Not another ‘how to clean your vinyl’ post I hear you cry!
There are many videos and blogs showing you various techniques how to clean your vinyl. To be honest I am ashamed to say that I have been mixing vinyl for 25 years and I have only just started to clean my records and understand the importance of doing so. I wasn’t aware that the crackling (well most of it) was actually dust in the groove for example. The improved sound quality is really apparent on a clean record vs a dirty one. There is also something extremely satisfying about mixing clean vinyl. I think we all treasure and treat vinyl better now than in ‘the good old days’, for two reasons – 1. Information and knowledge is shared more easily nowadays so we tend to understand the benefits more and 2. because vinyl is no longer truly in the mainstream, we look upon the media as rare and cherish it more.
Now to the act of cleaning itself and the paragraph which will no doubt provoke reaction from the audiophile collective out there. This advice is purely my opinion and suits my personal needs. With all things in life, it is about balance and one person’s needs differ to an others. A true audiophile will spend inordinate amounts of time preparing cleaning and removing static from their vinyl and spend fortunes in the process, but that approach is unlikely to be suitable for 99% of DJs that tend to be a little more, let’s say ‘hands on’ with our vinyl.
I look at cleaning vinyl similar to cleaning cars. Twenty years ago people wondered why their paint work had very fine spiral like scratches all over their paintwork after visiting the local car wash. Well what was happening was as you travelled about in the car, you would pick up grit and dust which would stick itself to the paintwork. As you went through the car wash the large cleaning flaps (not a very technical description) would push the grit and dust all over your paintwork scratching it akin to T-Cut (other brands are available lol). The reason this doesn’t happen these days is that mostly there is an attendant carrying out a pre-wash with a jet wash. This blasts off the grit and dust prior to the large ‘flaps’ rubbing across the paintwork. In the words of the well known meercats…simples!
So with cleaning vinyl it is essential to first rid your vinyl of dust and fine grit using something like a carbon brush. I use one similar to the picture below. I hold it across the record as it turns then slowly working it inwards finishing by touching the spindle with the metal of the brush casing which helps to discharge static. You could always buy a very expensive anti static gun of course (if you are looking for new ways to spend your hard earned). So that’s the dust gone time for cleaning.
Like the Colonel, I have a secret recipe, but to be honest it’s not that secret. It’s a solution made up of 4 parts distilled water and 1 part alcohol. Again I must stress that this is my way of doing things before hurling abuse at me for crimes against vinyl in the comments below. Remember I haven’t cleaned vinyl in 25 years. Anyway back to the matter at hand. I have an old clapped out 1210 deck but I have heard of people using modified lazy Susans etc., you could even just lay it on a soft towel to be honest. So you lay you dust-free record on the surface and dribble a little of the solution on the record (don’t drown it though). My next trick works a treat. I use a fine haired paint pad as it is flat and to rough width of the record. Clean in the direction the stylus would travel. I then finish off by drying the record with a microfibre cloth and leave to dry thoroughly before putting back in the sleeves.
Once you get a rhythm going you can rattle through many records very quickly. So that’s the cleaning out of the way, don’t forget how to handle your lovely clean records – by the edges and label only. You do not want to leave greasy paw prints all over the record which give the dust something to cling to even easier. I now only spin the record back and forth gripping the edge only, it took a bit of getting used to but becomes natural very quickly. I wish I took care of my vinyl better over the years, but hopefully these words will help the next generation of vinyl DJs as we move through this resurgence in vinyl.
Below is our very own DJ Joy Deep and his take on the art of cleaning vinyl!
Please note: All VSD DJs cherish, love and take care of their beautiful record collections to ensure the very best quality when playing out!
Let’s get the chat and banter going below boys and girls. Remember opinion and passion is going but abuse is not!