Whats the best record cleaning fluid?

I have a VPI record cleaning machine I got on audiogon. I need to buy or make a recoed cleaning fluid. Any recommendations or sugestions will be welcome.
don't look any longer go for the l'art du son record cleaner solution.
Run a search and you will find this has been discussed in detail and of course, there are varying opinions.
Be careful what you ask for...

Plug this title into the AGon search engine:

A Very Long Primer on Record Cleaning Fluids
Purple Death degreaser-diluted, of course!
Although I am a dealer for Walker Audio, I am not alone in thinking Walker Prelude to be the best.
Marketing aside, record cleaning fluids are very much alike. Don't buy into the hype.

It is not rocket science.

Most will do a fine job in concert with a good machine or good brushes and a little elbow grease.
Although I am a dealer for Walker Audio, I am not alone in thinking Walker Prelude to be the best.

Although I am not a delear for anything, I am not alone in thinking it is awful, so there you go.

cute. ;-)

What has your experience been that precipitated such a strong opinion for you and your like minded aquaintances?

Re: non-hype alternatives, I've had good luck with especially grody used discs by running them under warm water being careful to avoid wetting the label and then rinsing under a faucet of Reverse Osmosis purified water that I use for drinkng that empties into the same kitchen sink, followed by the vacuum. For particularly stubborn spots of unidentified gunk I have applied a citrusolve type degreaser before doing the above.

Resentment of businessmen aside, I don't think it is unreasonable to charge decent money for the time invested in developing an effective product and the hassle of making relatively small quantities of it available to likes of us.

That said there's nothing stopping any of us from going the cheap DIY route whether it is as good or not. It's not necessary to take pot shots at those who choose to develop and market products to those who don't want to bother with DYIing it.

The Walker stuff carries a 30 day money back guarantee. Where's the problem?
If someone comes up with a cheap diy fluid I'm all ears.

I do make my own water: double or triple distilled.

However I worked at this for years and had some really nice forumulas which were humbled by the RRL products.

L'art Du Son makes a really nice cleaning solution.

An Enzyme step is also important if you are going to really get your records clean. Buggstussel is what I've been using with excellent results.

I have not yet tried the Walker product but Jejune's comment is the first negative one I've seen about it. Mr. Walker generally gets it right, if pricy.
My experience is that a few of us went in together and bought some of the Walker stuff to try. Like the AIVS fluid, actually even worse than the AIVS fluid, the stuff is a bear to rinse off clean and three and four passes still left rolled off highs. It is not worth my time. The guy who ordered it is trying to take advatage of the money back plan. I am not sure how that is going.

To spout off about some imagined resentment of businessmen is inaccurate and condescending. I'm not sure if you are referring to me about pot shots, but the only one I see making pot shots in this thread is you and they are unfounded pot shots at that.

As Cjsmithmd said, you're the first negative comment I've heard that was actually based on experience with the product. Your language implied an attitude to me that I see alot on this forum. If I misread, please forgive me. It seems odd that you and your asssociates had such a markedly different experience than that of a number of reputable people. I wonder what Lloyd has said/will say about it. Please keep us posted if you have any further input. If it is simply a matter of insufficient dedication to doing the process correctly, that in itself is valid input. Obviously the hassle factor in such a product will preclude some people. Perhaps you're among them.
>>Mr. Walker generally gets it right, if pricy.<<

Considering any record cleaning solution is about 98% water, how do you justify pricey?

It's not rocket science

Raw Materials?
See above


Marketing and Hype?
Ah, now we're on to something
Your language implied an attitude to me that I see alot on this forum. If I misread, please forgive me. It seems odd that you and your asssociates had such a markedly different experience than that of a number of reputable people.

Talk about language and implications. "different experience than that of a number of reputable people"? And you wonder why some might have resentment toward "businessmen". The old forgive me on the one hand while I stick the fork in deeper with the other is old, still lame, and always smarmy. Godd luck with your sales.
The issue of cleaning fluid is pretty simple and there are a lot of good easy to use products on the market to fit anyones taste or particular situation. I have said it before, the purpose of any cleaning fluid/cleaning system is to get the junk removed from the grooves. As was said with audiofeil note, the majority of the product is water which is a wonderful solvent for ionic compounds such as salts but pretty poor for non polar compounds such as grease/oil/fingerprints.etc. Good cleaning solutions will have a component to help water emulsify the non polar compounds and a component to disperse the solids that will not dissolve. The tiny grooves also means a mechanism to get the cleaning solution into the grooves is required. Wetting agents can be added to help this or mechanical action by a brush will help get the cleaning solution into the grooves. A brush also plays an important function in that the mechanical force helps dislodge the particles stuck in the groove. THe last function of the cleaning fluid is to dry quickly. Again the use of a vacuum or dry part of a record brush can help. Alcohol is used in some formulations to aid in drying. IMHO, the most important factor is clean water that will not leave a residue. My favorite homemade formulation is 1 qt of water(triple distilled or better), 1 teaspoon of Dishwashing detergent and then enough alcohol (about 1 oz)so when a drop of cleaning fluid is put on a record it freely flows into the grooves. I use an old discwasher brush and this formulation has worked for me for almost 30 years. I have found though heavily fouled records will require a machine like the VPI to get the mechanical action from the brush and lots of cleaning fluid.

dare I respond...

