How To Clean Your Vinyl Records

We look at the best ways to maintain and clean your vinyl records, so you can enjoy their music for years to come.

Cleaning your records is vital to maintain sound, maximise the life of your records and keep your entire vinyl setup running smoothly. There’s a lot of bad advice and old wives’ tales out there, so we aim to bring you the easy and safe methods to keep your favourite music spinning for longer and in the best quality possible.


Maintenance is key to a clean collection

Before we go into any methods, the main way to keep your records sounding great for as long as possible is to look after them. Store them properly. Don’t leave them out. Make sure to use one of the ‘dry’ cleaning methods below before and after every play. And make sure you keep on top of those deeper, wet cleans every once in a while. As records are a physical and volatile product, they need to be looked after, cared for and treated with respect. Now, go ahead and check out all the great tips below!


Dry Methods

These are quick and easy ways to clean surface dust and dirt from your records without any liquids. These should be done before and after every play to keep your records at their best.


Get Yourself a Carbon Fibre Brush

If you haven’t got one of these already, this needs to be your first purchase. You can pick one up quite cheaply at many record stores or from Amazon. Simple to use, but highly effective to remove dust and dirt before and after every record play, and takes only seconds. The usual method is to just put the record on the platter and turn it on so its spinning. Then gently hold the brush, touching the grooves so dust and dirt is caught within the brush as the record spins. Now gently slide the brush off of the record while still in contact so the grime is removed. Apply the same process for both sides and when finished listening to the record.


Micro-fibre cloths

Micro-fibre cloths can be used as a direct replacement for the brush if you wish. These are non-static, and if gently run over the grooves, can pick up all kinds of dirt and dust from the record which will stick to the cloth instead of the grooves. You can pick these up in supermarkets or even Auto centres in the cleaning products aisle.


Wet Methods

Many people are scared to use anything wet on their records out of fear of damaging them, but if done correctly, this is vital for the longevity of your record collection.


The soapy water method

If you want to attempt to deep clean your records cheaply and under your own steam, this method is the way for you. Make sure you use something like a sensitive washing-up liquid with no perfumes, dyes or acids, and also use distilled water – not the stuff straight from the tap. Add only a few drops of the washing-up liquid to a shallow bowl of warm water, and then use a micro-fibre cloth, which has been dampened from the distilled water, to clean around the grooves. The records shouldn’t be soaking and make sure you don’t get the label wet. Afterwards, if there is any excess water left on the record, dry off with a dry micro-fibre cloth. You can also find specific record cleaning fluid in most record stores if you want to go down that route.


If you’re feeling flush, buy a record cleaning system!

I know you’d rather spend your money on new records or an update to your setup, but some people out there may be interested in buying a proper record-cleaning machine. With lots of different designs and methods, these babies can set you back a pretty penny, but if you want to keep your records in top condition, one of these is definitely an option. With the cheaper machines in the hundreds to the expensive ones including vacuum cleaning methods heading into the thousands, take a look around to see what you can afford.


A trip to the Cleaners

If you want to treat your records to a Spa Day, take them out for a clean! Some record shops provide this service for a small fee, and will get your records spick and span in no time, with no hassle or need for you to get your hands dirty.


Parting Tips

If you follow the above advice, you’ll have no problems. These parting tips, however, will make sure your records are in the best condition possible.


Handle with Care

One of the easiest ways to keep your records clean is to make sure you’re handling them correctly. Your fingers are full of corrosive acids that can damage records, so make sure you handle only the parts with no grooves on as much as you can.


Look after your records!

Treat your records with respect, and they’ll stay cleaner for longer. Make sure they are stored properly in an upright position, make sure they’re not squashed into storage or hanging out of their sleeves, and make sure after you’ve finished playing them, to put them straight away. Dust will settle on your records in no time at all if left out.

More Advice
  • Even though you wouldn’t think it, new records need cleaning before you play them. There is still likely to be dust on them, and also pressing plant release agent which could affect quality if not cleaned.
  • Use a dry method of cleaning with every play, and a wet method once in a while.
  • Keep the stylus and cartridge clean – dust and grime can get attached to these parts as well. You can buy little brushes and cleaner from record stores.
  • Don’t expect miracles for very old/damaged records. Cleaning may improve the sound, but won’t get rid of wear and tear or scratches.


And that’s your lot! If you have any other methods or tips, please comment below. And try a google search for a method involving wood glue and peeling when dry which I have no idea if it works, but some swear by – I wouldn’t trust it with my records!

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