Cleaning new vinyl?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Positively Vinyl, Feb 20, 2019.

  1. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    It's good practice to clean new records since most pressing plants are generally quite dirty with respect to dust and dirt, especially if it comes with a paper/cardboard inner sleeve. Personally, I wet clean them with my Nitty Gritty RCM and store them in either high density polyethylene or MoFi inner sleeves. From there on out, I use my anti-static brush every time before I play my records.
    monte4 likes this.
  2. sound chaser

    sound chaser Forum Resident

    North East UK.
    No choice sometimes. I recently bought a sealed Kinks RSD vinyl, on opening there was a band of powdery grit on the edge of each disc. I thought there was no way I would trying to ‘dry’ clean it off with a brush and without some kind of liquid to lift it off, the Okki Nokki did it’s job!

    As for new inners, I’m having a rethink, I have disk-keeper sleeves but I’m wary that they actually create static.
    Soundslave likes this.
  3. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Try plastic lined paper sleeves. More rigid so there is no rubbing if you separate the each flap when inserting.
  4. sound chaser

    sound chaser Forum Resident

    North East UK.
    Could you recommend any particular brands? Thanks.
  5. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Not really, but I dont think the brand matters much, just like there are QRP, MFSL and Diskkeeper which are different brands but pretty much the same product.
    Just get the cheapest you can find in decent quality. I get mine from the local store, cost less than half of what an MFSL sleeve costs and they are better. No brainer.
    sound chaser likes this.
  6. Jim0830

    Jim0830 Forum Resident

    I clean all new records. I have a Vinyl Cleaner Pro ultrasonic cleaner and every record that goes on my TT gets cleaned before it is played for the first time. I would rather have anything in the record grooves end up in the UCM and not on my stylus. The UCM has the benefit of leaving the LP nice and static free as well as cleaned. I used to have an Okki Nokki and I concur with the others who noted the dirty fluid drained from the unit.

    I have a ritual I do when I buy records. I have a cleaning /cataloguing / sleeving session. I will often do 12-18 records at a time. This allows me to clean new purchases and whittle down the backlog of 30 year old records I unboxed. I scan or enter the records into Discogs on my iPhone, clean them in the UCM and then put them in a MoFi inner sleeve and an outer sleeve. One of the nice things about the UCM is you can multitask. Once you get the cleaning process started, it is hands free-no further attention required. It compresses the time required for this whole process. When the cleaned LPs make it to my TT, they are typically static and dust free. If I see a little dust or hear static (rare) on a cleaned LP when I take it out, I hit them with my carbon fiber brush. My Tru-Sweep brush takes care of anything that may make it onto the record while the side is playing.

    I record in a custom field in Discogs the cleaning status. There is a popup saying "No", "Yes-Okki" (Okki-Nokki) and "Yes-VCP" (Vinyl Cleaner Pro UCM). There were a few new records I have that predated my purchase of the Okki-Nokki and hadn't been cleaned yet in any fashion. I put them on without looking at their cleaning status in Discogs. I often noticed the LP was aa little noisier or had more clicks and pops than I am used to. A quick check in Discogs showed they were a new album that hadn't been cleaned yet. I took them off and cleaned them and there was ALWAYS an improvement, sometimes slight and sometimes significant. Now I routinely double check the cleaned status in Discogs before playing the side.

    I am not a person who makes more work for himself than is necessary. Some people love the process of cleaning LP's both on and off the TT and feel it is an enjoyable part of the ritual. I am not in that camp, I would be happy to just put the record on and play it. But to hear the full potential of my LP's, cleaning is a necessary evil. As I stated at the start: what ever crud was in the grooves when I got the record is better off in my UCM where it belongs, than on my stylus. The improvement in sound quality is tangible.
  7. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    I clean lp's because I have the machine and may as well use it. I use a sharpie and date the outer sleeve. Simple as it gets. I make my own RO water and have a TDS tester. If there's residue on the lp after it cleaned I can't see it.
  8. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Fonthill, Ontario
    I only clean them if they’re dirty :cheers:
  9. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    I clean them with my Audio Technica 6012 pad, and straight alcohol. I clean them before each play. They sound outstanding.
  10. evo777

    evo777 Forum Resident

    Lets clear one or two things up,a dry vinyl record "cleaning" brush DOESN`T actually "CLEAN" a vinyl record what they all do in this circumstance is move/get rid of some of the surface dust,that`s why when you`ve then wet & dty vacuum cleaned & poured the dirty water into a`ll see the dirt-in-the-water!

