photo of black turntable

How to Clean Vinyl Records, DIY

You have a large number of badly-maintained vinyl records. They’re scratched, dirty, and just generally a mess. You could buy a record cleaner from the store, but it’s so expensive! You have to think about cost-per-use, and with how often you’d use something like this…it’d be far cheaper to just get a new record player. But what if there was a way to clean them yourself? Save yourself some cash, and not replace your treasured records.

If you own a record player, you’ve probably had some problems cleaning your old records. Maybe some would skip, some would have a weird song that cut off on its own, or worst of all, not plays at all. This article will help you fix those problems and enjoy the rest of your song without any interruptions.

In the late 1990s, vinyl records were at a turning point. They were stuck  CD and tape. CDs were still cheap, but MP3s sounded better. Cassettes, with their easy portability and low cost, were making a comeback. Vinyl records seemed doomed.

But, vinyl records have an unexpected advantage: they’re easy to repair. You can recondition them, either by replacing parts or cleaning them. You can use them for music or record your own music. You can make them look new.

The technique of cleaning a vinyl record is deceptively simple. But cleaning a record is a task that can range from easy (just wiping off the dust) to time-intensive (reconditioning a record that was almost ruined by a lousy cleaning job).

Cleaning a record is not entirely foolproof. A record can warp badly, making it unplayable bad. A record can deteriorate from improper playing techniques. A record can crack. But that’s not a significant risk. The considerable risk is that, at a certain point, you can’t tell the record from a cheap copy.

[The Vinyl Cleaning] instructions are:

  1. Pour a little dishwashing liquid onto a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Rub the records gently all over with the dishwashing liquid.
  3. Rinse them off carefully with clean water and dry them with a clean towel.
  4. Put the records back into the sleeves and leave them to dry.

Your vinyl records will be as clean as when new, but you must always keep in mind that the surface of a vinyl record is fragile, and it can chip or scratch very easily.

Never rub the record back and forth sharply or apply pressure. This will damage the surface of the vinyl, and the image on the record will be blurred and distorted.

Avoid  spraying cleaning solutions directly onto the record. This will act as a magnifying glass, and the concentrated light can damage the surface of the vinyl.

Never use any cleaning fluid which contains solvents such as turpentine or acetone. These can dry the record and dry out the stylus.


Be careful when working with vinyl records. Don’t leave them lying on their sides. This can cause irreparable damage.

Never leave your records in the sun. This is particularly dangerous with limited editions. Don’t leave your records in a damp place.



When finished, take extra care to protect your records by storing them vertically. This will avoid scratching the labels and records.