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Cleaning Albums

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello All!

I wasn't sure where to post this one, so I put it here:

I am starting to listen to my old albums. Many of them are very dirty. I've done a limited search on the net for the best ways to deep clean the albums.

I've seen "machines" for several hundred dollars - out of my price range.

I've seen articles and videos that recommend:

High quality wood glue evenly spread on album, let it dry, peel it off (like we did with glue on our hands as kids) and

Wash with light soap, water, and a sponge - towel dry (lint free towel).

I wanted to get feedback on what methods people here have used to deep clean old albums. I was leaning towards the light soap, water and sponge.

post #2 of 9
Hello - I'm cleaning albums that survived a fire. They have smoke damage, and some of them were treated very rough. Some are lost - either due to scratches or heat damage.

However, I've recovered over 100 vinyl records so far. This is my current technique (subject to change):

1) Make a Label-Saver from hardware parts. Tips/instructions are all over the web.
2) Rinse the records under running water. I use a 2" paint brush to try and get into the grooves.
3) Wash the records with soap-and-water. I use Dawn.
4) Rinse the record again in a distilled water/iso solution (90% water/10% iso - I put this in a spray bottle to apply)
5) Dry with a microfiber towel.
6) Air dry in a dish rack

I'll do this twice if the first pass isn't enough.

Records that sound good after 1 or 2 washings go into the "Play Me" pile.
Records that are not scratched (too bad) and still need improvement get the Wood Glue Treatment.

I've had some success with the Wood Glue Treatment improving sound over dual-washings.
Sometimes the record can't be saved, and if the Wood Glue doesn't do it - it goes into the "Art Project" pile.

The Wood Glue treatment (for me) will get used more once I have a turntable that I can use to help apply the glue. A broken turntable that does nothing but spin is perfect for this, but I don't have one of those yet. There are also tricks to the wood glue process that can help, like putting painters tape on the edge of your album to act as a "tab" to help lift off the glue when it's dried. The dry-time is also an issue - so I only use the glue in the most extreme situations. I might use it more if I had a good set-up, with a lil fan blowing on the glue as it dries. I have not really "perfected" my wood glue process yet.


There are a million different ideas and theories on this, but a basic washing can do wonders and I really recommend starting there.
post #3 of 9
+1 on the basic washing.

Btw, a guy at work his wife makes custom purses from old records and their associated album covers. I was blown away at that, perfect way to recycle the bad ones.

Sent from my 32GB iPhone4 using Tapatalk
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Edited by PeterPeter6 - 9/24/13 at 8:28am
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the great info. What type of paint brush? What's is ISO?
post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by PeterPeter6 View Post

Thanks so much for the great info. What type of paint brush? What's is ISO?

Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and use a soft Camel's hair or China bristles.
post #7 of 9
I've heard people having great luck with "painters pads" too, instead of a brush.

I've heard good-and-bad things about isopropyl alcohol, I tend to think it helps with a bit of extra cleaning so I still use it, but a pure distilled water rinse could be just as good if the washing gets all the grime. I use 90% iso because I can't find the 99% stuff. If you can only get 70%, standard rubbing alcohol, then you might want to mix it stronger like 80/20 instead of 90/10. I've also heard about people having good luck putting a dishwasher after-rinse in their cleaning solution too. Just one or two drops of Jet Dry, for example. I've not tried that myself as I prefer to eliminate anything that might build up over time - which I think the Jet Dry would do. That's the same reason I don't use the popular cleaning fluids. Even the D4 Disc Washer fluid that was so popular will leave a build up over time that requires the wood glue treatment (or other deep cleaning) to remove.

Distilled water is recommended for the rinse because you don't want any water softeners, fluoride, or other minerals/additives from your well/city water to dry on your albums. Spring water will still have minerals in it. So you want distilled, or something equivalent.

And to clean your needle, use a clean magic eraser and then use your turntable cue lever (if it has one) to lift the needle up and set it down onto the magic eraser. If you don't have a cue lever, then very gently place your needle down on the magic eraser and lift up. Repeat a few times and that should take care of any grime/build-up on the needle. If you have to use a brush on the needle then always go from back-to-front.

If you have dirty records, then you also want to clean your needle after every couple of records. Even with new, clean, records - doing the magic-eraser-dip is wise every so-often. That needle will pick up gunk from deep in the grooves.

Playing vinyl is a tactile experience, and I personally enjoy the cleaning/care of them nearly as much as the listening.

Nearly. smile.gif
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great info!
post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post

+1 on the basic washing.

Btw, a guy at work his wife makes custom purses from old records and their associated album covers. I was blown away at that, perfect way to recycle the bad ones.

Sent from my 32GB iPhone4 using Tapatalk

Just for reference, here is web page, he brought one to work and I thought it was so cool and unique.
For your lady friends who love music.
They will use your own album if desired, so for those that can't get clean enough, or too many scratches, etc.
These purses are all individually hand crafted from recycled records. Please browse through my pages to see the current titles available. Not all of my records are listed on website, please contact me if you are looking for something in particular. Be sure to check out my "Records that can be made into purses" tab. These purses can be ordered, it will take 2-3 weeks to assemble and allow some time for the adhesives to cure. I currently only ship to the U.S priority shipping.

For the "record", no pun intended, I have no affiliation at all with this except knowing him thru work.
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