Record cleaning made easy

[Record cleaning made easy]

Take the DIY route

[Italian version]

Author: Richard Varey - TNT New Zealand
Published: December, 2014

One more time, how to easily get records really clean without spending too much...
You can buy a record cleaning machine, and some of them look like great pieces of engineering (others look more like over-priced toys or over-engineered gadgets). Or you can fiddle about with mats, clothes and "disc-o-gadget" products. You can spend lots of money buying someone elses idea of how to clean records, or you can do it yourself - easily. Actually, why not just keep it simple and effective?

The DIY route

I visited my local pharmacy, DIY store, haberdasher, supermarket, and homewares discounter, to find what I needed. In my photo you will see what I collected together. There is a bottle of isopropyl alcohol diluted 10:1 in distilled/demineralised water. This is applied liberally to each record as I manually spin it on the cake turntable on which I have mounted a circular smooth wooden cutting block fitted with a dowel spindle.
I use non-slip matting to hold the board on the turntable and a record on the block. Once I had modified a couple of things, I was ready to go, and an hour later my first superclean record was ready to play.

The vacuum cleaner crevice attachment has had a row of small holes drilled (or you can make a slot cut) into one side and velvet tape is glued either side to ensure the record isn't marked. A short length of foam pipe insulation tubing fixes the attachment to the vacuum hose. All done and ready for cleaning.

Once the record is well wetted and vigorously scrubbed with the soft pad, the water (and dirt) is removed by laying the modified hose attachment onto the record whilst rotating the turntable. A bit of practice is needed to make sure that good contact is made and the record doesn't slip. My vacuum cleaner has a suction strength/motor speed adjustment, and I experimented to find a setting that lifts the water without lifting the record! After vacuuming, I lift the record onto a microfibre towel on a flat surface and polish with a clean microfibre cloth until dry and shiny. Now I can see my face in the mirror finish I achieve with this simple arrangement. You can too.

Finally, before playing, I rest the record in a drying rack for a while to make sure the label and grooves are really dry. Really dirty records get two washes. The end result is much less surface noise and more detailed reproduction of the music. Job done. Total cost was maybe NZ$ 70 (45€) for the equipment (plus the use of a vacuum cleaner). The only consumables are the alcohol/water mix and I will change the cleaning pad occasionally when rinsing no longer brings it back to pristine clean.
This is an effective cleaning process that is simple and cheap.

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