Record Cleaning Services
Choose the best cleaning option to fit your needs
Ultrasonic is the single most effective way to clean records. My custom built system is based on years of Audiophile tweaks and R&D as popularized on the Audio Nirvana forum. A rotisserie spindle slowly rotates the records in a medical grade ultrasonic tank with sweep and pulse functions to vary cavitation and get at both the surface of the record, and deep in the grooves. The water and cleaning solution are continuously pumped through a 0.35 micron filter to prevent the dissolved contaminants from returning to the records before they are removed from the tank. After a 20 minute bath they are then air dried and placed in a brand new poly sleeve.
I have found this method vastly superior to commercially available ultrasonic units which only allow for a 5 minute cleaning cycle, and re-circulate dirty water throughout the unit. In addition, there are no moving parts that touch the record surface during the cleaning cycle, simply water and air. For detailed information on the process, the best source is TIMA’s series of articles at The Vinyl Press, which I am greatly indebted to.
Typical vacuum cleaning involves a two step process of brushing with enzymatic fluid and then a water rinse (for extremely dirty records I will add an additional water rinse as the first step). The first pass consists of applying the cleaning fluid and scrubbing firmly, but gently in both clockwise and counter-clockwise rotations. The solution is left to sit for a few minutes to fully dislodge stubborn particles from the grooves. This solution is then vacuumed off.
Then a second pass of brushing in the same fashion with distilled water is designed to collect the remaining particles and rinse the grooves clean. I use two different vacuum wands for each pass, switching out to avoid cross contamination.
Vacuum cleaning with enzymatic fluid delivers great results, but is best used on old and dirty records as the initial step before ultrasonic cleaning which can penetrate deeper into the grooves and reach the particles that brushes alone cannot. This combination offers the best of both methods for the greatest possible cleaning: the use of enzymatic cleaning fluids breaks down a great deal of particles during this first step, allowing the ultrasonic bath to concentrate on the remaining particles, leaving your records as clean as they can possibly get.
Japan-based Orb enjoys a reputation for continually developing and improving its unique treatment process. The DF-01iA+ uses a high-tech, automated process whereby heat is applied evenly on contact to only the outer edge (for warping) and inner label of the record (for dishing). The most important and delicate part of the record–the groove architecture–remains nearly unaffected by the process. The result attempts to remove warps while preserving the sonic output of the record, and is considered by many to be the gold standard for warp reduction and elimination.
Unlike record cleaning, flattening is not without risk. Click here to read more about the process to decide if a flattening treatment is right for you.
I use acid-free archival tape in two ways; to repair unglued sleeves and to cover seam splits. The first returns sleeves to their original state with archival safe material that will last. Repairing a split is more invasive with the tape added on top of the sleeve. The acid-free tape helps prevent the yellowing discoloration typically seen when tape is used to cover a split.
To remove dirt and grime from sleeves I use a combination of a light alcohol rub and vinyl erasers. I will only treat the sleeve if it can benefit from this type of cleaning. If the sleeve is too delicate, I will refrain from treating with no charge.
Many record sleeves suffer from the dreaded musty odor that comes from being stored in a humid environment such as basements or have absorbed the smell of a smoking environment. I use a treatment that helps to reduce these unwanted smells. First I lightly wipe both the interior and exterior with an alcohol swab to kill any mold spores that may still be present. Then the sleeves are stored in an airtight container with odor and moisture absorbing materials for two weeks.
I cannot promise miracles or guarantee results with each and every sleeve, but I have found this method to be quite effective. If there is no reduction in odor, I will gladly refund the cleaning fee.
Please note that sleeves that have suffered water damage or show discoloration from mold are too far gone for me to treat. This service is intended for good quality sleeves simply in need of odor reduction.
Choose the best cleaning option to fit your needs
The price of cleaning includes a new round bottom inner sleeve. You can upgrade to a rice paper sleeve for an additional $.25 per record, or you can send me your own sleeves if you prefer a different brand or style. I will subtract $.25 per record if you provide your own sleeves.
Turnaround time is generally two weeks for orders of fifty records or less. Times may vary due to high volume, at which point I will give you an estimate.
Still curious if The Vinyl Archivist cleaning services are right for you? I have a special offer for first-time customers: I will clean three records, one with each method, absolutely free. All you pay for is shipping (all free trials must be shipped to me, pickup/drop off is not available). I am confident enough that if you care how your records sound you will soon be sending more records my way. Be sure to choose records you know well and play them before you send them so you can easily compare before and after!
Clean 25 or more records and get 10% off
Clean 50 or more records and get 15% off
Clean 100 or more records and get 20% off
Includes an Ultrasonic cleaning of the record before flattening
Are your sleeves in need of archival repair or restoration? Choose from the options below