Cleaning LPs

For readers who collect Southern Gospel LPs: How do you clean them?

Do you have an (often expensive) cleaning machine? Do you use special brushes or solutions, or make your own solutions? 

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Daniel Mount has written 3193 posts.

Daniel J. Mount is the founder and editor of Southern Gospel Journal.


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35 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I would love to have a machine, but so far I have used the Discwasher system for years.

  2. I digitize my gospel albums and have never used anything other than a soft, damp cloth to clean my albums. That seems to work very well and is certainly inexpensive.

  3. Here is a system that I have not tried yet but would like to. I have used the discwasher system and am still not happy with the total cleanliness of the album. What is really cool is the great picture this guy has of a record groove under a high=powered microscope. :)
    http://www.dak.com/reviews/3306story.cfm?Ref=G&PM=Brush&type=GSrch&Srh=BrushClean&gclid=CIeYrc6xgrACFUSK4Aoda0igHg

  4. Back in the 60′s and 70′s when I managed/programmed Beautiful Music stations and we were live – before going to pre-programmed segments on reels – we played from LP’s one track at a time.

    Of course, with lots of handling they got messed up. So, we used the simplest solution: Have a clerk take them down the hall to the janitor’s closet and simply run lukewarm water on them, then dry in a circular motion with a soft paper towel. Worked wonderfully and just as well, if not better, than the “magic” machines we tried later. In spite of being handled hundreds of times, this process never caused any deterioration.

    Later, when our techs were doing mastering transfers to reels for syndication, if they had a particularly noisy track they couldn’t doctor in any other way – remember, this is before digital – they’d put a little water on the LP during the transfer.

    Thanks for reminding me about this whole routine … one more item to include in my biography that needs to be written

    • Wow! It’s interesting how well that works! I think I’ll give it a try (the first option, rinse and dry) on a couple of records that are rather less than pristine.

  5. I’ve tried dishwashing liquid and water, gently wiping with a washcloth, which has worked well so far. I remember my grandfather used to put Wood glue on it. He was a firm believer in it. But he would put wood glue on about anything.

    • Wood glue!

      I might just try dishwashing liquid and water. I think I’m going to take a couple of the least valuable LPs in my collection and try some of these home remedies on them.

  6. Regular tap water is OK for secular albums but you need holy water for gospel lps.

  7. I use canned air. it gets into the nooks and crannies and cleans it real good

    • I contemplated that, but I wondered if it would get prohibitively expensive for cleaning over 1000 LPs!

  8. You could use an air compressor if going that route. Of course like the canned air you would want to to quick bursts and you would want to blow it in your hand to get rid of the moisture first.

    • Quartet-Man,
      As a long time user of air compressors, you might want to think twice about using air compressors for that purpose.
      Air compressor tends to create moisture inside the tank in combination with the air tools that are used with the compressor.
      The maintenance of the air tool might require the use of an oil based lubricant which sometimes travel back into the tank.
      I trust offered this comment in a respectful manner!

      • Thanks. I never have done that, but have heard of people doing so for cleaning out computers (which is something else that canned air is used for). As far as moisture, I did say to blow it in your hand before the album (which should remove the moisture stored in there). :)

  9. Dishsoap works well but you have to experiment with what kinds you use. Some will leave a residue that you cant tell that you have until you play it. I tried rubbing alcohol but it does leave a residue. Whatever you use the key is to keep the label dry. Some are more durable than others.

    • Thanks for the warning! Anyone have dish soap brand recommendations?

  10. Try Blue Coral car wash mixed about 20/80 with warm water.

    • Car wash? While I hesitate to even ask, I think I’d better ask to be sure. Are you serious or are you kidding? :)

      • Very Serious

      • OK – fascinating!

      • Blue Coral makes a liquid “Car Wash” that is very soft and leaves no residue. It is perfect for cleaning old records.

      • I second the Blue Coral….

  11. If we collect secular LPs, do you want our cleaning tips, too?

    I think Norm has the right idea here. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but I store my secular recordings and my gospel recordings in the same room and tend to use the same cleaning methods for both.

    • First part – yes!

      Second part – I’m still laughing over Norm’s suggestion! :)

      • If they’re secular, I suppose you have to baptize them before you do anything else . . .

      • I think that means Norm got it backwards. It’s really the secular albums that need the holy water. Why do the albums that are already saved need it? :P

  12. It gets really confusing as to what water to use when cleaning a gospel album on a secular record label.

  13. Sometimes I like to wash my secular and gospel records with the same bucket of water and let the spirits fight it out.

  14. I use about all of these methods based on the condition of the record. I love to hit up yard sales and Goodwills, so some of the records I get are real one-of-a-kind, but they can be really dirty.

    The problem I have with just the Discwasher type of cleaning is that it can leave residue in the grooves. My solution is to use the SpinClean record washer (http://www.spincleanrecordwasher.com/). I use lint free clothes to dry them afterwords, drying in a circular pattern.

    For bad skip spots and scratches, you can use the water method that MARLIN – ENLIGHTEN suggested. Instead of staying in the groove and skipping or sticking, the water creates a little bit of a buffer and carries the needle over the bad spot without sacrificing the sound — or at least that’s how I figure it. I take a dropper and put a good amount of water right on the affected area.

    For 78 rpm records and really dirty records, I use a variation of the discwasher and combine it with the SpinClean. I use the cleaning supplies from Garage-a-Records (http://www.garage-a-records.com/proddetail.php?prod=GAR78SmartPak). They have heavy duty cleaners, but you don’t want to use them on 78′s. But non-bleach detergent and water and a brush can work well too.

    For a complete selection of products, http://www.garage-a-records.com/ is a good place to look.

    • Wow – it is great to hear some feedback from someone who has tried that many options!