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EXCLUDE THE MAGIC ERASER!!!
AFTER FURTHER DISCUSSION, WE’VE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT IT’LL LIKELY CAUSE DAMAGE. JUST USE A CARBON FIBER BRUSH AND CLEAN MICROFIBER CLOTH.
Clearly no one is reading that part of this description. :/
Out of a lot of trial and error this is the best method I’ve found to clean vinyl records, especially on a budget. I consider this video a living document and I’m open to suggestions to improve upon this method.
I reiterate, if anyone has any additional or alternate advice please speak up. I want to be as thorough as possible and I want to be sure I’m giving the best advice.
I threw together this video pretty quickly so please don’t mind the weird audio crackling when I turn on the vacuum. Maybe I should have checked the settings on my mic before recording.
I like to give credit to the YouTube user SupraWes for the vacuum wand idea.
Check out his video. He goes into better detail about the wand and he deserves the extra clicks.
While on the subject of the vacuum: Even though the only issues I’ve had using a standard household hoover is a clogged filter, I won’t be held accountable if you damage your vacuum from doing what you see in this video. Like I mentioned, it may be a good idea to buy a cheap one from a thrift shop…..just in case. Don’t want your wife/girlfriend/mother mad at you.
More credit due: YouTube user TheShospitali turned me onto the idea of using white vinegar. I loved the idea because it has no water surface tention. However, I found using only vinegar can leave a bit of a film on the record, plus I heard using only vinegar can cause mildewing. When I did a little digging I found people talking about cutting the vinegar with distilled water. That gave me the idea to mix it with 91% Isopropyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol mind you). It dries quickly with very little left over residue and it neutralizes the acetic acid in the vinegar that causes mold/mildew.
There is an ongoing debate on whether or not alcohol will damage a vinyl record. Some say it will, over time, destroy the fidelity of your record, while other’s say they’ve been using it for 40 years w/ no negative affect. No one I found, however, can fully answer the question with actual proof in either direction. One person posed on a forum the opinion that it’s a reach back to 78 RPM records; it’s fact alcohol will dissolve the shellac material.
I decided to play the safe route on the issue; plus adding vinegar, in my experience, yields better results. Furthermore, most people don’t condemn the use of alcohol (it’s a primary ingredient in most professional cleaners), but rather, it should be diluted with something.
Since making this video I have retired the Magic Eraser sponge and opted to use a carbon fiber brush. I have found the ME sponge is very affective in removing dirt from especially dirty records but under most circumstances its abrasive properties doesn’t serve any added benefit and it isn’t worth risking the possibility of doing damage to your vinyl. The real magic is in the cleaning solution, how it makes its way into the grove and how the vacuum sucks the vinyl clean (no double entendre intended).
A carbon fiber brush is a staple and an absolute requirement for every record collection. If you don’t have one, get two. They only cost around $10 to $20 so you have no excuse. I also recommend getting a new one every year or so, depending how often you put it to use. I also recommend having one specifically for normal everyday dry cleaning and another specifically for periodical wet cleaning.
After a wet cleaning, be sure to rinse your brush with water (preferably distilled water) so the cleaning formula doesn’t dry in the brush, making the bristles stiff.
IF YOU STILL OPT FOR THE MAGIC ERACER SPONGE PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Concerns of the “abrasive” properties of the ME sponge has been voiced as a concern. I personally have never experienced any negative effects from using it and I’ve heard others who have also had the same positive experience. I would recommend an initial wetting of the sponge. Wetting it seems to change its properties, making it more malleable. Also, don’t apply too much pressure; let the little filaments do their work. Applying too much pressure may leave microscopic fragments from the sponge deep in the groove or even seriously damage your record. I also wouldn’t recommend using the sponge dry on a dry record. I believe this is how most people are scratching their records using the ME sponge.
Lastly, with everything, if you’re not comfortable with any method used in this video, by all means, disregard it. Cleaning records is a science and I’m merely sharing my findings.
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