by Craig Wherry
Cleaning vinyl with the Spin Clean Record Washer MKII
If you haven't picked up one of our Spin-Clean Record Washing systems yet, here's why we recommend and use them ourselves at Reference Media.
First of all, they are simply designed and easy to use. The instructions are clear and the results are instant and perceptible. The kit includes cleaning solution and pads (two sets), and drying cloths. Everything you need to start cleaning and caring for your records is included except for a supply of distilled water, which can be picked up on the cheap at any grocery store or pharmacy. The MKII Record Washer System works like a charm by cleaning both sides of the record at the same time. It cleans with even pressure and traps dirt and dust with the specially designed cleaning pads and solution. You can see the results at the end of a cleaning session when you see how discolored the water is. It feels real good knowing all that junk is no longer there!
Erik took the before and after iPhone photo below of an extremely molded Beatles disc we washed. It took several repetitions, but the result was nothing short of miraculous. Sounds great!
For the cost ($79.99), the Spin-Clean MKII is practically maintenance free and works as good as automated vacuum cleaners I've tried, which are both high maintenance and can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
On a personal note, as a collector of 7" records I found the Spin-Clean to really shine! (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun). In my experiences with digging up old 45's, they are invariably dirty having been forgotten about and in some state of poor storage for who knows how long. Also, because of their singular nature, singles ( There's another one!) tend to be handled more and incur more fingerprints. To make cleaning matters even trickier, 7" records tend to be more fragile than their larger counterparts. The design of the Spin-Clean eliminates mishandling by seating the record evenly between the cleaning pads while you manually rotate the disc through the cleaning bath.
Tips for enjoying your Spin-Clean MKII
I very much recommend reading the owner's manual first. They suggest pre-washing the supplied drying cloths. If you can swing it, I would suggest the upgrade kit that includes extra cleaning solution and drying cloths. I've found you can't have enough drying cloths as they work great but do saturate quickly. The instructions also state that one bath is good for between 20-50 records in a session and I've found this to be true. I recommend waiting until you have a stack of 20 or so "to be cleaned" discs or going through your library at about 30 at a time for best results.
You'll want a flat, clean space to work with that you can lay one of the drying cloths down onto facilitate the drying process. Follow the instructions for creating the bath of distilled water and the ratio of cleaning solution to use. Once you have your bath set in the reservoir, seat your record in between the cleaning pads and rollers with the label facing "up". You can use this as a reference point to remember how many times you've rotated the disc through the bath as per the instructions.
I like to handle the record by the edge, pinching it at the apex and gently rotating it downward in the desired direction for that cycle. Once the cycle complete, I remove the disc and lay it flat onto the first drying cloth. I then remove the excess water/solution with a second drying cloth, wiping the disc in a clockwise circular motion while avoiding the label. Flip the disc over and repeat. I then like to go over both sides once again with a third drying cloth to achieve a truly clean and dry record. A little air dry time is good to remove any unseen solution which will evaporate shortly. Your record is now clean and ready to enjoy. Go give it a spin!
When done remove the pads and rinse them with warm water setting them aside to dry. The reservoir is easily rinsed out in a sink or bathtub. Make sure all the components are dry before reassembling for storage. Easy to operate and a great value I recommend the Spin-Clean MKII Record Washer System to any avid vinyl listener. Whether sprucing up your vintage pressings or maintaining your new vinyls you'll enjoy the improved sound and the peace of mind that comes from freshly cleaned records. Feel free to stop in for a demo!