We’ve cleaned over a million records over the past 45 years, so we’re starting to get good at it.
The majority of second-hand records were pressed between 35 and 65 years ago, and in most cases they have never been washed.
They’ve likely been exposed to:
* tobacco smoke
* organic dust, such as cotton fibres, pollens, skin cells and pet hairs
* human grease
The only way to clean records properly is to wash them. You can make a dirty record sound a lot better just by gently scrubbing it with a velvet brush and record cleaning fluid, rinsing it under a tap, and drying it with a tissue damped with isopropyl alcohol.
It won’t be perfectly clean, but it will be better than most other suggested methods. The problem that remains is getting the record dry without leaving any residue whatsoever - any kind of cloth is likely to leave fibres, and air drying often leaves a residue.
For deep cleaning, we recommend a two-stage process: a first wash with record cleaner in a bath with brushes, followed by a period of ultrasonic cleaning in a rinse solution, or a vacuum cleaning, either way leaving no residue.
For stage one, we have a simple but effective record washer bath:
It’s important to closely inspect the surface first, and pick off any hardened lumps before you start. Then clean them using the fluid provided, or Real Groovy Record Cleaner. This contains surfactants that dissolve oils and greases, and it’s important to remove these surfactants and released contaminants before the next stage.
So rinse the record once it’s cleaned under cool tap water. Let it drain for five or ten minutes while you continue.
The record is now cleaned a second time, with one of these:
- does 5 discs – 10 sides – at a time
- uses cavitation bubbles induced by high frequency pressure (sound) waves to agitate the liquid and remove contaminants.
- Doesn’t directly contact the playing surface
- Records drain dry using a special rinse solution of highly purified water and linear alcohols
- does one side of one disc at a time,
- uses a vacuum wand to remove fluid
- leaves the record dry
Once completely dry the record needs to be placed in a new inner sleeve