    I`ve used & tried several different forms of cleaning vinyl records from;washing in the kitchen,one of the manual spin clean things(the disco antistat whatever it`s called),wet microfiber cloths bla bla......for the money in my experience the best BY FAR has being the.. "Project VC-S mk2 Record Cleaner",this is one of the best things Ive bought to date for vinyl records cost was £345 for me a bargain. Weather it`s old,new,used my own,used friends records,even a recent garage find of quite a few LP`s that many had mould "embedded" in them as they were stored outside,the Project along with it`s own cleaning fluid has cleaned these records up to look all most new...barring any hairline scratches. With most(if not all)vacuum wet & dry record cleaning machines it`s the cleaning fluid that does MOST of the actual cleaning,the brushes are really used to spread the cleaning mixture over the records & get it into the grooves,it`s best to leave the mixture/fluid on the surface for a short time then vacuum up with the wand.

    So long story short if you want to do the best by your records seriously think about a wet & dry vacuum cleaner one more thing,dirt & static on vinyl are very closely related in my experience & any form sort of rubbing action on vinyl does create static,so overzealous cleaning of really dirty records(especially dry)will create more static. Even with my Project VC-S I only vacuum for one or two revolutions of the platter then lift the arm wand off to help with static build up,& you can of course play records INSTANTLY with a wet & dry vac cleaner if they`re not clean enough it`s lees bother to quickly put them back on the cleaner too.

    Cheers -evo777
  11. eflatminor

    eflatminor Forum Resident

    I use different inner sleeves depending on the record. For example, if I'm keeping the original paper inner, I'll use what are called Japanese inner sleeves. They're plastic, rounded on the bottom, and very thin, so they fit nicely in an old paper sleeve.

    If I'm replacing the original inner sleeve (usually because it's not the original), I use a square paper inner sleeves lined with plastic.

    If I've cleaned a MoFi, DCC or other audiophile pressing, which tend to have good quality inner sleeves, I'll either replace it with a new one or if the record was clean to begin with (usually the case), I'll just blow out any dust/particles from the original sleeve using my Giotto blaster. Does a fine job.

    I get my inner sleeves from Elusive Disk.
    GyroSE likes this.
  12. Ctiger2

    Ctiger2 Forum Resident

    If you buy enough new LPs you'll learn that you should always wetwash them prior to playing. Even just a topical discwasher system is fine.
  13. caracallac

    caracallac Forum Resident

    In theory brand new records shouldn’t need cleaning, in practice they often do. I’m not dogmatic about it, if a new LP needs cleaning I put it through my Clearaudio Smart Matrix otherwise I just play them and enjoy. Used LP’s always get a proper 3 stage deep cleaning before they even get into the listening room.
  14. AH55

    AH55 Forum Resident

    Honestly, I think that cleaning new records manually makes minimal difference. I have a modest turntable setup so, at this point, I don't really think that investing in an expensive record cleaning machine is worth the money. I've spent tons of time cleaning records with all kinds of solutions and brushes and have always been very meticulous with everything...but even with such care, I honestly don't think that these efforts ever amounted to much difference for new records. In fact, I did some tests and can without a doubt tell all of you that manual cleaning (even when done correctly) can actually add some pops/clicks/ticks to a record (not all the time, but the potential is always there despite best efforts). In terms of the actual music, I don't think my system and turntable are "high end" enough to actually hear a clear difference. There was a time when I thought that the Mofi solution I used (the Mofi One Solution) did enhance the sonics...and, maybe it does???...but! playing new vinyl as is still sounds amazing. And I actually enjoy the music more now without worrying if a pop or click was my doing or not. When I listen to a new record and it plays with only a few ticks (very quiet), I am more than happy.

    The fact is: No single vinyl record is 100% perfect. Ever. There will always been visual imperfections or audio imperfections or both. If I purchase a new record and it doesn't meet my standards, I send it back. Simple as that. Now, I realize that when it comes to high-end record vacuum cleaning machines, in conjunction with high-end systems, it's a different story. But, as far as I can tell, manually cleaning always leads to disappointment and, sometimes, stress. Even with the most careful planning and care, a manual system is not 100% consistent. So, with that in mind, how can you ever be truly sure that your treatment of a record has actually helped.

