Buyer's Guides Vinyl Care

VINYL CLEANING GUIDE PT. 1: MANUAL METHOD

Much requested and long promised but it’s finally here, the Vinyl Cleaning Guide. This is the first of a proposed trio of ‘How To…’ features. In this initial outing, Paul Rigby examines how to clean vinyl using a manual process

As there are a multitude of ways to clean your vinyl, I’ve decided to split this Vinyl Cleaning Guide into three parts. 

Part 1 is the manual option and the one I’ll be looking at here. There are a multitude of ways to clean your vinyl. If funds are tight, you can use a manual process. What do I mean by manual? Things like a felt pad, a Pixall Roller (remember them?), carbon fibre brush, Disco Antistat manual machine and its brethren Spinclean and the like. More on this below.

Then there’s the fully-fledged record cleaning machines based upon a vacuum process. Everything from the low-cost Moth and Pro-Ject machines up to the more expensive Loricraft et al. The RCM method will be reserved for the Vinyl Cleaning Guide Part 2.

Finally, ultrasonic technologies will be discussed in the Vinyl Cleaning Guide Part 3.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

To save time, if you just want to skip to the cleaning methods and that’s all you signed up for here then, by all means, scroll down to the heading: Required Tools. 

If you’re already kitted out then skip that and scroll down further to Cleaning Your Vinyl – Step by Step and read from there.

ROOTS OF THE SYSTEM

For everyone else, a bit of background might reassure but also provide a bit of context as to why I decided upon this method.

After all, you’re being asked to use this new Vinyl Cleaning Guide on your precious vinyl. To have confidence in the system itself, via a bit of background and an explanation of the system itself, should be in order I reckon.

I haven’t come to this point in isolation and I haven’t just picked it out of thin air because it sounds good or a chap told me about it down the pub. There’s been years of application and research behind it. 

This Vinyl Cleaning Guide was the result of ongoing and exhaustive testing. If new technologies or techniques presented themselves, I experimented with those and either discarded or adopted them as part of the ongoing evolution. 

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

In that quest I was aided tremendously by my job. That is, as a full time hi-fi journalist I have been very fortunate to be able to call upon new products, of varying types and price points, to test on a regular basis. Whether they be low cost tools, elaborate cleaning machines, liquids, brushes and more. Having the opportunity to compare and contrast a host of products, I was able to undertake a broad comparison with most of the products out there, currently on the market. 

Hence, there have been numerous occasions over the past years where I thought I’d found ‘the answer’. The final cleaning system. The One. Only to be presented with a new cleaning liquid or new technology or new technique. That’s then opened new doors to further tests and possible improvements. 

Hence, I realise that the Vinyl Cleaning Guide I offer here will, I have no doubt, be improved and enhanced in the future sometime. 

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

As such, there is no ultimate cleaning system. And don’t be fooled by the person that says that such a system exists. There’s only the best system you have, thus far. Improvements will be lurking around the next corner. Or should be. I know that I never rest and am always testing new hardware, liquids and techniques.

The final parts of the puzzle began to be applied late last year. At that time, I began to undertake the testing of a range of ultrasonic machines. This began around September 2018 and finished during the Summer of 2020.

During that time, I took it upon myself to seek out and interview a host of professionals who might be better able to shed light on the vinyl product itself, its make up and behaviour. The idea was to better understand thus stuff called ‘vinyl’.

That involved a range of interviews with the vinyl industry itself. And when I say vinyl industry I mean people who are involved in actually creating the raw material, those who use it in pressing plants and recording studios. 

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

Hence, I talked to two UK companies who create vinyl pellets (i.e. INEOS and Dugdale). Two of the most important outfits currently in operation in the world, actually. Vinyl pellets are the raw material that’s bought in by vinyl pressing plants and is used to make vinyl records. 

I also talked to a lady, based in Canada. A chemist, she is employed as a consultant to Abbey Road and has an excellent knowledge of vinyl.

Similarly, I talked to the MD of a company, based in the UK this time, who create blank acetate discs and cutting stylii for the recording industry called Micro-Point, formerly Transco-blanx. Both products were and are used by Abbey Road during the creation of demo discs. Micro-Point’s products have been in use since the 50s. Again, their knowledge was invaluable.

As was the information I received by the General Manager of the current Vinyl Factory vinyl pressing plant, the old EMI Hayes site. The same one used to press all of those old Beatles records of yore and one that originally swore by its original ‘kite’ marks of excellence, I recall. In fact I myself once paid a visit to the place and was shown the thick ‘kite’ standards document they used, when the plant was still in EMI hands. Oh and by a man in a white lab coat, would you believe. Yes, they still existed, even then. I think this was around the year 2000. Possibly a bit later.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

So you can see. I ran around collecting as much information as possible, over the months, in my quest to find the best possible method of cleaning vinyl discs. 

I repeat though, the Vinyl Cleaning Guide I present here is not perfect. It can’t be. Such a thing doesn’t exist. It remains the best system I have to hand for now. Who knows, next week, I might change and improve upon it. 

THE SYSTEM

The Vinyl Cleaning Guide I use is based on three elements: 

ALCOHOL

The first is the use of alcohol. Depending on the advancement of my own research, I have rejected, adopted, rejected and have now adopted it again. My initial caution in its use related to the fact that alcohol can be aggressive when used in direct contact with vinyl. It can soften the material leading to groove wall distortion and even brittleness in extreme cases, if used over long period of time. 

Used judiciously and in small amounts though, it can be highly beneficial in terms of vinyl cleaning. It took me a while to find that out. I eventually found the correct proportions over months of testing.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

I have produced a more in-depth study of alcohol in video form. You can find the link below. This video also talks about the nature of vinyl itself. A subject that is also important when cleaning the stuff is being considered.

Most people think that vinyl is made purely from PVC. More knowledgable people realise that other substances are used in its creation. In fact, a vinyl disc is an amalgamation of a dozen or so different chemicals (the quantities vary depending on the individual pellet company producing the recipe). All of which are useful in terms of vinyl production and sound quality.

What many don’t know though is that the recipe for vinyl itself is not fixed or constant. Each vinyl pellet company has their own recipe (well recipes, six variants are on hand every single working day) while that recipe can change multiple times over the years via modifications and tweaks. 

Which means, if you add up the multiple recipes used on a daily basis by each company, that there’s a 40-50 pellet companies currently operating in the world and hundreds more have gone to the wall over the past several decades, the history of vinyl consists of possibly thousands of different vinyl recipes, all of which hold their own chemical properties and behave differently when faced with stress, pressures, heat and yes, cleaning products.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

This also means that, quite possibly, and especially if you hold older examples, every vinyl disc in your current collection may very well be chemically unique.

You can find more via the link below:

SURFACTANTS

Alcohol is one of the main points of this cleaning regime but surfactants is another. Finding out about surfactants was a revelation to me in terms of vinyl cleaning. Its use took the standard of my cleaned vinyl discs onto another level. I only came across the technique when ultrasonic technology entered my professional life a few years back but I soon found that surfactants could be applied to any sort of of vinyl cleaning. 

I have written a Guide to surfactants HERE which will explain what they’re all about, what surfactants are currently out there and my preferred product. I won’t repeat myself here so please check out the link for more on that. Suffice to say that surfactants play a part in this cleaning guide.

ABRASION

Finally, one of the most neglected parts of vinyl cleaning is abrasion. I haven’t talked too much about this in the past so let’s examine the process now and find out why its important to the cleaning of vinyl. 

Talk of abrasion is not something you tend to see within editorial dedicated to hi-fi. And yet. Here we are.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

Don’t settle down too much because I want to whisk you off to your school days for a moment. Abrasion was always that thing you talked about in Geography class as the force that transformed rocks into nicely rounded pebbles. Ready made to add a tad of textural variety to your garden or to hand paint as a ladybird or hedgehog and sell on Etsy. Isn’t nature wonderful?

Abrasion is also something that’s sorely needed in hi-fi. Trouble is, we ain’t getting enough of it. 

To explain why, I want you to picture TV personality and actor, Tony Robinson. The Baldrick of this parish and the man who would gaily bounce around a different sort of trench on the BBC TV programme, Time Team. Within which, he would run around terribly fast, hither and thither, securing breathless updates on the latest dig, offering wide-eyed excitement and puppy-dog enthusiasm. Fit to burst, he was.

Archeology for the masses it might have been but I want you to recall the sights inside one of those trenches. 

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

Just ignore the wide-brimmed hat and West Country accent of Phil Harding for a sec and look below. There you will see an eager young tike, prodding the hardened soil. A piece of pottery is partially revealed. Our intrepid urchin is carefully brushing away the friable dust and soil. There, like some remnant of the Roman version of Habitat, we can see the patterns on a fragile pot. No doubt used to contain olives. Perhaps wine. Who can tell? 

Now keep looking at that pot. 

This trench is actually a metaphor. A metaphor for a vinyl groove. That dust is the daily grime that builds up in the groove. The solid, caked, baked soil? That is a heady concoction sautéed lightly from hardened oils emanating from sweat, the fabled ‘release agent’ from the original pressing plant and other substances that I wouldn’t like to dwell upon in a family-friendly website. 

The pot itself? The detail you’re desperately trying to access when you listen to a vinyl record on your hi-fi.

Time Team perfectly illustrates, not just how difficult it is to properly clean your vinyl, it offers the essential clue as to why many of us vinyl fans are not cleaning our vinyl properly. Because your detail remains stuck in the trench. It’s all down to abrasion. Or the lack of it.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

Whenever you clean your record, the chances are that you will clean it manually with a felt pad or carbon brush or some such. If you’re flush with a bit of cash, you may have spent out on a record cleaning machine (RCM). There’s plenty out there, you know the brands. They range from a couple of hundred pounds to a couple of thousand. 

I’ve tested and used most of them.

In use, you either clean ‘dry’ with that felt pad or brush hoping to dislodge as much dust and grime as possible.

With a RCM, you’re probably looking at using the machine in conjunction with a liquid of some sort. The reckless will apply, directly to the vinyl surface, a liquid containing a high-strength alcohol that will risk immediate damage to the groove. Others will apply an enzyme-based liquid.

The upshot for both applications is that you spread the liquid around the vinyl surface with a brush of some sort, cross your fingers then you hoover up the liquid and then you’re done.

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

The hope is that you will improve sound quality. You will. But the degree of improvement will only go so far and not far enough.

I’ve been testing record cleaning liquids and hardware for decades now. Every time I found a new toy to play with, one that did a good job, right then I would think to myself, “This is it! I’ve finally found the answer! I can rest easy now and just play my vinyl.”

Then I would write about it, proclaiming how amazing liquid Y was and how much more efficient RCM X was and how System Z was truly the way to go. 

Three months later, I would discover a new liquid/system/hardware and I’d have to think again.

Well, I’ve been doing a lost of testing of late and the one element that is becoming essential in terms of vinyl cleaning is, you guessed it, abrasion. 

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

Liquids – whether applied directly to the vinyl surface or applied as vinyl is dunked into a machine-held bath – act like an archeologist’s brush. They shine the easily accessible detail, the detail that’s there yet veiled. 

If you want to find the rest. The detail hiding behind the hardened oils? That trench-based hardened soil I mentioned above? The hardened stuff in the groove that won’t shift by dowsing with a drop or two of liquid? You need abrasion. Nothing too aggressive of course. We have to be gentle when applying it because this is vinyl we’re talking about, after all. Nevertheless.

Abrasion is also part of this cleaning system. We’ll find lots of abrasion below, during our cleaning process.

REQUIRED TOOLS

The above forms the basis of this Vinyl Cleaning Guide and provides clues as to how this thing actually works. Now I turn to the tools. What will you need to complete your clean?

Buyer’s links are provided below.

1: Disco Antistat

Price: £46.50

Contact: Amazon, eBay, etc

VINYL CLEANING PART 1: MANUAL CLEANING

This Vinyl Cleaning Guide looks at cleaning your vinyl. It’s not a buyer’s guide of manual cleaning tools. I have spent years doing that sort of filtering and the Disco Antistat is my manual cleaner of choice. This is the best manual cleaner I have found, currently for sale on the market. It offers a relatively low cost, great value, it’s easy to use and is wholly effective. But look, I won’t repeat myself here, either. You can read a full review of this product HERE. Oh and ideally, you will need two units for this Cleaning Guide. You can get away with one but two is best.

2: Distilled Water

Price: £2.95 per litre

Contact: Amazon, eBay, etc

There are dozens of brands out there, any will do. Unless you know of a reason why certainly brands should be excluded?

Distilled water will be the main content of the Disco Antistat’s bath. I use distilled water as opposed to any other filtered variant because of the range of potentially troublesome elements that distilled water rejects and other do not. For example, deionised water reportedly does not remove bacteria, viruses or other organic compounds. 

3: Alcohol

Price: £4.05 per litre

Contact: Amazon, eBay, etc

I use Isopropanol at 99.9% strength. I see no purpose in using a solution of lower strength because products such as Rubbing Alcohol (70%) merely fill the other 30% with distilled water, lowering the monetary value of the product because you’ll need to use more of the stuff to achieve the same ends. Hence, I would recommend using Isopropanol at 99.9%.

4: Tergikleen 

Price: £26.50 per bottle

Contact: eBay


This is my surfactant of choice but you might prefer another. The surfactant feature I talk about above provides a selection of surfactants to choose from. Tergikleen is based upon the well-known surfactant, Tergitol. 

5: Pipette

Price: £7.69 for two bottles

Contact: Amazon 

To apply surfactant to the vinyl surface. Or more specifically, a glass bottle secured with a pipette, screw-top vial. I use two at 50ml capacity which provides a bit of leeway before it has to be filled again but it’s small enough to be used ‘on site’. That is, where you do your vinyl cleaning. Use one for the surfactant and the other to hold your Glycol. Label both in case of future mix ups. Both liquids are easier to dispense form these small vials.

6: Kabuki brush

Price: Various [see text]

You will need this when applying surfactant to the vinyl surface. A Kabuki brush is a lady’s make-up brush. Short and wide in nature and featuring stubby bristles, this little thing is perfect for pushing surfactant deep into the grooves. Don’t be afraid to spend out on this one. You can buy one for a couple of pounds but I’d recommend getting a good quality example to prevent bristle and fine hair shedding. There’s no point in trying to clean your vinyl if you only succeed in adding more debris to the grooves at the same time. Mine cost around £20. There’s lots of brands out there. Try a specialist make-up store on line but Amazon should be fine too.

7: Water Bottle [two]

Price: £2

Contact: Supermarket and general shops

Any recognised brand is fine

What I’m talking about here is an empty spring water-type bottle of 1.5-2 litres. The sort you might buy from a typical supermarket. You will need two of these. 

8: Propylene Glycol

Price: £11.67

Contact: Amazon, eBay, etc

Because the Disco Antistat cleans your vinyl in a vertical position, if you add surfactant to its surface, gravity will try to pull it off again when the disc sits vertically. Mixing your surfactant with a measure of Glycol will fix the surfactant deep into the grooves with no loss of surface contact. Do NOT buy ethylene glycol, it’s particularly nasty stuff. When you receive your large bottle of Glycol, decant a small amount into a glass vial (see 5).

9: Measuring Tube

Price: £8.50

Contact: Amazon, eBay, etc

To measure the amount of alcohol you will need per litre of distilled water. The price here include a pack of five plastic measuring tubes. 

10: Container tap

Price: £5

Contact: eBay

Because I know that I’ll be cleaning vinyl for some time to come, I tend to buy 25 litre ‘barrels’ of distilled water. Then I remove the default screw lid and attach this tap instead. I lift the barrel onto a bench surface, lay it on its side and the tap easily dispenses water into my 2 litre bottle easily and efficiently.

TO THE EXTREME

Before I begin the actual Vinyl Cleaning Guide’s step-by-step sequence, allow me to say this. What you’re going to read below is cleaning to the extreme. Not to me but maybe to you. The amount of cleaning I do below might seem excessive but I do it because, of course, I can hear the difference. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother. 

But look. Just because I wander towards the halls of madness, doesn’t mean that you have to follow me. You can reduce the actually amount of cleaning to suit you and the time you have available so look upon this section of the Vinyl Cleaning Guide as that only, a guide. Take what you want from it. You don’t have to copy the entire Vinyl Cleaning Guide step by step if you don’t want to. You will hear sonic improvements even if you only clean to a fraction of the level.  

CLEANING YOUR VINYL – STEP BY STEP 

1: Let’s address the Disco Antistat’s bath first. First rinse the bath with distilled water. Then we need to fill that bath with cleaning liquid. That will consist of a mixture of distilled water and alcohol, mixed together. To contain that mixture, we need to find a suitable bottle which is where one of the plastic spring water bottles comes into play.

Bottle of distilled water with third-party tap attached – at the ready.

Before you use either bottle, give them both a good clean. Spring water contains impurities (in vinyl cleaning terms, at least) so add around a quarter to a third of the capacity with distilled water. Seal with its cap. Give it a thorough shake, empty that out and repeat twice more. Once done, the bottle is primed for use.  

2: Fill your first bottle with distilled water. 

Filling a cleaned spring water bottle with distilled water

3: Add your alcohol. You need 7% of the capacity of the bottle. So, if you have a litre bottle, that’s 70ml of alcohol you need to add to the distilled water. Use a measuring tube for this task. Seal with a cap. Give that mixture a shake and you’re sorted. 

Adding the alcohol – you might prefer to add the alcohol first and then the water to better mix the two.

You only need 1% of alcohol to make a sonic difference but 7% is the figure of choice here because you also need to melt the Glycol off the vinyl surface. 

Just 1% won’t be enough for the job. 7% will melt the Glycol but also perform cleaning in the groove. 

The alcohol cleaning is a bit like brushing that pottery I mentioned above in the Abrasion section. Alcohol will effectively clean away the friable and easily removable grime. 

Never apply alcohol directly to the vinyl surface, though. It’s too aggressive for that.

A close look at the Disco Antistat bath with fixed brushes

4: Fill the Disco Antistat’s bath with the water/alcohol mixture but stop just below the top of the fixed bath brushes. Just to be on the safe side, to avoid wetting the record labels. I know that the Disco Antistat’s clamps are designed to prevent that happening but, you never know and I’d rather be safe on this matter. By all means perform a dry run and vary the level for your record to make sure. OK, that’s the bath sorted. Now onto the vinyl itself. 

5: Prime another spring water bottle. Fill that with distilled water.

Surfactants need to be diluted

6: Take your surfactant and dilute it as directed using the included instructions. If you are using Tergikleen, I use 10 drops per litre. The drops are dispensed from the built-in dropper which offers micro-drops, smaller than the usual drops you might see from a pipette. So add 10 drops of Tergikleen per litre to the bottle of distilled water. Once applied, seal the bottle and shake for a while to mix thoroughly. 

The surfactant is now ready to apply to the vinyl. The bottle is too big and cumbersome to try to move surfactant from there directly to the vinyl surface so you’re going to have to decant some of it to make the task more manageable.

Decant both the surfactant and Glycol into these bottles

7: Fill one of the glass bottles (see image above) with Glycol. It’s easier to handle that way.

8: Before you decant the surfactant from the large, plastic spring water bottle into one of the small glass bottles take the vial from the Glycol bottle and fill it with Glycol. I say ‘fill it’ but you’ll find the vial will probably reach half way with Glycol (see mage below). Add that to the glass bottle. Repeat. You should have two vial’s worth of Glycol in your surfactant glass bottle. Fill the rest of the glass bottle with the diluted surfactant from you spring water bottle. Be careful not to spill the surfactant all over you floor. Do this over a sink and take your time. So you should now have two glasses bottles. One is filled only with Glycol. The second is now filled with surfactant and two vials of Glycol.

9: Seal the glass bottle filled with surfactant/Glycol and give it a good shake to mix thoroughly.

A ‘full’ vial tends to be around half full or perhaps slightly more, in actuality

10: Now, take the glass bottle full of glycol/surfactant to your vinyl. Fill a vial with the mixture (again, it will be around half full (see image above).

You need to apply this mixture to the vinyl surface but you want an even spread of the liquid across the record’s surface. Hence, ‘draw’ a stripe of liquid, using the pipette from the inner edge of the run-off outwards to the edge of the record itself. In a straight line. Draw four lines. One at 12 o’clock another at 3 o’clock, then one at 6 and the final at 9 o’clock. 

Surfactant stripes to aid an even distribution over the vinyl surface

11: Take your Kabuki brush. Move the brush around the vinyl surface to evenly spread the surfactant. You don’t have to be too OCD about this. Don’t worry if there are dry spots after you do this. We’ll get to that next.

After you Kabuki brush has done its thing

12: Holding the Kabuki brush move your fingers from the handle and down to the actual bristles themselves. The idea is to have around a centimetre of bristle sticking out from your fingers. Holding the majority of the bristles with your fingers, that’s the amount of visible bristle you should see. The remaining bristles will be quite stiff in nature now.

Stiffening the bristles prior to ‘pushing’ the surfactant into the grooves in a spiral motion

13: Using this stiff bristle, press the surfactant into the grooves in a spiral fashion working clockwise from the outer edge towards the centre and then anti-clockwise from the centre to the outer edge. That’s one side done.

The surfactant is worked into the grooves with the stiffened bristles of the Kabuki

14: Repeat the whole process on the flip side of the record. Your record has now been prepared for cleaning. 

15: Add the Disco Antistat clamps to the record as per the Disco’s own instructions and insert the clamped record into the Disco’s bath. Slowly rotate the record six times in a clockwise direction. Stop. Then rotate the record six times in a clockwise direction. Stop. 

Into the Disco Antistat

What is happening is this. The surfactant is allowing the liquid to get closer to the vinyl groove surface by breaking surface tension. Allowing for a deeper clean, if you will. 

The Glycol is ensuring that the surfactant sticks to all of the grooves during this time to maintain an even clean. 

The alcohol is cleaning the loose, friable material and more easily removable oils from the groove surface.

The abrasion is being applied by the built-in goat-hair brushes. The relatedly tough Disco brushes will help to break down the hardened oils and gunk I mentioned above. 

The combination of these products and actions will produce an effective clean, noticeably improving sound quality.

16: Steps 10-15 are seen as a single ‘cycle’. The extreme bit for some is this. While one cycle takes long enough to achieve and will enhance sound quality and you can stop there if you wish, during tests, I found that more cycles applied to the same record improved sound quality. That is, the sound from a record sounded better after two cycles when compared to one. And with three cycles when compared to two. And so on. 

I stopped – finally – at six cycles. This will take a long time. Over an hour for each record. I repeat, you don’t have to go there but I’m doomed because I’ve heard the differences so I can’t go back, I’m afraid. You decide how far you want to push it.

17: When the cleaning cycles are completed – however many that may be – then insert the record one final time but do not add any surfactant this time. Don’t add anything to the vinyl surface. Just add the record ‘as is’ and complete the same rotations clockwise and anti-clockwise. This is a rinse cycle to remove any lingering residue. 

If you are able to buy a second Disco Antistat then perform the rinse cycle in the second unit. Keep the second unit for rising only with a bath filled with the same proportion of distilled water and alcohol. In this way, the Rinse bath will last longer before it has to be changed.

Don’t forget to rinse, whether that be albums or singles

After a series of cleans, you may want to change the bath water for a fresh batch because the surfactant will slowly build up in it. I’ll leave that change over time up to you because it depends on how much surfactant you apply to the vinyl surface in the first place, the frequency of your cleaning and the amount of cycles you decide to run with.

18: Once the rinse has been completed, remove the record and the clamps and insert the record into the supplied drying rack for drying. A warm room will be more efficient. 

CONCLUSION

And that’s it for this Vinyl Cleaning Guide, folks. I must add though that the above is a one-off intensive clean. You won’t have to do this every time you want to clean the same record.  So don’t be concerned about that. 

See this Vinyl Cleaning Guide above as a sort of ticket into your record collection. A test that any piece of vinyl has to run through before it earns the right to sit on your storage shelves. 

Once a record has been through the above then you only need a maintenance clean whenever you feel it’s necessary. If it is, do one cycle only, when required.  

If you have any questions about the above or if you need me to elaborate then, by all means, give me a shout in the Comments and I’ll help all I can. 

I hope that this feature has helped in some way to improve your vinyl cleaning technique and, more importantly, the final sonic performance of your records. Next up? Cleaning with a vacuum-based record cleaning machine!

[Don’t forget to check out my Patreon Page at www.patreon.com/audiophileman, for exclusive postings and more!]

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110 Comments

  • Reply
    Ian Barber
    18th December 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Brilliant work, many thanks for this and it is much appreciated.
    I have already done about 50 discs out of my 223 with the Mk2 Knosti Disco Antistat. The only problems that I have found, so far,are that the record clamp can and does work loose ,especially when reversing direction to anti-clockwise when in the bath. I gather that this is a known problem with both the mk 1 and mk 2 versions, but there is an aftermarket version available which has a proper clamp together with a far better seal ( see http://highqual.co.uk/clamp-details/4580311057 )However the two versions that they do cost around £ 40( mk 1 )- £ 47( mk 2 ). But, I suppose, long term they will pay for themselves.
    Another problem is one of drying times, with minimal dust floating around in the air. I use my conservatory for the process, having been ‘moved’ from the kitchen by my long suffering Wife ! In this cooler weather, without the use of extra heating which stirs-up the dust, I have found that it takes around 3 hours, or more, to clean 8 lp’s ( one drying rack full). The filters in the mk 2 kit are ok, but do not fit the rectangular funnel too well, allowing fluid to escape around the edges. I will try some different filter material in the future, that I can cut out myself which covers both the base of the funnel, as well as the sides. That should do the trick. At present, I discard the liquid after 24 cleans. I use a solution of 1 % IPA/distilled water in the bath (The Knosti one !! ) and use a 1:200 solution of Ilford Ilfotol/distilled water using the droppers as a pre-wash, spread around by a Kabuki brush. I have, not yet, tried Tergitol etc, but the results seem to be ok, though I find that some of the treble on the lps does sound a bit ‘tizzi’ after cleaning on some lp’s so I may do a few more cleans of the affected ones and, maybe try the Tergitol at some point. Looking forward to parts two and three in due course. Cheers Ian

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th December 2020 at 5:55 pm

      Very kind of you to say and…intriguing, Ian! Never seen that Knosti mod before, I’ll make a point of reading it ASAP. Part 2 might be of some interest to you yes because I look at using a low-cost RCM as part of an accelerated drying process.

      • Reply
        Michael Treiber
        13th May 2021 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Paul,
        i really appreciate your way of cleanig records.
        For my 10inches i do it your way.

        As a owner of the audio desk (AD), i combine your manual way of cleaning with the AD for the 12 and 7 inches.
        Three cycles of the steps 10-15 and then the record goes to the AD, which is filled with 1% Isopropyl.

        After playing the record, the record goes straigt to the AD.

        Now i have, after cleaning about 50 records, an question (the question suddenly popped up in my head) to step 13 – the spiral working with the Kabuki.
        Is it a spiral just like the way of the needle….and reverse, or is it more straight from the in- to the outside of the record?

        And yes, i´ m looking forward to part 3.

        Have a nice day

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          14th May 2021 at 2:14 pm

          Hi Michael – re. the spiral: like a needle.

    • Reply
      Henk ter Maten
      19th January 2021 at 4:00 pm

      What am I enthousiastic, almost a perfect description of how to clean vinyl.
      I already did have the Disco-Antistat in my possession and it works quite good.
      Now I ordered the rest, but that was difficult, especially the Tergikleen you cannot get in The Netherlands.
      Though I look forward to receive all ingredients and cannot wait to go on work.
      However I do have some questions. Why don’t you mix all together: distilled water, alcohol, Tergikleen and Glycol.
      A lot of steps make one step ( one Disco Antistat mixture). It seems to me that this is a lot easier.

      Another question: How do you dry your records at the end of the session?
      With a microfiber towel or in the drying rack of the Disco Antistat?

      Or am I wrong, does Acohol, Glycol and Tergikleen cannot get along??

      • Reply
        Paul Rigby
        19th January 2021 at 4:13 pm

        Hi Henk – thanks for your kind words. If you combine the liquids in the bath, if will work…at a push. But only to an extent. You will lose most of the effectiveness. I have tested both and can confirm this. Also, the Glycol will be instantly attacked by the alcohol.

        Drying? For a Knosti only? In a warm room on the supplied rack, as per the product instructions. I would advise against using a towel, you may reintroduce dust or other elements which will only reduce the effectiveness of the clean.

  • Reply
    Saverio
    18th December 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Much anticipated feature and perfect timing!
    What else could we do during this “locked-down Holiday season” other than cleaning or records? LoL
    Now all the stars and planets finally align (your tube videos, your articles, comments here and there, etc.).
    Just one note, not to be picky but…just following your explanation I was wondering: in the last rinse, given there’s no surfactant/glycol applied before, shouldn’t alcohol be reduced to 1% instead of 7%?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th December 2020 at 4:47 pm

      That’s a good point, actually. I was going to change my feature to suit but, thinking again, this rinse section is also intended to remove any residue so 7% would be recommended to do a thorough job.

      • Reply
        Miguel Gonzalez
        18th January 2021 at 9:27 pm

        Hi Paul,
        Hope this finds you well. Thank you so much much for this thorough and thoughtful guide! I have a process question: do you allow the records to dry on the rack before each surfactant mix application, or do you go straight through, applying the next round of surfactant mix right after the bath, an only dry them after the final cycle?

        Best,
        Miguel

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          19th January 2021 at 10:37 am

          Hi Miguel – a quick bath in distilled water every now and again will clean the brush.
          I advocate a full dry before you start the next cleaning cycle otherwise the distilled water remaining on the record surface will alter the liquid ratios you’ve already carefully curated. Also, there may be part of the disc where your pushing pure distilled water into the grooves instead of diluted surfactant.
          To cut waiting times, you might want to stagger a series of discs for cleaning. Say 5 at a time. So by the time you’ve cleaned the 5th disc, the 1st disc will be dry and ready for another cycle, for example.

  • Reply
    Dave Gabbard
    18th December 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Having watched all of the previous vids i could get my hands on for a few years, i knew pretty fast this one was different than the rest. No secretive formula or product pushing, just straight up science performed by someone who knows what he is doing. I can’t thank you enough for this series other than to subscribe to your Patreon, which i just did. (A small price to pay for the saved time n useless products you have stopped me from buying)

    After a frustrating year of watching people with varying degrees of skill attempt to sell me on the best or only way i should be cleaning my vinyl, this series of yours should be required watching; it has saved me hours of time, and possibly a bit of my sanity.

    Keep up the amazing work.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th December 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Thats very kind of you Dave and it also give me the opportunity of thanking you for joining me on Patreon – thank you!

  • Reply
    Trygve
    19th December 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for the very informative article!
    You seem to use more than the recommended amount of Tergikleen? On mine it says 10-20 drops per gallon, you use 10 drops per litre. Does the increased amount lead to sonic improvements in your experience?
    Keep up the good work!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th December 2020 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks Trygve – indeed yes, that concentration seems to work for me.

    • Reply
      Michael Metcalf
      23rd December 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Truly superb Paul,in the process of purchasing all the kit to use with my audio desk please hurry with part three .

  • Reply
    ETolpan
    19th December 2020 at 11:32 pm

    Thank you for this great Work.
    I’m looking forward to the following episodes 🙂

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th December 2020 at 10:57 am

      Very nice of you, many thanks.

  • Reply
    J
    7th January 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Hey Paul, I have Tergikleen, Iso Alcohol, Distilled Water, Mofi Record Brush, and one of these RCM’s. What would you recommend as the process for this vs your process with the Disco-Antistat? Do I not need Glycol since it’s not cleaning vertically? Thanks

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      8th January 2021 at 10:46 am

      Hi J – I’ll be looking at RCMs in Part 2 of my Guide next. So please hang on in there for that one.

      • Reply
        Weston
        5th May 2021 at 3:59 am

        Hi Paul— I am pretty OCD when it comes to audio; however, I am very new to vinyl. Not paying much attention, I recently made the mistake of buying some cheap,“lubricated” cleaning cloths at my local record store and was horrified to see the greasy mess they made of my records and my stylus. After doing some research on your website and YouTube I have ordered supplies to clean my stylus, but can you recommend any budget friendly ways to clean a record without an actual washing device like the Disco Antistat? I want to clean them well enough to get rid of this gunk for good, but I’ve just about maxed out my budget on a turntable, speakers, etc. I have yet to see much reasonable advice on the internet regarding vinyl other than your website, so I figured I’d ask. Thanks, Weston

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          5th May 2021 at 5:54 pm

          Hi Weston – apart from a carbon brush to remove loose dirt, the only manual method I would actually recommend is the Disco Antistat and the system I use or, at least, the Disco on its own. It’s precisely because there are so many bizarre products and suggestions and frankly dodgy products out there that I put all of this together in the first place. I’ve used most of them and dislike the same 🙂 Like you, I see my vinyl as precious so it’s worth saving up and investing in a cleaning system that will actually clean and take care of my discs, not put them in peril or make the situation worse. If you need to save then I’d advise grabbing a low-cost, non-invasive carbon brush for now to remove harmful grit and give the discs a proper clean later, when you can afford it.

  • Reply
    mike
    16th January 2021 at 12:42 am

    Hi Paul,
    So if you were doing just a basic wash with the DAS you wouldn’t need the Turgicleen? As here it is being used in conjunction with the Glycol. and extra steps An hour a record is far to much for me! I have seen some people say they do add a drop of wetting agent (which you said in a vid is the same thing) to the water/Iso mix also? Could you add it that way? And another thing is would you still always you were doing it this way? Maybe just with Distilled water. Cheers for any help mate. Hope you and yours are well.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th January 2021 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Mike – you can leave the surfactant off, if you wish, of course. Although the cleaning effectiveness will lessen. Adding the latter to the bath helps, sure. Although again, the effectiveness is lessened. And the Glycol is only used when a disc is cleaned vertically. Also the cleaning time will be vastly reduced if you only use one cycle. I use half a dozen, which is where the hour comes from. But take what you want from this feature. Don’t feel tied to it. You’re welcome to adapt it for your own system.

  • Reply
    Ezra
    16th January 2021 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Paul, I nearly sunk 3 grand US (that I didn’t necessarily have) on a Degritter after reading your review. I caught my wits in time and will be trying your prescribed method above which is affordable to me! My question to you is about the glycol ratio in the surfactant mix. I have 4oz (118ML) dropper bottles and I’m not sure the larger pipette droppers included necessarily scale up. How critical have you found the glycol ratio? Any way to estimate what 2 full (or half-full as you say) droppers worth of glycol amount to in mLs so I can scale to my 188mL bottles? The simple answer is to tell me to pipe down and just go scare up some 50ml dropper bottles… Thanks for your great work and sharing here!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th January 2021 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Ezra – hmmm, I would say between 1-2ml. You really want to stay in that zone, otherwise you’ll need more alcohol to melt it off and you don’t want to go above 7% really. And thanks for your kind comments.

  • Reply
    David
    18th January 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Paul, I can’t seem to find Part 2 of this series where you cover the vacuum process record cleaning machines. I’ve been considering a purchase of one of this style machine for a couple of weeks, but have yet to pull the trigger. I’d love to read your take and process before committing.

    Can you point me toward part 2? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th January 2021 at 10:22 am

      Hi David – That’s because it doesn’t exist yet 🙂 It’s on the drawing board for now.

      • Reply
        David
        20th January 2021 at 12:27 am

        Ah, my apologies. Very much looking forward to Part 2.

  • Reply
    Miguel Gonzalez
    19th January 2021 at 2:54 am

    PS: I was also wondering how you would recommend cleaning the kabuki brush after a cleaning cycle.
    Thanks again Paul!

  • Reply
    Oscar
    20th January 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for another detailed guide. I have all of my bits on the way in the post, including 2x Disco Antistat machines for the extra rinse to remove all surfactants as you suggested. I just had a couple of questions:

    – I expected to use surfactant method on my most dirty records. However, if I just did a one step clean without surfactant would distilled water with 1% isopropyl be sufficient or would it be better to keep it at 7%?

    – I have recently moved to a new house and I am noticing quite an issue with static charge on my records. I’m wondering on the results for reducing static using the method you mention above. I’m wondering which part of the Disco Antistat aids in the reduction of the static. Is it the solution they send with the machine or the process of using the machine itself? I’m wondering if it’s the former, will there be sufficient static reduction using the alternative solutions you mention in the post? (I will be using Ilfotol surfactant). Please forgive my lack of knowledge here, I’m just wondering if I will need to make further efforts post cleaning to reduce static.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Reply
    Phil
    20th January 2021 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Paul and again thanx for this great tutorial.
    I do my best to follow it as closely as possible and have adapted it a bit with the products I have at hand.
    First I don’t have Glycol. I made the mix with 10 drops of Triton X100 in a liter of distilled water for the vinyl prep. I left the Glycol aside since I don’t have any for now. Can you please telle me if this is compulsory or can it all be done without ?
    I then wash the records in the disco antistat with a similar solution as yours. Distilled water, alcohol, and a few drops of Tetenal Mirasol 2000. I have mentioned this product on your YouTube channel on the video you mention all the surfactants available and your preferences on these.
    This allows to add some antistatic to the washing product, so I don’t rince the record after washing them.
    No with this method if I let the record dry on the disco’s stand, it seem some marks will be left from the pretreatment. Is it because of the missing Glycol ? Or did I do something wrong ?
    Just a light wipe with a clean and dry microfibre cloth get rid of all these small marks on the vinyl, or at least this is how I solved the problem.
    Thanx for your input 🙂

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th January 2021 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Phil – the Glycol improves performance (I tested it with and without) but you can clean without, sure. Not sure about the source of the marks but they could be residue because you haven’t rinsed – just a guess, though. I wouldn’t touch the surface with a cloth, either. Your choice of course but I’d advise not because you will introduce any micro dust on the cloth back into the grooves.

      • Reply
        Phil
        20th January 2021 at 5:54 pm

        Paul doesn’t the distilled water + alcohol (even with a few drops of Tetenal) work as a cleaning and ringing solution at the same time ? I’m afraid that if I rince again at the end it will remove the antistatic properties of the Tetenal…

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          21st January 2021 at 9:51 am

          Hi Phil – agitating a vinyl record, handling it, shuffling bits and pieces around and about while cleaning…will increase static. I wouldn’t recommend focusing on a liquid-based anti-static solution. There are more effective methods available to you, once the disc is on the platter. Removing residue is more important for the health of your disc (it’s not a good idea to allow surfactant to remain in contact with vinyl for a long period of time) and more effective in terms of revelling sound quality.

  • Reply
    Henk ter Maten
    24th January 2021 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Some more questions from me:
    . When you are ready with cleaning the record in the /Disco Antistat, step 3, do you dry at first that record before going on the next step?
    . When you finished step 11: how do you you exactly repeat the proces of pressing the surfactant on the flip side of the record? Do you lay down the record on a clean towel or what else? You did advice me before not to use microfiber towels.
    . You are talking about a single cycle, steps 8-13: do you dry after each cycle before you go to the next?
    After all cycles, it seems to me that rinsing the stuff is very important. I have seen on the internet that someone uses a garden sprayer, manual pumping for pressure and fill it with distilled water. What do you think of this. You don’t need the a second Disco Antistat then.

    One more thing:
    What a luxury to tweak your analog records to such a high level of sound improvement, only by a cleaning process.
    I don’t see this is possible in the digital world at such relatively low cost!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th January 2021 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Henk –
      1: Thanks for this Henk because I’ve just realised that my step numbering is out! I had two No.3s for a start. Good grief. So please check back with the feature to get back in step, as it where 🙂 I’m finished cleaning the record after step No.18. Or is that not what you meant? Please explain and I’ll try again.
      2: Good question – this is a step I wrongly left out. It’s something I should have tried to photograph but it was tough to position the camera, etc. I must try again on this. There’s two options. Firstly, I hold the LP in one hand (this is ok if you have large-ish hands) because a thumb can be positioned along the LP edge and fingers can be touching the rear label. So one hand is supporting the back of the LP, in effect. The other hand can be applying the surfactant with the brush. Then flip it over to apply surfactant to the other side. To prevent the LP falling during the surfactant application, lean an edge of the LP into your stomach – just a bit – for leverage. Alternatively, look out for a physical support onto which you can place your record. One that does not touch the vinyl surface. A squat yet wide-ish jar perhaps? Problem here is the outer edge of the vinyl will bend when you push the surfactant brush against it. Which is why I favour the two-handed approach.
      3: Absolutely! 🙂

  • Reply
    Henk ter Maten
    26th January 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks, I see that you are not able to find back your steps I mentioned. You forgot also to answer one question. So I try it again and number my questions:

    1: Before you bring your surfactant with the brush to the record’s surface: did you dry at first
    the record which came from the Disco Antistat bath?
    2: Flipping over the record to add some surfactant seems to me a magician’s trick. We must find
    a better solution.
    3: You are talking about a single cycle, steps 8-13, if you want more cycles to clean, do you dry
    the records after each cycle before you go to the next cycle?
    4: What do you think about rinsing wit a manual pump about which I have already written?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th January 2021 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Henk:
      1: The surfactant is applied *before* you put it into the bath. Not after. The record is already dry.
      2: Not at all. It’s actually very easy. I’ll see if I can update the Guide with a few extra images.
      3: Yes, each cycle ends with a drying period. Otherwise you’re further diluting the next batch of surfactant with the water that is already on the vinyl surface.
      4: Please explain what you mean by a manual pump – remind me.

