Record care routine from scratch?

John Frum

Secret Society Member
One of my major aspirations for this winter, for my own mental health and development as a person, is for me to pivot time and attention away from the stereo hobby, at least as I currently practice it, at least for the time being. I'm about fried on the the endless reading about, acquisition, flipping, and dreaming of building without actually building.

In part, I'd like to spend more time listening to records.

And I've never felt happy with my record care routine. Nearly everything gets a roller-type brushing before play. Most stuff gets a dry run with the Discwasher brush before that. For some stuff, there's a preliminary wet run or two with a Stanton brush and whatever fluid I have on hand. If a record is particularly clean, or in particularly good shape, I'll try to get it into a Discwasher VRP sleeve (similar to MoFi or Bags Unlimited's "rice paper"). I should have everything in outer sleeves, but I don't. And most of my outer sleeves have the adhesive strip on the back and the flap, which I've grown to hate.

It's time to do something new, and plan my record care routine from scratch with an eye towards balancing effectiveness, convenience, and cost. Here's what I'm thinking:

1. Clean with ultrasonic RCM
2. Rinse with vacuum RCM
3. Place in inner sleeve
4. Put sleeved record in back of jacket in 3-sided outer sleeve
5. Apply sticker with grading and date of cleaning
6. When time to play a record, give it a once-over with a dry brush or roller brush

Ultrasonic RCM - I've gotten completely lost in a couple of threads on the subject. Can anyone point me towards a recommendation or succinct explanation of my options? Should I buy machine and tank separately? Build any part of it myself?

Vacuum RCM - Squeaky-Clean Vinyl MK-III or used VPI 16.5

Inner sleeves - Bags Unlimited White Paper Sleeve With Poly Lining

Outer sleeves - Bags Unlimited 12" Record Jacket Sleeve Snug Fit 12-5/8" x 12-5/8" x 3 mil Polyethylene No Flap

Dry brush - MoFi Record Cleaning Brush

Roller brush - Vinyl Buddy

Please, those of you with more experience, as well as fellow armchair gurus, what do you think?
 
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MikeO

Active Member
Looking forward to reading the responses here. Just getting back into vinyl after selling off my vinyl and turntable a couple of years ago. One thing that is important for me is not to get too obsessive this time. In the past I obsessed over the right fluid, the right sleeves, the right cleaning machine. I think that really turned me off vinyl. Now it is going to hopefully be a fun diversion.
There is such a wide range of opinion. Apparently Rega and Linn both say record cleaning is unnecessary. There are some nice cheap RCMs like the squeaky clean or the spin clean I may consider. And of course all the way up to the ultrasonics or the loricraft and Keith monk machines which I couldn't afford even if I wanted to.
Then the debates over sleeves. Not suggesting they don't make a difference just that I know my obsessive personality will suck me into a rabbit hole if I let it.
 
I use this:


...and an ultrasonic cleaner that fits the 12" records. My only mistake there was getting a cheaper eBay ultrasonic cleaner and the switches went bad on it rather quickly. Some use an aquarium filter between cleanings to keep the water clear between batches.

I follow that up with a clear water (Aquafina) rinse and vacuum on a Record Doctor (which is pretty lame as a vacuum, actually, and rather poorly made--I need to up my game there).

Then it's into a new sleeve and back on the shelf.

It's such a tedious job, though, that I only do it a few times per year. I have nowhere to set it up permanently--I have to take over the kitchen to do this. I suppose if I had a dedicated room somewhere I'd leave it set up all the time.

I read over on the VPI forum how Harry Weisfeld experimented with a few cleaning techniques and it's an interesting (but long) read. That's how I came to use a vacuum rinse after the ultrasonic (although I've had the vacuum long before this). I figure if anyone would know, it's Harry.

 

airdronian

Radar Member
I suppose there's lots of ways to go about this. Your steps above seem OK. I personally would hesitate putting a cleaning date on them as its just one more thing to update on subsequent cleanings. You'll know when the records need it. But there's nothing to stop you from trying that.

I have a VPI 16.5 which was a second choice at the time. It's a bit loud as you might have read, but it gets the job done. An ultrasonic cleaner sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I'll ever take the plunge. A vacuum RCM is essential, IMO, and there's lots of choices here from economical to big bucks.

