With the great hobby of record collecting comes with it the pains of keeping your prized vinyl in pristine condition. Not only will this improve your listening experience it will also help to prolong the lifespan of your records. Unfortunately this is often an area of much confusion for vinyl enthusiasts, which can lead to many frustrating dusty listening sessions. Whether you are a manual disc-washer (see our guide here) or you are one of the privileged with a record cleaning machine (see VPI RCM) then you will ultimately need to know the best fluid to rinse the dirt off your precious collection without cause harm or creating residue build-up.
If you are like me and don’t want to pay $45 for a mystery jug of water, then I recommend this recipe for DIY Record Cleaning Solution that can be made for a fraction of the cost:
80% Distilled Water
20% Isopropyl Alcohol
1 Drop Dawn Soap (or other Wetting Agent)
1 Pint of the alcohol (Found at a drug store will cost you less than $2). Go with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (which is listed as 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and 9% purified water) – DO NOT USE RUBBING ALCOHOL.
1 Gallon of Distilled Water at most grocery or drug stores will also run you a few bucks
1 Bottle of Dawn anti bacteria liquid dish soap
1 Bottle Of Kodak Photoflo (a wetting agent)
For best results I use an 80% Distilled Water – to – 20% Alcohol. There are some mixed opinions on the new regarding alcohol content. The VPI mix which comes with the VPI machine is made up of 25% Isopropyl but you will see some recipes online as high as a 50-50 split. I find that a 20% Isopropyl mix works just fine. For the Dawn dish washing soap or Photoflo you would add a few drops then mix it all up.
Why Dawn or Photoflo? Both act as “wetting agents”, meaning that they allow the liquid to get deeper into the grooves of the record. It’s not the soap is not what cleans your record – it’s the alcohol. However the soap allows the alcohol and water to penetrate into the grooves where it would otherwise just bubble on the surface. The alcohol and water will break apart the debris with the help of your brush, then the soap/photo-flo will help lift it to the surface. Of course this will be finished with a final rinse or the vacuum on your Record Cleaning Machine (RCM).