The Best and Worst of Vinyl Record Cleaners

Hey everyone, what a crazy week it has been!  I was hoping to get this post together last week, but I had submitted hair samples for an allergy/intolerance test for my whole family and got the results last Wednesday.  Oh my goodness, I have spent every moment since researching since then and making meal plans for our elimination diets, yikes! It’s a good thing I love doing research, what a lot of work that has been!

So, I’ve been wanting to do an article on how to care for your records for a little while, and now that record store day has come and gone, it seems like a good time to get information on vinyl record cleaning tips and tricks out there.

Vinyl Record Cleaners

It’s very important to clean your records if you want to keep them free of crackles and pops for years to come.  You may think that nice shiny fresh out of the package vinyl is ready to play, but in reality, dust from the pressing process remains on that surface and can damage your record or at least, stifle the sound a bit.  It’s in the best interest of your records to give them a little TLC even before the very first listen and start a habit that will help keep your collection in excellent condition.

Distilled Water

The simplest, though not always the most effective method of cleaning your vinyl is to use water.  If you decide to use water, use distilled water to prevent water marks and mineral deposits and wipe with a soft lint-free cloth, always in a circular motion following the grooves of the record. Use very light pressure when wiping the record, if you press too hard you can damage the grooves. Also, ensure the record is completely dry before playing, I highly recommend against wet-playing your records.

Vote NO on 2-Propynol

Some people add a bit of isopropyl alcohol to distilled water (¼ alcohol to ¾ water), but I don’t recommend this.  Maybe it’s proven to work for some people out there, but I work with my hands in isopropyl alcohol daily and I wouldn’t want that stuff anywhere near the surface of my vinyl.  I have a hard time believing that wouldn’t do damage to your records over time.  I’ve also read that some people use a little dish soap in their water, I think residue is a concern there, too.  If you’re using water, straight up distilled water and a soft cloth should do you just fine.  No frills necessary.

Record Vacuum

There are a lot of other methods for vinyl record cleaners as well.  If you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, I’d go for a vacuum.  The vacuum is without a doubt the best way to clean your record collection but it’s quite a pretty penny!  The record cleaning vacuum is not a normal vacuum so please do not try using your household vacuum on your records!  If you’re interested, you can get the most bang for your buck with the Record Doctor V Cleaning Machine.

Carbon Fiber Brush

The most common vinyl record cleaner is a carbon fiber brush like AudioQuest Record Clean Brush, simple and cost-effective. It’s a great idea to clean your record away from your playing surface so that the dust you just removed doesn’t end up right back on your records.  If you like to clean your records as they are spinning, make sure to secure the tonearm so that it doesn’t accidentally swing out and be extra careful with pressure, putting too much pressure on your turntable’s platter can damage the bearings.

Cleaning Fluid

If you’re using a record cleaner liquid like this record cleaner from Record-Happy that comes with a cloth, make sure it doesn’t drip onto the platter or turntable finish, if it does, clean it up immediately to prevent damage.

Record Washer

Another option if you’re not up to splurging on a vacuum just for your records, is a record washer.  The starter kit from Spin Clean is a popular choice, you just add a bit of cleaner, spin the record a few times and your ready to roll…or spin, as it were.


At The Library of Congress, the archivists use a combination of Tergitol and deionized water.  You can get a Tergitol based concentrate from Amazon which you mix with deionized water, which is also available on Amazon, let the solution sit for about 5 minutes and then wipe the record clean lightly, always in the direction of the grooves.


I hope this guide helps you to take care of your vinyl records, both new and old.  Whether you choose distilled water, a brush, a vacuum or a record cleaner always remember to use light pressure, in the direction of the grooves, and you’ll be spinning a dream into your golden years.

If you enjoyed this, check out your essential Vinyl Record Upgrades

What your favorite method for cleaning vinyl? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

Author: Melyssa

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