I started putting any album in a poly outer sleeve, but found it to be a pain for handling as well as reading the spines. So I only use these for some of the nicer ones, like the MoFi Miles Davis and the glossy covered Tone Poets.

Some used albums have crappy sleeves which I replace with MoFi sleeves. (those inner sleeves you link to look good) Actually I replace any paper sleeve. Some, like classical LP's come with nice sleeves that are still serviceable. I couldn't believe that some of the recent Mark Knopfler albums (Privateering, Tracker) came with CARDBOARD inner sleeves which I guess allowed them to print images on them, but they left a mess on the record. Off they went.

I happen to use those MoFi brushes in the wet cleaning routine. For dusting before spinning I like the Hunt EDA Mark 6 . I could never get results I liked with just a carbon fibre brush.

For cleaning fluid I use a homebrew that I scoffed from LondonJazzCollector and it works well for me. I use distilled water in that solution as well as for rinsing. I've got more than a century's worth of Ilfotol now. :tongue: Two MoFi brushes - one for wash, one for rinse. I actually do two rinse applications, to ensure that cleaning fluid is completely gone. OCD ?? Nah.

All records coming in the house get a wash. New ones are cleaned briefly, older used records get a good soak in the cleaner prior to vacuuming. Sometimes washed twice if really grimy. After that, they only go back on the RCM as required.

I actually enjoy the process, as long as there isn't much to do.
 
I have cleaned about a dozen records ever, i really should get some sort of record cleaning system so will be following this with interest!
 
I did something similar for about half my collection... Clean them on my VPI 16.5 with a dope cleaning recipe, drop the vinyl in a new anti-static sleeve, and then drop the album cover in a plastic sleeve. I've heard some people claim that plastic is bad because heat may cause the plastic to shrink, which may cause your record to warp. Never a problem for me because I keep my vinyl in the house where the temp is pretty comfy constant. The reason for the plastic sleeve wasn't necessarily to protect the album cover inasmuch as it served as a way for me to know that I'd cleaned that album. I don't clean in alpha order. I grab what I want to listen to, check if it's been cleaned and go from there.

I've been happy with the job the VPI does, though I have toyed with ultrasonic. I just can't get there in my head. There are other components I want more than the ultrasonic. I want one, just can't justify it.
 

kirk57

Junior Member
I'm happy with a Nitty Gritty and some manual scrubbing (with record on a towel) using a DIY solution. Ultrasonic sounds interesting but too much hassle for me, and I'm happy with the results I get now...
 

S0und Dragon

Moderator and Circus Hand.
Staff member
I use a Kirmuss machine and also had a Okki Nokki. I have also owned the VPI 16.5. In the beginning, I used a combination of both the okki Nokki and Kirmuss. The combination actually did not work as well as following Kirmuss's redundant but ultimately superior method. It was a real surprise to me, but the proof was in the listening and end results.
 
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I'd looked at several ultrasonics. If I were going to get one it'd be the Kirmuss. I was able to see one up close and personal and the West Coast Audio Show and was impressed. The sales guys cracked me up. Pretty salesy. Not offensive, just funny. I looked at other lesser expensive options, but still liked the Kirmuss. If money were no object I'd snag the Audiodesk automatic model. Pretty cool.
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
I can without a doubt recommend the best audio purchase I have ever made -The Degritter. This thing has changed my life related to audio. I can come home with ten albums and without standing there, scrubbing and listening to the thing grinding and vacuuming away, I can have the records in pristine condition within a few hours all the time I'm listening to my music. The best thing is the records get cleaned rather than stacking up in the newly arrived sectioned. Yes it is expensive but it clearly is the best audio purchase I've ever made!
 

Wntrmute2

Not So Mediocre Member
One thing I've found that has really helped was using a "Swifter" pad to lightly dust the spinning record instead of a dry brush. It really removes dust that other methods seem to just push around. I know some will think "Heretic" but I've let one soak in water for 6 months and it never broke down or released anything I could detect into the water. I find it far superior to anything else if a dusting is needed. Try it - you'll like it!
 
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