Best Practices Record Cleaning

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Bill Hart, Nov 4, 2013.

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  1. cement_head

    cement_head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, Ohio 45056
    Spin-Clean Record Washing System.

    Without a doubt, the vacuum systems are the best. However, in lieu of the $650 necessary for the entry level VPI 16.5, I needed a cheaper, working solution. The Spin Clean Record Washing System is that system. I now clean all my records in this system, new and/or old. There are two levels, the $79 level and the $140 level - the difference is the amount of fluid, the extra set of brushes, and the extra four-way microfiber drying cloths. I initially bought the $79 version, but have since bought a 32 oz replacement fluid bottle and an extra set of drying cloths, so it would have been cheaper to initially buy the $140 version.

    In many cases, I have actually been able to revive old albums to almost pristine sounds, in some cases not. In those cases where I haven't, I've asked a friend with a VPI 16.5 to try his luck. Interestingly, the VPI did improve the sound, but not by that much. In other words, for most of my vinyl, the Spin Clean RWS does a fantastic job.

    How I clean:
    1. Get twenty to fifty or so records together and order then from cleanest to dirtiest. Start with the cleanest.
    2. Clean according to the instructions, using the Spin Clean Washing Fluid. This fluid is actually very unique, and I have not tried other fluids. Given the low cost of the recommended fluid and the fact that it goes to support a small business, AND it seems to work very, very well - I'm sticking with Spin Clean's Fluid.
    3. Drain the record and ten use the drying cloth to wipe away most of the moisture from the record - this is were the "extra" cloths will be appreciated (as you move through the process and wet the cloths repeatedly).
    4. Let each record stand until completely air dry - about 5 minutes.
    5. Insert newly cleaned record into a new MoFi inner sleeve. I prefer not to put a newly cleaned record into an old, possibly dirty sleeve. (Aside: After cleaning, I put the original sleeve inside the jacket. I then put the jacket into an outer (side loading) protective sleeve (3 mil or 4 mil) such that the spine is closest to the opening in the outer sleeve. I then slide the newly cleaned record [in the MoFi sleeve] in between the jacket and the outer protective sleeve. In this way, damage to the jacket/original sleeve is not done when I wish to play an album, and I can easily remove the cleaned record for playing when needed.)
    6. Store and/or enjoy.
    7. In rare cases, I've had to clean a given record two or three times to get it clean of stubborn dirt. I've also tried the play through at 45 RPM and then immediately clean - this is supposed to help heat / loosen up dirt before cleaning. This has worked for some albums.
    8. I never keep the partially used solution, and always clean the tub and brushes (tap water is fine).
    I also recommend the use of a stylus cleaner for every 30 minutes of playing - MoFi has a nice one, so does Stanton (both come with stylus cleaning fluid to help remove tough dirt).

    For an investment of about $100~$150 (plus sleeves) my record collection sounds incredible. Plus, it's very cost efficient is one has to clean a lot of albums.

    - CH
     
  2. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    CH- thanks, great contribution!
     
  3. vlds8

    vlds8 Forum Resident

    Does the cleaning fluid bottle state what the ingredients are? I would be very curious to know what it is actually made of. As to the VPI ... I never understood why a motor and a vacuum cleaner combination would be that expensive. It seems that it would be possible to engineer a product like this for far less, doesn't it? Or there is something I don't know about it.
     
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  4. cement_head

    cement_head Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oxford, Ohio 45056
    No, I figured it was proprietary.
     
  5. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    Contact them, they have to provide a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the product.
     
  6. drtool

    drtool New Member

    Location:
    Houston Texas
    Been working with a used VPI 17F and paint pad for brushes. first I wipe with a clean micro fiber cloth, to get the big stuff,think German Shepherd hairs,etc. Have tried MoFi super deep clean fluid as 1st step, 2nd step super record wash, 3rd step distilled water, 4th step MoFI pure record rinse. The results from used Lp's are mixed,from well worth it to, put it to the side and wait for an ultre sonic cleaner to show up in my audio club. I do use a new MoFi inner sleeve.

    I just got in some MoFi enzyme cleaner and will redo some problem Lp's to see what happens. Each step has it's pick up tube. I clean the tubes after every Lp cleaned if the Lp was bought used.
     
