Do some of your records look like this? Even if it is a 33, 45, or 78, please read below. This process is tried and true and works quickly.
Have you stumbled upon an old vinyl collection that has been sitting around, collecting dust and who knows what else? Maybe there are some gems that you want to enjoy, but, you don’t want to damage your turntable or the vinyl. Cleaning your vinyl is one of those topics where if you ask 1,000 people, you will get 1,000 answers. Some suggesting ludicrous approaches such as slathering your record in glue and peeling it off. Yuck! What a smell! What a mess!
Again, if you are in a hurry, the short answer is to how to clean vinyl records with household products is to simply use good ol’ fashion dish soap (dawn will do) and your fingers.
Step 1: Wash Your Hands
This may seem obvious, but I did not want to leave out any details. Wash your hands properly and thoroughly to get the oil and grease off of your hands.
Step 2: Wash the Record – One Side at a Time (Repeat this step twice)
OPTIONAL: You may want to consider purchasing a label protector. While most labels hold up fine during this process, unfortunately, others do not. You can find my favorite here on Amazon.
Using a clean sink, turn the water on and make it warm (not hot). You do not want the water hot because you do not want to run the risk of melting the vinyl. Next, put a small bead of dish soap around the record on one side. Next splash some water on the side of the record that you applied the soap. Gently rub the soap into a lather around the record with one hand while holding the vinyl in your other hand along the edge. Next rinse off the soap in a rotating fashion from the label outwards.
You want to avoid getting the label wet as much as possible, but, to be honest, most labels hold up fine. Although some do not. If you have the cash and want to be safe, I recommend the label protector I listed above.
Repeat this step for washing the other side.
Step 3: Air dry the Vinyl for an Hour
The best thing to do is figure out how to place the record vertically so that it dries. I like to use a simple drying rack (typically used for regular dishes). Allow the vinyl to air dry for at least an hour. It is very important that you do not use anything abrasive. Even a towel would be too harsh for the record and may scratch it. If there are large water spots that you want to take care of manually then the best thing to do is to get a fresh, clean, 100% cotton t-shirt that has recently been washed. It is okay to lightly dab (do not rub, dab) the large water spots. At this point, you want to be careful not to get fingerprints on the record. Afterall, you just washed the thing! You do not want your time to be wasted!
Step 4: Inspect the Sleeve for Dirt, Dust, and Debris
Take a look at the inner sleeve. It may be time to replace it. If the sleeve is dirty, ripped, torn, etc you will not want to place your record back inside of it as it has deteriorated to the point that it is not protecting your record properly anymore. It is past its useful life. I have found that these Diskeeper Audiophile Inner Record Sleeves.are the best replacement inner sleeves for my 12″ collection. They can be a bit pricey, but I consider them an investment. I like that they do not get caught up on the outer sleeve. They slide right back in without any issues or binding. The only time you might potentially have an issue is with an old outer jacket (pre-1960) or a jacket that was not manufactured properly.
In conclusion, following this steps will keep your record player and your records damage free and in great shape for a long time to come. Especially if you use a label protector and replace the sleeves when necessary. Always to remember to store them in a cool dry place where they are unlikely to experience moisture or high temperatures.
- Wash your hands!
- Remember to always handle the vinyl gently around the edges.
- Do not use anything abrasive. Even towels and brushes can be too harsh.
- Keep the water warm, not hot.
- Replace the inner sleeve, if necessary.
- Optional: You can find the Groovmaster Label Saver here.
- Optional: If you want a specific product for handling the task of cleaning your vinyl, I recommend the Spin Clean - Complete Record Washer System.