I love vinyl records, but when it comes to keeping them clean and clear of dust, they can be a real pain in the neck. There are many ways to keep your vinyl records clean and sounding great, the most affordable of which is a good cleaning solution. Previously, I’ve recommended Clear Groove as an affordable and effective solution, but I’ve recently made the switch to Vinyl Revival.
Why Vinyl Revival Record Cleaner?
The short answer is that Vinyl Revival does not contain isopropyl alcohol, whereas Clear Groove does.
There is much debate in audio industry as to whether or not it’s safe to use alcohol when cleaning vinyl, and while Clear Groove isn’t pure isopropyl alcohol, repeat usage of any cleaner containing corrosive alcohol is not a risk I’m prepared to take. TheVinylFactory.com have a great explanation of why alcohol is not a good idea, here’s an excerpt.
“Pure alcohol strips away much of the rubbish and gunge from grooves – which is great – but it also removes the protective coating that rests on the groove walls/floor. Once that essential protective layer is gone, music sounds harsh and brittle.”
I haven’t experienced any irreparable damage to my records as a direct result of using Clear Groove, but I have noticed an increase in static noise on some occasions after cleaning. This static noise clears after a couple of plays, which would suggest some kind of residue left behind by the cleaning solution, and this can’t be good for the stylus. Vinyl Revival, on the other hand, produced zero noise after cleaning.
I can’t be certain what causes the initial noise with Clear Groove, but I’m inclined to believe the formula isn’t as effective as they proclaim. At the end of the day, you’ll have to trust your ears on this one, but I suspect for many of you, the minor risk from alcohol alone will be enough to put you off.
Here’s how Vibax (the manufacturer) describe why their Vinyl Revival kit is effective and safe:
“Our alcohol-free liquid has been designed by leading scientists to exact laboratory standards. Using lab grade ingredients and equipment, Vinyl Revival has been packaged in a dust free environment, ensuring the cleanest and safest solution for cleaning your vinyl record collection. Vinyl revival is the only 2 step product in the market – a necessity which none of the other ‘garage chemist’ suppliers of competing products are even aware of. Shockingly, other suppliers are openly admitting to using both distilled water AND alcohol in their products!”
I suspect the two-step cleaning process has a lot to do with the lack of residue and noise experienced with other products. By cleaning first, and then rinsing, the record is left clear and residue free. You don’t want leftover cleaning solution coming into contact with your stylus if you can help it.
- 100% Alcohol-Free
- Includes 250ml Step 1 (Cleaner) and 250ml Step 2 (Rinse) – a two-step cleaning solution developed and recommended by scientists to protect and safeguard the longevity of vinyl record surfaces.
- Designed to penetrate grooves, remove dirt and grime and reduce static
- Includes ONE standard microfibre and ONE ultra-fine microfibre cloth (which penetrates grooves significantly more effectively)
The Bottom Line
I’m not going to say you should never use Clear Groove; in some instances, you might find the alcohol content useful for cleaning very contaminated records. What I will say is this: I wouldn’t recommend using Clear Groove regularly on you records. There’s no need to take the risk when Vinyl Revival is just as effective at cleaning the crud out of record grooves and sounds clearer from the get-go. Your precious records need gentle care if they’re to last a lifetime and beyond. Play it safe and avoid any cleaning products containing alcohol.