If you love collecting vinyl, then having grubby grooves just won't do. After all, what's the point in spending a fortune on a Beatles LP, only for it to sound like Paul McCartney's singing with his head flushed down the toilet. The best vinyl record cleaners can free you of such problems, working to return your precious albums and singles to almost shop-fresh condition.
In this guide, we've picked our favourite vinyl-cleaning products to help you make a buying choice that suits your needs and budget. Here, you'll find everything from crap-busting cloths to gadgets that'll work with your vacuum cleaner to literally suck your records clean. Intrigued? Then step this way to see our list of recommendations.
Best vinyl record cleaners: The Louder Choice
If you're serious about vinyl, you'll be no stranger to spending big on your hobby. Expensive first pressings, top-quality turntable... you'll no doubt have the lot. So, you probably won't mind shelling out on the Pro-Ject VC-E, a snazzy, suction-based contraption that looks a bit like a record player but cleans your discs rather than playing them. Place your vinyl on the platter and within two rotations, it'll be shinier than a horse's hair. A word of warning, though, this thing looks so cool, it might get more attention than your turntable itself.
The word fudge conjures up images of kids dropping their sticky crumbs all over your car seats, so, why would you want something called the Big Fudge Record Care System? Well, because Big Fudge is just the name of the company and it manufactures a whole range of premium vinyl supplies, shipping them all over the world. This particular kit comprises two high-quality brushes (one for your records and another for your stylus) and some cleaning fluid, meaning you'll easily be able to rid your discs of debris – even fudge crumbs.
Best vinyl record cleaners: Product guide
Seeing as it specialises in high-end turntables, you'd expect Pro-Ject Audio to care about vinyl maintenance. And, as you would expect, the UK firm has really pushed the boat out with its VC-E compact record-cleaning machine – a device that's more expensive (and a damn sight more stylish) than a lot of actual record players.
Built from sturdy aluminium, the Pro-Ject VC-E is an electronic gadget that rotates records at 30rpm while powerfully sucking any gunk from within the grooves (cleaning fluid is recommended). Out of the box, it only works with 12-inch records, but an adaptor for 45s is due to be released in the near future.
Oh, and you needn't worry about the Pro-Ject VC-E running up your electricity bill, as it only takes one or two spins to get the job done.
Launched back in 2016 by two record enthusiasts, Big Fudge now ships its premium vinyl supplies – including cleaning kits, sleeves and storage racks – to audiophiles worldwide. Their Record Care System is an all-in-one solution that includes an anti-static velvet cleaning brush, a smaller stylus brush, a 50ml bottle of alcohol-free cleaning fluid and a handy bag for keeping everything together.
It's all very easy to use, and the results the package delivers are great – just ask the 13,000 consumers on Amazon who've combined to give Big Fudge's little cleaning kit a rating of 4.7 out of five.
The Boundless Audio Record Cleaning Kit catches the eye with its classy packaging, but its appeal is much more than skin-deep. Inside the box, you get two brushes – one for your vinyl and another for your stylus – both of which are made from premium carbon-fibre bristles that help to remove even the most stubborn dirt. The brushes are electrically conductive, too, meaning they'll be able to eliminate static in a matter of moments.
Fitted with ergonomic, easy-grip handles, these brushes can be wielded with precision, ensuring you won't leave your equipment looking battered and bruised. And neither will there be any spillages, since this kit is dry-clean only.
It may look like a massive lump of snot, but the green stuff in this tub is actually very adept at cleaning vinyl. Made by Kentucky's Crosley Radio (which also manufactures turntables, by the way), Groove Goo is essentially a blob of slime that you gently roll over your records to safely remove dust and debris. Despite it having the consistency of a blancmange, it somehow manages to do all of this without leaving any residue.
What's more, Groove Goo gives off a fresh scent that serves to eliminate stale odours – ideal if you're trying to renovate those musty old 78s that your grandpa's had stashed away in his attic.
Planning to vacuum the living room and stairs? Well, why not give your records the once-over while you're at it. Yes, the Vinyl Vac 33 attaches to the hose of your wet/dry vacuum cleaner (1.25” or 1.5” size), meaning you can suck up that groove grit while dancing around like Freddie Mercury in Queen's I Want To Break Free video.
Simply place your vinyl on an unplugged turntable, hook the Vinyl Vac 33 up to your vacuum and then set it to work on that dastardly debris (the device is fitted with velvet padding to protect your discs). Finish off with a rinse, and – voila! – your records will look as clean and shiny as your laminate floor.
Emitting very high-frequency waves that are undetectable by the human ear, ultrasound devices are used for a variety of purposes, from scanning pregnancies to training dogs. You can even get ones that clean vinyl records. This one uses a combination of ultrasonic vibration, water and solvent to scrub up 12-inch and seven-inch discs, getting the job done in anywhere between 90 seconds to 10 minutes.
Able to clean up to four records at once, this machine is a great option for people who have a big collection they want to clean. And records aren't all it can do – throw anything from jewellery to dentures into its stainless steel basket, and they'll come out looking the bee's knees.
This spin-wash system doesn't require power or installation – just add water and some of the provided cleaning fluid, rotate your discs manually and brushes contained inside the gadget will get to work on that ingrained grit and grime. Simple it may be, but this little device does a mighty fine job of getting records back into tip-top condition.
The Knox Vinyl Record Cleaner Spin Kit is capable of cleaning seven, 10 and 12-inch records, and handily comes with a drying rack, meaning there's no need to leave your freshly rinsed records lying around on the kitchen table.
The kits and contraptions that we've featured on this list will do a great job of deep-cleaning your vinyl, but if your records are just a little dusty, then something simpler might be called for – something like the Fasmov Vinyl Record Cleaning Brush. Looking a lot like one of those brushes that barbers use to lather on the shaving foam, this little device combines a solid-wood handle with a mane of soft hair to give you a cleaning solution that's as stout as it is simple.
It's probably fair to say that this brush won't remove more stubborn detritus, but if you want something that'll sweep away those lighter particles, then this handheld gadget has got your back.
Best vinyl record cleaners: Buying advice
There are a few things to bear in mind when shopping for a vinyl record cleaner. First up, how mucky are your records? If they're just sprinkled with a bit of dust, maybe a dandruff flake or two, then a cloth or soft brush will be adequate. However, if your disc is properly dirty, with grime clogging up your grooves like lorries in the Channel Tunnel, then you'll either need a brush with stiff bristles, or a machine/gadget that'll provide a much deeper clean.
It's also possible to buy slime-like products such as the Crosley Groove Goo, which can be rolled around your record, picking up bits of debris as it goes – and without leaving a sticky mess behind.
If the product you're looking at requires you to use a cleaning fluid, then check if it's packaged with some. Cleaning fluid isn't especially expensive to buy separately, but if you're on a tight budget then it'll help if you get some thrown in as part of the price.
Note, that using any old cleaning fluid isn't advised, so put that bottle of toilet bleach away right now. Speaking of cleaning fluid, if you're not careful you could easily spill some on the label in the middle of your record. To avoid such misery, you might want to buy a label protector – they're cheap as chips and easy to put on/take off. Some products, including the Boundless Audio Record Cleaning Kit featured in this guide, come with one included.
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