  7. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Austin
    Hey, Doc. Interesting interplay between the VPI and the ultrasonic. I still use both and find that the ultrasonic doesn't always get all the grunge out- I use an enzyme (Walker) and let it soak, agitate, and go through the rest of the steps(including a lab water rinse) on some records before I use the ultrasonic. It will be interesting to see if you think the ultrasonic does more on grungy used stuff. For me, the combination of both types of cleaning have brought some records back from unlistenable to great; in some cases, the record is just unsalvageable, perhaps due to kludgey tonearm/cartridge set ups in the hands of prior owners. I do find that clean/play/re-clean helps too.
    Thanks for the input.
     
  8. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    My personal experience having used the Mo-Fi products for a couple of years is that they are considerably bettered by AIVS #15, which is a first stage cleaner that combines enzyme cleaners with detergents. So think of it as a first step cleaner that does the job of both Mo Fi Enzyme and Mo Fi Super Deep. I found the Mo Fi Enzyme to be the best of the Mo Fi products; in the end when I was using the Mo Fi stuff I simply used the Enzyme followed by two rinses with ultra pure water.

    I found the Mo Fi Super Record Wash to be a pretty weak product in the end; it leaves a nasty sonic signature IMO when used as a final stage and doesn't clean particularly well as a first stage cleaner. The Super Deep is a bit better as a first stage cleaner but not as good as the Enzyme used on its own and followed by an ultrapure rinse.

    However, the AIVS 15 is much better IMO than the Mo Fi Enzyme. Requires a bit of soak time IMO to work its best (about 3-4 minutes for moderately dirty used finds and 10-15 minutes for absolutely filthy, grimy records) but definitely gets the job done. Must be followed by an ultrapure water rinse (I would say two rinses) to be used properly.

    No experience here with the Walker products.
     
  9. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    No love for the wire brush, Dettol and pan scrubber method then lads?!
     
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  10. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    Wire brush on records? Why not steel wool?
     
  11. drtool

    drtool New Member

    Location:
    Houston Texas
    Blakep # 15 is the next one I am going to try. A lot of post just like yours out on the web.

    Bill ,from what I have gathered in print and on the web,it seems like the ultrasonic with a VPI is the best voodoo combo there is. From what I have read ,it does not matter what system one uses first. This has to do with problem Lp's , not ones we bought new and took care of.
     
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  12. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    So here's the latest disapproved but I don't care 'cause it works method of cleaning LPs. I've got an ancient VPI 16 [there's no # .5, it's that old] and only recently got the vacuum working properly. Note to VPI—you don't want to make these out of MDF. As regards a brush for scrubbing the LPs, I use a polyester paint brush, 3" wide x 2" long by 1/2" thick. This is softer than vinyl. Unlike the brush provided by VPI, this does not scratch the vinyl surface of the LP in any way.

    The first cleaning fluid is 70% isopropyl, the other ingredient being water. I get it from Costco. "Rubbing Alcohol" in the past had some glycerine that would leave deposits, this doesn't And by virtue of the vacuum there's very little residue left. The second fluid is about a teaspoon of windex, about a cup of Everclear [drinking alcohol] and three cups of distilled water. The last is 100% distilled water. I manually turn the LP on the VPI 16 in both directions, scrubbing into the grooves with the brush. I use a lot of liquid for all three passes.

    After this kind of a cleaning the deadwax has a mirror finish and the surface noise is much reduced. I've been using this record cleaning machine for nearly 30 years, these are the best results I've experienced so far.
     
  13. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE. In Memoriam

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    Nitty Gritty: The howl produced by this machine is deafening. I have mine sitting on a small "memory foam" bath mat which reduces the noise considerably. The machine sinks down into the mat far enough to leave about 1/4" between it and the mat, enough room so that the machine doesn't "suffocate". Not quiet, but it's at least tolerable. And I don't have to use earplugs to clean records.

    75% distilled water, 25% alcohol (which you can get at Dollar General, why pay federal alcohol tax for Everclear?) and one drop of Jet Dri per quart. Works beautifully. But with the Nitty Gritty you MUST change the lips frequently. Lines in the dead wax after cleaning means time for new lips.

    Before playing, and between sides, a dry Discwasher for a few seconds does the trick.
     
  14. Coricama

    Coricama Classic Rocker

    Location:
    Marietta, GA
    Where would I look for Reagent grade or ultrapure water?
     
