Product name: Spin Clean record washer
Manufacturer: Spin Clean Record Washers
Cost: $124.99 US(Currency conversion)
Reviewer: Roger McCuaig - TNT Canada
Reviewed: June, 2019
Everyone who has ever played vinyl records quickly learns that clean records sound better than dirty ones. Clean records is a prerequisite in order to get the most out of ones music collection and of course ones investment in stereo equipment. Equally as important is the protection of the stylus as the rate of stylus wear can most certainly increase when used frequently on dirty records. Of course, there is always the risk of running over a "rock" embedded in the groove and destroying the stylus instantly.
OK, now that Captain Obvious has had his say, what's to be done about dirty records? Well, there is a great number of products available in the marketplace to accomplish the task. Brushes of all types, rollers, liquids, brushes with liquids in them, spray-on and pull-off film, vacuums, the inventions are endless and some carrying a quite hefty price tag. Furthermore, the relationship between the cost and the performance of many of these devices is questionable. Several models of record brush never giving me satisfactory results, a few years ago I built a vacuum record cleaner using some old turntable and vacuum cleaner parts. Nitty Gritty Pure 2 combined with the vacuum record cleaner did a better job but still was not quite satisfactory. This unit was big, heavy and noisy as well as being somewhat tedious to use. So I decided to try the Spin Clean unit.
The Spin Clean Deluxe Kit was purchased from a local audio shop. The unit is available from many sources and a potential buyer should have no trouble finding it pretty much anywhere in North America. It can also be purchased directly on the Spin Clean web site where they offer free shipping. Presumably this means free in the USA. Three models are presently listed on the Spin Clean web site, the Basic kit, the Deluxe kit and the Limited Edition "Clear" model. The Clear model was listed as Out of Stock when last checked. The Basic Spin Clean comes with a small bottle (4 oz.)of cleaning liquid, 2 drying cloths and 1 pair of brushes. This is really not enough of anything for a serious user. The Deluxe Kit comes with 2 bottles of liquid (4 + 32 oz.), 2 sets of brushes and 7 cloths. The Basic kit is really only good for people who are worried that they may not like using this method and end up putting it away in the closet. There is an abundance of documentation on the Spin Clean web site about the product and it's use, including some video. One, can also find many reviews and How To videos on Youtube.
Install the brushes and rollers in the basin, fill the unit with distilled water up to the level line, pour in a couple of capfuls of the supplied cleaning product, and start cleaning records. The record sits on 2 rollers which fit into slots in the basin. There are 3 pairs of slots, thus, the cleaner can accept LPs, 45 and 78 RPM disks. The cleaning method is to put a record on the rollers, turn it 3 turns in each direction, take it out and dry it with the cloths provided with the unit. Clean up to about 30 to 40 records and then throw away the solution, clean the basin and make a new batch. Simple as that! Distilled water is recommended of course however the online manual indicates that tap water may be used. Some set up is necessary to optimize the use of this cleaner. Set the Spin Clean basin on something solid at a comfortable height as you will be standing in front of it for 30 minutes to an hour if you plan to clean a lot of records. You need a place on one side to put your dirty records, a surface to use for drying the records and another area to place the finished disks unless you intend to put them back one by one. Spinning the record in the basin is easy but demands some attentiveness as the cleaning brushes generate a certain amount of resistance, especially for thicker records, and it is possible to tip over the basin. Some inventive minds have likely tried things such as a rubber roller mounted in a variable speed drill to spin the record. For someone who has a large number of record to clean this seems like a great idea.
Drying a few records is relatively easy, however, as the number of disks cleaned increases the drying cloths get wetter so in order to maintain drying efficiency it is necessary to switch to a dry cloth regularly. Thus, the recommendation to opt for the Deluxe kit with 7 cloths. The Spin Clean cloths work very well, do not produce any lint at all, and hold up to repeated use. After being washed in the clothes washer 2 or 3 times they are still in fine condition. Setting the wet records on a surface covered with a fluffy towel will stop the record from sliding around and allow the application of a bit of pressure to aid in drying. It will also prolong the usage of the Spin Clean cloths as the towel absorbs some of the liquid in the grooves. Of course the towel has to be changed after 20 or 30 records as it gets too wet to be effective.
The Spin Clean is very effective at pulling dirt off the record and the cleaning solution appears to hold the particles in suspension so they don't redeposit on to the record. One can easily see the dust particles on the bottom of the basin after just cleaning 2 or 3 records. After cleaning 30 to 40 records a large deposit of dirt will accumulate in the cleaning solution and at the bottom of the basin. The cleaning solution turns a murky grey colour that is quite easy to see when you pour the liquid out. The bottom of the yellow basin gets covered with a grey soot and dust particles. It takes a good rinse and wipe out with a cloth to get all the deposit off the bottom. After washing a few hundred records the cloths took a spin in the clothes washer and the water was seen to become quite murky. The thought comes to mind; if other cleaning methods are as effective where is all the dirt going? The cleaning solution can be kept in the basin (with the brushes removed) for up to 1 week, after which it should be thrown away and the basin cleaned.
Having a large number of new plastic inner sleeves on hand to replace old paper ones is certainly recommended. Paper sleeves collect dust and, as they get older, they may also produce a lot of dust. Of course vinyl records are dust magnets due to static charge buildup and new plastic inners are an excellent way to reduce this problem.
Visual inspection after cleaning shows no traces of dirt or fingerprints. To the naked eye the record looks completely clean. There were a few cases where one pass in the cleaner was insufficient and a second cleaning was done. In some rare cases some heavy rubbing with the drying cloth was required in order to completely remove some tenacious fingerprints. A couple of records that were purchased used turned out to be uncleanable as they had some sort of very hard particles lodged in the grooves that just conquered all efforts to dislodge. Record noise after using the Spin Clean was lower than ever experienced from any kind of cleaning method previously used. Playing freshly cleaned records is a very positive experience that makes the effort worth while.
The unit has now cleaned my whole library of about 1800 records and the results are completely satisfactory. The Spin-Clean cleans records very well, better than any method ever employed by this user. The cloths and the first set of brushes are still in fine condition and there is lots of cleaning solution left. This is basically a batch cleaning system. It requires time and work on the part of the operator but the payoff is worth the effort. If you are looking for an effective means of cleaning your whole record collection for a quite reasonable price, this is a good choice. However, it may not be considered a good fit by those looking for something to clean 1 or 2 records now and then.
© Copyright 2018 Roger McCuaig - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com