A record cleaning machine, also known as an RCM, provides a safe and effective way to deep clean vinyl records. The best record cleaning machine will clean records quickly and will feature ultra-sonic, non-contact cleaning.
When a record spins, the needle in a record player is vibrated by groves in the vinyl record. The vibrations get converted into electrical signals by a transducer. These signals are then fed into an electronic amplifier (Source).
Over time, dust and other debris can build up on the record’s surface. This can cause a drastic loss in sound quality and can even permanently damage the record. It’s best to periodically clean your vinyl records to prevent damage and to maintain a good listening experience.
Some record cleaning machines use a vacuum system to remove dust from the microscopic grooves on a record. Other types use high-frequency sound waves to clean a record but are generally more expensive (Source).
A record cleaning machine is essential to keep a fragile record collection clean and in good condition. Before you buy a machine, consider the reliability, aesthetics, cost, and cleaning speed.
You should also consider the cleaning methods, and whether or not it features contactless cleaning. In this break-down, we will go over the top-rated record cleaning machines.
All of the appliances in this guide will be fantastic options, whether you’re needing to clean the occasional record before playing it. Or, perhaps you’re just a vinyl connoisseur who wants to prevent damage to your prized record collection.
What’s The Best Way To Clean A Vinyl Record?
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s The Best Way To Clean A Vinyl Record?
- 2 What is the Best Record Cleaning Machine?
- 3 Comparing The Best Record Cleaning Machines
- 4 1. Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine MK II — The Best Record Cleaning Machine Under $1000
- 5 2. Vinyl Vac 33-Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit — Most Affordable Record Cleaning Machine
- 6 3. Record Doctor V-Record Cleaning Machine — Best Value for the Money
- 7 4. Klaudio KD-CLN-LP200 LP Vinyl Record Ultrasonic Cleaner with Dryer — The Most High-End Record Cleaning Machine
- 8 5. VPI HW-16.5 Record Cleaning Machine with 8 Oz of Solution and Cleaning Brush — The Fastest Record Cleaning Machine
- 9 What is Record Cleaning Solution Made of?
- 10 How Do I Clean Vinyl Records?
- 11 How Do You Clean Victrola Records?
- 12 What to Consider When Purchasing a Record Cleaning Machine
- 13 Ready To Buy The Best Record Cleaning Machine?
Many experts, such as record collectors, recommend proper storage to prevent dust and grime accumulation in the first place. If you must clean a record by hand, use distilled water and a soft, smooth cloth. Clean the record with small circular motions.
If you’d rather skip all the risk and hassle of hand-cleaning your vinyl record collection, purchasing a record cleaning machine is a great option. These machines use a combination of manual cleaning power, a mild cleaning solution, and vacuum technology to get your records as clean as possible.
What is the Best Record Cleaning Machine?
The best record cleaning machine, from our reviews, is the Okki Nokki record cleaning machine MKII. This record cleaning machine can clean 7” and 10” records and can clean in forward or reverse mode for optimal cleaning.
The parts are easy to replace if they are ever worn out. The solution, as well as the machine, are reasonably priced.
The system itself is as automatic as it gets for under $2000 and the reservoir is easy to clean and typically won’t need emptying until you’ve cleaned a dozen or so records.
The system combines manual brushing, both in forward and reverse mode, as well as a cleaning solution component and vacuuming. All of this combines to get your records as clean as possible on every pass.
Comparing The Best Record Cleaning Machines
|Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine MK II|
|Vinyl Vac 33-Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit|
|Record Doctor V-Record Cleaning Machine|
|Klaudio KD-CLN-LP200 LP Vinyl Record Ultrasonic Cleaner with Dryer|
|VPI HW-16.5 Record Cleaning Machine with 8 Oz of Solution and Cleaning Brush|
1. Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine MK II — The Best Record Cleaning Machine Under $1000The Okki Nokki features a machine, a plastic vacuum arm, a goat hair cleaning brush, an aluminum record clamp, a cleaning fluid concentrate, and a detachable AC power cord.
Additionally, it is made up of a heavy-duty motor/turntable and a vacuum system encased in an aluminum chassis. The forward and reverse turntable motion facilitates extensive groove scrubbing to get rid of grime and dirt.