      • Reply
        Henk ter Maten
        26th January 2021 at 5:01 pm

        1: Now I understand, you didn’t put first the record for cleaning with the distilled water/propanol mixture, but AFTER, you have made the Disco Antistat’s bath ready and AFTER you applied the surfactant to the vinyl. (I am a Dutchman). so am I correct?
        2: OK.Looking forward.
        3: Ok. That’s clear.
        3: The red garden sprayer/pump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1ObGW6kGws&ab_channel=DaveStephens

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          27th January 2021 at 1:16 pm

          Hi Henk –

          1: I applied the surfactant to the vinyl and then put the record into the Disco Antistat for cleaning.
          4: Please see my reply to Phil below.

  • Reply
    Phil
    26th January 2021 at 4:39 pm

    Paul I believe our friend us referring to some gardening pressure container. You pump air into it and then spray the records Karsher style.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th January 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Phil – ahhh, gotcha. I prefer the Disco (or, even better, a second Disco) because you’re getting that essential abrasion effect which helps to thoroughly remove any residue. It’s not a great idea to have surfactant remaining on a vinyl surface for long periods of time. This option makes sure it’s all gone.

  • Reply
    Henk
    27th January 2021 at 7:23 pm

    Hi Paul,
    1: Did not see YOUR reaction what you think about that sprayer.
    Oh yah, just a comment towards Phil, I think by Karsscher he meant Kärcher. I want to see your reaction, Paul.
    2: Am I correct now with my point 1 yesterday?
    3: I have find out how to manage much better to flip over the record during adding the surfactant mixture. It’s very easy to do and I recommend it to everyone. No more hocus pocus with the flipping in the air.
    I even use the Knosti clamp and you can continue your work in the same comfortable way as usual. I even think the active ingredient can work better than before. And it’s up to you to more easily determine how long you leave this substance in the grooves.

  • Reply
    Henrik Borberg Jensen
    31st January 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Paul
    Thank you for a very thorough guide. I am not sure if you have answered this. before After you have purchased your ultrasound cleaner do you then ever user the manual method? And what would be the best way to combine them.
    I am asking because i am ( hopefully) receiving an ultra sound cleaner in July https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqPrPigrHko.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      2nd February 2021 at 11:53 am

      Many thanks. Using a quality ultrasonic cleaner like the Degritter, for example, means that you don’t need to combine that with the manual cleaner. It’s a good idea to combine the manual with a RCM, though.

      • Reply
        Henrik Borberg Jensen
        3rd February 2021 at 9:16 pm

        The degritter is a little to pricy for me. So i took the chance and backed a kickstarter project. Its a 40 kHz ultrasound cleaner with a dryer built in. 390$ including shipping but excluding tax. It is almost as convenient to use as the Degritter. Exciting to see if it also is an effective cleaner.

  • Reply
    Henk ter Maten
    3rd February 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Some of my most beloved records: like a Mozart Requiem record and a Dire Straits record sounded after 6 cycles full of noise. Despite the choirs and singers, guitars sounded much better overall, I couldn’t stand the sound because of all that terrible splashing (is this good English?)sound, my wife also noticed this. These records seemed very damaged after those treatments you recommended.

    After researching I found out that most of the surfactants on the market leave a residue like salt crystals. These are the cause of the splashing sound.

    Surely that is not the intention Paul. Please come up with a working solution for this.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      3rd February 2021 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Henk – its difficult for me to diagnose your issues at this distance and from a text message but there is no residue if you properly follow the cleaning procedure. Salt or otherwise. In fact ‘salts’ are not part of this cleaning procedure.
      And I don’t use ‘most surfactants’.
      It is entirely possible that the cleaning process is slowly removing caked on grime for the first time in years and you’re hearing that. So you may need further cleaning to remove it. Again though, I’ve no idea at this distance, I’m speculating.
      I have been researching vinyl cleaning for many years and my current system is the result of long-term and in depth research. I never came across the issues you’re experiencing. It’s possible other factors are involved here.
      Ultimately, after further cleaning, if you still find issues then maybe you need a more efficient cleaning system than a manual operation. My day-to-day system is ultrasonic. It’s far more expensive but it’s also more effective.

      • Reply
        Henk ter Maten
        8th February 2021 at 4:45 pm

        Hi Paul,
        You wrote: “My day-to-day system is ultrasonic. It’s far more expensive but it’s also more effective”.
        Which ultrasonic system do you use, the Kirmuss or another.
        Did you hear about the new kid on the block, the ultrasonic HumminGuru it seems very good plus it’s affordable.

        What do you mean with elbow grease? There is no Dutch translation for it.

  • Reply
    Phil
    3rd February 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Henk, you should take your vinyl to a pro. there is probably someone in your area with za high end cleaning machine (most audio shops have these) and get this record a good clean this way.
    Then you’ll know if the cracks you hear are hard embedded into your record or if the cleaning process might be in cause.
    For my part I don’t have any issue wit this manual cleaning process even though I don’t use that exact method, but pretty close.

  • Reply
    H. ter Maten
    3rd February 2021 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Paul, thanks.
    Can you imagine that after 6 cycles and with all the ingredients, as you described, I dare not continue what I was doing. I cleaned the The Mozart record as many as 20 cycles and it’s still noiser than before.
    I own an all in one solution that includes surfactant and it gives very good results PLUS a quiet background.
    If you want I can forward the data.
    But I want more.
    I have spoken with the inventor, a chemist, of this Vinyl Cleaner.
    He told me that you can’t do without surfactant if you want to get everything out of it. But that some of them also have the nasty property of adding nasty things, causing that splatter.

    Oh yes did you read that I have found a solution for the flipping of the record during the addition of surfactant?
    You can read about this also in my email to you.

  • Reply
    Ezra
    3rd February 2021 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Paul, thank you for your earlier reply in helping me get my glycol ratio right. I’m having revelatory results following your exact method with 2 disco-antistat stations.

    I suspect some are having cleaning issues based on the quality of the distilled water they are using. I can only imagine the havoc that leaching chemicals from the plastic containers that distilled water is often sold in is bringing to your readers’ vinyl collections.

    This is why I implore you to do some reviews on some of the commercially available water distilling machines on the market, from the budget bench-top machines up through those costing several thousand US dollars and occupying the better half of a standard garage bay. The only way you can truly gain control over the results of high end record cleaning is by having perfectly brewed, user-distilled water with contaminants measuring in the low parts-per-trillion.

    I eagerly wait with tongue firmly planted in cheek for your upcoming review of this essential production component for our record cleaning frenzy.

  • Reply
    Henk ter Maten
    5th February 2021 at 9:00 am

    Hi Paul,
    When firmly inserting with the Kabuki brush the surfactant I see a greasy substance emerge, I can’t get that off. This also happens with new records.
    Therefore my question, is there too much Glycol in the combo combination ratio OR am I using the wrong Glycol?
    I am using Monopropylene Glycol:
    http://www.lubrisolve.co.uk.

    Despite rinsing for a long time afterwards I feel that the result is still not good.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      8th February 2021 at 1:07 pm

      You may either be adding too much Glycol or not enough alcohol. That is, if you are seeing the residue after cleaning. The prescribed ratios in the Guide have worked for me on numerous occasions without any residue.

  • Reply
    Kevin Robertson
    6th February 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Paul, a great article, thank you.

    I know Part2 and 3 are still yet to be published, but could I ask a question about this process in conjunction with my Audio Desk RCM.

    Would you still use the Surfactant/Glycol mix before putting in the machine., and is the Audio Desk cleaning soloution appropriate to remove the glycol (as your alcohol mix does). I know it’s not recommended to use a different cleaning soloution in the Audio Desk.

    Many thanks
    Kevin

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      8th February 2021 at 1:21 pm

      No worries, Kevin and yes – I’d still use the surfactant/Glycol/brush method before putting in your Audio Desk. The AD solution is good. Not great. But good. If Tergitol is first division, the AD solution is third division. But it does help, yes. And don’t forget, AD want you to spend money on their products. It’s an income stream for them. I’ve used plenty of other products – including alcohol – for, well what, a couple of years, without any issues. Your choice though and your responsibility (he says, covering his backside 🙂 )

      • Reply
        Kevin Robertson
        8th February 2021 at 1:41 pm

        Perfect, thanks Paul.

        I’ll use up what I have left of the AD cleaner and thereafter I’ll go with your 1% alcohol mix.

        Thanks Kevin

  • Reply
    Oscar
    7th February 2021 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Have been cleaning a few records now I’ve got myself up and running. I’m cleaning most records with a surfactant brushing beforehand as per your guide. I’m generally finding that i’m getting better results on newer less crackly records in terms of improving the sound, as opposed to ‘cleaning up’ and old dusty record. Do you find similar in that this method is better at bringing out the best in a cleaner record rather than restoring an old really filthy, crackly one? I’m wondering if taking it to the full six steps on a crackly record would reduce this or if this method has limits in this area? (I don’t currently have access to an ultrasonic method of cleaning for comparison)

    Also I’m finding that after air drying i’m getting marks where the slower evaporating water left, is this something you find too?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      8th February 2021 at 1:29 pm

      Both, Oscar to be honest. It would depend on the condition of your records, of course and the life they’ve lead. Some will need repeated cleans to get the baked off stuff out of the grooves. It’s like using elbow grease and a scourer on a kitchen surface: a few seconds rub might begin to remove the grime but you may need a full minute to remove it completely. It’s a rough metaphor but you get my meaning, I’m sure.
      I also find that, after 6 complete cycles and a full rinse, if I still hear crackles and pops then I tend to assign that to groove damage.
      I don’t see any marks, no. Again though, that might just be evidence of the grime being exhumed from the grooves. It depends what’s in there. Could be anything. Hey, I’d seen some people on YouTube ‘clean’ their vinyl with WD-40, which is basically natural gas condensates, petroleum distillates and the distillation of coal tar and peat plus kerosene and other oils. Imagine doing that, leaving it in there for 10 years so it goes hard and then trying to remove that stuff with a single cleaning cycle.
      I’m not suggesting your LPs are covered in that but I am saying that second-hand LPs can be subject to bizarre cleaning methods before they arrive into your hands.
      I would take each record on its own merits, especially if you have any second hand LPs.

