In order for your records to sound the best they possibly can, they should be cleaned regularly. There are many ways to clean vinyl records. One of them is hand cleaning using a cleaning solution and microfiber cloths, but this method can quickly become time-consuming if you need to batch clean multiple records in one sitting.
Vacuum record cleaning machines are convenient and effective but are also extremely expensive for many record collectors. They can cost well over $1000.
The Spin-Clean® is a classic system, made in the USA since 1975, for those seeking a fairly easy and effective record cleaning solution that won’t break the bank.
After a little research, and with a limited budget, I decided to purchased the Spin-Clean® Record Washer MKII Deluxe Kit vinyl record cleaning system from Amazon for $124.99.
The device itself is relatively simple. The main unit is essentially a cleaning basin that houses two cleaning brushes. Each time you prep the unit, the bath can wet-clean up to 50 records.
Inside the box, you will find the patented vinyl record washer basin and lid. Two (2) bottles of specially formulated alcohol-free, MK3 vinyl record cleaning fluid (4oz. + extra 32oz.). Two (2) pairs of premium MKII removable, cleanable, record-cleaning brushes. One (1) pair of durable MKII rollers which can be used to accommodate LPs, 45s, and 78 RPMs. Seven (7) super soft, lint-free drying cloths that won’t scratch your records, and an owners manual.
You also need distilled water, which is not included. You can get it at any grocery store. I got mine for $1.08/gallon.
How to use the Spin-Clean® Record Washer MKII Deluxe Kit
First off, it’s very important to pre-wash the included drying cloths and allow them to dry before you start a cleaning session. According to the manufacturer, this helps to make the cloths fluffy and more absorbent.
Secondly, it pays to spend a little time preparing your work space to ensure a smooth, stress-free cleaning session. Allow yourself as much space as you can, and most definitely place a towel under the basin before you begin. (I learned this the hard way after spilling cleaning fluid onto my counter top).
Assembling the Unit
- Remove the lid from the Spin-Clean® basin, and place the cleaning pads into the dedicated slots in the middle of the unit.
- Insert the rollers into one of the three set positions depending on the size of record you want to clean. The outer position is perfect for standard 12-inch LP’s, while the additional inner slots will hold 10-inch records and 7-inch singles respectively.
- Fill the basin with distilled water up to the indicator line. The manufacturer states that you can use tap water if distilled water is not available. However, I would strongly advise against the use of tap water, especially if you live in a “hard water” area like I do. Distilled water is preferred as tap water can contain limescale and other impurities that we’d like to avoid.
- Pour the Spin-Clean washer fluid over the top of the brushes. The correct amount of fluid depends on which type is supplied. The manufacturer gives clear instructions depending on the size of the bottle and the fluid version supplied. My unit included the new MK3 fluid in a 4 oz bottle, which requires just one capful over of fluid over the brushes.
The Cleaning Process
Insert your record between the brushes until the edges sit on the center of the rollers. Rotate the record clockwise three times, then rotate the record counter-clockwise three times. Go gently as you spin the record, and only apply your hands to the record’s edge.
Remove the record and use the pre-washed drying cloth in a circular motion with the grooves. I wiped each side of the record at least three times in a clockwise motion. It dries fairly quickly. I then placed the vinyl back into its sleeve.
As I stated earlier, the manufacturer states that one mixed solution can wet-clean up to 50 records. Since this was my first time, I only cleaned five records. The good news is that you can save the mixed solution in the basin with the lid on for up to one week, but you must remove the brushes and follow instructions for cleaning them.
I was able to easily and effectively clean five records that I’ve had in my collection for decades. The results were impressive – there was a noticeable reduction in pops and clicks on all five, in particular my original 1971 pressing of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. It sounds brand spanking new! Additionally, there is no discernible sign of residue that may cause problems further down the line. Very dirty records may benefit from a second pass through the Spin-Clean® for the best results.
There is really nothing not to like about the Spin-Clean®. It’s easy to set up/cleanup, effective, affordable – and arguably essential – for any record collector looking to get the best possible experience from their vinyl collection.
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