The only requirement is that you use the goat hair cleaning brush provided because it helps reach those difficult to reach grooves.
After cleaning, the next step is vacuuming using the suction arm. The suction will get rid of any residual fluid and dirt, then transfer it to the internal liquid reservoir. After every twenty seconds, the internal liquid reservoir empties via a waste tube in the back of the aluminum case.
Notably, the entire vacuuming system is conveniently self-cleaning. In addition, it ensures that the record is exhaustively cleaned which helps restore the rich and warm sound of your vinyl records.
Likewise, the cleaning solution contains no harmful substances that will damage the record. Moreover, it has an aluminum clamp with a rubber insert that ensures the record does not slip.
However, note that the Okki Nokki machine is dedicated to only 7-inch and 10-inch records and will not fix scratches or skip problems.
2. Vinyl Vac 33-Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit — Most Affordable Record Cleaning MachineThe Vinyl Vac 33 features a wand that attaches to a vacuum. It is highly effective because vacuuming guarantees access to the groove of a record, which is roughly 1/10th the size of a human hair.
However, stick to a wet/dry vacuum hose for efficiency because you are bound to clean the record after wet cleaning.
Included in the kit are two suction reducers that allow you to regulate the amount of suction desired. Additionally, there are felt strips located on both sides of the suction opening to prevent the hard plastic from riding on the record surface as you spin or turn it.
Moreover, the set contains an O-ring that will facilitate a snug fit between the wand and your wet/dry vacuum hose. The unit also comes with replacement pads, which ensure you can clean numerous records and the wand will still look and function as if it is brand new.
Finally, the soft velvet pads that surround the Vinyl Vac 33 help protect your record when vacuuming. However, it is essential to note that the manufacturer recommends you use the wand as the final step in a process that involves wet cleaning first.
3. Record Doctor V-Record Cleaning Machine — Best Value for the MoneyThe most significant benefit of using the Record Doctor V is that it provides the same high-quality cleaning provided by pricey record cleaning machines. This is because it features a powerful high-performance vacuum motor and cleaning strip.
The only reason the Doctor V is less pricey despite the heavy-duty motor is that the motor does not turn the record for you. That means you have to turn the records by hand. While it can be a bit tiring to do so, it is also therapeutic and enjoyable.
Moreover, the product comes fully assembled. Its fluid applicator bottle has 4 oz. of cleaning fluid, too, which is enough to clean dozens of records. That makes it convenient and pocket-friendly.
Additionally, it comes complete with a dual-sided fluid applicator brush. The brush is soft and can access the minute grooves as well as facilitate thorough cleaning.
Moreover, its hand record turner makes it easier to turn the records by hand. Lastly, its six feet power cord gives you flexibility.
4. Klaudio KD-CLN-LP200 LP Vinyl Record Ultrasonic Cleaner with Dryer — The Most High-End Record Cleaning MachineThe Klaudio is a fully-automated and high-end record cleaner. To start, it features 200 watts of ultrasonic cleaning power.
Second, it boasts a patent-pending technology that requires no brushes or detergent. All you have to do is fill the machine with distilled water, then insert your record. Everything else is handled automatically.
The lack of brushes and detergents eliminate the risk of hard-bristled brushes and inappropriate solutions that might damage the record. Additionally, drying is handled safely with blowers. As a result, there is no need to air dry the record. This saves time and prevents dust accumulation.
Furthermore, the machine has ultrasonic transducers on either side of the disc, which guarantee a maximum cleaning effect.
Now, more about the technology employed: it has a special dampening that reduces vibration and noise. This ensures the machine is not irritating. Also, it allows you to adjust the cleaning and drying process from 3 minutes to 9 minutes.
Moreover, to facilitate user convenience, an LED progress bar displays the cleaning status. In addition, the stainless steel reservoir is reliable and durable. It has an integrated drain valve and reservoir access for easy maintenance.
Finally, one should note that the machine is versatile because it can clean 11.65 to 12-inch records as well as 7-inch and 10-inch records.
5. VPI HW-16.5 Record Cleaning Machine with 8 Oz of Solution and Cleaning Brush — The Fastest Record Cleaning MachineWith the VPI-HW-16.5, it only takes 35 seconds to clean each side of a record. It features a high torque 18 RPM turntable motor.
