'Why are my vinyl record still sounding dirty after cleaning?'
Occasionally after cleaning new pops or crackles may appear or the stylus could clog with what looks like a white paste. The cause of the pops is a white like material which is mainly (90-99%) rehydrated skin that has not been removed from the playing surface during the cleaning process. It’s the dirt that is lodged deep within the grooves that has been dislodged by the cleaner but not removed from the record playing surface. The vinyl surface perfectly fine and unaffected, it will just need a deeper, more thorough clean. The stylus can be easily unclogged using our Stylus Clear which is provided in most of our kits.
You may not have experienced (or heard) this before because other cleaning fluids don’t work as effectively to remove deep-seated material. The cleaning fluid needs dispersion characteristics that reduce its surface tension in order to penetrate the deeper reaches of the groove and remove the electric charge between it and the vinyl and soften it sufficiently for removal. Vinyl Clear fluid does which is why it’s so effective at and labelled 'Deep Track Cleansing". That’s one of the reasons why Abbey Road Studios use it.
Obviously, the deeper seated the dust the more likely it is to be harder to remove as it will have more surface area in contact with the surface of the vinyl groove. On occasion this deep seated dust will be rehydrated by the fluid and dislodged but not removed by the microfibre cloth. In effect it has changed it's position within the vinyl groove, effectively placing it on a point of contact of the stylus. Most people don't realise that the stylus (depending on it's profile, the vinyl pressing and the turntable used) only makes contact with a small percentage of the vinyl groove. That's why some dust can sit in a vinyl groove and not be noticed during play and why changing the stylus (or the sylus profile) can reveal previously unheard pops or clicks. It's also why different styli sound different on the same vinyl.
This is also why the next play could result in above average amounts of dust sticking to the stylus, which then can be removed with the stylus cleaner. Also try cleaning the vinyl again, but be more aggressive with the microfibre cloth, neither it or the Vinyl Clear fluid can damage the vinyl record!
Vinyl Clear tends to remove between 90-95% of debris during a cleaning cycle. Every time a record is cleaned more debris (and the harder to remove debris) is removed from the vinyl record grooves. Not surprisingly, no cleaning process is 100% efficient (even the best £3,000 ultrasound cleaner is rated at 98%) and Vinyl Clear is no different.
Finally, the more the vinyl is played the more it will be free of dust. Often one or two clean and play cycles will remove even the most stubborn dust. If the pops and crackles are still there after that then and you don't think it's because of past structural damage to the groove then time to consider either a spin, vacuum or ultrasound cleaner.
"On the internet there are warnings against using alcohol to clean records and even distilled water. Does your product contain either?"
Alcohol has been used as a drying agent in many vinyl record cleaning formulas for over 50 years and there is no reliable evidence that records are damaged by it. The majority of the scientific evidence supports this view.
The IPA debate is quite complex as there are many different types of alcohol such as Isopropyl, methanol, ethanol that are used a part of vinyl cleaning products and many different formula and concentrations. It’s a topic that’s debated at length in the forums.
Vinyl Clear does contain a small percentage of isopropanol alcohol as a drying agent. It also contains pure type 1 deionised, not distilled water. Distilled water is often not as pure as the deionised water that we manufacture using our own state of the art equipment. We have supplied many thousands of kits, worldwide for over 10 years and have never had any feedback that the product is anything other than a great cleaner.
Lenco Turntables, QVC, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the Guardian offer Vinylclear to their readers, having compared it to other the products in the marketplace. The home of vinyl, Abbey Road Studios sell record cleaning kits made by us, so we don't think it is a coincidence that most of the internet noise on the subject of using isopropanol is created by suppliers of vinyl cleaning products that do not contain it.
"Should I wet or dry clean my vinyl records?"
Using a dry brush is ideal for ‘pre use’ cleaning as it’s quick and easy but it won’t remove deep down dust in the way that a wet clean does. That said, every time you wet clean a vinyl record it is possible that your stylus will become dirty. This is especially true of audiophile high-compliance rigs as the stylus sits deeper in the record groove. This is why high-quality record cleaning kits include a bottle of stylus cleaner. You should find that the problem reduces after each cleaning cycle. Depending on how dirty the record was, the volume of dust collecting on the stylus should reduce by 50-75% after each playing. Not only will you see the difference the cleaning has made to the record you will also notice a marked difference in the audio quality, with less clicks and pops.
So the best way to restore your vinyl records to that ‘as new’ condition is to wet clean them and then play them. Repeat this cycle and you will notice the difference in audio quality. You may be lucky first time, but if not you just have to patient knowing each cycle the record is getting cleaner and cleaner and your stylus less and less dirty.