How to clean vinyl records: Get that crisp sound back!

After throwing on a record, you're probably looking forward to sitting down and listening to an album in peace. The problem? It keeps jumping and sounds super gravelly. Why is dust clinging to the stylus, and how do you clean a vinyl record, anyway?

Vinyl records need to be cleaned regularly.
Vinyl records need to be cleaned regularly.  © IMAGO / Panthermedia

Are you feeling like popping on your favorite record and jamming to it while you cook tonight? Do you want to break out a classic record by The Beatles, some early Pink Floyd, or maybe something more recent like Billie Eilish or Taylor Swift? We don't blame you! There's something very therapeutic about throwing on a vinyl record and listening to an album from top to bottom.

But from time to time, vinyls can get rather dirty, and the dust often leads to a gravely sound that truly begs to be remedied. How do you do this, though?

In this guide, TAG24 will walk you through the best ways to clean a vinyl record and return it to its former glory.

Why should you clean vinyl records?

When you throw on a vinyl record, you expect a certain sound quality.

The problem with vinyl records is that they tend to collect dust rather quickly. Records are delicate beasts that can be easily damaged by dust, fingerprints, and scratches. Keep in mind that no matter how clean you keep your records, it hardly matters if you don't similarly maintain your record player's needle.

It's important to clean your vinyl records to maintain their sound quality and to protect them from damage.

Best way to clean vinyl records at home: Our DIY method!

It can be risky business to clean your vinyl records at home, as they can be very easy to damage in the process. However, having them cleaned professionally can prove to be rather costly, and once you get the hang of it, you'll be a pro in no time!

Using our DIY method, you will discover the best way to clean vinyl records at home.

It is incredibly important to regularly clean your vinyl records.
It is incredibly important to regularly clean your vinyl records.  © Unsplash/KrayBoul

Clean vinyl records | Dust with a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution

One of the most tested and true ways to clean your vinyl collection is to invest in a microfiber cloth and some record cleaning spray that can be purchased online or at many record stores.

Let's break down the vinyl-cleaning process:

Step 1: Use the microfiber cloth to wipe off any dust that may be on the vinyl in circular motions. Don't press too hard.

Step 2: Shake out any dust that may be on the cloth, or grab a clean one, and spray a small amount of vinyl cleaner onto the cloth.

Step 3: Wipe the record in a circular motion

Step 4: Allow any residual solution to evaporate before playing your newly cleaned records again.

Using a good quality record cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean your records is relatively risk-free and very effective.

Caution: Make sure to only use vinyl cleaner sprays that have been made specifically for that purpose. Other commercial cleaners can damage and corrode the record.

Clean vinyl records | Use a vacuum cleaner – seriously!

Yep, they have specific vacuum cleaners for vinyl records! Now, that's high-tech!

Here's how to use a vinyl vacuum cleaner:

Step 1: Buy a quality vinyl vacuum cleaner for about $60-70.

Step 2: Read the instructions for your brand-new vinyl vacuum cleaner and follow them to the bone.

Step 3: Be extremely careful! While these things are very effective, they can also easily damage your records.

Vacuum cleaners for vinyl records are an effective, but expensive, option.

Clean vinyl records | Use a record brush

Buying a cleaning brush specifically designed for vinyl records is a great investment if you're committed to your collection. These little devices have tiny fiber bristles that are designed to go deep into the grooves of your vinyl without causing any damage.

Here's how you use a record brush:

Step 1: Place your vinyl record on the turntable and turn the power on, so that the record slowly spins.

Step 2: Hold your brush at a 90° angle, perpendicular to the center of the record, and apply it to the surface.

Step 3: Make sure that you don't press hard as this could seriously damage your LP.

Step 4: The trick is to allow the record to spin until the brush has reached the center. Once this happens, remove the brush and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth.

Picking up a vinyl record brush is a great option if you want to clean your record collection regularly. These brushes can easily remove all the dirt, hair, and dust that gets caught on the surface and in the grooves of your favorite album.

How often to clean your vinyl records

A good rule of thumb is to clean your vinyl records before every play. This will maintain your vinyl and make sure that you get the best possible play quality each time you give it a spin.

In the case that you don't play your records very often, you should make sure that you clean them at least once a month. Dust will build up and as time drags on, it will become increasingly difficult to clean.

Keep your vinyl records nice and clean!
Keep your vinyl records nice and clean!  © Unsplash/Samuel Regan-Asante

What to be careful of when cleaning a record

Cleaning your record collection can be a troublesome experience if you aren't careful. Not only is it time-consuming, but it can pose a real risk in itself. Ironically, you may be cleaning them to avoid damage, but you could also damage them during the cleaning process itself.

Here's what to be especially careful of when cleaning your vinyl records:

  • Always wipe in a circular motion, and use the spin function on your player and gently hold your brush or cloth on the surface as it turns. This way, you will be guaranteed a good clean without any accidental scratches.
  • Make sure that you absolutely always use a clean microfiber cloth. Other materials can scratch the surface.
  • When it comes to cleaning sprays, brushes, and vacuums, only use specific products for vinyl records.
  • Regularly clean your records to guarantee that you don't damage your vinyls – even when they aren't used regularly.
  • Maintain your record player and stylus as well, so that your records don't get damaged while being played.

Vinyl records are very delicate, and it's best to clean them regularly to maintain their crisp sound quality.

How to prevent dirty vinyl records

There are a number of common sense measures that you can take to reduce dust build up and protect your vinyl records. Don't worry – these ideas won't set you back much cash and they're very effective.

Here's how to prevent dirty records:

  • Use thick inner sleeves: Once you have cleaned your records, make sure that you are storing them in relatively thick and protective inner sleeves.
  • Use plastic sleeves on the outside: Cover the outside of your record case in a plastic sleeve to make it difficult for debris to get inside.
  • Store in a specific vinyl crate: Invest in a stylish bin or basket to store and protect your records.

Using these simple tricks will guarantee that your vinyls stay cleaner for a longer period of time.

Cleaning vinyls is important, but can be risky

The cleaning of vinyls is a sacred duty for any music lover with a stellar record collection. Fret not: if you're worried about damaging them in the cleaning process, you can always take them to the record store to be cleaned.

If you use the tips and tricks above, be sure to take your time and use the right products. It isn't hard to clean vinyl records, but it is a delicate process. You can do this!

Cover photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia

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