Have you got a whole bunch of old records around your house that have long been gathering dust and that are in urgent need of a good old scrub? Or, perhaps you have realized just how potentially harmful the surface of a new record can be to the sanctity of your stylus and want to start cleaning your records before you spin them?
Well, you are in the right place, for today we will be exploring the in’s and out’s of one of the best and most highly regarded vinyl record cleaners on the market – showcasing for you all the Groovewasher in all its glory.
This might be a little too far back for some of you to remember, but in the late 70s to the early 80s, there was a product called the Discwasher. The market was far less saturated then, and the Discwasher was much more than just another record cleaner. It was actually a cleaning system unlike anything else around at the time, for it got results and got them good.
The brush that came with the kit had a walnut handle, while the brush itself was made of a felt material that was threaded to hook particularly in one direction, which rendered the brush much effective at scraping away dirt and dust from the grooves of the record. What to do with the excess dirt left behind? Simply brush in the opposite direction away from the record to clean the brush off, no sweat. It was a revolutionary solution at that time, that helped clean dirty records without damaging them, the one that was gentile on a record surface and could even help a brand new record to keep its shine for a long time. With proper care of course.
The cleaning solution that came with the Discwasher, too, rapidly became an industry-standard in its own right. And ancestrally, there is an interesting link between the Discwasher and the Groovewasher.
The Groovewasher team were in fact pretty tight with a professor of microbiology at the University of Missouri, one of the professors who just happened to have created the original Discwasher back in the day when the demand required it. According to Groovewasher, their own family were involved at a crucial level before the original brand was sold off, when vinyl stopped being as relevant.
A Word from Groovewasher
‘Fast forward to 2010. My younger son became a sound/recording engineer and musician. He alerted me that the bands he was recording were releasing their music on vinyl. And records were selling again!
‘My passion for vinyl returned, along with the need to keep my records clean for better sound and record life. I created my own record cleaning fluid, guided by the research my old friend had used. A few years later, it occurred to me that other vinyl lovers might appreciate a new record cleaning product that is an update and enhancement of the most popular record cleaner of the 1970s.
‘In 2015 we founded the GrooveWasher company. Our goal, our passion, is to help people experience the highest fidelity sound a record can produce. We want the listener to enjoy their records without noise caused by dirt, dust, fingerprints and static electricity.’
What to Look For in a Record Washer?
Granted, every record cleaning machine is going to be at least a little different, approaching the market from its own hopefully unique and novel angle. However, there are a few things that we ought to look for in just about every record washer – a set of baseline benchmarks upon which we might be able to rely, so as to compare the various record washers out there and find out which is the best for us individually, as well as needing to know how to handle vinyl records.
- Does the provided solution lift contaminants well, fulfilling its purpose to the best of its ability?
- Does it remove static too, or is it more concerned with removing dirt, dust and grime?
- How easily and how quickly does it dry after it has been used to clean the record?
- Is there a residue left behind once it has dried, a residue that might get in the way of the proper spinning, playing aloud, and playing back of the record?
- What is the holistic experience like for the user of the washer?
Life itself is a highly subjective and tricky business, so we can be forgiven for all having slightly different notion of what a dirty record might be, though we all ought to be able to separate between at least two kinds:
- those that are only afflicted with some dust and static and which would be fairly simple to alleviate of their ailments, and
- those that are covered in thicker grime and contaminants (e.g. mold) and which are thus in need of a far deeper clean.
If your kit did not come with a bottle of solution that was big enough for your liking, you are in luck! For, like other manufacturers of record washers, Groovewasher offer large bottles of refill.
Just like our good friends over at the Spin Clean Record Washer factory, the Groovewasher offers their wares in a number of different versions, in catering for the varying budgets that all customers will be operating with. There are especially three gift bundles that would be worth considering.
The first gift bundle comes with the Mondo record cleaning kit (which itself contains cleaning solution for both the record and the stylus, as well as individual tools for each of these respectively) alongside a bundle of three cleaning pads for each individual part of the process.
There is the ‘Black Magic Pad’, ‘a pre-cleaning soft brush with tracking fibers to dig deep into your grooves’; there is the ‘Black Terry Microfiber Pad’, a ‘standard general purpose cleaning pad that’s a solid all-around performer’; and there is the ‘Suede Style Microfiber Pad’ which is optimal ‘for light grooming right before play.’
The second gift bundle is a bit of a step-down, containing a walnut record cleaning kit, a cleaning kit for the stylus, and also a splash landing towel on which to clean and dry the records in question. This will still get the job done, though at a more affordable price.
The final gift bundle is the most affordable, bundling the record and stylus care kits into one package, and throwing in the indispensable splash landing towel alongside it all.
Any of these will get the simple job done of cleaning records and even the most affordable will get it done well enough that even the least proficient lay person would be able to hear the difference. If you have never even thought about cleaning your records then the cheapest bundle will make a world of difference.
How to Groovewasher: Their Way
The company themselves have a number of words of wisdom on their website on how to use the Groovewasher in all its incarnations.
Deep Cleaning Records
For records old and new:
• Carefully place the record on a soft cloth on a firm surface. Pump 4 or 5 or 6 mist sprays onto the record to completely cover the record’s surface. Wait. Allow 10-20 seconds or more for the G2 fluid to dissolve the dust, dirt and mildew in the record’s groove.
• Gently use the leading edge of the pad to wipe around the record in concentric circles, in line with the grooves. Avoid wiping across the grooves.
• Rock and rotate the pad to gently dry and groom the surface. If visual inspection shows a problem area, spray it with the G2 Fluid, wait a few seconds, and use the pad to gently scrub the area, again in the direction of the grooves.