High torque motors have two distinct benefits: First, the motor is long lasting because there is no contact with bearings, which makes it durable. Second, torque motors have a high performance; thus, you get precise motions.
Now, in addition to its motor, it also has a vacuum suction tube. Moreover, it is self-aligning, which facilitates an accurate clean.
Meanwhile, its cleaning machine has an internal fluid collection system, which provides user convenience. With it, you would not need to empty the dirty fluid.
Additionally, the system is made from stainless steel to prevent corrosion. The fluid collection system is also fully enclosed which helps avoid splashing or leaking.
Moreover, note that this kit comes with a record cleaning concentrate made up of ingredients that have been tested to ensure they cannot harm your records. However, it is essential to go through the instructions because the concentrate should be mixed with 8 oz. of water to make the VPI cleaning solution.
What is Record Cleaning Solution Made of?
Record cleaning solution almost always includes two things: distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. The ratio will vary and other ingredients may be added, but these are the main ingredients in nearly every record cleaning solution.
Some record cleaning solutions include a detergent. Fragrances, dyes, and conditioning agents should not be found in any record cleaning solution. All of these “added ingredients” can cause harm to a vinyl record or impede the cleaning process.
How Do I Clean Vinyl Records?
If your vinyl records have been stored out in a place where they can collect dust, or if you’ve found some neglected records at a garage sale or in your garage, you’ll want to clean them up. You can either do this by hand or purchase a machine for the express purpose of cleaning vinyl records.
Vinyl records have a few qualities that make them difficult to clean. First, they are prone to static. This means that a dry wipe-down often leads to dirt being pushed around, resulting in wasted effort and potential build-up or scratches on the vinyl.
Alternatively, you could use a cleaning solution on your records. Be aware that if you choose this option, you are taking a risk and reducing the longevity of the vinyl. Commercial cleaners can either scour and damage the vinyl a record is made of or leave behind residue that builds up over time.
How Do You Clean Victrola Records?
Victrola records, like vinyl records, should be cleaned with distilled water and a soft brush. They should then be dried completely.
Anything more could damage the record or leave residue on the cleaning surface that can create “noise” during play.
Record cleaning machines are available for Victrola records and 78 RPM records. Often, a vinyl record cleaning machine will not be able to clean Victrola records, though exceptions do exist.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Record Cleaning Machine
Record cleaning machines range in price from extremely affordable to incredibly pricey. That it is pricey does not necessarily mean it works better. On the other hand, that it is affordable does not mean it is not effective.
With that in mind, it is essential to note that your budget is the final determinant. It is about getting the best possible machine in your particular price range. That is why the options discussed above have varying price tags to ensure they cover all manner of budgets.
Automatic Vs. Manual
It is essential to note that manual systems are more of kits than machines. Consider the first machine discussed above—the Vinyl Vac 33. It comprises a wand that you attach to vacuum hose. The benefit of kits is that they are affordable, but they do compromise on effectiveness.
Meanwhile, most machines in the market fall under the semi-automatic category. They are considered semi-automatic because they have a motor and a vacuum system, but you still have to turn the record by hand when cleaning.
Lastly, there is no manual operation on fully automatic machines. You simply insert your record and the machine does all the work for you. However, they tend to be pricey.
The Two Basic Cleaning Methods
With dry cleaning, you use a brush that’s usually made from carbon fiber to remove dust from the record’s surface. On the other hand, you use a special liquid to get rid of the stubborn dirt and grime using the wet method.
Though all the machines discussed above are wet cleaning, one that combines the two cleaning methods is recommended to maintain good sound quality.
Ready To Buy The Best Record Cleaning Machine?
Vinyl records are prized possessions, and most people have an emotional attachment to them. In addition to buying the right record cleaning machine, there are some tips you ought to take into account to ensure you do not damage them during a clean
First, avoid using vinegar or any other home remedy to clean records. Usually, they are not suitable and often only results in damage the vinyl as well as reduction of sound quality. Second, always clean your records before and after playing them.
Next, handle your records with clean, dry fingers to avoid putting dirt on them. Consequently, do not use fabric to dry your records; any fabric can leave scratches. Hence, if your machine does not have a drying feature, then air dry.
Finally, use cleaning sleeves to avoid dust accumulation.