remove fingerprints from vinyl records

This article will highlight one of the banes of a collector’s existence: fingerprints on the vinyl. There are a few tried and true ways to remove those pesky smudges safely from your records, and a few you should most definitely avoid. I’ll go into depth step by step regarding the correct ways, and be sure to warn you away from the negatives. As always, leave any comments and questions in the section below, and let’s get into it!

To remove fingerprints and smudges from your vinyl collection, you can try a couple DIY solutions or buy a specialized kit from one of a wide selection of stores selling said kits. One of the most popular and effective DIY methods is to scrub a mixture of dish soap and isopropyl alcohol on the fingerprints using a soft toothbrush. This should remove any evidence of the fingerprint that you would be able to hear during playback.

Method 1 – DIY

One of the crowd favorite tried and true methods is creating a DIY solution to remove fingerprints from vinyl records, effectively eliminating any playback issues. These can be made a number of ways, which each person claiming their own as the best – the main takeaway from all of these is to create a diluted soap solution.

This can be achieved with a two-part solution. The first of these should be some form of a liquid soap: Dr. Bronner’s soap, dish soap with no scent or color, etc, and the second could be water or MILD isopropyl alcohol to dilute the solution. If you’re worried about using alcohol on vinyl records, take a look at my article which focusses specifically on whether or not to use alcohol on vinyl.

The reason for mild being the potential future damage a more intense percentage could cause. Wet the vinyl down a couple of times and lightly wipe down with a bidirectional pattern using a soft toothbrush or terry cloth, and your vinyl will be as good as new!

Additionally, if it is a more surface level stain, you could simply use a microfiber cleaning cloth to remove oil, dust, and grime.

Method 2 – Store Bought Alternatives

Another way to ensure cleanliness if you don’t have the time or materials to create a DIY solution would be buying products meant for this exact problem. Utilizing a record cleaning machine is probably the most effective and hands-free, but also the most expensive. Besides this procedure, you could also invest in cheaper store-bought solutions.

I recommend using an anti-static record cleaning brush. These are useful for cleaning specifically vinyl records to ensure specialized and effective treatment. It reduces static electricity as well as digging deep into the grooves to remove the gunk.

A few more purchases could include a cleaning mat, a record cleaning brush, or a cleaning arm. These are all effective for removing fingerprints, it just depends on the method you prefer! For example, the cleaning arm and brush utilize a “clean-as-you-play” approach, while the mat is helpful with ensuring further grime build-up.

Common Mistakes People Make

Do NOT utilize pure isopropyl alcohol. This can be extremely damaging to the protective coating on the vinyl. This can cause the music to become low quality and harsh.

Don’t rinse your vinyl under tap water! It could include impurities damaging the record in other ways. Additionally, it could damage the label itself.

Try to avoid commercial cleaning products, as they tend to be too harsh to use on the vinyl material.

Last Resort

If none of the above treatments are working, there is a possible solution that could cure your most stubborn stains: Goo Gone. Use a clean cloth and follow the groove of the vinyl.

Following this, it is recommended to rinse with solutions like the DIY described above or the commercial Nitty Gritty, MOFI, etc. Users have reported a marginal loss of clarity on records this has been tested on, so again, exercise great care and caution when utilizing this method.

Conclusion

Remember to gently cleanse your vinyl records, whether that’s with a terry cloth or DD brushes after wetting down several times. Make sure you have a clean work space free of any grit or sticky substances to avoid damaging the record further. All of these methods are effective, but be warned! I would recommend testing out these methods on records that won’t be missed before using on your most near and dear.

Always be thorough and exercise great caution with your records – preserving this manner of music consumption is vital! This is the best way to ensure a long life for your music in the quality form it deserves. Keep on groovin’!

Thanks for reading this quick guide. Hopefully, some of these methods worked for you and were easy to follow. Check out my Educational articles section and if you have any questions or comments leave them below. Thanks for reading and enjoy the clean records.

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