Keeping your vinyl records clean is one of the most important aspects of collecting music on wax. It not only ensures that your records will sound great, but it also affects how long they will last – and, how long your stylus will last. Like any process in life, you’ll need the right tools for the job. Below is a list of the best record cleaning tools we know for keeping your vinyl in tip-top shape.
1. Audio Quest Carbon Fiber Brush
The humble carbon fiber brush is an essential accessory for any turntable. If you don’t already own one, we recommend starting to incorporate one into your daily playback routine. The Audio Quest record brush is perhaps the best-known option on the market. There are many others like it, but this is the one that’s been a mainstay of the industry for decades. Recently, however, Audio Quest went to work in an attempt to improve their original design, and the result is a brand new design that is said to improve the conductivity of static electricity and facilitate better cleaning of micro-dirt particles through the use of smaller fibers in a greater quantity.
2. GrooveWasher Record Cleaning Kit
Regular readers of Sound Matters will be no strangers to the fact that we highly-recommend GrooveWasher as our go-to record cleaning solution. When cleaning vinyl records by hand, this meticulously designed record cleaning fluid goes to work quickly on vinyl records and leaves no discernible residue behind. Unlike some record cleaners, GrooveWasher G2 fluid achieves excellent results without the use of high-alcohol content. Gentle, but highly effective.
The solid walnut cleaning handle adds a touch of class to any turntable, and the perspex kit storage box is worth the extra money to keep pesky dust off the microfiber pad.
3. Stylus Cleaning Kit
No matter how meticulous you are with your record cleaning rituals, some dust and grime will inevitably build on the stylus and cantilever over time. Occasional stylus cleaning using a brush and purpose made stylus cleaning solution will help to prevent further contamination across records, and promote stylus longevity.
4. Milty Zero Stat
These might look like an overpriced kids toy, but they’re actually a serious bit of kit. The Milty Zerostat works by releasing positive ions when you squeeze the trigger (slowly) and then negative ions when releasing the handle. The result works on the record surface to neutralize static. I know, it sounds like witchcraft, but it works. (Check out our full review with GIF images to demonstrate the result).
The Zerostat is a one-time purchase that can extend the life of your records. They’re well worth the investment up front – particularly if you live in a dry climate where the humidity is low.
5. ProJect Vinyl Cleaner VC-S2 ALU
Ok, so record cleaning machines are expensive, there’s no two ways about it. But if you’re cleaning records in bulk, they’re indispensable. Cleaning vinyl records by hand
6. Ultrasonic Cleaner
A highly effective alternative to vacuum-based cleaners is an ultrasonic record cleaner. These devices aggravate a bath of distilled water using ultra-high frequency sound to produce lots of tiny cavitation bubbles, which go to work gently cleaning deep in the grooves. Many vinyl record enthusiasts swear by this technique as one of the best ways to clean vinyl. Once again, like vacuum record cleaners, the downside is the expense; a purpose-built ultrasonic record cleaner could set you back nearly $5000. If that doesn’t sound appealing, manufacturers such as Cleaner Vinyl and ZHANGLI make adaptor products that allow you to clean vinyl inside a standard 6 Liter ultrasonic tank for a few hundred dollars.
7. Spin Clean
Need to clean a lot of records but can’t afford a fancy machine? The Spin Clean record washer is a great affordable option for batch cleaning records on a budget. The unit requires no power; simply fill the record bath with distilled water, and apply the supplied alcohol-free record cleaning solution directly onto the pads. Three spins clockwise and then counter-clockwise is enough to allow the pads to do the heavy lifting, draining dirt and dust to the bottom of the distilled water bath.
8. New Inner-Sleeves
Ok, so technically not one of our record cleaning tools, but this step is essential. Once you’re finished cleaning and the record is dry, place the record in a new sleeve. This step is particularly important if you’re cleaning used records, as you don’t want to recontaminate your freshly cleaned record with dirt from an old sleeve. We recommend the Mobile Fidelity Original Master Record Sleeves.
For further information, read our article on “how to clean vinyl records.“