Best Method of Cleaning Vinyl LPs?

What’s the definitive best method of deep-cleaning vinyl LPs, if there is one? I saw a record shop owner spraying them with Windex and wiping them dry, and he said it worked fine but I never tried it for fear of leaving residue or the ammonia harming the vinyl. What’s the straight dope?


I definately wouldn’t do the windex and wipe thing. Back in the good ol days when everyone had vinyl, you used to be able to buy record cleaning brushes. They weren’t brushes with bristles, but more like a cloth wrapped over a plastic holder. The important thing was you wiped the record in the direction of the grooves, and the brush would wipe the dust and dirt out of the grooves.

I did a bit of googling and it turns out you can still buy similar things. Here’s one source:

I personally had very little respect for cloth systems like the one at the top of the page. I used something similar back in the 70’s and got very poor results. (YMMV)

The Discwasher brand brush and fluid (at the Sleevetown link above) works very well. I believe it’s the most highly regarded brand of vinyl record cleaner.

In the late 70’s I had an SO who sold stereo equipment. We had a Linn Sondek table. She always recommended LAST cleaner and preservative.

You can always go with a Nitty Gritty if you want to spend big bucks on a cleaning system. This uses a brush and vacuum system to suck out the dirt and dry the vinyl. Top of the line is completely automatic wets, scrubs and vacuums both sides at a time.

I tried all of these devices back in the 60’s on my treasured LP collection. The idea of just the right-sized, rightly-rigid bristles oh-so-perfectly cleaning right to the bottom of each and every groove really appealed to me, but I could never get it to work. No matter how well the device swept up the debris, it deposited same at the send of its sweep and my record acquired a “shhsdkks” sound at the deposit point. Doing it again only moved the “shhsdkks” sound to a different place.

I now use a scheme that seems to work. I put a damp towel flat on a table, and using a damper washcloth (anything terrycloth), wipe gently with the grooves around the record, turn it over and do it again. Just the right pressure, not too much. The dampness guards against static cling and helps pick up dust. I’ve also tried holding a damp washcloth wrapped around the record on both sides, like between thumb and palm, and rotating it in my hands, doing both sides at once. Again, just the right pressure. It shouldn’t be so much moisture as to leave residue behind, and I guess a purist would use distilled water. I wouldn’t use Windex.

Yeah, it’s irritating. Here’s what I do - I use the discwasher fluid and brush system as described, and then use a can of compressed air to simultaneously dry the record and blow off the deposit of junk. It works like a charm.

Just for the record, I’m not sure if anyone knows this, but the cleaning fluid that those sytems use is none other than lighter fluid. So when you run out of the bottle that comes with your brush, hop on down to the grocery store for a replacement! I’ve rehabilitated some realllly gunky records that way.

The best system I have found for cleaning records is The Disc Doctor, available here . The fluid does a very good job of wetting the record and removing all types of dirt and other junk. The brushes don’t look like much, but their fibers are small enough to clean deep down into the grooves.

This is exactly what I had in mind. A record producer/bass teacher I used to live with had one of these and swore by it–and his vinyl always sounded better than any CD. I got the manual kind, which the dealer recommends as offering superior cleaning (both directions). I had used DiscWasher before, but it can drive contaminants deeper into the grooves over time and always leaves that annoying line of debris at the point where the brush leaves the surface, as the poster noted above. Some of it can be blown off with compressed air, but some remains behind.

Thanks to everyone for replying