So someone asked on one of the Soul-Source forums recently if skimming records was a good thing to do. This is the practice of taking a very thin layer of vinyl off a record in an attempt to reduce surface noise by removing scratches. It does do this but it can also introduce more noise because it reduces the depth of the grooves.
A couple of people (including me) shared our methods of cleaning records as an alternative to making them thinner! One way was to purchase a machine for £2K, mine is a bit cheaper. I’m going to demonstrate by using a sound clip from a record I cleaned recently
I bought a copy of “Gerri Taylor – Empty Arms And Bitter Tears – Constellation 154” off ebay and when it turned up it looked disgusting. I checked the listing and the seller had graded it VG which was fair enough, but it had some rough looking scratches and was covered in some sort of grimy film
So here is what I do:
- Put a small amount of washing up liquid in fairly warm (but not hot) water.
- Immerse the vinyl (not the label) and watch the sh*te float off.
- Hold record in water and slowly turn. (Mind that label!)
- Wet a record cleaning cloth (a proper one!) in the soapy water and wipe the record in a circular motion to get the soapy water into the grooves.
- Immerse the vinyl (not the label!) in clean warm water and slowly turn to get most of the soapy water off.
- Rinse the soapy cloth in clean warm water and wipe the recod again.
- Dry with a different (dry) record cleaning cloth.
- Repeat if necessary
The immersion takes any gritty muck off and loosens the grime, getting the soapy water into the grooves helps get the grime out and wiping with a wet cloth gets the water into the grooves clearing the soap. Drying with a record cleaning cloth gets the last of the grime and the water off.
Cleaning obviously doesn’t remove scratches but it does seem to remove a lot of the static and noise. If the scratches are not deep they generally can’t be heard over the music anyway.
To hear a sound file of the cleaned record click here, I don’t have a before because I wouldn’t risk my stylus on the record before cleaning it.
As always, you do this at your own risk. Don’t boil your records!
Record Cleaning Products on eBay: