How To Clean Records

How To Clean Records

Ashley Poskin
Nov 11, 2014
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

Most of us know how to store our records (vertically) and that they need to be kept in a cool, dry environment, but did you know you should always clean new records before playing them? Here's how to do that safely:

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

For maximum sound quality, you should be cleaning your records with a carbon fibre brush before and after each play. I scored my discwasher at an estate sale, but they are readily available online and really reasonable.

What You Need


  • Carbon fibre brush (a microfiber lens cleaning cloth works as well)
  • Lint free cloth
  • Distilled water (warm)
  • Soap —I used pure castile liquid baby soap but this ingredient is optional


  1. Remove dust and any other pesky particles by gently moving the carbon fibre brush along the record in the direction of the grooves.
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)
  1. Warm up your distilled water. You want your water warm to the touch, but not so hot that it's uncomfortable to work with. We all know that heat isn't good for your records, but don't worry, the small amount you'll be using on your lint-free cloth won't harm your groovy grooves. The warm water will help to remove dirt from older records, and helps the soap (if you so choose to use it) dissolve.
  2. Dip your lint-free cloth in the cleaning solution and wring it out really well before introducing it to the record (you don't want to leave behind any traces of water on the surface of the record).
  3. Work in concentric circles around the record (following the general direction of the needle), starting on the inside slowly working your way to the outside rim. Repeat this action, reversing the direction by starting on the outside and working in towards the middle. Be careful of the label, don't get it wet!
  4. If you used soap, repeat step 4 using just distilled warm water to rinse away any residue that might have been left behind. Some suggest using alcohol, but there is a chance it can ruin 78s, so I don't even mess with it.

If you have an intense record collection (and the money!), you can invest in a record cleaning machine. This is the absolute highest standard of cleaning you can achieve for your records. If you are looking for something a bit more reasonable (or a gift for your favorite audiophile), you can purchase more basic record washer systems that range from $80-$150.

More great tips and tutorials: Cleaning Basics

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