  15. kcblair

    kcblair Active Member

    Location:
    Western Mass.
    Specifically, what kind of alcohol do you use ? Thank you.
     
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  16. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    If it's Dollar General than it's isopropyl, probably 70%. The alcohol in Everclear is ethyl alcohol.
     
  17. kcblair

    kcblair Active Member

    Location:
    Western Mass.
    Thank you, so it doesn't really matter which alcohol, as long as 75% distilled water and 25% alcohol and Jet dry. Your formula, seems interesting as I'm about to run out of Nitty Gritty fluid and what to try a DIY solution.
     
  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Personally I use 99% pure isopropyl, in a 15 or 20% solution with distilled water, and a couple of drops of Photo-flo as surfactant. No dyes, perfumes, etc.
     
  19. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE. In Memoriam

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC

    No, that's rubbing alcohol. This is 91% isopropyl, and is there with the peroxide and witch hazel. While some folks go off the deep end with triple-distilled water, etc. I've found extreme measures to be not necessary when using the Nitty Gritty. That machine is all about the vacuum. Everclear is good, but not available in all 50 states. Don't use "denatured" alcohol, because there's chemicals in there to make it undrinkable. The Nitty Gritty fluids are quite good, but also quite expensive. Homebrew fluid can be make for pennies. For cleaning 78's, substitute ammonia for the alcohol.
     
  20. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    NO!—Under no circumstances does one use ammonia on 78's. Ammonia eats shellac. This I learned the hard way. While vinyl is very sturdy stuff, shellac is fragile, brittle easily breakable and chemically more volatile than vinyl. Windex eats shellac. However Windex doesn't appear to chemically react with vinyl. As regards isopropyl, I'm going to experiment. I figure if I'm going to use it undiluted I might as well try different concentrations.
     
  21. JBStephens

    JBStephens I don't "like", "share", "tweet", or CARE. In Memoriam

    Location:
    South Mountain, NC
    Windex does in fact contain alcohol, which is why it can't be used for shellec, and it's even worse for acetates. Ammonia must be used on those mediums, and I use it at 100% strength. It's totally inert. Windex would be okay for vinyl, but it contains things like fragrance and colorings, which is why I don't use it. I restore records for a living, I know a *little* about cleaning them.
     
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  22. Robin L

    Robin L Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Fresno, California
    Well then, thank you. Sorted that out. I will apply some ammonia to a few 78s and report back. Agree that the RCM is all about the vacuum. Everclear is about 10 minutes away, on foot, next to an old fashioned hardware store that also sells two bins worth of vintage LPs. One-stop shopping. Also should note that I use "Viva" towels for cleaning off the velvet covered vacuum wand on the VPI 16. They're basically shop towels with no colorant.

    Will pay closer attention to your posts. :tiphat:
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  23. Beattles

    Beattles Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florence, SC
    I have been using a VPI 16.5 and Avis 3 step cleaners with great results. Recently I started archiving a lot of misc 45s and the VPI does a great job but was taking too long. I pulled out my Spin Clean and can breeze through the 45s. I clean 2 45s then pat with a large hand towel before wiping with a micro fiber. Change the fluid made from Aquafina and SC solution after 30-40 45s.
     
  24. VinylRob

    VinylRob Forum Resident

    I'm a huge fan of the Disc Doctor's Miracle Record Cleaner and brushes, RO water, and with a basic VPI 16.5 it is a very solid regiment that I have employed for years. Not the cheapest, but far from the most expensive ways to go and it gets the job done well. The surfactant agent in the DDMC really aids IMHO in deep cleaning, unlike some others that just bead up on the surface, and I see only a down side to any use of alcohol based fluids at all. Justin_times comments were relevant in the past and still hold up today (thank you sir). I would agree with past comments to the point that, don't be cheap and scrimp on the use of fluids, go liberal and move the dirt!
     
  25. blakep

    blakep Forum Resident

    Do a google search for "Nerl Reagent Grade Water" and see what comes up. Seems to me that some issue has developed with some sellers not being able/willing to ship to residential addresses so you may have to work a bit at it to find a source that ships or that you may pick up from.

    Scientific supply houses will be the most obvious source. If you're in a university town and have any friends/relatives that have any connection with research at the university you may well be able to source reagent or ultrapure there as they will typically have their own ultrapure water systems in house in the research areas.
     
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