    For me, when I receive a new record I carefully remove from the inner sleeve (especially if it is paper...hate those things!) and I give it a dry clean with the Mofi brush (an excellent brush; however, you need to apply it very, very lightly as it does cause some static if used too heavily). I realize that this is not really a "cleaning" but it allows for me to remove most of the surface debris to get a real sense of the product's quality. Again, if I play a new record after the dusting and it is unlistenable, then back it goes... Even with expensive vacuum machines, there is no way to correct a bad pressing. A poor pressing will always be a poor pressing.

    I much prefer listening to records and enjoying the amazing sound quality than spending my life cleaning these things. Eventually, you have to be happy with what you have.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
    Morbius and IR66 like this.
  15. IR66

    IR66 Well-Known Member

    I agree with you totally man, it's not worth the time and effort. Most of the time I'm happy with how they sound right out of the jacket.
    Morbius likes this.
  16. AH55

    AH55 Forum Resident

    I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I am wondering one thing...

    Is there anybody who is able to state for certain that playing a new record (after a light dusting with a carbon fibre brush) is in fact bad for the record and stylus? I'm starting to think that manual record cleaning (new records) is a giant waste of time because (a) the sonics do not really improve that much, and (b) I have noticed that despite taking extra care with the cleaning process, cleaning new records actually seems to add noise. Fluids, even when rinsed, often leave behind a residue or faint sound throughout the playing of an album. I'm getting to the point where I just think it might be best to leave new records as they are and simply return/exchange them if they are bad. I clean my stylus regularly after each play with my Audio Technica stylus cleaner (similar to the Onzow) so I know that is always really clean. I recently just acquired the Bob Dylan Mono boxset (brand new) and I am reluctant to put these records through any cleaning regiment for fear of doing more damage than good. However, I also don't want to ruin the records by playing them without cleaning. I know there are many opinions out there, but has anybody ever been able to prove that playing new records without wet cleaning them causes records and/or styli to be destroyed? Having played new records without cleaning them, I can attest to the fact that they do sound pretty amazing.

    Fender Relic likes this.
  17. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Sounds like you are adding static to your records.
    I had this issue to with my RCM when first starting out.

    You probably do have too high expectations.
    If a new record looks and plays perfect I dont clean it either. If the record isnt dirty theres no issue.
  18. DiggyGun

    DiggyGun Member

    Try Nagaoka Anti-Static Record Sleeves
    sound chaser likes this.
  19. Bradd

    Bradd Forum Resident

    Chester, NJ
  20. Gaslight

    Gaslight ⎧⚍⎫⚑

    Northeast USA
    Yeah, I do that
  21. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    This is why I avoid surfactants/detergents.

    I started by using the various formulas publshed here and elsewhere, containing water, alcohol, and various detergents. The records were cleaner but the sonics weren't great.

    Then I switched to just water and alcohol. That didn't clean as well but left no residue and improved records that had been cleaned with detergents.

    Finally I switched to uncut alcohol. I understand some don't want to do this because of a study indicating plasticizer removal, but the most often cited study concerned softer vinyl, like a shower curtain. They also got some important aspects wrong. For example, I believe they misinterpreted the results of the immersion test. They thought it demonstrated plasticizer leaching, but they likely witnessed the hygroscopic nature of alcohol (just as the vinyl submerged in water absorbed some water and gained weight, vinyl submerged in alcohol is going to give up moisture to the alcohol, alcohol LOVES water). I have other nits, but point being, it isn't a great study.

    So I consulted my giant brain and remembered the cans of denatured alcohol sitting in the QC department of a pressing plant photo I saw in my youth, and started using uncut alcohol.

    So I can take my Audio Technica pad and put a healthy amount of alcohol on it, wipe down a brand new album, and it plays better than new.

    And I can take albums that were previously cleaned with soapy fluids and over time get rid of enough detergent that clarity improves.

    I tell people that my method more resembles stripping, rather than cleaning. The vinyl is clean, I'm trying to strip all the crap people put on top of it over the years.
  22. pacvr

    pacvr Forum Resident

    The report -"A model approach for finding cleaning solutions for plasticized poly(vinyl chloride) surfaces of collections object" that you can download here: (PDF) A model approach for finding cleaning solutions for plasticized poly(vinyl chloride) surfaces of collections objects shows without exception that the alcohols tested (ethanol, 1-propanol (same as IPA) and heptane) extracted plasticizer from plasticizer PVC (2mm thick) by the following:

    Immersion testing: It showed that the PVC samples in the alcohols continued to loose weight throughout 24 hrs exposure; while immersion in water had an initial small weight gain after 2-min, but then remained mostly stable for 24 hours. This result is consistent with what was stated in the report -
    "Unlike the PVC polymer, plasticizers have a pronounced hydrophobic character and are rather soluble in organic solvents.".

