. Ryanks, yours it below that. for all interested in DYI cleaners, cut and paste. i'm sure there are more examples around a'gon as well.


Thanks everyone. I'm gonna follow 4yanx's "step 1". I'm buying a Groovmaster, RR deep cleaner, and I'll pick up some pads and spray bottles and get to cleaning. I can't believe how much I just spent on cleaning supplies. Justifying it with thoughts of all the $1 records I can pick up and revitalize (hopefully).
You need:

A piece of plastic foil (50cm times 50cm)
A piece of micro fibre cloth
A bottle of distilled water
A smaller bottle of distilled water and ethyl alcohol (50/50)

Put the plastic foil on a dust-free table and place the record on it. Spray the micro fibre cloth with distilled water. The tissue should be humid but not wet. Start to clean your record by following the grooves. Don't change direction. Continue until one side of your record is clean. Check the surface. If you still find spots - most likely it's grease. Apply 2 or 3 drops of the water/alcohol fluid and treat these spots with the micro fibre cloth again. Turn over your record and clean the other side.

This is by far the most effective way to clean your precious records but probably not the most efficient one. However, I find it better than these huge cleaning machines because A) it's cheaper and B) you can admire the label while cleaning the record.