      • Reply
        Oscar
        8th February 2021 at 5:48 pm

        Hey Paul,

        Thanks for your reply. I’ll go down the elbow grease method for some of the more stubborn records and repeat as you suggest. I see what you mean about how caked different kind of nasty stuff can become, I am generally finding the issues to be on secondhand records yes so could be they’ve been through some interesting substance mixes before they got to me. I’ll keep on with the cycles and dream of a day I can afford a more professional solution!

        With regards to the marks it is mainly noticeable on the run off, where the liquid has dried rather than evaporated (if that makes scientific sense). I just thought I’d mention it as I wondered if what I could see on the run off was actually all over the record but hidden in the grooves. That said the liquid does seem to be more conducive to drying off the grooves rather than the run off. Was wondering if anyone else has found this?

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          9th February 2021 at 11:54 am

          What you might be seeing is the alcohol holding grime in suspension on top of the record’s surface. The grime having been lifted from the groove but now having nowhere else to go. The latter then evaporates and then deposits the suspended ‘stuff’ onto the surface afterwards. The best solution for that particular issue would have been a vacuum-based cleaning machine which would have sucked the material away from the surface before the alcohol evaporated. Just my guess.

  • Reply
    Kevin Robertson
    8th February 2021 at 1:52 pm

    Paul, apologies but I just want to clarify I’m not using the AD as the Surfactant, I’m using the Triton X100 and then combining with the glycol.

    If I continue this pre clean before using the Audio Desk, is the AD soloution in the RCM suitable to remove the glycol? Moving forwards would you recommended your alcohol soloution in the Audio Desk rather than their fluid (subject of course to my own risk :-).

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      9th February 2021 at 6:45 pm

      You’ll only be able to remove the Glycol if you use alcohol in the bath. If that’s an issue, don’t use Glycol. I’ve done the A-B tests and alcohol in the bath, Glycol, etc is the better option. As you say though, at your own risk and all that 🙂

  • Reply
    Kevin Robertson
    9th February 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Thank you.

  • Reply
    Henk ter Maten
    18th February 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Hi Paul,
    This is what you say: “ It doesn’t clean the record itself but allows your vinyl cleaning machinery and liquid to do a better job, because of preventing surface tension. It assists them”.

    You make it appear that Tergikleen is just a surfactant to make the action of water and alcohol work better.

    But Tergikleen itself indicates in their instructions how they use this agent exclusively to clean a vinyl record without distilled water and alcohol.

    This application can be found everywhere on the web.

    So I am still left with the following question:
    What is the truth, the Tergikleen solution or your solution?

    I hope you see my point.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th February 2021 at 11:19 am

      You ultimately need to decide, Henk. I’ve already stated my case based on my own tests. I’ve done my bit. Now it’s your turn. If my system works for you, that’s all that matters. Then enjoy your music. If it doesn’t, then find another system.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th February 2021 at 5:16 pm

      To address your point directly, Tergikleen should not be used ‘neat’ on vinyl, in my opinion or the opinion of the suppliers for that matter, if that’s what you’re implying. You need to dilute it with distilled water.
      And I don’t ally alcohol with Tergikleen. They are not dependant upon one another. Alcohol is part of the larger cleaning process. It doesn’t have to work with Tergikleen. I have found alcohol to improve the overall cleaning process.
      And sure, you can use any substance you want to clean records. Tergikleen on its own, washing up liquid, WD40, crude oil and sulphuric acid – whatever you fancy. I wouldn’t personally recommend it, though.
      As for “truth”? What I’m giving you is my truth. The results of my own research. As I said in my earlier reply, it’s up to you if you want to follow the system. You really don’t have to, Henk. You can use my system as a launching pad for your own system if you so wish or you can ignore it altogether. Ultimately, it’s all about choice. All I’m offering you is the result of my own extensive, multi-year research.

      • Reply
        Jack Pot
        21st February 2021 at 7:43 am

        Dear All,

        Thanks to Paul’s investigations, my Audiodesk RCM now delivers stellar sonic performance. I follow almost all his suggestions, incl. the use of diluted Tergikleen applied directly to the vinyl surface. I do not use glycol. There are many much cheaper ultrasonic RCMs on the market than the Audiodesk which probably yield similar results but might not offer the ultimate convenience. When properly used, as per Paul’s recommendations, ultrasonic RCMs DO DELIVER. They are a game-changer.

        It is therefore with much bitterness that I want to share with the vinyl community my experience with Ortofon, the Danish world-leader in cartridge manufacture. I just sent Ortofon the attached letter.

        The Demise of a God
        Neither Wagner nor Shakespeare. But still Danish.

        Two years ago, my official Ortofon dealer convinced me to buy an Ortofon MC Century cartridge. There was no chance to audition the cartridge, but my dealer assured me it would be a major upgrade from my Ortofon MC Anna cartridge. I have been an Ortofon fan all my life, slowly moving up the food chain of Ortofon cartridges. The investment and risk were considerable, but the MC Century would be the culmination of my lifelong loyalty to the brand. Empathy played a considerable role in the decision.

        The upgrade was disappointing. The Century improved on the Anna in the lower registers but at the cost of an incisiveness reminiscent of digital playback. Detail at the cost of musicality. Over the course of the next 2 years, my dealer reset the cartridge/ arm combination a number of times, because I kept complaining that it did not deliver on its promise. To no avail.

        Finally, after more than 300 hrs play-back (closer to 500 hrs by my estimation), the Century revealed its true character. At long last, the Century delivered on its promise: thunderous but always musically accurate bass, life-like mids, soaring highs and an expansive and wholly coherent sound stage.

        A few months later, early January 2021, and quite suddenly, it died. The cartridge would no longer track. My dealer rushed it to Ortofon. They had long exchanges. I highlight the most notorious ones (my highlights).

        Feb 12th, 2021,
        The cartridge has a lot of dust that has almost cemented to the cartridge and you can also see that the cartridge has a bit of rust on the bottom.

        Best regards / Med venlig hilsen
        Anders Bentley
        Sales Department

        Feb 17th, 2021,

        The diagnostics made by our operator sounds like our recommendations for stylus and record care have not been observed, and that is how it had happened. The physical condition of the cartridge doesn’t align with the story customer has told, whilst we only rely on facts.
        To avoid it would happen again, I’d recommend refer to our HiFi FAQ, p.1 Stylus and record care here https://www.ortofon.com/support/support-hifi/faq-installation/, very shortly:
        1. Remove dust carefully from record surfaces by using Ortofon antistatic Record brush before every use.
        2. Use Ortofon Stylus fiber brush a few times along the cantilever in the direction of the stylus tip, whenever you play a new record or change sides.
        Ortofon do not recommend the use of solvents of any kind for cleaning of either record surface or stylus
        Best regards/Med venlig hilsen
        Katarina H. Nielsen
        Technical support Web Marketing

        Unbelievably, these are the very words of Ortofon.

        It is obvious from Bentley’s remarks that there was a serious quality control issue at Ortofon when my cartridge (nr 16) was assembled.

        Rust? Rust!
        Cemented dust? Cemented!

        I live uphill in a cork dry climate (Greece). I religiously clean all my records in a Glass Audiodesk RCM before their first spin, always use a microfiber brush to remove dust from any record before playing, and apply a Furutech DeStat-3 before lowering the diamond into the groove. Besides, during almost 50 years of playing vinyl almost exclusively with Ortofon cartridges, I NEVER had ANY issue, let alone with either rust of cement.

        Obviously, the rusted(!) part was rusted “ab initio”. And probably contaminated during manufacture with some cutting or hydraulic oil. Which in turn contaminated the cantilever and attracted/ attached the dust, which turned to “cement”. Or some variation of the above. Ortofon itself identified and recognized the problem! It sent a microscope picture illustrating the issue. But then Ortofon went Hamlet-crazy.

        According to Ortofon, the condition of the cartridge does not align with the “story” (?!) customer has told. Obviously, the customer and the Ortofon-dealer connived to deliberately rust and cement the cartridge. My official Ortofon-dealer and myself are liars.

        These are the “facts” and here is the “proof”: the customer uses a Glass Audiodesk RCM (which uses water as a solvent, but then thoroughly dries the record). By the way, the use of any “solvent”-based record cleaner invalidates the warranty! And this, unashamedly, by the world’s leading manufacturer of cartridges!

        Ortofon dismisses the self-evident explanation – its own glaring shortcoming – to go on a rant against its most loyal customers. Ortofon devises a crime involving customer and dealer. It throws credibility out of the window.

        A crime needs:
        1. a victim: the cartridge
        2. a motive: why would 2 Ortofon loyalists make up a story? One is its official dealer for 30 years, the other a loyal customer for 50 years, both with an impeccable track-record
        3. a weapon: how did the suspects manage to “rust” a cartridge? And in such short time! To cement dust to the cantilever? If the use of an ultrasonic vinyl-cleaner or other “solvent” vinyl cleaner rusts cartridges or cements dust, the WHOLE vinyl-community, incl manufacturers of all feather, should put Ortofon in its place: stop the b*s*!
        4. a causality: absent motive and weapon, there is no causality.

        If we apply the above fact-based reasoning to Ortofon, only one conclusion imposes itself: guilty!

        The God has fallen off his pedestal.

        What would I like to achieve with this letter?
        1. an apology: Ortofon has no idea how hurtful its baseless allegations are; it seems to have lost track of its mission, which is to provide musical enjoyment to its customers and revenue to its dealers. Instead, it is content to insult them.
        2. a redress: Ortofon repairs or replaces the MC Century at its own cost and provides a 5-year warranty, independently of the customer’s use of a vinyl-cleaner.
        3. a warning: it is impossible for a customer to check in-depth a piece of brand new HiFi when he buys it; if defects are present, they might appear with time; a customer must then rely on the reputation of the vendor for a reasonable outcome; in fact, in such cases, HiFi enthusiasts rely solely on the manufacturer’s reputation. Ortofon failed the test ignominiously. I can only hope that the vinyl-community, led by its most trustworthy opinion-makers, puts the company in its place. Otherwise, any Ortofon customer will fall prey to the company’s predatory practices. Any problem with an Ortofon Blue? Your fault: only use blue vinyl. Ortofon Ti? You “rusted” it. Ortofon Wood? You “rotted” it.

        The rot is elsewhere. In Denmark.

