A record player is a device that produces music by converting sound vibrations into electrical signals. Its main components are the turntable and the stylus. The turntable spins the record at a constant speed as the stylus slides on the grooves.
A record player, just like any other gadget, demands the utmost care and proper maintenance. This will help to keep it running smoothly and sounding great.
Failure to properly clean your record player will see it accumulate dust and debris, which can affect not only the player itself but also your precious vinyl.
This article goes over some of the best ways to keep your record player clean and in top condition for hours of play.
Why You Need to Clean Your Record Player
Record players can gather a lot of dust. This happens due to the static electricity created by the friction between the stylus and the vinyl walls, or even when you remove the vinyl from its sleeve. This static energy attracts dust and debris that can be hard to remove.
In the long run, apart from your turntable malfunctioning, a record player that isn’t clean can have a negative impact on its sound quality. By not maintaining your device, you risk having it damaged further and potentially losing the player altogether.
You must ensure that your player is kept clean and free of dust and debris. Buying a new record player can cost an arm and a leg, but ensuring it’s being maintained really demands nothing more than regular cleaning.
Don’t freak out, though, because providing regular maintenance is not the hassle you might think it is. Depending on the state it’s in, cleaning your record player once every 2 or 3 months is likely to be enough.
Where Does the Dust Accumulate?
First things first. You might not actually be able to see the dust on your player if it’s very fine, but if you hear a wheezing and popping sound, that should be a clear signal that your record player needs to be cleaned.
Before embarking on your cleaning journey, you need to understand the parts that will most likely need the most dusting.
As you might imagine, the turntable on which the vinyl rests will probably gather more dust than any other part of your record player. Whether you have a budget model, a high-end one, or a vertical record player, you need to have a maintenance routine in place.
The other key component of a record player that you can’t overlook while cleaning is the stylus. For starters, the stylus is the needle that moves through the grooves of the vinyl when the record is playing. It’s a fragile component that can easily bend from the dust and debris in the grooves if not handled correctly and well-maintained.
The grooves of a rotating vinyl record are at high risk of collecting dust. The grooves can act like little bowls that hold and trap the dust in place. The long-term effect of this is having your treasured records completely scratched and damaged. But before then, you’ll experience those annoying pauses and skips.
What You’ll Need for Cleaning
Having understood the critical parts that need cleaning, you also need to gather the right supplies to get your record player back in shape.
Key among the equipment you’ll need is a stylus brush, rubbing alcohol, and a soft-bristle brush. You’ll also need to have a microfiber towel, a dusting cloth, distilled water, and some furniture polish to give your record player a fresh look.
You might want to consider having some compressed air as well, as it’ll come in handy in getting rid of stubborn dust buildups.
Cleaning the Turntable
To clean the turntable, you’ll need a microfiber cloth to dust off the surface of your record player. If you want to get rid of fingerprint oil or any other stains, apply some rubbing alcohol on the cloth and wipe.
Begin from the turntable center as you work your way outward, then wipe off any remaining moisture using a dry cloth.
After cleaning, you might want to use a dust cover to reduce the amount of dust and debris that gathers on your record player. You can always substitute one with a clean and dry cloth if you don’t have a record player cover.
Cleaning the Stylus
As noted earlier, this is one of the most critical parts of your record player. It demands careful attention and regular maintenance to keep it in perfect shape. Ideally, you would have it cleaned after each time you play your record player.
While this might seem like a cumbersome affair, a stylus is actually very easy to clean. You can choose three techniques: a stylus brush, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and an Onzow Zerodust stylus cleaner.
The Stylus Brush Method
For the stylus brush method, you’ll need a brush that’s specifically meant for cleaning a stylus, which you can purchase online or from your local store. If you don’t have one, you can also use a soft paintbrush if necessary.
To clean the stylus, wipe the tip gently starting from the back. We’ve said it before, but the stylus is very fragile, so it’s important to avoid wiping it from the side. This could potentially bend the needle.
Though tempting, don’t try to blow the dust off the stylus either, as this isn’t very effective, and you can accidentally spit on it.
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Method
The second method uses the Magic Eraser, which can easily be found in any hardware store near you. Cut a 2-inch square, place it on the platter, and continuously lower the stylus onto the eraser. Repeat until there’s no residue left on the stylus.
Take note that the only recommended Magic Eraser is white with untreated sides. Also, make sure not to wet the eraser beforehand.