You and I would get along a lot better if you would simply take me at face value. I'm in this business because I like to turn people on to ways that they might enjoy music better. I work hard at researching how to best do this for the same reasons that all of us here work at getting our systems to sound better. In my experience, many manufacturers are in it for the same reason. Some are more willing to charge well for the 100s of hours that it often takes to come up with a superior product that is worthy of its price. Invariably results are mixed. Mistrust is understandable but isn't always warranted.

Your response to my first post seemed to be mocking my simple intentions. After your reponse to my second post I realized that I had read too much into your minimalist remark and admited to same. My following remarks were not meant to imply anything other than precisely what I said.

Coincidentally, Lloyd called today and we talked about this and the other thread re: Prelude that I now remember you contributing to. Lloyd has not yet heard from your friend or anyone else about returning Prelude product. He also related the entire story of his experience with Disc Doctor and Audio Inteligence and his developement process of Prelude. Perhaps only one side of the story and a biased one at that but I see no evidence of unethical behavior; quite the contrary.

As I said before, I'm still interested in any specific constructive input you or your friends may have.
I think that there are a few very good cleaning formulas on the market currently. The problem is that the overpriced POS cleaning machines have underated vacumes.
I will put a $60 shop vac up against any RCM and make it look like a toy. A ultra pure water rinse is also very important.

I like Disk Doctor followed by two DI rinses. With the suds in DD, I assume it cleans any grime much better than Record research labs. I plan to do a comparison soon.
I will put a $60 shop vac up against any RCM and make it look like a toy.
FWIW, I used a GroovMaster (sic) an old turntable and a modded Shop Vac to do record cleaning for two years. Then I bought a Loricraft.

It isn't the Loricraft that looks like a toy. It's the right tool for the job.

Of course my basement floor is really clean too, since that old "RCM" is the right tool for THAT job. ;-)

Suds do absolutely nothing in record cleaning fluids, shampoos, etc.; they are strictly cosmetic.

Another successful albeit useless marketing tool.
Worked on me:)
Try Purple Death.
Hey Flemke (hi Tim!): Bring your shop vac and records over and we'll compare it with the Loricraft. Bring Roger along, too.
I've never used a Loricraft but respect the company and products.

That being said, with a good cleaning fluid, good brushes, elbow grease, and vacuuming system (I'm not sure about the shop vac) a user can clean his/her vinyl just as well as the expensive machines.

I have 5000+ albums to prove it.
Try and see if you can get hold of the purest lab grade alcohol you can find. Ditto the purest grade water. Mix 25% of the alcohol with 75% of the water to use for cleaning your lps. Keep both the pure,unused alcohol and your 25/75 mix in glass bottles or jars, NOT plastic. When I used this mix, the degree of improvement in the purity of the sound quality of my lps was quite significant. Over the years, I had tried several of those market solutions, but, to my ears, they rarely made things better. (Yes, I know, opinions and impressions do vary.) There are a HUGE number of gimmicky, questionable and absurdly overpriced "solutions" out there in today's so called audiophile marketplace. Caveat emptor.
...and to that 25/75 mix add Purple Death (a few drops).
What the h is Purple Death already? Maybe I don't really want to know, but I have never heard of it and you are the only one I've ever seen mention it.
Psychicanimal : Watch it ! You may get a visit from the Charmed Ones. (Actually, that wouldn't be too bad.)
Dumb question, but where do you think the dirt from the record goes?
Into the brush which then requires cleaning itself?
Or is the dirt removed by the RCM vacuum action?

Or another way, is the RCM more of a cleaner or a dryer?

I'm open to percentages here!


The cleaning fluid (any cleaning fluid) emulsifies or dissolves contaminants and holds them in suspension or solution.

The vacuum then removes the scummy liquid. So the answer to your question is, "both".

That's not to say the brush won't get dirty, clearly it will. But if you don't vacuum the scummy liquid off the record and just let it evaporate, the scum will be left behind. Even worse, it will probably have been broken down into finer particulates which will be much harder to remove. Using cleaning fluids without vacuuming is probably worse than not using them at all.
Purple Death is purple degreaser concentrate. Works well in very small amounts. Use plenty of water to rinse. I use a Groovmaster and then follow up with vacuuming.

