What do you do when nothing seems to get LP clean?

What do you do when nothing else seems to work? I have scrubbed with disc doctor brushes; used VPI fiber brush; tried multiple washings and nothing seems to get out this visible "gunk". Whatever it is, I've noticed it on a number of used LPs that I've tried to rescue. Its not raised, but just seems to have "attached" itself to the vinyl. Is it mold? I know its hard to know what exactly I'm dealing with without being able to see it, but what do you use as a last resort, when nothing else seems to do the trick?
Have you tried Paul Frumkin's two-step vinyl cleaning products yet? This is remarkable stuff for cleaning vinyl.

Paul sells it here through AudiogoN under the "Audio Intelligent" brand. Try doing a member search on Paul's name you will find it.
Slipknot is correct. I cleaned a Yes album (Close to the Edge, Atlantic SD19133) I bought for the beta test of the Audio Intelligent solutions. It was an album I already had a copy of, so when I saw it at Goodwill for a quarter, I brought it home. It had some kind of funky mold growing on it, and Paul's stuff took it right off. And it sounds just as good as my mint pressing. If it got the crap on that album off, it should get anything off.

Nothing I've tried so far beats his enzymatic cleaner.
Soak in warm water with detergent, which may very well be a first resort, but of course you will never make anyone rich $ doing that.

For instance, to digress in attempting to make a point: the cable mfgrs especially love how so many trust their rhetoric about metalurgy, length of crystal in grain of the metal, skin affect, and all that hocus pocus that goes on literally for pages.

But in reality, other than using a coat hanger, all they have to offer is well made connectors, and insulation for RF, copper wire, etc. All available at RadioShack for $44 1m RCA

Something to think about, huh?

Try soap and water. The obvious, and basic, approach. Most cleaning supplies are almost entirely water anyway, if you see what I mean. Read the label.
If you read any of the current threads on cleaning here, you will find that using detergent and tap water are not good. It's not obvious, for shure, because most people have no clue how various fluids react with the vinyl, myself included.

But I do know people here who DO know how tap water, detergent, and other agents react with vinyl, and I respect their opinions based on tests they have performed.

I also know what has worked for me, and I've tried many different types of cleaning fluids. Those who have used Paul's formulas have switched to them. If you can do something that can make almost (if not) all of the vinylphiles who have tried it switch, you're on to something.

Email me, and I'll send you enough to try. But one word of advice: Try to listen to people who at least have a turntable.
Detergent and tap water? Please.

I was one of the beta testers for Paul Frumkin's record cleaning fluids. Listen to what Jphii says. This stuff REALLY works.
Again I agree with the posters regarding Paul Frumpkin's two stage cleaning process. It's really wonderful stuff. Especially if you consider an album a lost cause. What do you have to lose? Post your desire for a sample and one of us will be happy to oblige. Also, FWIW, it's an incredible bargain when you compare the per ounce cost to other commercially available cleaners.
Don't laugh, detergent and distilled water works great and letting them soak is a key to getting lose molds and other sticky things. If you are worried you can always run them through a VPI machine afterwards to clean any residual contaminates.
"Most cleaning supplies are almost entirely water anyway."

Well, I would hope so! But most "detergents" (in the sense of commonly available consumer products, and not true molecular detergents) are a complex soup of various ingredients, including fragrances, water softening agents, bleaching agents, a "glue" to keep all these ingredients from separating out, fabric softeners, etc. Some of these ingredients, e.g., fragrances and fabric softeners, work best when they don't wash off easily. This is a problem for vinyl.

Only single molecule surfactants are effective in low concentrations ... and low concentrations are what you need if you want to have a prayer of removing the surfactant with your RCM. As a complex soup, detergent ingredients are present in far too high a concentration to be effectively removed by an RCM, save for possibly numerous distilled or ultra-pure water rinses.

Regarding tap water ... my tap water has 286 parts per million of total dissolved solids. That's like sprinkling fine sand on your LP! After going through my 4-stage water purifier (sediment filter; carbon block [absorbs chlorine, ammonia and other VOCs]; reverse osmosis; and deionization), the ultra-pure water has 0 parts per million.

Best regards to everyone,

I'm shipping you some of Paul's stuff today. Let us know what you think. Be sure to read the:

Results from Beta Testers of New Formulas
I've posted before about the apparently irreversible damage and residue left behind by my tap water, which often contains high amounts of manganese oxides. No amount of cleaning with various high quality record cleaning products, rinsing with ultrapure water and vacuuming with an $1,800 Loricraft has been able to get those records silent again. Use tap water at your own risk. For some of us it causes problems that are better avoided. The same is true of various household detergents, as PF so ably explained.

I've just received Paul's AIVS solutions. I've only cleaned two records so far but the results are positive. One that was still crackly after two RRL cycles is now virtually silent. One record that was silent still is, :-), and the noise floor may be lower. (I say "may be" because we're in the middle of testing a new cartridge. It can be hard to seperate one thing from another.)

My AIVS jury's not in yet but the polling to date is certainly leaning toward a favorable vote.

You changed cartridges again? I hope I can get a deal on your cast-offs!

Yes, Stewart, read the ENTIRE thread. Then, if you have any of the same questions that I had, maybe YOU can get them answered. I couldn't.

Some of these ingredients, e.g., fragrances and fabric softeners, work best when they don't wash off easily. This is a problem for vinyl.

