The Only Record Cleaning Pads You’ll Ever Need?

Marc HenshallCleaning Vinyl2 Comments

GrooveWasher now has not just one but three different record cleaning pads. The two additional cleaning pads are said to have distinct advantages and serve very specific purposes.

The topic of how to clean vinyl records is fairly contentious. After all, each record collector has their preferred method and products for maintaining clean records that sound great.

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to shine a penny. That said, I’ve been using GrooveWasher products on my records for over five years now, and I find they work exceptionally both manually by hand and in conjunction with a record cleaning machine. 

I love the company’s ethos and commitment to the vinyl format and its continuous pursuit of a better record listening experience. It’s safe to say, they’ve not rested on their laurels. 

In the last 2 years alone, the company has introduced an impressive amount of new products, from their stronger G3 formula for very dirty records, to a brand new surfactant fluid designed to aid ultrasonic record cleaning baths. 

Additional Record Cleaning Pads

The addition of two new record cleaning pads caught my attention, as I’m always looking for ways to improve my record cleaning process and find affordable methods I can recommend to Sound Matters subscribers. After all, record cleaning machines are quite expensive, so it’s important for me to focus on accessible record cleaning methods that won’t break the bank. 

The original cleaning pad serves as a solid multi-purpose pad. You can use it to clean records both on and off the turntable, it’s highly absorbent, and it’s easily removed for cleaning or replacement thanks to the detachable Velcro design. 

So why add two additional pads?

Quite simply, different materials have pros and cons and will excel at different aspects of record cleaning.

The original microfiber pad is very absorbent, but it’s not really designed to dig into the groove for physical cleaning. This is where the new “Black Magic” pad comes in…

Black Magic Cleaning Pad

The aptly named Black Magic Cleaning Pad is much finer than the standard microfiber pad, allowing the very soft, but firm fibers to dig deep for dust and grime. 

When I applied this pad to my record, I could feel the fibers lock into the record groove. So unlike the standard GrooveWasher pad, you get a real sense of physical cleaning when applying the pad in a circular motion. For those on a budget cleaning very dirty used records, this pad is a great way to improve results when cleaning purely by hand.

That said, GrooveWasher claim they often use the Black Magic Pad as a pre-cleaning device before using a record cleaning machine or an ultrasonic bath. This is an interesting idea that I’m keen to test for myself, though it does add an additional step to my record cleaning workflow. 

It’s important to note that you can’t use the Black Magic Pad on its own to fully clean your record. You’ll still need to use the original pad to soak up any remaining cleaning fluid, as the Black Magic design isn’t as absorbent.

All-in-all, this new design is a welcome addition to my record cleaning arsenal, as it makes sense to me that fine fibers can aid the process in a way regular microfiber clothes just can’t. 

However, I will say it’s important to remember that it’s the surfactants and emulsifiers in the record cleaning fluid that really do the heavy lifting when cleaning records. The original pad is primarily designed to absorb the fluid holding the dirt and grime in suspension so we can remove the dirty fluid from the record surface. The addition of the Black Magic Pad simply allows us to add more of a physical “scrubbing” action to the process. (Scrubbing sounds very abrasive, but rest assured this pad really isn’t).

Suede Microfiber Pad

Next up we tried the suede microfiber pad, which I believe GrooveWasher has produced for some time now, but it’s new to me.

It’s made of very fine split-fiber microfiber for a very soft suede feel. It’s recommended as a pad for light cleaning before spinning your record.

GrooveWasher recommends spraying a little G2 Fluid on the leading edge of the pad before gently applying it to a spinning record. Rotate to the dry side of the pad, and then let it air dry for a few seconds before lowering the stylus.

I find this to be a useful exercise for removing any static charge from a record before playback. Cleaning fluids are very effective at neutralizing static, and it also allows you to remove any accidental fingerprints from handling the record, or simply nip pesky pops and crackles in the bud to maintain a nice clean record. I’ll be swapping the standard black pad for this one as my turntable companion from here on in, reserving the original pad and the Back Magic Pad for heavier record cleaning.

The Bottom Line

Both of the new pads are a welcome addition to my record cleaning arsenal. Admittedly, if you don’t own more than one GrooveWasher walnut handle, then swapping from one pad to the other isn’t quite as convenient, but you can always add more handles as and when you can afford. 

I’d probably prefer the suede pad in black, but that’s just me. In a way, the white fabric gives it a retro aesthetic which is slowly growing on me.

I can highly recommend the Black Magic pad to anyone cleaning records by hand on a budget, as the additional “scrubbing” action can help in some circumstances where grime has become stubborn or pressed deep into the groove by years of the record being played dirty. 

It’s nice to see GrooveWasher’s continued commitment to developing new tools that complement their cleaning fluids and we can’t wait to test the new G-Sonic ultrasonic cleaning surfactant (watch this space).

If you’d like to try the record cleaning pads for yourself, you can do so for 10% less using the discount code SOUNDMATTERS10 when shopping directly at GrooveWasher’s website.

Let us know in the comments how you get on!

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  • Krustoff says:

    A buddy just turned me on to this review. You allude to this, but I’ll say it even stronger: I don’t understand GW’s recommendation for the new Black Magic pad at all as a “pre-clean” pad. The old Discwasher was directional, and you could use that pad for all phases of cleaning. I swear by the old Audio Technica AT-6015 pad/system too. Also a directional pad. A single pad for deep wet hand cleaning. I think the new Black Magic pad can be used for deep wet cleaning by hand, then use their original microfiber pad to wipe everything up. I have all 3 of their pads now, but I still have yet to experiment … Very good review by the way. I can tell you actually used these, and didn’t just parrot their marketing ad copy! 🙂

    • Hey Krustoff. Glad you like the review. I have heard the original Discwasher pad was directional – interesting. Definitely agree the Black Magic pad followed by the original works well for deep cleaning. Happy spinning.