You can spend a lot of money on systems to clean records.  Typing ‘record cleaning systems’ into a search engine will deliver results from basic cleaners to the very expensive vacuum cleaning machines.

If you don’t have—or want to spend—a lot of money on a vacuum record cleaning system for your collection, there are very good, less expensive options available.

Clean Records Well Before Playing

Yesterday I had a good day at the charity shops (thrift stores, to my American cousins). I found six new albums, all in great condition, but most with a considerable accumulation of dust and grime.

Today I took my ‘new’ 99-pence Don McLean’s “Tapestry” album out for its first spin on my turntable.  For the sake of both record and stylus, I gave the record a good cleaning.  This gave me a chance to show how dry cleaning with a brush compares with wet cleaning using a record washer.

Photo 1:  Here’s the LP surface before cleaning. The dust was not just on the surface, but deep in the grooves.

record cleaning before photo
Before cleaning

The brush I used for dry cleaning was a Super Exstatic.  This combines a velvet-covered foam pad with a row of carbon fibre soft bristles along each edge. It reduces both dust and static. It is a high quality brush with an aluminium body and comes complete with a metal stand to keep it clean between uses. It’s the best dry brush I’ve used to date.  For a detailed article on favourite record brushes, check out Record Dusting Brushes and Rollers.

Super Exstatic Brush to clean records
Super Exstatic Brush
Dust collected after cleaning record
Dust collected after cleaning record

This was the LP after cleaning for several revolutions with the Super Exstatic:

After Dry Cleaning Record
After cleaning record using Super Exstatic Brush.

A big improvement, but the brush didn’t really get the deep dust out so well.

Next step was wet cleaning with the Spin Clean Record Washer MKII, filled with fresh distilled water and three capfuls of Spin-Clean Washer Fluid MkII.

Clean Records article - Photo of Spin Clean Record Washer MKII
Spin Clean Record Washer MKII

Here’s the result:

After Cleaning Record with Spin Clean
After wet cleaning record with Spin Clean

Much cleaner, even in the grooves. Some dust immediately starts to settle onto the surface, but it’s purely surface dust. Using the Exstatic makes sense here to get rid of this.

Dust in the Wind

If you live in a house with dogs, as I do, you accept that there will be some hair and dander in the air, but even if you don’t, you’re going to have to deal with everyday fluff and dust landing on your precious vinyl. Using a combination of wet and dry cleaning, I’ve found it’s really easy to keep dust damage and static to a minimum. But if, like me, you are constantly adding to your record collection, you’re going to need a record washer, sooner rather than later.

Finally, here’s a side-by side comparison:

dirty 1
Dirty record

Dirty 2
After dry brush cleaning

Dirty 3
After wet cleaning

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The Best Way to Clean Records – Wet or Dry?

One thought on “The Best Way to Clean Records – Wet or Dry?

  • 3rd July 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Or I could employ you to clean all my albums for me!


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