Who got vinyl for Christmas? This guy right here, and no I’m not wearing a fedora as I type this. Music junkies will agree with me that there really is something special about “record albums” – but with the caveat that they are expertly maintained. All the pops, scratches and skips that novices complain about (yeah I just went there) are usually the result of haphazard handling, storage and playing records on second-rate equipment.
With the proper attention invested in routine cleaning and maintenance, vinyl records can last for decades while still producing the highest quality of sound possible – giving you that warm, authentic, “real” sound quality that only vinyl can produce.
At the same time, the right way of cleaning records may not be exactly intuitive. Specific cleaners can actually chew through the vinyl material, destroy the recordings over longer amounts of time, and degrade the records themselves to the point where they aren’t worth playing any longer.
Take advantage of the tips below to help you figure out how to best clean your vinyl records moving forward and these babies will sound just as great years from now as they did on Christmas morning! Best part: you can do this at home and avoid the expensive shops that offer record cleaning services.
Gently clean your record every time before you play it
If you listen to your albums on a regular basis, it’s probably a good idea to get your hands on a vinyl record carbon fiber brush that allows you to gently clean the vinyl without distorting or degrading surface. Gently clean the record every time you play it (before you throw it on your record player) and you won’t have to worry about the record breaking down over time.
Always use distilled and deionized water
As I highlighted above, you have to be very careful about the kind of cleaners that you use to keep your vinyl record collection better than brand-new. But you also want to make sure that you aren’t using regular old-fashioned tap water that may be high in chemicals and minerals – they won’t hurt us when we consume them but will wreak havoc on the surface of our vinyl albums. Always use distilled and deionized water when you are deep cleaning your records and you’ll avoid the mistakes so many others have fallen into.
Don’t push your carbon fiber brush into the grooves
A quality carbon fiber record brush is going to be designed specifically to clean the surface of the records themselves and should not be forced into the grooves of the record. Carbon fiber is still hard enough to do a bit of damage to the grooves of a vinyl record, and if this happens your sound is going to be distorted heavily.
Specialty vinyl record vacuum cleaners work wonders
If you are very serious about your collection, and want to take cleaning and maintaining your vinyl to the max, you need to make sure that you get your hands on a specialty designed vinyl record vacuum cleaner. These vacuum cleaners do a great job at pulling up dust, dirt, and debris that would have otherwise been left behind in the grooves of records, tearing up the grooves and destroying the quality of sound these records are capable of producing. Don’t ever use a traditional vacuum cleaner when you get ready to clean your vinyl records, as the suction is far too powerful and may crack or destroy the vinyl records that are even just a few years old, plus we don’t know what damage the bristles on the vacuum attachment could do once dragged along the surface.
Save yourself a trip to a professional record cleaning shop and try these tips at home first. If you’ve already got some damage you can prevent your albums from degrading further, and if your vinyl is new, these methods should help to keep them sounding just a sweet for a long time to come.