Easily clean up your record sleeves and CD/DVD cases safely!

[Italian version here]

Reviewer: Richard Varey - TNT New Zealand
Reviewed: February, 2016


We all see and own records, CDs and DVDs festooned with price and other promotional labels which look unsightly and are irrelevant after purchase. Older discs have glue residue and other muck that make them look messy and dirty. We also see the damage done by clumsy removal. Precious music recordings can get scruffy and lose value if uncleaned.

I get asked so often, and see so many discussions on various social media forums, about how to clean sticky labels and dirt from record sleeves and CD and DVD cases without damaging them. I also see many enthusiastic recommendations for using lighter fluid, hair dryers, razor blades, and other extreme methods that send shivers down my spine at the thought of how they might go wrong with disappointing and costly effects on cherished albums and the userís health! So here is my roundup of my tried and tested cleaning materials.

How to easily clean

Printed card record sleeves can be cleaned lightly with DeSolvit, a natural citrus orange extract cleaner (made in Australia, and sold in hardware stores and supermarkets), or similar, thus avoiding chemicals that will dissolve printing ink. This clear and fragrant solution is especially good for releasing firmly attached labels and removing sticky deposits and doesn't dissolve printing ink if applied sparingly and not rubbed hard. I never put this or any other cleaning solution directly onto a sleeve or case I apply with a soft disposable tissue and rub lightly. Sleeves with a glossy cellophane coating can be lightly rubbed to remove accumulated dirt and some light pen ink.

[DeSolvit - natural cleaning product]

A natural cleaning product

On CD and DVD cases bearing sticky residue, marker pen ink, nicotine coating, and stubborn dirt I use Isopropyl Alcohol also called Surgical Spirit or rubbing alcohol and used to sanitise hard surfaces for medical applications (I bought mine in a litre bottle from the paint department of a DIY store). This easily lifts dirt, cigarette smoke deposits, glue, and marker pen, and even dissolves longdried and solidified label adhesives you know, the ones that have hardened and seem bonded to the plastic. For the really gunky sticky residues on plastic cases, I use WD40 freeing/releasing spray very sparingly it dissolves even the most stubborn label adhesive, but does require cleanup with soapy water as it is oily! Finally, a careful buffing with a soft cotton cloth brings back the shine on plastic cases. Indeed, treated cases feel and smell fresh and some can look and feel like new.

[Isopropyl Alcohol]

Isopropyl Alcohol


I resolutely stay away from razor blades, lighter fluid, hair dryers, and any harsh chemicals as these are a health hazard, a fire hazard, and/or damaging to printing ink, card, and plastic. My before and after pictures are an attempt to show what can be done with judicious use of a suitable solvent.

[Before cleaning]

Before cleaning

[After cleaning]

After cleaning

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© Copyright 2016 Richard Varey - richard@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com