• Turn the record over and clean the other side using the above steps. Allow 30 to 60 seconds for the record to fully dry. For the best listening experience and to avoid damaging the groove, never play a record that is wet.
Washing the Cleaning Pads
To be done fairly regularly:
• Remove the pad for cleaning by grasping the pad base and separating from the handle.
• Clean the pad by first wetting the pad with soft tap or distilled water.
• Apply a couple of small squirts of dish or laundry soap.
• Massage the pad and work up a lather.
• Rinse and squeeze the pad until the water runs clear.
• Fold a hand towel in half lengthwise and roll the towel with the pad inside.
• Squeeze the rolled towel to remove moisture from the pad. Unroll the towel and flip the towel over. Repeat rolling and squeezing the pad.
• Allow to air dry overnight.
• Re-seat the pad onto the handle with your fingers on the edge of the pad base.
How to Groovewasher: Our Way
The easiest way to see the difference a Groovewasher makes is by using records that have a significant built up of dust and static. Following the method above is all well and good and will get good enough results, but you will likely want to experiment at least a little bit to make it your own.
This is an incredibly effective solution and, being linked to the Discwasher, is in itself an industry-standard cleaning solution, and so I do not doubt that it can deal with whatever is thrown at it, and deal with it with devastating effect. Some people online have even chosen to use records that are so old and have been kept in so dank an environment as to accrue mold, using the Groovewasher to rid said records of the spores on their surfaces almost entirely.
- Pick a place to use as a cleaning station that will be free of contaminants.
- Place the record upon it.
- Place the label protector from the kit over the label of the record.
- Spray the record cleaner 5 times from around 5 inches away from the record.
- Let the solution sit for 20 seconds or so.
- Apply gentle pressure using the microfiber brush, tracing the grooves in a circular motion for 3 full rotations.
- Use another microfiber brush to gently dry, using the same gentle circular movements in 3 full rotations.
- Allow to air dry for a minute before even thinking of playing.
If you are willing to take a chance on something without hearing all the gruesome details, then take it from us that the Groovewasher is well worth your time.
- The solution excels at lifting dirt and dust and grime. The removal itself obviously relies entirely on the user, for them to use the right amount of pressure and go at it from the right direction etc. Generally, though, the solution itself is almost entirely without fault.
- The cleaner also removes static as a bonus (if you cleaned both sides before playing that is), meaning that you can rest assured that this clean is enough and that you do not have to go forth and buy a bunch of other gadgets and gizmos for the job.
- The solution provided dries quickly and easily, often having dried far before the suggest 1-minute dry time. Funnily enough, this solution dries in a similar way to the old solution provided with Discwashers. What a strange coincidence…
- This solution alongside the cleaning brush ensure that no solution is left behind on the surface of the disc, certainly none that would mar the stylus or the playback of the record. There might be some of the release agent from the factory that the solution has lifted up, but the stylus will scrape this out of the way.
- The product holistically is easy to use and painless, meaning that essentially anyone could give it a go and likely get some stellar results with their own records.
Many believe this to be one of the best, if not the best, spray cleaner on the market for records, and we would be inclined to agree.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are feeling wiser about the tight-woven world of vinyl record solutions like the Groovewasher. Perhaps the sceptic in you has been placated and you are finally ready to take the plunge and to start cleaning your records, for the good of all mankind. Your record collection will thank you slowly in the sheer length of its life being stretched out considerably. Let’s have it!
Does GrooveWasher contain alcohol?
The Groovewasher uses a small amount of alcohol in its cleaning solution, but not Isopropyl alcohol. This, they believe, can ‘dissolve shellac surfaces, and case the leaching of the plasticizers from synthetic plastic pressings making them brittle and subject to excess wear. They thus use a version of alcohol that ‘dries a little slower than iso, with almost the same solvent and miscibility characteristics’, evincing their ‘bias towards a less powerful cleaning solution that may require multiple cleaning, instead of a powerful, possibly damaging fluid.’
How do you use TergiKleen?
In much the same way that you would use any vinyl record cleaning solution, though with TergiKleen you will need to dilute the concentrated solution into distilled water before proceeding to spray it onto the face of the records that you wish to clean. Once you have though, you can fire away, shooting around 6 times on the surface of a 12 inch record from around 5 inches away. Use a microfiber cloth to work the solution into the grooves, and then use a separate cloth to dry the surface before leaving the record to air dry for around a minute.
What is Groove washer?
Groovewasher is a brand of vinyl record cleaning solution that emerged during the new vinyl boom in the wake of much loved and fondly remembered brands such as Discwasher who fell under economically when the initial demand for vinyl fell by the wayside. The link between Groovewasher and Discwasher is far from superficial, and in fact the creators of both brands individually were friends from university, each studying microbiology. No surprise that they each went into a field where their individual knowledge of microbiology was heralded as a godsend by audiophiles across the whole spectrum.
How do you clean a GrooveWasher?
In order to take care of your vinyl records, you also need to clean your Groovewasher kit from time to time. Here is our step-by-step guide:
1. Remove the pad for cleaning by grasping the pad base and separating from the handle. 2. Clean the pad by first wetting the pad with soft tap or distilled water. 3. Apply a couple small squirts of dish or laundry soap. 4. Massage the pad and work up a lather. 5. Rinse and squeeze the pad until the water runs clear. 6. Fold a hand towel in half lengthwise and roll the towel with the pad inside. 7. Squeeze the rolled towel to remove moisture from the pad. Unroll the towel and flip the towel over. Repeat rolling and squeezing the pad. 8. Allow to air dry overnight. 9. Re-seat the pad onto the handle with your fingers on the edge of the pad base.