I agree. Same goes for certain enzymes which may continue to do their "work" on your vinyl for quite some time if they are not thoroughly and completely removed or neutralized. Trouble is, the enzymatic process is an active process, not just a deposit of residue that may or may not be removed. But if folks are convinced that any enzyme, once completely removed, is safe (and that it doesn't eat away at the vinyl’s constituent ingredients in the first place), and that the developer of such an enzymatic solution (there are a few) have done proper research to determine the efficacy of all their ingredients and can speak to such results in a direct and cogent manner, enzyme away.

and the noise floor may be lower
Oh, you gotta get back to us on that one, Doug!

I did say "may"! :-)

Until this cartridge breaks in any subtle judgements like that will necessarily be hedged, second-guessed and highly suspect. Maybe doubtful too!
4yanx, there are meds for what ails you. buddy, you are making yourself look petty and foolish.
Why not try posting under your usual name, "jacksprat" so that we can see who may be proved truly foolish and so that I can tell "you" that I couldn't care less what you think?! If questioning what goes in to a product and the effects it may or may not have on vinyl is foolish, fine with me. I’ll be foolish. Oh, and there is also meds for those who don’t have the stones to post under their usual screen name. Last I heard, it contained testosterone.

Doug, thanks for the qualifier! Keep us updated on that :-)
Well, received my aerosole can of Premiere today. I have not had an opportunity to compare it to the others I've tried in terms of general cleaning and overall sonic improvement. I did, however, try to clean the mold off the record that was the impetus for buying the product in the first place, and it failed miserably. Whatever are its attributes, and they may be many, it did not remove mold. Waiting to see whether Paul's formula on the same LP fares better. Whatever the result, I appreciate the gesture Joe.
Premiere is not intended for Mold (fungus) removal, but it is terrific at removing the Mold Release compounds used to allow the LP's to be more easily removed from their molds during stamping.
Buggtussel Vinylzyme would be another choice for handling mold growing in the grooves, but with what I have read from Joe and Doug and a host of others, it would seem that Paul's product would be the ideal choice. I am going to buy some of Paul's products and see how it compares to RRL that I currently use.
Rgds, Larry
An enzyme is defined in the MSN Encarta dictionary as "A complex protein produced by living cells that promotes a bio-chemical reaction by acting as a catalyst". This said, 4yanx's questions were very valid and went unanswered. To make matters worse, he was treated poorly, just for raising the questions, much like "jacksprat@aol.com" above.

It makes sense to me that "living cells" may continue to seek food after the debris is eaten. There were also questions about plasticizers that went unanswered, which seemed valid also, especially when 4yanx stated the plasticizers were composed from fat, which I'd assume that "living cells" would crave.

Key words like "living cells", "Bio-chemical reaction" and "catalyst" all are descriptive on their own.

All in all, there is very little that seems "petty" about this.
Just when are these nefarious enzymes supposed to do their dirty work? I keep looking at and playing the records I've cleaned over the past couple of months with Paul's stuff and all I see is shine and all I hear is quiet grooves and wonderful clarity. Are these discs going to enzyme hell sometime soon? Inquiring minds want to know. :-)
Would I be well advised then to reserve Premiere for a one time application to new LPs and stay with whatever solution I find best works for removing dust, dirt, debris from older records?
Geez, how is an enzyme supposed to live if it is washed off and vacuumed away AND the environment to support such life is removed?

All I use the Premiere for is a one-time shot on new records, unless I shoot it on an old album I'm not sure will clean. Then I give it a shot and see how the album LOOKS. If it looks like it's worth cleaning after the spray, I clean & play.

So, to answer to question to Cello, yes.
I don't know, Dopogue. When do "living cells" quit eating? I remember 4yanx mentioning that he found that most plasticizers were fat based.

"Are these discs going to enzyme hell soon?"

It's hard telling. My Armor All'ed CD's looked and sounded great for the first several years, then became unplayable. A couple of months? It appears that you've placed as much study and research as anyone else.
Ignoring 4yanx's concerns or joking about them will not make the issues he raised go away. He may have come on a tad strong but let's be honest, his questions have never been answered. What other motive than concern for the safety and longevity of everyone's vinyl do you think he has? Here are my (incredibly long-winded) thoughts...

I. What scenarios have been hypothesized?

First, it has been suggested that in the 1-5 minutes these enzymes are on the record they could chemically alter certain plasticizers in the vinyl. If that happened, removing or deactivating the remaining enzymes would not undo that effect.

The additional possibility of incomplete removal or deactivation of the enzymes also exists, though this may be a lesser concern. Measures that should reduce this risk are easy to devise.

II. What effects would result from said de-plasticizing?

Despite Dopogue's little joke, one would not expect to see a record crumble into dust in one's fingertips. Removing the plasticizers from vinyl would - this non-chemist presumes - simply make the vinyl less plastic. Nothing more, nothing less. A one-word synonym for "less plastic" is "brittle".

III. How would a more brittle record react during play?

In this scenario, damage would occur due to the record's being physically played by a moving stylus. Multiple plays might be necessary to affect the damage.

Plastic deformation of the groove wall in response to stylus pressures would not occur so readily. Plastic return after deformation would not occur so readily or so completely. Instead, the vinyl would have a greater tendency to shatter and chip, or to remain permanently deformed.

We are discussing microscopic or molecular sized events. No one has suggested that a record will crack in half at the drop of a stylus. Presumably the most vulnerable groove wall shapes would be the most easily damaged.

IV. Where would this damage occur and how would it sound?

The most vulnerable groove wall shapes would be modulations of short duration and high amplitude. A tall, skinny guy like me is more easily fractured than a short, non-skinny guy like - oh - most of you I suppose. ;-) Dynamic HF sounds on inner grooves would be the most vulnerable, since they are physically thinner in the linear direction (ie, less mass to resist stylus pressure) and have faster rise times (so more abrupt stylus transitions).

Eventually the record might begin to sound like it had been played by a mistracking stylus with VTF set too low, ie, HF crackling or static sounds on dynamic peaks and/or harshness on sounds like loud cymbal hits and suchlike. This might take months or years to develop, but if it did the inherent brittleness of the de-plasticized vinyl would make the situation progressively worse with each play.

VI. Can this hypothesis be proved or disproved?

Probably, though not by me. An organic chemist could verify the core concern, that the enzymes used in AIVS solutions do or could interact with the plasticizers used in certain vinyl compounds. An engineering team could devise a stress testing procedure involving, say, intensive AIVS exposure followed by multiple plays. Of course they'd have to control with non-AIVS treated records played an equal number of times on the same equipment, with periodic and comparative measurements of damage between the treated and non-treated records.

VII. What should we do in the meantime?

I've only used the AIVS solutions on a couple of records so far, records that had refused to clean up satisfactorily with other means. The results were good, very good, but until the above hypothesis is convincingly disproved, I am reluctant to take unnecessary risks.

If the AIVS enzyme solution must be used, a complete vacuuming-to-dry followed by the recommended alchohol solution may remove or kill any remaining enzymes. For additional safety, we follow that with both RRL SDC/vac and SVW/vac cycles. This has the additional benefit of diluting any remaining alchohol for vacuum removal. Alchohol is also believed to present a risk for some vinyl plasicizers.

AIVS has been effective in some cases where the demonstrably safer solutions from RRL were not, but pending a convincing demonstration of its long-term safety AIVS will remain a cleaner of secondary resort, not my primary solution. I will use it when I have to, not because I want to.

This message has been approved by Moki and Neko, our two Ocicats.
Hey, no number V.

Anybody want me to write some more? :-)
Doug, thanks on behalf of many of us all for that very considered post. Your concerns reflect some of mine concerns and, from the correspondence I’ve received lately, I realize that while I may be one of the few to “vocalize” them, there are a number of others whom share them.

The discussion of enzyme reactions in a vinyl cleaning fluid contains salient issues and is not limited to one product or another – there are a few enzyme-based fluids out there. Based on my research, I found it on point that you divide the discussion into cause and effect AND a separation between whether a certain enzyme might cause permanent, irreversible damage, once applied, and whether the damage might occur only if the certain enzyme were not fully and thoroughly removed.

Let us just say for argument’s sake that whatever enzyme used as an ingredient can do its duty without damage to any composition of vinyl in most any record during a short exposure and can then be thoroughly removed – stopping its active process and without leaving any sort of residue . I am not convinced that the enzyme(s) used in some fluids would pass such a test because I don’t see any evidence of such being thoroughly tested, but let’s assume that it is so.

This leaves the whole process of complete rinsing and removal/neutralization (leaving aside your possible concern of using alcohol as a neutralizer). What of the brushes used in the cleaning process? Cross-contamination? Use of separate brushes only to be used with the enzymes? Alcohol or other rinse for brushes, tubes, wands, etc. before each pass, each record?

It also leaves the whole point you mentioned with respect to “future shock”. Some folks may not notice a gradual or eventual change in sonics, especially if they are limited only to certain HF modulations, etc. Based on your attention to detail, I’m thinking that you would! :-) While record cleaning fluids have been around for a long time, there seems to be a particular spate of efforts in the past five years or so to keep making improvements and provide a miracle washing cure in the face of the increasingly growing interest in vinyl. This can be good and bad. My ONLY concern is that such products, whoever produces them, undergo rigorous testing so that one can at least feel reasonably safe in their usage. Of course, this level of confidence will vary from user to user, and that’s okay.

Thanks for adding to the disussion!
I've mentioned before that certain concerns may be valid. I just don't know the answers and I doubt the manufacturers could answer them to anyone's complete satisfaction without disclosing the recipe. Also, anonymous attacks are childish.

Buggtussels Vinyl Zyme has been available for a number of years. Does anyone know of negative comments about this particular product? I'm curious. I've Googled this to the point where I don't think there is a negative review. So, since there aren't that many different types of natural enzymes I would think that we should look for criticism of Vinyl Zyme.

I realize I'm looking at this whole issue more simply than David or Doug but my viewpoint is based on what my records have been exposed to through my 35 years of collecting and caring for records. I'm not a newbie to vinyl and didn't abandon my records in the 80's like so many did. I started cleaning my records in the 60's with a tap water damped round felt unit made by Watts. By 1970 I had discovered inner and outer aftermarket record sleeves. I adopted Diskwasher cleaning in the 70's and had my entire collection cleaned in the late 70's by a Kieth Monks. At that time Kieth Monks simply supplied a recipe for a cleaning fluid which was about 50% alcohol and 50% distilled water. I eventually purchased my Nitty Gritty RCM and used their products but was not pleased with the results. I went back to the Kieth Monks recipe in various mixes until I bought RRL products recently and now the AIVS solutions. I wouldn't doubt that some of my records have been subjected to every fluid i've mentioned here. Since I've seen or heard no degradation of any of my vinyl library I'm just not concerned. Of all the produts I've used I will say that Diskwasher fluids were the worst with the Nitty Gritty cleaners coming in a close second.

My experience constitutes empirical data over a long enough time for me to have reached my comfort level with the AIVS stuff. I'd like to know your thoughts on my experiences. Also, again, what do you have to lose with an otherwise unplayable record.
I quite agree with Lugnut when he asks, "what do you have to lose with an otherwise unplayable record?" What indeed? The kind of record Stew described is exactly what I'd use AIVS on.

