6 Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Vinyl Records with Soap and Water

Published Categorized as Vinyl Cleaning

Are you looking to clean your records with your own homemade solution, averse as you are to buying a solution from the shop? Want to learn how to clean vinyl records with soap and water?

Well, step on up, as we explore a 6-step process to do it yourself at home!

How to Clean Vinyl Records with Soap and Water

Table of Contents

Step 1: Dust Off Your Records

Begin by removing the sleeves and dust cover from the vinyl record, inspecting both sides of it to assess how bad the damage is and which parts need more attention.

This step will focus on cleaning vinyl records simply by dusting them off well and properly. The most efficient way to go about this is to spin the record on the turntable without dropping the needle, pressing down on the entire expanse of the record with a dry cloth (preferably consisting of microfibers).

If particularly dusty, move the dust brush back and forth over the surface of the record, keeping at it until there is no more dust visible on the face of it.

Most importantly, try to make sure that you are not pressing too hard on the face of the record, lest you do damage to it and/or press the dirt and dust further into the grooves.

Step 2: Imperfections & Fingerprints

Now that you have removed as much dust as possible from the surface of the record, take a good long look at the surface again, surveying it for marks, scratches, and fingerprints of any kind. This can be done with a whole vinyl collection before using any cleaning solution or shop-bought cleaning fluid. Found something that’s easily removable? Return to Step 1 and dust off accordingly.

An effective way to inspect the face of the record for imperfections is to shine a light upon it so that it is reflective. In this way, you will be able to notice imperfections by the way the reflection of the light bends. Pivot the record in a circular motion to get a proper 360-degree point of surveillance.

Step 3: Preparing the Record Cleaning Solution

Those who have already grown impatience with the record cleaning brush will be pleased to hear that we can finally begin preparing the cleaning solution.

If you are otherwise averse to using isopropyl alcohol of any kind, then you can always just use the dish soap and water previously outlined, using a few drops of the former and a bunch of the latter.

Ideally, you will want to use one part distilled water, one part isopropyl alcohol, and a couple of drops of dish soap. Concocted in such a way, you can’t help but clean records and clean them well. In fact, most audiophiles will support the fact that this is one of the most effective ways to clean your precious records without going out and buying a Spin Clean Record Washer or a Groovewasher, or an Okki Nokki.

Just deposit this solution into an empty spray bottle and proceed forth.

Step 4: Spraying

Though spray bottles aren’t necessarily essential for this routine, they are a heck of a lot of fun, lubricating the process of depositing cleaning solution onto the record at least a little bit.

If you don’t have any empty spray bottles lying and aren’t willing to pour out the contents of any of the spray bottles that already have liquid in them, then you can just as easily pour the solution onto the record. Just make sure you do so gently.

Once you have done so, spread the solution around in a circular motion, preferably with a microfiber cloth, applying gentle pressure to ensure that you remove all that gunk that’s trapped inside the grooves and work the stains away.

In response to more stubborn patches of dirt and grime, use a record brush and some more of the solution. Cleaning records can be a little improvisational sometimes!

Step 5: Rinsing & Wiping

Once you feel you have removed all of the dirt and gunk you can, the next step is to rinse and wipe the record clean, otherwise removing all of the solution from the surface so that it can’t exert any more of an influence on proceedings after it has served its purpose.

For this task, you have two options, determined either by the tools that you have or your relative bravery when facing it. Indeed, you can either use the spray bottle that you have been using or you can rinse it under the kitchen tap.

This is a very important step as any solution left on the record will act as a magnet for grime and dust that feel like coming along to greet it. Rinsing it in this way will ensure that you remove as much of it as possible before drying off and returning the record to your collection or, indeed, to the decks for spinning and lusting after.

Step 6: Drying Up

As just alluded to, the final step of the process will involve you properly drying the record before either returning it to your collection or indeed throwing it onto the turntable for enjoying.

You will need another microfiber cloth for the job – if you use the one from earlier, you will just keep getting the record wet. Wipe the record down much as you did when it was wet with the solution, using circular motions with gentle force to ensure that all of the grooves are being rid of the moisture that they have been met with.

An added bonus of this step is that it removed any built-up static from the surface of the vinyl record, not to mention any grimy fingerprints that might have accumulated through the cleaning process.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to clean your own records at home with this easy and affordable homemade solution.

FAQs How to Clean Vinyl Records with Soap and Water

What is the best thing to clean vinyl records with?

This is a matter of contention for some audiophiles. Some believe that using a dedicated cleaning solution is the best route, though some also believe that you can get results that are just as good by making a solution at home with dish soap and water.

What kind of soap do you use to clean vinyl records?

Often, you can simply get away with using regular dish soap such as you would use to clean your dishes after a banquet fit for spring.

What is the best homemade record-cleaning solution?

Though there is much contention on this in the audiophile community, you can’t really go wrong with a solution of dish soap, isopropyl alcohol, and water, using one part of each of the former two in a healthy portion of the latter.

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *