For your records to sound the best they possibly can, they need to be clean. There are many great ways to clean vinyl records by hand using a cleaning solution and microfiber cloths, but these methods can quickly become time-consuming if you need to batch clean multiple records in one sitting.
Vacuum record cleaning machines are convenient and effective but are also prohibitively expensive for many record collectors. The Spin-Clean is a classic system, made in the USA since 1975, for those seeking a fast and effective recording cleaning solution that won’t break the bank.
The device itself is relatively simple. The main unit is essentially a cleaning basin that houses two cleaning brushes. Each time you prep the unit, the bath will wet-clean up to 50 records depending on just how dirty they are.
Inside the box, you will find the main bath basin (complete with lid), two rollers, a pair of cleaning brushes, two drying cloths, and the washer fluid.
How to use the Spin-Clean Record Washer
Firstly, it’s important to pre-wash the included drying cloths and allow them to dry before you get stuck into a cleaning session. According to the manufacturer, this helps to make the cloths fluffy and more absorbent.
Next, it pays to spend a little time prepping your space to ensure a smooth, stress-free cleaning session. Allow yourself as much space as you can, and consider purchasing a few extra microfiber cloths so that you can safely place records on a flat surface to dry using the cloths provided. (I learnt this the hard way, as you’ll see in the video demonstration below as I attempt to dry the record while propped up).
Also, it’s well worth investing in a rack of some sort to temporarily hold each record so that they can air dry a little before you place them back in a sleeve. I purchased a small toast rack and this did the job nicely, but I have seen others using dishracks.
Assembling the Unit
- Remove the lid from the Spin-Clean basin, and place the cleaning pads into the dedicated slots in the middle of the unit.
- Insert the rollers into one of the three set positions depending on the size of record you want to clean. The outer position is perfect for standard 12-inch LP’s, while the additional inner slots will hold 10-inch records and 7-inch singles respectively.
- Fill the basin with distilled water up to the indicator line (you’ll have to purchase distilled water separately – I got mine from Amazon). The manufacturer states that you can use tap water if distilled water is not available. However, in hard water areas, such as where I live, I would strongly advise against the use of tap water. Distilled water is preferred as tap water can contain limescale and other impurities that we’d like to avoid.
- Pour the Spin-Clean washer fluid over the top of the brushes. The correct amount of fluid depends on which type is supplied. The manufacturer gives clear instructions depending on the size of the bottle and the fluid version supplied. My unit included the new MK3 fluid in a 4 oz bottle, which requires just one capful over of fluid over the brushes.
Note: In the video demonstration below, I miss-read this as
The Cleaning Process
Insert your record between the brushes until the edges sit on the center of the rollers. Firstly rotate the record clockwise three times. Then rotate the record counter-clockwise three times. Go gently as you spin the record, and only apply your hands to the disc’s edge.
Remove the record and use the pre-washed drying cloth in a circular motion with the grooves. Having a spare microfiber cloth so that you can lay the record flat will make this step much easier. Placing the record on a rack to further air-dry before returning to a sleeve isn’t included in the manufacturer instructions, but I found this extra step beneficial.
I was able to very quickly and effectively clean a stack of 20 records that I recently picked up from my local record store. The results were impressive – you can hear a couple of before and after audio samples at the end of this review. As you will hear there is a noticeable reduction in pops and clicks on both examples, and there is no discernible sign of residue that may cause problems further down the line. Very dirty records may benefit from a second pass through the Spin-Clean for the best results. I have yet to find a manual cleaning method that is gentle and safe on your records where this is not the case. In some cases, a record may never return to a new condition, and this is to be expected. Some of the records I purchased for this review were in a bad way, but the Spin-Clean still improved them to a more listenable state.
If I only want to clean a couple of records, then a manual hand cleaning solution (such as GrooveWasher, for example) would still be my go-to method. This is because the Spin-Clean solution cannot be stored inside the basin for longer than a week, so setting the fluid up for only one or two records would be less convenient than manual hand cleaning and would work out more expensive and wasteful. However, for batch cleaning lots of records after an afternoon of crate digging, there’s really nothing not to like about the Spin-Clean. It’s fast, effective, affordable – and arguably essential – for any record collector looking to get the best possible experience from their vinyl collection.
Learn more at spinclean.com