Keeping a Clean Record

By Tina Edwards

During the first lockdown and its equally-lacklustre sequels, some of us have had the luxury of reconnecting with our record collections. Spinning a forgotten record can be gorgeously nostalgia-inducing. Sometimes however, it can remind us to take better care of our beloved investments. 

Firstly, know that a few pops can simply be caused by static, especially after removing a record from its sleeve. From as little as a fiver, you can buy an anti-static cleaning brush. It’s a simple yet effective way of removing dust and debris; skim the brush across your record whilst it plays, or give it a wipe with a microfiber cloth, to remove oils. You’d do well to keep a stylus brush handy, too, to keep your needle in top condition. It’s recommended that you renew your stylus after 1000 hours of use but in the meantime, the small brush will keep its performance optimum. Remember a cleaning mat, too; upkeeping your record whilst it sits on your turntable will only risk the chance of recontaminating it as the dust settles again. If the idea of cleaning your records by hand feels arduous, there is another way. 

A manual record cleaner will suit enthusiasts who enjoy an element of ceremony and don’t mind storing a larger item. Varying in price from approximately £50 and upwards, internal brushes give the record an intense clean after a gentle bath in cleaning fluid. You might have seen them in audiophile bars like Spiritland in London - sometimes accompanied by a perplexed looking DJ. 

These bits of kit will provide everything you need for regular upkeep and gentle restoration - but what if your shabbier records require a bit more intervention? Perhaps they’re scratched, scuffed, or warped? Advice on these kinds of repairs are normally given with an exclamation of “You didn’t hear it from me” - because amending these kinds of ailments aren’t an exact science. For example, if your record is scratched, you could wash it with water to remove debris, then you could use some wet 1500 grit sandpaper and little liquid soap for lubricant. On a hard, flat surface, you could lightly sand the scratches, using strokes that follow the lines of the grooves. You didn’t hear it from me. 

Once you’ve cleaned your records, you’d do them justice by giving each of them a thick inner sleeve; older records were typically packed into flimsier paper, providing less support from bumps. And please, for the love of music lovers everywhere, make sure your records are stacked horizontally, and out of sunlight. 

If you take away one thing, it’s this; the cleaner your grooves, the cleaner your sound. You did hear that from me.

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