As far as Buggtussel/Vinyl-Zyme goes, I'm not sure it does that great a job and it may leave a sonic signature. I've only used it once or twice but those are my recollections. I've got some moldy and getting moldier LPs in a box in the garage. Good candidates for a Buggtussel vs. AIVS shootout. My money's on the AIVS.
Pitch the LP and go on to the next one. (That is, unless you are very young and have absolute confidence of a very long life ahead.)
I can't speak to the Buggtussel in particular, either, mine was more a question of enzymatics, in general.

Patrick, I agree with your "what to lose on an unplayable record" question, too. But, when was the last time you saw that qualifier as a marketing or advertising boast and how many general browsers for vinyl cleaning fluid are even going to imagine there'd be such a distinction? Granted, if certain prducts move from the "use them on all your of vinyl without worry" to "use on otherwise unplayable records as a last resort", I might try some of them myself. I'd just hope that such a distinction would be clear to everyone with concerns.
Hey gang. I'm at work right now so I can't dish out the needed dissertation to help clear-up some of the concerns about enzymes, how they work, the specific class of enzyme in Paul's product, the topic of plasticizer leaching, etc. I'll post later this evening.

Mr. Kidknow
Professional Detergent Chemist At Large
Mrkidknow, it seems that you have stated elsewhere that you were at least one person consulted, perhaps the main person consulted, in the development of this particular product (and since you've indicated that you will be addressing a specific product and not enzymes in general). As such, whatever you post will hopefully be illuminating. Because you are not exactly an uninterested party, please do not take offense if you are asked who you are (other than Mrkidknow) and your qualifications to make what I assume will be a chemical/biological discussion. Also, please do not take offense if independent verification of ingredients or processes is sought.
Pardon my fatalism (if that's what it is), but I just cleaned another handful of my favorite LPs with Paul's stuff. Anyone so concerned about using the AIVS treatment before someone Higher Up blesses it -- which is unlikely to happen to the satisfaction of some folks here -- may feel free to send me what's left in the bottles. It will be put to good use, "ruining" my records. Dave
I admit that I've been a little intimidated to post my concerns about this new cleaner, because if you do, there are those who try their hardest to make you feel poorly, just for stating your opinion.

Some of us collect rare, valuable records and it would be un-wise and irresponsible for us to use anything questionable on them. I'm the guy that has the $300 Fred Jackson Blue Note. I also own 2 of the 500 original 1568 Mobley's. I've been told that these sell for between $2 to $3K. I also own most of the original 1500 series Blue Notes and have spent thousands of dollars acquiring them.

Certainly, even you dopogue, can understand why some of us with collections like this may take extra caution to make sure the cleaner is safe and has had suitable testing and research behind it to insure our records are not harmed.

I realize that a replacement value offer was made by the manufacturer, however he advised me against using his fluid on my $300 Fred Jackson "Hootin' and Tootin'".

If this fluid is being offered for use on garage sale VG condition or less records, then fine. I don't waste my time with such records. But to insinuate that 4yanx, dougdeacon or I have issues because we won't follow your lead is ludicrous.
Wow, that puts me in my place. And 4yanx, I'm sorry your team lost. Jes45, I wouldn't dream of telling you to use ENZYMES on your discs. I'm amazed that you actually listen to them at all, must play hell with the resale value. All the best, Dave
I'm not a scientist but I didn't sleep through all my studies at university. Animal fats are used in making steel to provide certain characteristics for workability, strength, etc. What it is not is steel with fat added. It becomes a very complex molecular structure. Even if you weld the steel it will not leech out the animal fat. I'm sure that a complex compound of molecules found in vinyl formulations is similar in concept. If it were as simple as vinyl with fats added then certainly the pressure of the stylus would make the fats leech through temperature rise with a couple of tons per square inch pressure. I don't know how big enzymes are but I'm pretty sure they are bigger than individual molecules. We all know that salt is not good for concrete. But one doesn't claim that putting salt on it makes the portland cement leech out and that's why it crumbles. It is no longer sand, water, lime and portland cement. It is concrete after the ingredients have had their chemical reaction. This is not offered to make a fuss with you guys. It's just food for thought.
Dave, why be so silly to attack me as a fan of a baseball team because I had questions about enzymes in vinyl cleaners? Besides, none were directed your way, unless you have a vested interest that I don't know about or something...

As for the Yanks, yeah, they folded. Doesn't bother me much, though, the Sawx have to win once in a great while. Long as it's just once every 20 years or so (as is history) and then nothing in the Series (in my, my dad's, and my granddad's lifetime), I can live with that! Ha! :-)
I just think this whole thread is sad and getting more so, with absolutely no way to satisfy the naysayers who are trashing a fine new product with, IMHO, a mixture of unanswerable innuendo and misplaced Armor All comparisons. And what does this product claim to do? Cure cancer? No, all it does is clean vinyl records. Does it clean them well? Absolutely, better than anything I have tried.

Ah, so I must have a "vested interest ... or something." Sorry, I never heard of Paul Frumkin before signing on as a beta tester. I owe him nothing. He owes me nothing. But his products work as claimed and have enriched my listening experience. That's enough for me. Dave
I asked a friend who's a neurosurgeon if rinsing and vacuuming and drying would remove a microscopic enzyme and he laughed. He started to talk about operating-room procedures in neurosurgery, and touched on biological/weapon contaminant clean-up.

When he was in med.-school, they looked at "clean" surfaces. What we typically think should be "clean" is not really de-contaminated.

In our purpose, the record cleaning platter, brush, and vacuum head are the worst--do you throw them away after each record? With my (non-enzyme) cleaning, this is not too much of an issue, I hope. I know that my VPI used to grow mold spores or something with stuff that I used to use. With what I use now, it doesn't anymore.

Doc's going to get back to me over the weekend.

He did suggest that a guy may need ot be prepared to use plenty of solvent or possibly high heat. Does that mean enough heat to warp, or enough solvent or alcohol to soften the plastic? I don't know.

I can see that if a microscopic enzyme gets lodged or trapped in a scratch in a groove, the stylus might no longer "read" the scratch. It may well get stuck there for a while.

If he says that there's no reason to be concerned with long-term effects of enzymes/plastic, this could maybe be okay, if the enzyme "fills in" or "fixes" the scratch. It seems that used to be one of the unwritten promises of LAST in the '80s. I don't buy records that have a LAST sticker on 'em, though...
OK gang,

I've reread the thread and will do my best to help calm some of the queasiness that people are having with regards to cleaning formulas, in particular enzymes and Paul's cleaning chemistry.

First, I have been a formulating chemist in the detergent industry for a little over 10 years. I currently formulate water-based and solvent-based cleaners primarily for the aerospace industry. The raw materials I use are very diverse and I have worked with just about every one that I've seen pop-up in do-it-yourself record cleaning formulas as well as the various U.S. Patents and current vendors. I do not formulate with enzymes but I have taken several courses in Biochemistry in undergrad and grad school so I have a very good understanding of how they work (and more importantly in this case, don't work). My boss, the laboratory technical director, used to work for DeSoto up in Chicago for 17 years. DeSoto has been the supplier of the Sears brand of laundry detergents for > 30 years so he had plenty of experience in formulating with enzymes. We discuss enzymes fairly regularly and he doesn't see a problem with what Paul has whipped-up for the enzyme formula.

I met Paul Frumkin when I purchased the MFSL pressing of Traffic: Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys from him in an Ebay auction. We started exchanging e-mails and found out that we lived only ~ 2 miles apart from each other a long time ago; age difference is the reason we never met back then. Paul started telling me about the record cleaning machine and he had already done something like 2-years work on the detergent wash solution. I mentioned my chemistry backround and we were off to the races on discussions of what one should and shouldn't use, how much to use, wiping-off vs. vacuuming, water purity, etc. We initially were going try a serious concerted effort together on producing a product but I found out the hard way that the combination of being a single, new home owner and my current employment demands made it impossible for me to proceed at a satisfactory pace. I still kept in contact with Paul and we eventually got onto the subject of enzymes. I did take the position that it would be best to use a two-step formula; we were both concerned about potential residue issues if there wasn't a follow-up basic cleaning step. We both agreed that vacuum cleaning is the only way to properly clean a record. The intention of the two-step method is to first break-up the protein soils with the enzyme and then vacuum the remains off. Now there will still can be some protein residue but it has been chopped-up into smaller pieces by the enzyme. Do a follow-up cleaning with the wash solution and that should take care of the remains and other soils. Finally, vacuum off the wash solution. If you wish to be more certain of removing cleaner residue, then follow-up with a high purity water rinse and vacuum that off. I made suggestions to Paul on what ingredients would make good candidates for wash and enzyme cleaners and he did use some of this advice in the development process. I never asked for nor will I ask for any finacial compensation for my help. I just enjoyed being able to help out. That is where we stand today.

Probably the funniest aspect of record cleaning is the fact that I've been formulating cleaners for > 10 years but only really thought about record cleaning formulas when I met Paul. I just ignorantly plodded along using Disc Doctor brushes and formulas without ever asking the question "Isn't there a better formula and/or method".

Now, let's first cover what an enzyme is and what it can do and can't do. As pointed out previously, enzymes are catalysts that participate in chemical reactions but they do not get consumed in the reaction. Enzymes can come from plants and animals as well as they can be produced by natural or genetically engineered microbes (Bacillus strains are probably the most common source for industrial production of enzymes that are used in aqueous cleaners).

An enzyme contains one or more relatively large flat ring structures which is called a Porphyrin ring. A metal ion is anchored in the center of this ring; could be iron, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, etc. Protein strands are attached at the outer edges of the porphyrin ring and they may be connected to other porphyrin rings or they may hang loose. Protein strands are polymers of amino acids. The key to enzyme function is the type of metal in the ring, the exact ring structure, the number of ring structures, and the amino acid composition of the protein strands and their length. All these factors control the type of chemical reaction that the enzyme can catalyze.

So what reactions can an enzyme catalyze? Enzymes are defined by the categories of chemical reactions they make possible. Some of these categories are:

Oxoreductases - catalyzes the transfer of electrons from one molecule to another.

Transferases - these transfer groups of atoms from one molecule to another.

Lyases - these add groups of atoms to double bonds (unsaturated sites) or can remove groups to form double bonds.

Isomerases - these transfer atoms or groups of atoms from one site to another within the same molecule. The number and types of atoms in the overall molecule doesn't change, just the location.

Ligases - these join molecules together through covalent bonds.

and the category we are most interested in is:

Hydrolases - these catalyze the reaction between a molecule and water (water gets bound to the molecule).

For cleaning purposes, hydrolases are perfect because there is plenty of water around in the cleaner solution and there are plenty of hydrolase enzymes that take big molecules and force them to react with water in ways that chop the big molecule up into smaller pieces.

But not so fast! There are subcategories of Hydrolases that we must look into because we could screw up a record if we don't.

Subcategories of the Hydrolase Enzyme Family are:

Amylases - these specifically attack starch molecules and chop them up.

Cellulases - these attack cellulose and cellulose derivatives and chop them up.

Lipases - these attack phospholipid derivatives of fats and chop them up.

and our best friend for record cleaning:

Proteases - these attack proteins and chop them up.

Now here is the deal on protease enzymes; they are extremely specific in their design as to what they can chop up and what they can't. A protease cannot chop-up an animal fat, fatty plasticiser, PVC, PVC acetate, Carbon Black, Styrene polymers, waxes, and fatty soaps because they are not made of amino acids. The protease will only chop-up proteins and I have never heard or read (i.e. US Patents) of proteins being used in record compositions.

It must also be pointed out that enzymes are not living organisms. Enzymes are just catalysts that are created by living organisms to make the chemical reactions possible that are needed for the organisms to live. Hemoglobin is an enzyme but it is not a living cell. If enzymes truly are not alive, why does rubbing alcohol deactivate them? The protein chains and porphyrin centers of the enzyme are designed to fold into a specific pattern. This pattern is necessary to bring the other chemicals together so that the metal center can get the reaction to occur. The critical folding pattern only occurs in a specific solvent (in our case, water) in a certain pH range, and in a specific temperature range. If you change the solvent, pH, or temperature range, the folding pattern of the enzyme changes which turns it's catalytic activity off. This process of disrupting the folding pattern is called "denaturing" or "denaturation".

I think this should help make it clear that enzymes are great agents but they are very limited in what they do because that is the way they were programmed to work.

Now let's get to the point. Paul's enzyme solution contains a protease inhibitor, not any other type/class of enzyme. I discussed revealing this to the audience with Paul before posting here. Paul said it was OK.

Why didn't Paul say this before? Because the manufacturer of the raw material was not willing to reveal the exact class of enzyme. The manufacturer did tell Paul that the enzyme concentrate would do what he was looking for but they played the trade secret/confidential informaton angle to avoid saying anything beyond enzyme. I understand how this can happen because manufacturers are trying to protect their business turf but it is ludicrous to not say that the enzyme is a protease. There are tons of variations on how proteases can be designed to work such as making them extremely selective on where they chop-up a protein. We don't need to know the exact design of the enzyme, just the class to be sure that we aren't putting the wrong enzyme on a vinyl record. Paul proceeded to formulate and he tested the solutions using 30 minute soak times once a day, playing the record each day, and repeating daily for 6 weeks on a couple different records. That's 42 plays and 21 hours of enzyme exposure per record. Paul said he heard no audible degradation in sound on playback. That's good enough for me.

When the questions still kept coming up that basically had the read between the lines emphasis of "Sorry, I just can't believe you until you tell me what's in the cleaner or prove with some sort of sophisticated independent laboratory test", Paul asked me if I might have a way of tying down the classification of the enzyme. He provided me with the manufacturer and product name and I did some literature searching plus calling a couple contacts who have been in this industry a lot longer than me and I managed to obtain what I feel is multiple source confirmation (two US Patents being part of it). Sure, verbal anectdotes are not lab instrumentation confirmation but I have managed to meet people who were former employees at certain places who were able to give me the "lowdown" without truly compromising a trade secret. Remember, if it is also published in a US Patent, then it is public knowledge. The multipoint confirmation was reached earlier this week.

It's not economically viable for Paul to track down some independent laboratory and figure out what kind of test(s) will satisfy some of the questions posted. I seriously doubt that Paul is making any money at all at his current price points when you factor in the cost of the water purifier, chemical raw materials, packaging, shipping & handling, customer support, and all the labor in between. I personally advised him not to bother with sophisticated independent laboratory testing unless he is willing spend a boatload of money.

As to the other ingredients. Well, we know Paul is using ultra-high purity water because he said he is already doing this. The general wash solution does contain Isopropyl Alcohol but we are not talking an overwhelming slug of it here. I will not reveal what the other ingredients are but will at least say that I have worked with nearly all these ingredients and have no concerns whatsoever about their use in cleaning vinyl. The listening test is good enough for me. These surfactants have been around for > 50 years; if there was a problem with leaching of plasticizers from plastic substrates, we would know about it because there are tons of applications where other polymer surfaces see a hell of a lot more exposure than your record ever will. If there was a problem, there would be numerous complaints about problems like dulling of finishes and stress crazing and softening or hardening, etc.

Is leaching of a plasticizer important? I can't really give a definitive yes or no on this issue because I have never seen a technical paper that truly spelled this out. If there is a technical paper out there, somebody please give a reference so that I can read it. I have read a ton of U.S. Patents and none of them ever discussed the need for plasticizers to increase the longevity of playback. The plasticizer's function is to lower the melt viscosity of the vinyl composition which reduces the internal friction of the mixture when it is pressed in the mold. The improved moldability allows the grooves to fill completely while using less pressing force. I'm not saying that plasticizers don't assist in longevity during playback, I just haven't seen any such claim except the conjecture given in various internet forums. Some of the U.S. Patents do discuss adding "lubricity agents" to enhance playback life such as metal salts of stearic acid (as in LEAD and BARIUM salts!), synthetic microcrytalline waxes, and carnauba wax. The lead factor makes one wonder if they should play the records at all (actually extremely low content). The plasticizers also have some mold-release properties.

Can cleaners leach plasticizers? I have no doubt that they can and do but we are talking about what is available only right at the surface. These cleaners do not bore down several molecules deep and dig everything out of the base plastic; it takes an organic solvent that you would never consider using to clean a record to do that level of leaching. Many people are expressing fears of plastisizer leaching damage and I simply do not believe it is warrented here even though Paul and I cannot produce expensive independent laboratory studies to prove it to you. I've read the dissertation by the formulator of RLL Record Cleaners over at the Musical Surroundings website and guess what? I am just as familiar with those raw materials and I know they are safe too from 10 years of experience.

Brushes. It does seem reasonable to use separate brushes with respect to the enzyme cleaner vs. the general wash solution. Using separate brushes may provide only very low marginal improvement but brushes are cheap and if you feel more comfortable with doing this, I'll buy that for a dollar. Stick with nylon brushes. Don't use brushes made out of horse hair as there are proteins and maybe even greases present. Use carbon fiber brushes only for dust particulate removal; their too soft to be effective at scrubbing-out soils.

My best recommendation for making records last as long as possible has two possible answers:

1. Clean the record very thoroughly with an enzyme solution followed by a general detergent wash solution and it can't hurt to do a high purity water rinse. Do all this with a vacuum record cleaning machine. Then, treat the record with LAST Record Preservative. The developers of LAST clearly have proven with documented lab tests that this works. How did they manage to do documented tests? Well, Marion Fulk is one of the owners of the patent and guess what? He was a scientist at Lawrence Livermore Labs as part of the Nuclear Weapons Industry so he had direct access to their high powered microscopes with photographic capabilities AT NO CHARGE. There are some that have said that LAST altered the sound of their album and they didn't like it. Well if you also are constantly worring about leaching effects of cleaners but won't use LAST either, the other option is

2. Don't play the records at all. Get out of the hobby of playing them. Sell the turntable. Keep the record if you like the cover artwork or if some of them actually have monetary investment value. Then, sell the rest of the albums.

Vinyl recordings are precious but they are not perfect and cannot be made to last forever.

I hope the "long-winded" dissertation helped some. I'm pooped. It's time to go to bed.

Mr. Kidknow
Count me among the converted! I received the samples which Joe so graciously offered to send me. I must say after following this post I was somewhat skeptical about applying Paul's product to my records, but my collection,as impressive as it may be, does not include that many collectibles or rarities and so I was more than game to give it a try. The first thing I did was try it on the same record that has the mold problem; the one which has been resistant to anything I've tried, including, most recently, the can of Premiere I received just the day before. I'm sad to say the mold still LIVES. I tried applying Paul's stuff twice and while the mold may be somwhat lighter in appearence, it is still visible.
But trust me, I am not writing to tell you that I am the least bit diappointed in the product. To the contrary, I was up much too late last night rediscovering many of my most heavily played recordings. There is no question that Paul's solution revealed subtle details which I had not heard before. Aside from being quieter, everything about what makes vinyl a superior medium was present in abundance. Cymbals shimmered more brightly, soundstage was deeper, bass was more robust. I've already blown through the samples and, to tell you the truth, I don't feel like listening to another record until I've cleaned it with Paul's solution. I don't think I overstate the case to say that the difference in Paul's solution to what I have been using is nothing short of a component upgrade. I will leave the chemical analysis to others. I'm sold. I will be ordering from Paul later today. Since Joe turned me on to this product as a sheer act of kindness, I will be happy to refill his bottles and mail them to the first person who asks. I only ask that they do so on condition that, if they are as ecstatic about the product as I am, that them perpetuate the favor for the benefit of another audiophile. This stuff is too good not to get the word out.
Best Wishes Everybody.
I have to chime in here in the interest of music-lovers who understand the whole cleaning issue, but aren't particularly bothered by them. I find the two-answer list of Mr. Kidknow a mite harsh: Answer Three is don't worry about it, don't clean them (apart from a Diswasher unit or something along those simple lines), keep the record player and keep buying lots of records and enjoying them. Don't get me wrong, someday I will probably buy myself a record-cleaning machine, I see the logic and expect results, but in the meantime, when I buy used records or new, I check them for condition, take them home and can't wait to slap them on! In most cases the record sounds terrific, and I sit back at the music which pours forth regardless of complicated cleaning processes. I have too many records to contemplate multi-stage cleaning processes, I'd have no time to listen to music! All that said to insert Answer Three (buy music, listen to it and don't worry about it because nothing will make these last forever and someone should be enjoying them, the more the merrier), I understand that cleaning records makes them even more enjoyable. But remember, it's about the music first, and we can't be bothered always worrying about improvement while listening to the pieces various musicians have composed. I'll be watching to see what the final consensus, if there ever is one, is, while I put a few more quarters in my VPI record-cleaning machine fund and throw a few more dollars at the local vinyl-vendors.
Thanks everyone for the great info. I got my VPI yesterday and started going wild last night. I've ordered Paul's enzyme stuff but haven't received it yet. I plan on going the Last preservative route.

Here are my questions:

There is a dealer where I live that claims that little pops can (may) be picked up and removed after a few plays by the stylus. First of all, does this make any sense after a good cleaning? Secondly, should the Last be applied only after you are sure the record is as clean as possible? Will the use of the Last prevent any future clean up or improvement through future cleanings or "stylus pickup"? I just want to do things right. Thanks for any input.
I started using Vinyl-Zyme on my 30-year-old records that have not been played for ten years a couple months ago. Also used records I buy. This is followed by the regime used on new records: RRL SDC and SVW followed by Last. They sound great to me but I'd like to try Paul's stuff. Does anyone know if Vinyl-Zyme uses the correct enzymes MrKidKnow informed us of?

I don't know what exact enzyme class Vinyl-Zyme is using. It's pretty tough to determine the enzyme class without spending significant money on specialized lab equipment or paying an independent lab to do this. All I can say with regards to Vinyl-Zyme is that I haven't heard of anybody having a bad experience with this product. Thus, Vinyl-Zyme appears to be safe on vinyl at this time.

I personally will not try any enzyme cleaners on Nitrocellulose or Shellac-based records until I know more about these record compositions.

There is a simple test for detecting the presence of cellulase enzymes. I don't have the exact recipe anymore but what you do is you expose a piece of camera film (celluloid) to the solution for a fixed amount of time and if the celluloid material shows blatant signs of chemical attack (breaks-up/disintegrates), then the conclusion is that a cellulase enzyme is present. I do recall some other type of colorimetric test that produced a strong blue color but don't recall if this identified a specific enzyme class or if it was a generic positive test for enzyme presence (could be confusing this test with a method that detects amino acids and proteins). This test may only work on enzymes that contain specific metal ions in the porphyrin ring.

I've got a gut feeling that a protease confirmation test could be designed using eggwhites since they are concentrated proteins. Obviously, starch could be used to detect amylases and a phospholipid source could be used to detect Lipases. I'll have to look into this further down the road. Haven't done a search yet; these may be easily found on the internet.

Mr. Kidknow
I couldn't stand it. Had to try the enzymatic solution (not the alcohol-based cleaner, of course) on a shellac 78. "The Washington Post March" by the Victor Marching Band. I play this thing for guest on my circa 1928 Victrola, so it's suffered through God only knows how many steel needles. Put it on my Empire 298 with a Grado 78 rpm cart and ... voila ... hardly a sign of surface noise. Really amazing.

Now I guess I'll put it aside and wait for it to melt.

Seriously, this is about the most unscientific "test" imaginable, but I thought Mr. Kidknow might be interested. Dave

I've got to agree. My usage of it was about as un-scientific as you can get. Put it on, scrub, vacuum. Leave it on a little longer, scrub, vacuum. Leave it on even longer, vacuum. Used the second stage each time. BTW, here's the Yes album with the mold on it before I cleaned it:

I didn't take an after, because it looks like new, now. Sounded better every time, period. My ears say it works. My albums haven't melted, yet.

I really don't care about the science. Of this or RRL, or VPI, or Nitty Griity, or whatever. I can understand the concerns, because let's face it, we've got tons of money tied up in vinyl. But, when someone offered a sample of RRL to try, I tried it. It worked. Nobody gave a damn about the "science", because it worked. When Paul offered, I tried it, it worked better.

Good enough for me, I bought it, a double order. I mean, hezu kristo, in the time it took to reread this thread, I cleaned & played 5 albums. Damn, they were all quiet, too. And they haven't melted yet either.

This is a copy of what I wrote to Paul after I tried his Enzymatic solution:

Rx'ed order yesterday, and late last night (this am) I
tried your solutions. Results??? (this is only after
trying it on a half dozen or so records) I'm very
pleasantly surprised. I have been skeptical about the
miracles posted about vinyl cleaners. I have used my
own solution of distilled water, alcohol, photo flow
w/a nitty gritty for decades and it has keep my
records clean. I tried one of the recent two-step,
ultra-pure solutions and was not impressed. My
records are already clean. I heard no improvement.
But since your stuff is very reasonably priced and I
was running low on my cleaner, I thought I'd try

Your stuff, on the other hand, is a different matter.
I heard , and these are my ears and on my system, a
better defined sound stage that seemed to be the
result of a low level glare or edginess that was
removed from all the records that I tried. (I listened
before and after cleaning.) While the music was
somewhat smoother, musical detail and texture was
enhanced. The results were consistent on very old
dime store vinyl as well as new, audiophile pressings.
I had not realized the glare was present.

Not bad.

So you have another happy customer.

***To summarize my results: I'm very happy w/the Enzymatic solution, it's far better than my DIY solution that I've used for years and years and another 2 step, ultra-pure cleaner that I tried.
I've been thinking of trying some of the more exotic/expensive record cleaning fluids. However, it seems from this thread that there is some concern about the long term effects of the chemicals, enzymes, whatever that are in these cleaners. Another poster also expressed concerns about tap water.

I use a drop of mild ivory dishsoap, tapwater, and a carbon fiber brush to scrub my records. I then rise them off quickly and thouroughly with the shower spray on the tap, and then rise again with distilled water. I've thought about a vacuum, but the rinse with the shower seems to flush the debris out and off the records. I let them air dry in the dish rack. They seem to dry clean - if there are any drops of water left on them, I dab them, not wipe them, off with a paper or cloth towel. I've been doing this for quite some time and it seems to work well, no problems yet. Many records show a marked improvement in sound quality afterwards, especially since I started using the carbon fiber brush. Others, however, sound bad no matter what because they are just poor recordings. In the end, for now I have a little more trust in TAP water which I can drink.

Please do not think our discussions about the safety of various cleaning solutions was in any sense an endorsement of using tap water. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I'm one who expressed certain concerns about the long term impact on vinyl of enzymes and other ingredients in Paul Frumkin's AIVS solutions.

Mr. Kidknow addressed the enzyme related concerns quite effectively. My remaining concerns are at a pretty low level, so I'm pretty happy using AIVS on any record that doesn't clean up completely using RRL.

As far as tap water goes, dozens of audiophiles plus several water industry and chemical industry professionals have warned against using it. I hear the problems it causes. The professionals have explained why it causes those problems. Any residual effects which may or may not result from the use of those "exotic/expensive" record cleaners are dwarfed by the immediate and long term damage from using tap water of unpredictable composition. The fact that you choose to drink it is of coure irrelevant.

You can choose to ignore all that evidence of course. They're your records and you can do with them as you please.

You've never tried any record cleaning solutions, nor even vacuuming, so your decision does not appear particularly rational. You've made no meaningful comparisons, so rejecting the possibly inconvenient or more costly advice of those who have just reads like a bit of wishful thinking.