  • Reply
    Ezra
    28th February 2021 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Paul – here’s an update on my cleaning process based on your guide which may be of interest to your readers. I use the 2nd Generation Disco-Antistat (white tub with the record clamp with the handle on the spindle) and I have a second tub/brush (w/o other kit accessories) for clean rinse tub. I’ve been following your exact process above with WONDERFUL results on records that I’ve purchased new and used from roughly 1977 through the day before yesterday.

    Here are two things that I’ve added that make my process easier:

    1. I hacksawed the turning handle (which I found useless and flimsy for actually spinning the lp – easier to spin with the edge of the record) on the record clamp to shorten it so that its within the circumference of the record clamp. By shortening the length of that handle, the record clamp fits PERFECTLY in the opening of a standard US plastic pint or quart container of take-away Chinese soup with the lip of the container safely resting in the dead-wax. This allows me to rest the lp/clamp on the soup container on my workbench to apply the tergikleen/glycol solution then flip and repeat for side two. The now stubby arm, when the record clamp/lp is placed in my disco-antistat, serves as a reference (like a clock hand) for me to easily count my rotations. (Version 1 disco-antistat clamps won’t have this handy feature but the clamp should fit as neatly inside the Chinese soup container for applying solution.)

    2. I added an inexpensive ($149US) vacuum-based KAB EV-1 RCM to my process. Attached to my home vacuum, it quickly suctions off rinse solution from my LPs so that I can get back right away to doing 2nd,3rd,4th,etc, repeats of the process without having to wait around for the air to dry my vinyl. Not a necessary piece of kit, but for doing volume record cleaning with multiple passes of your process in less time – this has been a game changer for me.

    While my wife was initially suspect of what she thought was my meth-lab in the basement, she too now hears the differences in fidelity and our new late-stage pandemic post-dinner routine includes many wonderful hours in front of the hi-fi! Life is good with clean records!!

  • Reply
    Henk
    1st March 2021 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Ezra,”By shortening the length of that handle, the record clamp fits PERFECTLY in the opening of a standard US plastic pint or quart container of take-away Chinese soup with the lip of the container safely resting in the dead-wax. This allows me to rest the lp/clamp on the soup container on my workbench to apply the tergikleen/glycol solution then flip and repeat for side two. The now stubby arm, when the record clamp/lp is placed in my disco-antistat, serves as a reference (like a clock hand) for me to easily count my rotations. (Version 1 disco-antistat clamps won’t have this handy feature but the clamp should fit as neatly inside the Chinese soup container for applying solution.)”

    That sounds good. Can you explain it more maybe with an image?
    Thanks, Henk

  • Reply
    Saverio
    7th March 2021 at 5:04 pm

    After 5 different washing sessions and approximately 50 records cleaned, I thought it could be useful to share my experience so far.

    First of, thank you very much Paul: I am new to “the vinyl side of the moon” in our hobby but I read so many articles about vinyl cleaning and they all seemed weird to me. Everyone claiming “their recipe is the perfect one”, but no hint on…why is that?
    On the contrary, beyond the personal esteem, you convinced me because of the explanation: the background checks, the “journey” you’ve been through…a nice mix of science, theoretical research and practical experience. Not just an opinion, but facts.
    …well, no, you did not convince me to go for the 6 cleaning cycles, that’s way too much for me.

    Second: for anyone with no previous experience like me and wondering if this is worth it… I will not use all the nuances in Paul’s descriptions so I’ll state it as simple and clear as possible: if you ever experienced the sound improvement you get from the newer stylus after removing your worn out one or the improvement after getting the right impedance/capacitance match in your pre-phono when you install a new cartridge…well that’s the level of improvement you‘ll get by properly washing your old records!
    It’s as simple (and immediate) as that.

    Now, my (little) experience so far, for whomever may find it useful.

    1) Don’t throw that ugly mug away!
    I received a porcellane “Christmas milk cup” from someone who ran short of ideas last Christmas and doesn’t know I don’t drink hot milk nor pour biscuits in it…well, that mug is heavy and stable and the size perfectly fits the outside part of the Knosti clamp, so I now use it as a stand for my records, clamps on tight, while going through the surfactant/glicol routine.
    Much better than my early attempts keeping the record in one hand!
    2) Save money from the measuring pipe.
    At the end of the day you will never need the whole set, and here in Italy they are pricey…the measuring cup of any medical syrup for your kids’ cough would do the job just fine, you just need to refill it multiple times depending on the target bottle size for the water/alcohol mix.
    3) Beware the kabuki!
    Although I went for a “professional” brush from a local make-up shop, the first one I used was easily losing its hair, which may eventually damage the record. You may want to try multiple (not cheap) ones.
    4) Experiment with less relevant records in your collection and be gentle with the brush.
    I was mislead by Paul’s words about attrition and his description about keeping the “brush-end stiff” and to “push the mix in the grooves” and I probably pushed too hard. The outcome was I ruined a few records (in old records some tracks would skip where they did not use to, in new records I would hear noise and distortion where the sound was pristine before).
    That was a tough moment and I thought to give up…but I eventually kept on and just realized that given it could have not been due to the knosti itself (they would have not been in business for decades otherwise!) it had to be me.
    I managed to just distribute the surfactant on the record surface and leave the “friction” part of the job to the Knosti: it then worked brilliantly.
    Please note, this is a key aspect, given this part of the process is still needed even with higher tech approaches to cleaning, as Paul just stated in his Degritte video…
    5) How much time do you want to invest?
    I trusted Paul’s words about multiple washing cycles being better than just one, but this whole process is so time consuming (although very rewarding, as I said earlier) that there must be a trade-off.
    I eventually decided to “stop in the middle” after three complete cycles, then a rinse without surfactant/glicol and an additional rinse in a separate bath: at the end of the day the first bath is the one where surfactants and glicol get diluited from previous cycles so better go for a “pure” water/alcohol rinse for the last one.
    This is where I got the level of improvement I described earlier.
    For three full cycles and two rinses I still need 3 hours to complete a Knosti rack of records (7 records).

    Well, these were my two cents.
    I hope they can be useful to someone.
    Regards

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      10th March 2021 at 9:24 am

      Thanks for the comments, Saverio.
      For the benefit of anyone else reading this, I strongly doubt that the Kabuki brush is causing skipping. Unless the bristles are tipped with metal or something completely weird. Kabukis are incredibly soft, stiffening the bristles only helps to push the liquid into the grooves. The bristles remain soft as a baby’s what not.
      I’m glad that you’ve adapted the system I presented and found a cleaning regime that fits you and your vinyl. Nice one.

  • Reply
    Phil
    10th March 2021 at 9:44 am

    Paul, two thoughts :
    – Do you let the surfactant sit on the record for any amount of time before going to the knots bath ? I mean for one side beyond the time int takes to prep side 2 ?
    – Have you ever made a null test on before / after cleaning in order to make sure hthe different surfactant / cycles etc do actually make a difference (recording 2 needle drops, one before cleaning, one after, and subtracting the signal of he second from the first. If the result is blank : the cleaning doesn’t make a difference) ? I know for my part that I am as much prone to psychoacoustics as the next guy, and thus try to be as pragmatic as possible in my methods.
    So even though I have no doubt you among other people have a much better ear or equipment as I do, I would love to see actual data regarding the improvement of this process…

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      10th March 2021 at 10:14 am

      Hi Phil
      1: No, that’s what the Kabuki brush is for, in effect. To get the surfactant into the groove. Then you’re ready to go.
      2 Yes, I drove myself half crazy with A-B, A-C, B-C, etc, etc, etc! comparisons. The complex variables are sometimes mind numbing 🙂 I spent days doing them. I still have the scars.
      3: This is not the first set up I’ve done (2) with either. I’ve done this grinding test routine with numerous liquids, machines (manual, vacuum-based, ultrasonics), accessories, liquids, surfactants, etc. I tend to over test to make sure because I want to sleep at night feeling confidant in what I’ve published.

      • Reply
        phil
        10th March 2021 at 10:43 am

        Paul, I feel your pain… 🙂
        Maybe it would be a good idea to publish these null tests ? For my part I still have a hard time believing different surfactant will carry different results. I don’t doubt that cleaned / not cleaned will, but beyond that leaves me lost for words…

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          10th March 2021 at 11:08 am

          Thanks Phil 🙂 The moment I publish my tests in full is the time I lose half my readership through boredom. I actually do publish the tests, the results form part of the review or feature or Buyer’s Guide.
          As for different sound results? I think some surfactants leave something on the vinyl surface. Triton does, I reckon. A stylus is a dumb tool – it plays what it sees. If you filled vinyl grooves with a fish stew, for example, then the stylus would play that and you would hear what a fish stew sounded like according to a stylus.
          On a more serious note, if there’s residue in the groove from surfactant then it will play that or if the surfactant hasn’t done its job and there’s still grime in the groove then the stylus will play that. The stylus is very sensitive and a great sonic translator. Everything it touches affects the sound.

  • Reply
    Calin Lucaci
    10th March 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Hello Paul.
    I can’t find Propylene Glycol, instead I can buy Glycerol by 100ml bottle from a pharmacy. What you think?
    On this list has superior compatibility than Propylene Glycol for vinyl. I know that vinyl recipes are diverse but I guess it could be good. http://www.gentekwindows.ca/Links/Chemical_Compatibility.htm

  • Reply
    Wayne V
    11th March 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Just wondering why your final rinse for manual cleaning and the Degritter includes alcohol, rather than straight distilled water. Thank you.
    Wayne

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      12th March 2021 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Wayne – because you need to remove any final residue of both surfactant and Glycol. Water won’t be enough.

      • Reply
        Wayne V
        12th March 2021 at 4:51 pm

        Hmm. So no need to rinse off the alcohol?

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          12th March 2021 at 5:36 pm

          It evaporates during the drying period but if you have access to a vacuum-based RCM, then that will be more efficient because any stray grime will be sucked up. But hey, this is a budget option after all.

  • Reply
    Ant
    25th March 2021 at 11:03 am

    Hi Paul,
    I tried this method, with Triton X-100 as surfacant, completing only two ‘cycles’ due to time constraints and now have static present when removing the vinyl from the platter. Previously the vinyl was free from static due to the cleaning solution previously used?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th March 2021 at 11:06 am

      Static can come from a variety of places but cleaning your vinyl will also create it, yes. I would recommend anti-static practices anyway, no matter what system you use and whether you clean your vinyl or not. A Zerostat will reduce static (https://theaudiophileman.com/zerostat/) It won’t remove it entirely, you’ll need a more expensive DeStst II for that but the Zerostat remains invaluable as a basic anti-static tool.
      Also, please see my surfactant feature for a new safety note on Triton: https://theaudiophileman.com/surfactant-clean-vinyl-buyers-guide/
      Scroll down to the Triton section.

