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Buddha's picture
Last seen: 6 years 2 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Home brew record cleaning rituals/techniques?


I used to say, "Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows."

Now, it's the mother of home brewed record cleaning.

Any of y'all invent your own fluids?

I been trying to the last few days and have come up with Buddha's Fluids V1.0.

Thusfar, I have arrived at:

10 Oz distilled water.

6 Oz. 91% Isopropyl alcohol.

3 drops Cascade Crystal Clear (sheeting agent.)

1 big drop (thick drop?) Sun Light "Oxi Action" dishwasher liquid.

"Micro Fiber" towels and round cleaning pads from Auto Zone.

Total outlay, under 20 dineros.

Took a finger printed, smudged, mildew stuck to LP, dirty copy of Rusty Warren's "Knockers Up" and took it from "Eww, Cooties" to "Crikies! That's clean!"

First, rinse with water from that thing in the sink that is supposed to make your water healthier.

Then add the solution above to a round microfiber pad and clean in circular moton.

After that, the record has some fluid on it, but then, add distilled water, et voila! The water sheets off and clean dry record in no time at all!

Then, I played it.

I never type these three letters, ever, never before, but O.M.G. !!!!

Looks great sounds great.

I'm thinking 100 bucks a quart great.

Rusty deserves it.

dbowker's picture
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: Home brew record cleaning rituals/techniques?

That's great Buddha- but you sure you want that dish washing fluid in there? That's the only thing that I'd worry about I guess- seems a potential for build up or something. On the other hand it's obviously working since they record sounded OMG. Heh. Anyway- glad to hear it.

Jan Vigne
Jan Vigne's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2006 - 12:57pm
Re: Home brew record cleaning rituals/techniques?

I agree the dishwashing detergent is overkill if not a plain killer. Most dishwashing detergents are far too harsh and have the ability to strip the color and metallic plating from objects. I don't think this is what you want on your vinyl.

The 10:6 ratio of water to alcohol is once again overkill. There really is no need for any alcohol being put in the cleaning solution IMO. I reserve alcohol for only the filthiest of discs with grime that refuses to be lifted by a water/surfactant solution - which would be a very few in my experience. On the rare occasion I use alcohol of any type I prefer Everclear rather than the less pure isopropyl type. A $20 fifth of Everclear has lasted for a few years since it is seldom deployed in my cleaning regimen.

The use of distilled water is fine IMO since anything with higher purity raises the cost to benefits ratio beyond what I can hear through my system.

Therefore, my solution is a cup of distilled water from the grocery ($0.79) mixed with one-two drops of All "Clear" laundry detergent which acts as a surfactant. The detergent/surfactant breaks the water tension just as a drop of detergent in a cup of water allows a needle to drop rather than float. You can use a more expensive surfactant if you like (PhotoFlow[?] is typically suggested) but anything beyond a simple phosphate, coloring agent, perfume free laundry detergent will raise the cost to benefits ration by a significant margin. However, you only need a drop or two of surfactant per cup of water to get the desired effect of the surfactant so you can view this just as I do the use of Everclear vs isopropyl, a bit of expense up front will be spread out over hundreds of discs.

The surfactant allows the water to flow smoothly and competely but adds little to nothing to the actual task of cleaning the disc. By getting the water spread smoothly - without sheets of water in one spot and dry spots without any water in another - and allowing the surfactant to ease the water into the depths and nooks and crannies of the groove the water does the actual cleaning along with any "scrubbing" that might be required for the very most stubborn crud. Usually the microfiber cloth you use to do the spreading of the solution over the surface of the disc is all you need as far as scrubbing is concerned. Any more than a few drops of the surfactant results in a soapy mess that has the potential to leave a residue.

As with all detergents/shampoos/soaps the suds are not necessary for cleaning and typically are there only for the benefit of the user and not the object being cleaned. You don't need them so don't waste your money on them.

The "best" vacuum type LP cleaner in the world, the Keith Monks machine, doesn't rely on any form of scrubbing. So scrubbing is kept to a minimum for me and the water does the bulk of the work along with, in my case, a vacuum cleaning machine. If you haven't invested in a machine, there are instructions on the Disc Doctor's site for a non-vacuum method of cleaning. If you have a library of vinyl, then you really need a vacuum machine to do the job well.

The Keith Monks system does use an alcohol based mixture for its solution so I have some problems with the KM methods but think they are fine for a commercial application where the machine is placed in a shop and a wide variety of discs might be encountered. On a single disc at a time schedule I just personally shun alcohol. It serves as a drying agent for the majority of cleaning solutions and with the use of vacuum machine the function of drying a disc thoroughly isn't a problem. As a drying agent alcohol has always had a bad reputation when it comes to cleaning vinyl and it certainly isn't appropriate for all the discs I have in my collection. Alcohol will damage 78's and a small few of the "audiophile discs" I have cleaned with alcohol have been left with a slight haze on the lead out grooves that I can only assume is there on the entire disc. No subsequent cleaning can remove this haze. Since I don't require the drying effect of alcohol I just typically don't use alcohol. When I do use alcohol I keep it to no more than one ounce per cup of water, so an 7:1 ratio in favor of the water.

What I feel is most important to my cleaning solution and technique is that I keep the solution at an "Oh, my aching back bathwater" temperature before I apply it to the disc surface. A cup of solution in the microwave for a few seconds is just warm enough to lift the dirt and chemical residue from most discs with no further intervention. I use a small spray bottle to get the water onto the disc surface so the amount of solution I am using at any one time remains warm while I need it.

There was a question awhile back on using a steam cleaning machine for LP's. While there should be no harm from such a device if you are very careful, I feel it is unecessary with the warm water solution as an alternative. If you have a curiousity about steam cleaning LP's, grab your steam iron or clothes steamer and give it a try on a disposbale LP before proceeding to anything of value.

Each disc I clean gets a water/surfactant cleaning, with a vacuum and then a distilled water rinse followed by a second vacuum. I use a VPI cleaning brush for stubborn grime and a microfiber towel for a typically "clean" record. I keep a very well rung out, very slightly damp microfiber towel by the table for everday cleaning of the visibly bigger chunks of crud that can be attracted to the disc by static electricity built up when a vinyl disc is removed from a sleeve and use it only when it's needed before I clamp the disc to the platter. I tossed the AudioQuest carbon fiber brush into the drawer a long time ago since I cannot get over the thought it only serves to spread dust from one disc the the next and the next and the next. There was always more noise on the disc when I used the AQ brush than when I used the very slightly damp microfiber towel.

When I launder any of the bath towels I use for cleaning pads or the microfiber towels I use for cleaning I use only a few drops of detergent in the washing machine - again all you need is a surfactant to allow the water to do the job effectively - and do a double rinse cycle, drying is done, of course, without any dryer sheets.

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