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 cleaners, accessories, and vinyl record cleaning kits for keeping your collection in tip-top shape.
1. The Best Record Cleaning Brush for Dry Cleaning
Audio Quest Carbon Record 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
The Best Vinyl Record Cleaner for Cleaning Records by Hand
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.
Their full Mondo kit with the solid walnut cleaning handle is the best record cleaning kit we’ve tested. It adds a touch of class to any turntable, and the separate perspex kit storage box is worth the extra money to keep pesky dust off the microfiber pad.
As a Sound Matters reader, you can grab your record cleaning kit for 10% less. Simply use the code SOUNDMATTERS10 at groovewasher.com
TOP TIP: View our full guide to the best record cleaning vinyl kits for more info on this topic.
3. Milty Zero Stat
Perfect for Dry, Low-Humidity Climates
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.
4. Stylus Cleaning Kit
Protect Your Stylus & Records
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.
5. ProJect Vinyl Record Cleaner – VC-E or VC-S2 ALU
An Affordable Vinyl Record Cleaner for Serious Stacks of Wax
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
Devices like the Vinyl Cleaner VC-S2 or its baby brother, the VC-E from ProJect are vacuum-based, which essentially sucks up the cleaning solution, taking away dirt and grime in the process.
6. Ultrasonic Record Cleaner
The Best Record Cleaner for Gentle Deep Cleaning
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; some purpose-built ultrasonic record cleaner could set you back nearly $5000.
Thankfully, in recent years, there’s been an attempt by many manufacturers to bring to cost down and make ultrasonic record cleaning more accessible.
Recently, though, I’ve been getting good results with the new crowd-funded all-in-once HumminGuru ultrasonic record cleaner. The results are good, though I did find they improved further when adding surfactant to the water tank, and some very dirty records required a pre-clean by hand for the best results.
Turntable Lab are now the US-stockists, check out the product here. And, check out our full video review below to learn more.
7. Spin Clean
The Best Record Cleaner for Bulk Cleaning on a Budget
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. A Mechanical Record Cleaning Brush
Perfect for Heavy Cleaning By Hand
Microfiber towels are the standard go-to material for cleaning records by hand. They’re a popular choice as they’re soft and very absorbent.
When using a record cleaner to clean vinyl by hand, you need a highly absorbent material to help take away the contaminated cleaning fluid.
Active surfactant and emulsifiers in your record cleaning fluid help to dissolve fingerprints and hold the grime in suspension. When you apply the pad, you’re aiming to take away as much of the contaminated fluid as possible.
That said, some stubborn dirt can benefit from a more mechanical cleaning process, and by this I mean a pad that is designed to (gently) scrub the record grooves.
To do this, we need a soft pad with fibers capable of getting into the groove as we clean the record in a circular motion.
The aptly named Black Magic Cleaning Pad is much finer than a standard microfiber pad, allowing the very soft, but firm fibers to dig deep for dust and grime.
When applying this pad, you could feel the fibers lock into the record groove, which is perfect for spot cleaning or cleaning very dirty vintage vinyl by hand.
9. New Inner-Sleeves
An Often Forgotten Swap After Cleaning
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 Invest In Vinyl Inner Record Sleeves.
For further information on how to clean vinyl records, check out our ultimate guide.