  • Reply
    Artie
    3rd April 2021 at 9:50 am

    Hi Paul,
    How did you arrive at 7% alcohol with distilled water? I’ve seen some ‘recipies’ stating 10% and even as high as 20% alcohol.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      5th April 2021 at 9:42 am

      Hi Artie – after my own research and following up on a series of interviews, I found that alcohol can soften vinyl in high concentrations which can result in groove distortion. This is despite the fact that the make-up of a vinyl disc is a lot of more complex than you might think. In purely sonic terms (again after tests) I found that just 1% of alcohol is enough to do the job with higher concentrations offering no sonic benefit. For more, see here: https://theaudiophileman.com/vinyl-vs-alcohol-cleaning-vinyl-new-research/.
      The only reason I use 7% is to melt the Glycol during my vinyl cleaning procedure.

  • Reply
    Wayne
    19th April 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Hello Paul,
    Is there an ETA for Part 2? Eagerly awaiting. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th April 2021 at 11:44 am

      Hi Wayne – when the greater powers of this universe give me 48 hours in a day instead of the paltry 24 that is currently the agreed standard (I for one urge arbitration with the Time Unions on this matter because its not good enough, it really isn’t).

  • Reply
    Jonas Karlsson
    21st April 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Hi guys – regarding the TERGIKLEEN-product…

    I didn’t order mine from the exact same seller as advertised here, but from here: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TergiKleen-Tergitol-based-Fluid-Concentrate-INVINCIBLE-TERGIKLEEN/265104413485

    Arrived today and the container has only a Xerox-copied sticker on the bottle… doesn’t feel good. Should I be worried? Did they run out of the original Tergikleen-stickers??

    How can I make sure it’s the real deal? Ideas or tips??

    • Reply
      Jonas Karlsson
      22nd April 2021 at 6:26 pm

      OK, now it’s reported FAKE – so DON’T buy from this seller!

      Seems like he’s making his own blend with Tergitol – but has no idea he can’t just call it TERGIKLEEN, which is a registered trademark…

      My bad – but I got my money back (+ 2 nasty messages)…

  • Reply
    Ezra
    25th April 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Been running your system described above (using two Disco-antistat baths) for roughly 100 Lps and have been very happy w the method. I am also using a vacuum based RCM after the baths for quicker drys and further (theoretical) debris removal.

    Can you think of a good reason why I wouldn’t just want to put the 10drops Tergikleen/liter distilled solution directly into my first Disco antistat bath for a number of turns and then drain and move to the distilled/alcohol rinse bath? Obviously I’d burn through more of the surfactant solution this way as it gets muddied up with record gunk in the bath but this seems to me to be a time saver plus the advantage of better surfactant contact during the abrasion spin versus manually applying tergikleen/glycol to both sides. Thoughts about that? Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      27th April 2021 at 9:45 am

      Hi Ezra – because Tergikleen is super concentrated and 10 drops into the relatively small Disco bath would not provide enough dilution. The easiest way is to make a 2 litre bottle of diluted Tergikleen using an old spring water bottle. Then decant part of that bottle into the Disco’s bath. When that becomes clogged, empty the bath, give it a quick clean and decant more from your 2 litre bottle. In that way, you’re maintaining a consistent dilution level and not risking clogging your grooves with gooey, under-dilted Tergikleen.

  • Reply
    Saverio
    27th April 2021 at 9:58 am

    Hi Ezra, I’m interested in better understanding your proposal (and thanks Paul for clarifying).
    – would the first bath only contain tergikleen and distilled water? No alcohol?
    – would you completely omit the use of glycol?
    Thanks, Saverio

  • Reply
    Ezra
    27th April 2021 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Saverio,

    Yes I was thinking of having a bath of the 10 drops of tergikleen in 1 liter of water solution in my first bath for several turns, and then switching the record/clamp to the next bath of distilled and alcohol solution. My thinking is perhaps having the surfactant in constant contact with the record during the spinning through the brushes might a) be easier/more time efficient than the dropper/kabuki brush and b) might provide extra cleaning. This would take the glycol out of the process. I would consider adding a third bath of distilled/alcohol for extra rinse since there will be more tergikleen being transferred into the first rinse wash. There’s obviously many ways to skin this cat and Paul’s process as described already works great so I’m just musing here on ways to make my own process more efficient for me. And of course, I may be overthinking the whole thing, but I have been so pleased about bringing back to life somewhat abused records that I have owned for over 40 years to a whole new level of fidelity and listening enjoyment.

  • Reply
    Chris M
    17th May 2021 at 10:43 am

    Hello Paul
    A very informative and comprehensive article (for free!) which has led to great success in cleaning lp’s for me thank you. For the Kabuki brush it works fine but I found the brush would simply spread as I pushed down on the lp. So I added a small rubber band (from the brocollini no less!) and wrapped it around the middle of the brush to help keep the bristles taut. Keep on keeping on.
    chris

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      18th May 2021 at 11:19 am

      Thanks Chris! When I use the brush initially, it’s to spread the liquid over the vinyl surface so the spreading thing isn’t an issue. Later on, when I want to force the surfactant into the grooves, I move my fingers down the bristles to shorten and harden them which prevents that spreading [as I mentioned in the article] but if the rubber band works for you then, of course, all the better.

  • Reply
    Miguel
    21st June 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I have been using your cleaning method and loving the results. After a series of initial tests I determined that your recommended 6 cycles were well worth the time and effort put it. All has gone without a hitch until this past weekend, when I accidentally grabbed the glycol dropper instead of the diluted surfactant (they are labeled…somehow switched them and did not even bother to look…). As soon as I started brushing the glycol in I could tell something was not right, it has a much heavier consistency than the diluted surfactant. Once I realized my mistake, I ran the record through the alcohol/distilled water bath, after which I emptied the bath, cleaned the Antistat, refilled with alcohol/distilled water mix and ran the record through the typical 6 cycles including the surfactant step. Should I be cautious of playing this record so as to not damage the stylus? Not sure if there would be any residue left in the grooves that could be picked up by it. Do you think the glycol I applied will have been diluted/melted away by the regular cleaning process? Will the direct application of glycol damage the record ?
    Best regards,
    Miguel

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      22nd June 2021 at 6:35 pm

      Whoops! You should be fine Miguel – the alcohol will melt it all away.

  • Reply
    Miguel Gonzalez
    22nd June 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks Paul! Please ignore my second message today, when I refreshed the page it looked like my inquiry had disappeared.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd June 2021 at 9:19 am

      You just need to wait for me to clear your messages, Miguel – I scan them before they go ‘live’, as it where. Sometimes I’m busy so it might take a little while until I can address your query. Thanks.

      • Reply
        Nigel Gilbey
        15th July 2021 at 1:31 am

        Hi Paul
        I have just bought a degritter and I am going to try your cleaning methods I’ve read through this forum which is very interesting but I have a couple of points to ask you that have been brought up but not answered with the clarity I’m after so here it goes.
        I was considering what surfactant to purchase the Triton x100 is off the list now so was choosing between Ilfotol and Tergikleen I’ve
        Been informed the fake one is called Tergiking now which I saw and is very informative and detailed also cheaper but if it is the fake I don’t want to risk it.
        I’ve been informed this by the Tergikleen seller blues possum very helpful with very quick replies
        I also questioned him about his instructions if used with a Degritter.
        His recommends Tergikleen is mixed in Bath with only Distilled water no isopropyl and applied direct to record is not the way to use it also rinse must be done with pump spray with only Distilled water.
        I Replied to him about rinse in degritter in separate bath with only Distilled water in it basically purchasing a second bath to change over with. He also said no to this because the Tergikleen would still wash into water and then that clean water would have Particles of Tergikleen hence not rinsing properly.
        I read a answer to previous question that you rinse with Alcohol to remove the Glycol I’m assuming that I will not be using it.
        I know your reviews are carried out only on your hard work and time and your very trained ears but this guy says he invented this mix so I was interested in your thoughts its more about the rinsing I maybe tend to agree because if are rinsing records in water you just washed records in can you rinse in same water?
        Also have you ever had conversations with guy you must be drumming up alot of business for him.
        Just got into your videos and site great reviews.
        Thanks

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          19th July 2021 at 3:46 pm

          Many thanks. Never met or chatted with the Tergikleen chap, I’m afraid. Neither am I interested in playing a sort of advice tennis with him either 🙂 My own views and reasons for the same can be gleaned in my reports posted on this site.
          All I can do is to offer you my reports. The results based on my own research.
          Going into my research, I was fully aware that everyone has their own ‘system’ and that everyone is right and everyone else is wrong. I just wanted to offer my take on the subject because I thought I had something different to offer vinyl fans.
          All I can do is to report back on – what – three years of tests (still on going, I hasten to add), off and on, over hardware, liquids, techniques and so on. That doesn’t mean, because of all that, you should follow my recommendations, though. You need to weigh up the facts and ask questions (as you’re doing now, of course – a good thing) and come to your own conclusions and then base your cleaning technique on that. You need to be happy and confidant when you clean your vinyl.
          With my reviews, features and advice, I can only take you so far down the path. Ultimately, the choice has to be yours. I’m always here if you need to chat, though.

  • Reply
    Nigel Gilbey
    15th July 2021 at 10:13 am

    Hi
    Left a question yesterday
    Seems to of disappeared before I do it again
    Wanted to confirm you had it.
    Cheers
    Nigel

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      17th July 2021 at 11:42 am

      Hi Nigel – away for a few days. I’ll have a closer look when I get back to my desk. Have a nice weekend.

  • Reply
    Patrick a Bower
    19th July 2021 at 9:01 pm

    Paul,
    You are, of course, absolutely right. There is a significant further improvement from using the Kabuki brush to force tergikleen and glycol into the grooves, compared to just using Tergikleen in the Degritter tank. There are no short cuts! I had not noticed that you also recommend alcohol with distilled water for the final rinse. Why the alcohol at this final stage?
    Thanks, Patrick

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th July 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Patrick – glad to hear it’s working for you and glad to be of help. For that final rinse, I found there were still remnants of glycol on the record surface so the alcohol helped to melt those away.

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