There are many ways to deal with mold and I give you a few different options and tools to help find what works best for you and your needs.
To clean mold off your records, I recommend having proper cleaners and microfiber cloths. Try to wear latex gloves to avoid putting natural oils from your hands onto the vinyl, always hold your vinyl by the outer edges or the center, and if you have breathing problems such as asthma, I recommend a dust mask. Inhaling mold spores can be dangerous and make you sick.
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I was recently given a box of old records from my neighbor. A kind gesture, to be sure. But after I got the box home and started going through it, I discovered there was a lot of mold and mildew throughout the box, and the smell was terrible. I could have just thrown the box away, but there were some interesting titles in there, and I couldn’t just walk away without trying to save at least some of them. I researched and tried a couple of things and this is what worked best for me for cleaning off the mold.
Most of the records in the box had mold directly on the vinyl, as well as the inner sleeve and jacket. A dry cleaning technique will not work for cleaning these. You can purchase cleaning kits and machines from various online sites, such as Amazon, and the prices range from about $10 up to $4,000 for a professional machine.
The high-end machines and cleaning systems are great and may work for cleaning away mold, but if you don’t have the cash for these, here’s another option. This option is a wet cleaning method for your 45s and 33s that are vinyl. These are Not for the 78s that are composed of Shellac. Never use alcohol on a Shellac album, as this can break it down like paint and paint thinner.
What You Will Need To Kill And Remove Mold
- A solution of 0.5% ispronyl alcohol with 99.5% distilled water in a spray bottle.
- Microfiber Towels. They are very soft and absorbent and will help protect your records from scratches. If you don’t have these, a clean cotton cloth can work.
- Disinfectant Wipes (50% Alcohol)
Never us an abrasive cleaner!
Cleaning Mold From Your Record
First, set up your work area by laying your towel or t-shirt on a stable flat surface. Place your record on top of this to protect it from scratches. Next, put your cleaning solution in your spray bottle and carefully spray your record avoiding the inner label as best you can. Take another towel or soft cloth and wipe your record in a circular motion with the grooves, repeating this as necessary till clean.
Make sure to change your cloth as needed, or at least use a clean part of the cloth, as not to recontaminate it. The alcohol in the solution will help it to dry quickly.
To clean the other side, follow the same instructions as above, but make sure you place the clean side of the record on another clean cloth or towel (or just flip everything over to the clean side. After you finish cleaning the mold off both sides, let it air dry upright for an hour or so before placing it in a new clean sleeve. Never put a clean record into a dirty sleeve.
Cleaning Mold From The Label
Cleaning the mold from the label of a record can be tricky. For me, I want to save the label as best I can, but depending on the damage, this may not be possible.
I recommend using Disinfectant Wipes. Make sure to wring out the wipe because they are usually really wet. You want it to be moist, but not so wet as to saturate the paper of the label. Gently wipe away the mold as best as you can. Go slow and easy.
The gunk and mold will come off a little at a time, but if the label starts coming off, you’ll have to make a decision. Since it’s a disinfectant wipe, the mold should be dead. But there may still be some discoloration, so I stop there and call it good. But if you are not comfortable with that, you may just have to say goodbye to the entire label. It sucks, but that’s the best you can do.
Cleaning Mold From The Jacket
When cleaning mold from the jacket, I recommend doing it the same way as the record label. Antibacterial Wipes (50% Alcohol) tend to work the best for me. Squeeze out the excess liquid before wiping down your album cover.
Spend a little extra time on the moldy parts and if it already has exposed cardboard where the ink has come off, spend some extra time there, too. Mold likes hiding in those areas. Make sure your jacket is good and dry before putting it away.
Other Options And Tricks For Removing Mold
Instead of the microfiber towels, you can also use cotton pads that you may find in a first aid kit, felt pads, or soft paint/stain pads you find in the hardware store for cleaning mold from your record.
A felt brush can also be handy and inexpensive to obtain from Amazon or eBay. Cheese cloth when placed under your towel and record can help keep everything in place a bit better and also add some cushion.
Dilute your Isopropyl alcohol in distilled water. You always want the cleanest solution possible. Remember to always clean your records in a circular motion with the grooves using a microfiber towel or clean cotton cloth. Handle your records by the outer edge or center as not to leave oil from your hands on it. Let your record air dry completely.
Always be gentle with your records. If you take care of them, they’ll last many decades. Finally, don’t take chances with mold. Be cautious because mold can make you sick if you’re not careful.
Hopefully that helped you out. If you’re interested in my other educational articles related to vinyl & record players, check them out here. I’ve also created a top list of affordable record player, check that out here if you’re interested.