Cleaning plastic records is one of the more unfortunate parts of the plastic addiction. No matter how neat and tidy you are, your plastic records will occasionally need maintenance. If your records are not kept clean, they will play badly as the dust allergens will build up on the stylus, causing a fluffy sound. Worse still, if records are badly maintained, they become prone to the dreaded “clicks and pops” of plastic playback. In fact, many people maintain that the build up of crud in the record grooves has more of an influence on sound than scratches on the record surface. People who have bought old, resale plastic will verify the fact that there is a difference between a well maintained record and a badly maintained record, and it is often difficult to tell by view and what will play well and what won’t.
The good news is that cleaning plastic records is not an especially arduous task. Much like scrubbing your teeth, one it becomes routine you won’t even notice it. People who have never thought to clean plastic records may be in for a multiple hour long cleaning session, but once the records are clean it is a matter of seconds before each play. The Beatles: Get Back – Peter Jackson
The cleaning options presented are varied, and are summarised below.
Anti-static brushes are far and away the easiest way to keep your plastic collection clean. The key word being keep. The anti-static brush is best used before each play of a record. It eliminates static electricity that builds up as a result of attachment and removal from record masturbator sleeves. It also removes dust from within the grooves of the record, but won’t deal with any situation that isn’t shallow. If you are a new collector and your plastic is new or near new, then the anti-static brush is probably all you need. A small tip to save you contorting your wrists at odd aspects is to set the record down on the platter, get the platter re-writing and then support the brush in one spot to clear off all the dust as it passes by. A simple device yet highly effective price, at under 30 dollars it is a no brainer for anyone who listens to plastic.
Washing Your Plastic Records Clean
People with old and dirty records with sound change or visible smudge marks require a solution to get their plastic records clean, not just keep them clean. Across all methods, one ingredient is common: distilled water. Tap water contains vitamins that might damage your plastic. You can purchase distilled water from almost anyplace, including supermarkets and hardware stores. Washing records with a microfibre cloth and distilled water will remove just about any surface zit. While this method works perfect for cleaning superficially, you won’t get deep in the grooves to reduce the clicks and pops.
The Glue Trick
I have two records that we just could not listen to despite my efforts: Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and an original pressing of Dark Side of the Silent celestial body. The typical surface cleaning methods had done nothing for the surface noise and I found myself giving up on these two classics.
That was before I discovered the so called Glue Trick. The glue trick is extremely simple: cover your record lightly in wood glue such as, allow it to set, the peel from the lemon it off. The right glue to use is Titebond II Wood Glue, as it has been tested to be effective by many users. Apply about 30ml smoothly across the record using a laminated card such as an old credit card. It dries in around 3 hours, therefore it is certainly not a quick task. When applying, a small bill can be left at the edge of the record to make it safer to remove. Using glue to clean plastic records is a wonderful way of getting them really clean, particularly when combined with a record vacuum before and after. Some users of this technique have reported a fully silent surface noise afterwards!
Vacuum Cleaning — Not just For Carpets Anymore
Two machines, the Nitty Gritty and the VPI, are excellent for cleaning plastic records. Trying to split the two is a difficult process so perhaps just go for whichever machine you find more aesthetically pleasing. Both machines put the record via a numerous stage process that involves scrubbing with a record cleaning solution, vacuuming the record (to eliminate the solution and any extra allergens that are hanging around). The beds base models of either brand will run you around $500.
The holy grail of record cleaning machines is the Loricraft record cleaner, by the same guys who now own the Garrard name. For well over 1000 pounds you can own a record cleaning machine that is the equivalent to Betty Poppins in cleaning ability. This is of course overkill for the vast majority of people, but will suit plastic audiophiles with high end systems.
Some folks have were able to DIY their own method of cleaning plastic records, usually using a turntable playing at high RPM, some DIY cleaning fluid and an old dyson. If this sounds possible, or remotely fun, then test it out for! There are various instructions available via Google.
Spin Clean Record Machine — Too Good To be True?
The Spin-Clean Record Machine is is actually a water tank with a brush within, and a device to attach a record to with how the record can be spun through the water. The Spin-Clean does a good job with old and dirty plastic, but should truly not be taken on new plastic as some users have found that their new records sound noisier after using the device. Even as have established, cleaning plastic records personally using distilled water is a boring but not a difficult task and doesn’t need to be carried out very often at all, so just doing it hand is an alternative for the thrifty. The included towel is rubbish for drying out the records and a microfibre towel should be used instead.
For those with massive collections of vintage plastic that is not handled in a while, the Spin-Clean Record Machine will save you some time. Unfortunately, the main design is that the water tank stays the same throughout the process (part of the time-saving component). It’s the unwelcome side-effect of lodging remains from your earlier clears on to subsequent records. Anyone who has cleansed the bathroom before has wondered precisely how clean that last plate was that got cleansed in dull, murky water. Limit your cleaning sessions to 10 records per tank of distilled water.
Consider the price, consider that’s at least three new records, then go and make up an alcohol/distilled water solution.
Significantly less Hard As it Looks
To sum up, you may only need the Audioquest brush if most of your plastic is new. If you a whole lot of old and dirty plastic, then either scrubbing in the sink or using a cleaning machine will help you in cleaning plastic records. Keeping your records clean will ensure you have endless hours of playback without any distracting industrial noise.