I live by the Great Lakes. Perhaps I don't need to source distilled water vs well water most of you get. I went to the drug store looking for triple distilled & I think they got my Lic.# thinking I was a Meth freak.

Sure,at some point we can have a fun filled afternoon cleaning records. I also use the Vpi brushes double mounted on a brackett that sits on my VPI 16.5 turn table. I keep the record wet and let it spin for 3 or 4 minutes. The attachment I made for the shop works very well to clean it all off when done. It's amazing how clean the LP's come out.

For about the last 30 years I have used just about every fluid, brush, and vacuum made. I actually started with the Keith Monks vacuum but sold it as a pain in the ass. I have had a noted chemist and audiophile "design" a cleaning fluid, which was largely pure water and a surface tension breaker. Some of the fluids are volatile which is a problem using the Loricraft or other string vacuums. Some have odors that suggest alcohol. Some systems include a final lubricant.

My one observation is that while all of this seems rather straight-forward, in reality one can hear great differences. First a string machine is far superior to other machines as the material in contact with the vinyl is changed every cleaning. Also the vacuum area is quite small allowing greater vacuum.

Fluids also make a difference. With some I have static electricity induced on the record after cleaning which of course attracts dust; just what you want after cleaning! While I love one step cleaners, such as the excellent L'art du Son, even with a good vacuum, I find a final rinse does improve the cleaning.

I had tried various enzyme treatments with no benefit, but the Walker does seem to add. I must say that I don't exactly know how much, however, nor why. I have used only his cleaner and rinse as compared with all three steps. All three is clearly superior. I have also used the enzyme on previously well cleaned records and found improvement. I don't really understand what is being removed in this use after many previous cleanings.

Presently I have three competing fluids: AudioTop, L'art du Son, and Walker Prelude. I have cleaned previously cleaned records with Prelude and found improvements. I have cleaned records cleaned with Prelude with AudioTop and found no improvement, and I have cleaned records previously cleaned with L'art du Son and found a slight but worthwhile improvement.

I have found the three fluids mentioned above to be superior to Disk Doctor, my chemist's formula, and RRL. L'art du Son's one step is clearly the easiest to use. While DIY solutions may be effective and cheap, they are not the best in terms of sound.

Where I live the city water has high sodium. We use a reverse osmosis filter on the water we drink. I have been told by a chemist that the reverse osmosis filter yields water as pure as distilled water. I have used it versus the Walker Ultra Pure water and heard no difference.

One final comment. I have several times heard the Laser turntable which reacts violently to dust or other materials in the tracks it scans. At CES years ago, they had purchased several well used records in Las Vegas and cleaned them with L'art du Son on the Loricraft string machine. I still remember how free of pops and clicks the sound was and how true the sound was. I have never taken the final plunge and bought one of these tables, but I suspect it is the one real test of record cleaning.
I have been told by a chemist that the reverse osmosis filter yields water as pure as distilled water.

That's quite far from truth. With good feed water a sinle stage RO will deliver a purity somewhere between 17 to 20 uSiemens. A two stage RO should bring that down around 8 to 10 uSiemens. Distilled water has a conductivity around 1 uSiemens.

Those results are with industrial RO systems, them 'under the sink' ROs will never get near theose figures.

Try L'art du Son, it's expensive but sold contentrated so it will make over a gallon. It's biodegradable and is alcohol free, theres absolutley nothing in it that can harm you or your records. Check out the review here.
Psychianimal, thanks. He seemed to suggest that they don't trust distilled water and do use RO systems for their water. I do have a two stage unit. I guess then the question becomes does it make any difference in cleaning records.
grahamester, as I said above, I have tried it.
Where does one get commercial grade alcohol (is 91% at the pharmacy enough)?
Where does one get this 2 stage RO water from?
Cytocycle, most would not use alcohol on their records. You can get purer alcohol but it attracts water on opening. By all means avoid rubbing alcohol. I think I found higher purity alcohol at a pharmacy. I imagine you can find two stage RO on the internet under google.
Tbg: I'm not cleaning 78's so Alcohol is fine... as I nearly passed out from my Clearaudio RCM cleaning solution which definitely had some alcohol in it... I can find RO on the internet but shipping costs.. I want to find it locally so I'm asking for what type of distributor I need to check for.
Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol) is a drying agent.

It does very little vis a vis degreasing or cleaning plastic be it 91% or 99%.

The surfactant in a record cleaning fluid is what loosens the contaminants from the record not the alcohol.
I have tried 91% isopropyl alcohol and diluted it with distilled water and a few drops of Last Power cleaner in a small spray bottle, then I did a second wash with just plain distilled water. WOW! What a difference. My records sounded great. It worked fine. Now if there's anything better out there then I want to know about it.
I also wanna thank all you guys for your opinions.
Zeal : The question asked can't be fully answered unless taking into account the method employed.

For instance, most differences in cleaning fluids have less to do with the manner in which they clean vs. the resudue left behind. Most $$$ record cleaners make claims they clean fast (they can) and leave almost no residue(perhaps). For years, I have experimented with Record Cleaning Machines ( most types on loan & including some proto-types) and fluids (some but not all types).

These experiences have demostrated that Steam Cleaning vinyl LPs to be vastly superior to cleaning w/ RCM's alone. A significant reason is that regardless of the cleaning fluid employed (home-brew to $$$$) fluids all leave a "sonic fingerprint" easily recognized for what it is, when a recording is steam cleaned (Nee: See Thread listed on Steam below). It appears most developers of record cleaning fluids do not steam clean recordings. So, few if any recognize the phenom exists or express a willingness to advertize that fact in leiu of developmental costs that could run into the $$$$$$$$.

Another record cleaning method that I use that is vastly superior to all record cleaning fluids , is experimental and not on the market at this time. Simply, I have "teamed-up" with a scientific group that has modified Bacteria to "eat" organic materals commonly found on vinyl either on the surface or in the groves. These engineered bacteria produce powerful enzymes which break down the organics to molescules small enought for these bacteria to consume, leaving only H20 and carbon dioxide as by-products that easily steam-off stopping the cleaning cycle. This method is safe to pets and Audioers but is exceedingly time consuming for most.

The sonic results are breath taking ; a pristine record grove reveals every nuance against as quite a backround to the limits of the recording technique employed. Of course, manufacturing defects, wear and former grove abuse never go away and may be heard when not formerly evident.
Crem: Sounds like Buggtussel Vinyl-Zyme solution that attacks molds with an enzymes... hope it makes it to market and is cheaper!

Anyone try SimplyGreen followed by some steaming?
Cytocycle : The difference is that enzymes you mention are non-living created in a lab and carry certian risks.

Bacteria create natural enzymes that break down the organics to a point they and the "food"(organic material) are actually digested , leaving nothing behind but water & Co2 -- Not bad.

Some european research audio-web sites alledge that micro-chains of "organic grease(s)" coupled to inorganics(factory & household dirts) make up the majority of what I term "gunk" that disrupts the LP playback by grunging the stylas. These bacteria consume molds - all types. This bacteria product was specifically invented to consume dangerious organics : It also insidentially consumes with great effectiveness those greases that grunge recordings.

The challenge to bringing the product to market have to do with process and time. Most audioers will not wait 30 minutes to clean a side regardless of the results , except die-hards (like me). Thats the challenge. Should we be able to reduce that time to minutes, you win and you will never return to the days of 'ol.

As for "simple green" I have used the product diluted down, on only LPs that are filthy dirty with soda or foods. Difficult to spray away but can be done. I have no scientific evidence that a green douse ages LPs but the product can leave a hard residue thats a *****.
Just how much of a sonic fingerprint could 91% isopropyl alcohol and distilled water leave behind?
Zeal : That's whats surprizing. To the naked eye we see nothing. But change that, go into the micro-world , thats where the tip of stylas contacts the LP , lots of different factors affecting reproduced sound.

Of course, what one is hears is dependent on what you own and the condition/quality of the playback hard / softwear.Nevertheless, the reported experiences of tens of dozens of persons that either use steam solo in combo with RCM's all acknowledge the improvment. Even "Stereophile" acknowledges the difference, for whatever that matters.

In summary, All record cleaning fluids leave a sonic fingerprint that Steam Cleaning with the purest H2O available removes. Personally, I have discovered the scientifically cleaner the H20 the better the over-all results. All the Best
On the advice of some of the contributors here, I purchased some Art du Son cleaning fluid and mixed up about 2 litres worth of the concentrate with distilled water.
I poured about a litre into my Raven RCM and stored the remaining litre in a clear plastic bottle sitting beside the RCM.
3-4 months later, I can see some largish amounts of grey/black 'fungal- appearing' growths lying at the bottom of the plastic bottle.
This sure doesn't appear 'kosher' to me and it indicates that the same contamination is sitting UNSEEN in the storage tank of my RCM.
Two questions :-
1. What could this be and why?
2. How do I drain the storage tank of my RCM and 'flush' out the 'growth'?
Halcro: What you see is bacteria / mold growth. Unfortunately, several posts on other threads have outlined these growths in that fluid. I do not know if it is a failure of the product or the water but the solution others have found is to put unused fluid in the fridge not in RCM storage tanks. I suggest you empty out the RCM any way possible . Use a solution of household bleach (10 parts water to 1 part bleach) to soak in the tank overnight. Clean, rinse and air dry the tank. In the future it maybe advisable to only "paint" each LP manually before cleaning to prevent a repeat problem. All the best.
Your container was probably not sterilized.