Cleaning Record Albums – Spin-Clean MKII Record Washer
I spent some time over the holidays cleaning record albums. It’s not my favorite activity – I’d rather listen to music – but I love seeing a grungy, dusty album come back to life after a good LP cleaning. There are three different record cleaning systems in my house, but the easiest, effective and most affordable setup I’ve found for cleaning vinyl records is the Spin-Clean Record Washer System MKII. For around 80 dollars (Amazon has it now for $79.99) you can have a maintenance-free and nearly foolproof way to clean vinyl records of any size. A basic MKII setup comes with everything you need, including cleaning fluid and soft, absorbent drying cloths.
How to Clean a Vinyl Record with Spin-Clean
Cleaning records with the Spin-Clean MKII is easy, thanks to a very simple design. The MKII is composed of five parts: a reservoir/bath; a pair of plastic rollers and two cleaning brushes. The cleaning brushes fit into grooves that put the cleaning surfaces in contact with each other, leaving space to accept a record edge between them. Then, as the record is rotated by hand, the opposing brushes keep contact with the A/B surfaces and scrub them. The rollers hold the record edges as they are spun and keep them in place between the brushes. The MKII has three different roller positions, so you can easily switch from cleaning 12-inch LPs to 10-inch 78s and/or 45s. Simply lift the rollers from one position and insert them into the desired slot. You don’t need any adapters or tools. Pour distilled water into the MKII, filling until the liquid reaches the indicator line. Finally, pour a couple capfuls of cleaning solution over the cleaning brushes and you’re ready. It’s that easy.
LP Cleaning Made Easy
Because the Spin-Clean has no motor or other electrical components, you don’t have to deal with motor noise or built-up heat. Another nice thing is you don’t have to empty the fluid until you’re done cleaning, as all the liquid remains in the bath. Depending on how dirty your records are, you can clean anywhere from 2 to 4 dozen platters before needing to change the “bath water.” Because the Spin-Clean washes both sides of a record, you don’t lose time flipping from one side to the other like most vacuum systems require. Once you get the hang of spin-cleaning and drying with the record cloths, you can clean an LP in 2 minutes; 45s in half that time. LP cleaning is a snap. Just spin each record three times clockwise, and again three times counterclockwise. Remove the record and hand dry with Spin-Clean’s drying cloths (these need to be machine-washed before first use). It is suggested to wipe records dry in a circular, clockwise motion.
DIY Phono Cleaning Works Great
I have multiple (OK, too many) copies of several classic rock albums. When I find a used copy of an LP in decent shape I often buy it to have as a backup. Case in point: Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon. I scored yet another copy of this LP last month – a dusty but decent specimen – and added it to the “must-clean” pile. After a wash with the MKII, the hazey surfaces gave way to shiny black vinyl and looked promising. One of my favorite test tunes is “Brain Damage.” Pink Floyd singer and bassist Roger Waters opens in breathy voice with the classic line, “The lunatic is on the grass,” as David Gilmour’s bell-like guitar arpeggios frame the quiet and eerie arrangement. If you have ever played this record and this song, you know how clicks and pops and crackles can interrupt and interfere with the music. I was happy to hear no such noise after cleaning. The Spin-Clean not only cleans records but reduces static, too, which reduces surface noise. It all makes for much better sounding records.
Repairing Scratched Discs
It’s important to note that record cleaners can’t remove physical defects from vinyl such as scratches. You can’t expect to be fixing scratched discs or be removing record needle scratch with cleaning fluid; but, just getting rid of dust and other unwanted grime can greatly improve the fidelity of any vinyl platter. Another cool thing for using the Spin-Clean is you can see the results. The bright yellow color of the bath makes it easy to view any dirt that comes off a record and falls into the “wash.”
Cleaning LPs is Fun!
The Spin-Clean MKII makes cleaning record albums easy and fun. Once you get going, you’ll find yourself grabbing more and more records to clean – and more importantly, play! Easy to set up and take down and store, the MKII is a simple and affordable way to clean an entire record collection.