how to clean vinyl records

Vinyl records were the most-hyped analog music storage format in the 40’s. However, it lost its fame due to the rise of CD’s yet it made a huge comeback when the vintage style suddenly becomes popular among the younger generation.

Vinyl records are made up of Polyvinyl chloride or PVC engraved with grooves. The grooves are the music and can only be played using portable turntable or record player.

Vintage music lovers and collectors can buy vinyl records in either music stores, through online or at antique shops. Cleaning vinyl records is very necessary because dirty records sound bad and it will damage the turntable eventually. This kind of music storage format can last decades as long as the owner knows how to preserve them.

There are two ways to clean a Vinyl record; by hand and by machine. You will need separate materials for each method.

How to clean vinyl records by manual

Things Needed to Follow the Tutorial

This method can be done once in a while to clean your disc collection. This is more economical compared to the automated process. The cleaning kits are usually around $15-$20.

  • A Carbon fiber brush

This is a soft brush used to take out dust collected within the grooves of your record.  Dust can cause static charges which will create a lot of noise and hiss when you play music.

  • Vinyl Record Cleaning Liquid

This is used to remove grime in the record. It goes deep into the groove and reduces static. It is advisable that a vinyl record cleaning liquid should be 100% alcohol free to prevent damage on the disc. You can use dish soap if you want to save a few bucks.

  • Vinyl Record Rinse

This liquid will be used to rinse out the cleaning liquid to avoid build-up. Distilled warm water can be used as a rinse if you have little budget.

  • 2 empty spray bottles

These empty spray bottles are used to contain the 2 different liquids used to clean your disc.

  • Soft lint free cloth

This will be used to wipe the cleaner and the rinse on the disc. Lint free cloths are used because they prevent micro scratches on your disc. You can use old cotton cloth if you cannot find a lint free one.

The Procedure

Step 1

empty bottles

Prepare all your materials; make sure they are within your reach once you start with the procedure. Get 2 empty spray bottles; label the first one, “Cleaning Liquid,” and the second one, “Rinse”. This is to avoid confusion of interchanging them.

Step 2

Brushing the disc with carbon fiber brush

Brushing the disc with carbon fiber brush

Get your vinyl record. Mount it on a smooth and clean surface. Brush it using the Carbon fiber brush lightly and gently while ensuring that it is able to sweep the bottom of the grooves. This will loosen up the dust accumulated in the grooves of the disc. Your strokes may be firm but soft enough to avoid causing micro-scratches.

Step 3

Spraying the Vinyl Record with the Cleaning Liquid

Spraying the Vinyl Record with the Cleaning Liquid

After the second step, spray on the cleaning liquid on your vinyl record. Let the liquid sit in for 5 seconds. Wipe it all off in a circular path, cautiously following the direction of grooves.

Step 4

Repeat Step 3 until your record is clean. Check your lint free cloth each time. If the cloth does not pick up dirt anymore, then that is the sign that your record is already clean.

Step 5

As soon as you have determined that your record is already clean, allow it some time to dry. However, do not let it dry completely to avoid build-up of the cleaning liquid on the grooves.

Step 6

Now, get your rinse liquid and spray it on the vinyl record.  Spray a sufficient amount over the coverage of the cleaning liquid.  Avoid spraying any liquid on the label as it may cause damage.

Step 7

Wiping the rinse on the disc


Make sure that the rinse liquid penetrates the grooves thoroughly to avoid residue.  Let it sit for 5 seconds and immediately wipe it off using the lint free cloth. Use a new lint free cloth for this step.

Step 8

Once you are satisfied with the cleaning, let your disc dry some more. You can put a disc revirginize if you prefer but it is unnecessary.

Step 9

dry vinyl records


Let your record in the open for a minute to dry.  You can lightly sweep a clean fingertip over the grooves of the record to check if it is already dry

Step 10

inner sleeve vinyl

You can now play your record to enjoy or just to check if your cleaning procedure was successful, or put it back to its cover for storage. Do not forget to slip it in a plastic sleeve before putting it inside its hard cover.  Do not lay your record flat or stacked on top of the other as this may cause the vinyl record to warp overtime.  Make sure to keep it in a dry cool place.

Guide by video

Automated Cleaning Method

Record Cleaning Machine

The Automated Cleaning Method is more pricey than the manual procedure. However, it gives a more thorough cleaning process. A lot of vinyl collectors invest in a Record Cleaning Machine.

Materials for the Automated (by machine) Cleaning Method

RCM looks like turntables but it cleans it instead of playing it. There are different brands of RCM in the market. Price ranges from $800-$3000. It has a vacuum cleaner used to clean vinyl records with ease. Unlike the manual cleaning, the RCM goes deep into the grooves precisely without leaving any trace of dust and dirt.

  • Vinyl Record Cleaning Liquid: this is used to aid the RCM in removing the dirt in the vinyl record.
  • Vinyl Record Rinse: this is used to remove build-up of the cleaning liquid.

Step by Step Tutorial (Automated)

Step 1

Get your RCM or Record Cleaning Machine. Look for the two liquid containers. The two containers are usually labeled with “Cleaning Liquid” and “Rinse” separately.

Step 2

Put the liquids in their designated bottle container. Put a sufficient amount of the cleaning liquid and the rinse.

Step 3

Gather your vinyl record and lay it on the RCM. Fix the vinyl record properly and turn on the RCM to start the cleaning.

Step 4

Once the RCM stops, get your vinyl record using your clean bare hands. Let it dry on the open. Once its dry, you can bring it back to its cover or play it on the turntable.


Now that your vinyl record is back to its former glory, you can enjoy a fresh new sound. Take pride in owning a vintage yet in mint condition! Vinyl records cost a lot these days and it can be a great investment.

Vinyl records have with stand the test of time. It has become a classic symbol for music and elegance. Vinyl record connoisseurs have taken good care of their collection because of the disc’s pricey tag. Make sure to clean it once in a while by following these steps to maintain its condition and to perpetuate its functionality and value.

Did you like this tutorial? Share it to your friends and have them admire your record collection. Leave us your suggestions in the comment section.