Red Pill Cleaning Process
The Short Version Is, We Use A Three Step Process. Soak With Surfactant, Deep Clean With Low-Concentrate Isopropyl Alcohol, Then Rinse With Demineralised Water.
For You Anoraks Out There, Please Find A More In Depth (Boring As Fuck) Explanation Of The Process & Why It Works For Us, Below.
For Anyone Else, Those New To Collecting Or Those Who Found Themselves Here By Mistake, Don't Let All This Put You Off. There's No Definitive 'Best Practice' For Cleaning Records, And It's Not Something You Actually Have To Do. Not At All.
We Clean Ours As We Prepare Them For Sale Because It's Good For Business. We Put The Work In Because We Love Restoring Dusty, Long Boxed And Basemented Records To People's Living Rooms & Turntables.
Best Practice For Vinyl Is The Same As It Is for Life In General: Always Enjoy It In The Way That Works For You.
That Said, Here's An Outline Of Our Process.
Step 1: Surfactant
Disclaimer: Better, More Scientific Explanations Are Available.
We Use Surfactant Or Surface-Active-Agent Mixed With Demineralised Water. There Are Many Everyday Uses For Surfactants, Everything From Building & Construction To Dishwasher Rinse Aid.
It's Easiest To Imagine Surfactant (However Inaccurate) As Having Sperm Shaped Molecules. The Hydrophilic Heads Of Which Love Water / Hate Oil, And The Hydrophobic Tails Love Oil / Hate Water.
A Number Of Things Happen When A Surfactant Is Added To Water, Most Of Which You Can Research or Yourself If You Have A Mind. The Important thing For The Purposes Of Record Cleaning Is, When The Surfactant Is Mixed In The Correct Concentration, It Collects On The Surface Of The Water And Reduces the Surface Tension. This Allows The Water To Penetrate Deeper Into The Grooves Than It Ordinarilly Would. The Oil Loving Sperm tails Clean Out The Dirt, Dust & Oil, With The Heads Acting As A Chemical Bridge To The Water.
Then We Let All that Science Soak In For A Bit.
Step 2: Isopropyl Solution
Disclaimer: Alcohol Isn't Always A Solution
Next, We Clean With An Isopropyl Alcohol / Demineralised Water Mix. All Step 2 Does Is Remove More Dust & Dirt That's Been Loosened By The Surfactant.
We Use An Under 5% Isopropyl Mixture. A Higher Ratio Of Alcohol Would Risk Damaging The Records, It Can Be Pretty Tough On Plastic.
We've Tried A Few Different Detergents & Vinyl-Specific Cleaning Solutions In This Step, There Are Hundreds On The Market. We Find The Alcohol Does As Good A Job As Any, Never Leaves Any Residue, And It's Less Expesive.
Step 3: Rinse
Final Rinse With Demineralised Water, Which - As The More Astute, Scientifically Minded Among You May Have Noticed - Is The Real hero Here. It's Important To Leave No Trace Of Any Surfactant Or Alcohol / Detergent On The Records. We Don't Use Tap Water When We Clean Our Records, It Leaves Mineral Residue (Same As It Does On Your Taps & Countertops At Home) Which Is Bad News For Vinyl & Stylus, Both.