The Onzow Zerodust Stylus Cleaner Method
The last method is by using the Onzow Zerodust stylus cleaner. The material used is as soft as baby skin, which means that it won’t damage the stylus, making it effective and easy to use. To use it, lower your stylus onto the gel pad continuously. Lift and repeat the same procedure until the stylus’ tip is clean and free from dust and debris.
If the Zerodust cleaner starts to look a bit dirty, run some warm water over it to get rid of any buildup, and it’ll last for a long time. Another advantage of the Zerodust cleaner is that it comes with its own magnifying glass to inspect the stylus when you think it’s getting dirty again.
Cleaning the Records
Before we talk about the cleaning procedures, the number one cause of record damage is poor storage and mishandling of the discs. Always keep your records safely stored in their sleeves and avoid stacking them on top of each other.
Cleaning your records can be a hassle, but it’s a must-do to keep your record collections in good shape. There are several cleaning records methods, and one is with the use of a vinyl record vacuum cleaner. The sad news is that they’re a bit expensive. There’s also the cheaper option of using distilled water with a small amount of cleaning solution.
The Vinyl Vacuum Cleaner Method
Cleaning your records with a vinyl vacuum cleaner is very simple, but they can be expensive to own. The first thing to do is to remove any visible or loose dust and debris with a brush. After that, apply a cleaning fluid that’s safe to use on vinyl.
The final step is to place the disc in the vinyl vacuum cleaner. It will suck the cleaning fluid out of the grooves, along with any remaining dust, dirt, and debris.
The Distilled Water Method
The second method for cleaning records is to use distilled water and a bit of solution. Distilled water is available for purchase in most pharmacies and stores. Some might suggest regular warm water usage, but there’s no proven benefit to this, as regular water can still leave impurities on the surface of the records.
For the solution, you can either use dish soap or a record-cleaning solution. Dish soap is easily available and cheaper when compared to a record solution, but it’s also at risk of leaving some residue on your discs. You’ll also need a carbon fiber brush or cloth.
Prepare the cleaning solution by warming the distilled water. If you’re using dish soap, add a small amount. If you have a record-cleaning solution, use the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ensure there’s no loose dust or debris on the record because it can easily cause a scratch during your cleaning process. Use your carbon fiber brush to remove loose dust in a circular motion following the grooves, then dip the cloth into the cleaning liquid. You’ll only need a small amount.
Start by cleaning the record from the center in a clockwise direction following the grooves. Continue the procedure until you get to the last groove. Then reverse the process, this time in a counter-clockwise direction inwardly to the first groove.
Take note that as you run your fingers over the record, all four fingertips should be kept flat. Don’t use your fingernails at all, or you might scratch the record.
Rinse the record off if you used dish soap. Use the same method above but with only distilled water this time. Repeat until there’s no residue left.
Maintenance Do’s And Don’ts
Now that we’ve gone over some specific cleaning methods, let’s go over some general do’s and don’ts when it comes to caring for your record player.
- Have your record player cleaned and maintained regularly to avoid getting it damaged.
- You should clean your vinyl records before and after each use. This will help you to reduce the amount of dust that collects on them significantly.
- Before cleaning, remove any visibly loose dust and debris from the surface.
- Ensure your record player is kept well away from direct sunlight and hot temperatures.
- It’s important to replace your stylus once it wears down. Pay attention to hissing sounds, jumping, and static.
- Look for bent and jagged edges, as they’re an indication that your stylus needs to be replaced.
- Keep your records in their protective sleeves to prevent them from attracting dust and dirt.
- Use a lint-free cleaning cloth. Microfiber towels are recommended for drying or just let the fluid dry on its own.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the device.
- Don’t use non-approved cleaners on your records or your player. These could end up permanently damaging your items.
- Avoid keeping your record player near objects that could fall and damage it.
- Don’t use a lot of force while cleaning. Always be gentle with fragile components.
- Don’t get fluids on the record labels, as they’ll cause the paper to wrinkle and shrink.
- Don’t touch a record’s surface with your bare hands.
- Don’t leave your turntable uncovered. Get a record player cover for when it’s not in use.
- Never use lighter fluid or bleach on your records or player.
Cleaning and maintaining your record player may look like a lot of work. And yes, this can be the case, but only if you fail to give it the proper attention it needs from the get-go. If you value what your record player offers you, surely you won’t have to think twice about taking care of it.
Now that you know how to clean a record player, you can be sure that yours will last for years to come. Good luck!