Whether you're trying to rescue that rare yet neglected album you picked up at a Goodwill or just looking to keep your collection in top shape, cleaning vinyl records is an essential part of being a vinyl lover. Unlike modern digital formats, vinyl records can be greatly affected by even relatively small amounts of dirt, dust or debris. In worst-case scenarios, attempting to play a particularly dirty album could cause damage to the record or potentially even to your player's needle and stylus.
There are plenty of methods for cleaning vinyl records, some better than others. We're believers in the vacuum method. Yes, it can be insanely expensive for some of these machines, but we've found the best solution for vinyl lovers on a budget.
A Dedicated Cleaning Machine
If you're an audiophile with an unlimited budget, there's really only one option: a vinyl record cleaning machine. A professional-grade unit like the Okki Nokki is our personal favorite. It spins the record on a spindle, much like a player, but has a built-in vacuum and suction arm to remove all the dirt and debris.
Yes, it's an awesome piece of equipment. However, the problem is it's not cheap. If you have $500 to spend, by all means, pick one up and enjoy its ease of use and cool design. If you're on a budget, read on...
The "Vinyl Vac" Method
If you can't afford a dedicated machine like the Okki Nokki, the only other option for deep cleaning your vinyl is using the following method. Generally speaking, you'll need four things to clean your records:
The Vinyl Vac is designed to attach to your own vacuum cleaner, wet/dry vacuum or shop vac. It attaches to any standard vacuum cleaner hose (1 1/4”) and some larger. We recommend the Stanley Wet/Dry, but it's not a necessity. Our favorite cleaning fluid is TergiKleen and the concentrated solution makes 30 gallons -- it'll last you a long, long time! Finally, get yourself a pack of nice static-free record cleaning cloths and you'll be good to go.
How Does It Work?
Once you have the Vinyl Vac, a vacuum cleaner, the cleaning solution and some anti-static cloths, cleaning vinyl records with this method is super-simple:
Clean the record with the TergiKleen or your favorite record cleaning solution.
You'll choose from two different suction reducer mechanisms depending on the amount of dirt or debris on your record. For maximum suction, use your Vinyl Vac without either reducer. Depending on the strength of your vacuum, suction amounts may vary. The reducers are offered to allow you to vacuum your vinyl records with the use of your belt driven turntable. It is common that if no reducer is used that you will need to hand turn your turntable.
Place the O-Ring provided with the Vinyl Vac over the vacuum hose. Depending on your vacuum, attachments may vary.
Attach the Vinyl Vac to your vacuum hose. Work your vacuum hose into the Vinyl Vac by slightly working the bottom and then the top.
Place the felt washer over your record spindle. The felt washer will protect your record label while vacuuming.
Secure the Vinyl Vac to the spindle. If you have a tall spindle you can remove it or position the Vinyl Vac beside it (with the felt washer under it).
Turn on the vacuum and spin the record 2-3 times with the Vinyl Vac positioned to remove all the dust and debris.
Bottom line -- you don't need to spend $500 or more on the best way to clean your precious vinyl. Fortunately, us vinyl lovers on a budget now have an equally effective option at a fraction of the cost. ❤️
Here are the links to the products mentioned in our blog:
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