    Attenuated Total Reflection Fourier Transform Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy: The report shows that the alcohols contained plasticizer and other extractable components. If what was being removed was water, the FTIR would have clearly shown that since water (H2O) has wide OH-peak.

    HOWEVER: What does this have to do with record that is a copolymer of PVC/PVA is debatable. Record formulations such as this RCA patent do not indicated a lot of use of plasticizer - "One percent of epoxidized soybean oil (the plasticizer) provides a lower melt viscosity of the mixture, which reduces the internal friction of the mixture when it is pressed into a record and thereby improves the moldability by filling the groove with less compression force. Also, the epoxidized soybean oil has a stabilizing
    function in that it combines with the organotin salt to further limit the generation of hydrogen chloride gas. One percent has been determined as the optimum amount to be absorbed completely into the resin particles. More than 1 percent over-saturates the resin thereby producing oily splotches on the surface of the record, and the splotches result in noise on playback."

    HOWEVER: Record formulations are now absolute trade=secrets - and who knows exactly what they are using; but some kind of variation of the above RCA formulation is likely.

    TAKE-AWAY: Whenever wet cleaning a record minimize exposure and apply a process that minimizes any remaining residue. If using surfactants - post rinse is required to prevent residue - in the cleaning industry its called non-volatile residue (NVR); and if using aqueous (i.e. surfactants) use the lowest concentration that will do the job (the details are complex; the proprietary formulas are who knows what). If you are using a plastic brush with alcohol, the brush may be the greatest source of contamination/residue. The plastic/rubber handle of the brush may deteriorate in contact with the alcohol and if the pad is replaceable using an adhesive - the alcohol will extract it over time.

    SAFETY: Of the various alcohols, from a respiratory/skin contact toxicological perspective IPA is the safest (just do not drink it) and easiest to obtain. You cannot easily buy uncut ethanol and denatured can be a wild card - 95% ethanol/5% methanol is not bad, but 50% ethanol/50% methanol can be dangerous - read this MSDS - Otherwise, everyone knows that alcohols are flammable - there is a flashpoint - any ignition source (a spark) at the flashpoint temp, and the fluid will ignite and burn. But a lot of people forget that alcohol is also explosive with explosion limits of ~2.3% to 13% at 77F - just add a spark. Simple use of alcohol to swipe a record with just a few mL is very unlikely to setup conditions for an explosive mixture to occur - but use in an ultrasonic tanks with gallons is just not smart.
  23. AH55

    AH55 Forum Resident

    Appreciate all of the feedback and opinions. Very helpful.

    Still interested to know if there is in fact any real proof that playing new vinyl without wet cleaning it and only using a carbon fibre brush will in fact damage the vinyl and/or stylus. I know that there are a lot of theories, and many do make sense, but does anybody have any real proof that this is the case. Keep in mind that I do not play the same record over and over again and that, generally speaking, I only really listen to vinyl on Friday evenings (and usually only 1 or 2 albums at a time). So it's not as if my stylus is getting used daily. There really aren't too many records that I have that I play over and over again throughout a year...But is there in fact damage being done even from the first play of an un-wet-cleaned/vacuumed record?

    Thanks so much for your time!
  24. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    No theres no proof that I know of. There are papers on how a dirty record wears the stylus faster but its unclear what "dirty" meant in that context, probably not just small dust particles.
    I dont like Brushes though, heres why: Record Cleaning Brush Scratching
  25. AH55

    AH55 Forum Resident

    Yes! And, quite frankly, I believe that part of the issues I have been having is the fact that brushes to leave behind scratches that result in some audible defects. Do you find that this is the case with the Okki Nokki system?

    Thanks also for the response to my initial question. I completely understand how running a stylus through a used record that has not been cleaned will wear it down; however, the word "dirty" does not really apply to new records in my mind (there are a few new records that are actually legitimately dirty...but I find that these are rare and more often than not from poor pressing plants).

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