Record cleaning machines are the safest, scratch-free way to keep vinyl records clean.
With vinyl records making a comeback, (Source) more vinyl is spinning on turntables. But some of that vinyl has been stored away for years and may have accumulated dust and dirt.
You can choose manual cleaning to maintain your collection, but it often just moves dust around on static-prone vinyl and it can result in damage to the record.
Manual cleaning may cost less than a record cleaning machine, but is it worth the risk to your most rare and priceless albums?
Some record cleaning machines use a vacuum system (Source) to safely remove dust from the tiny grooves of a vinyl record without causing damage. Others use ultrasonic cleaning technology and drying via blowers to clean records.
There’s nothing worse than seeing dirt on the needle. Here’s a review of the top-rated record cleaning machines that will prevent it from happening.
Best Record Cleaning Machines 2019
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Record Cleaning Machines 2019
- 2 1. Vinyl Vac 33-Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit — Best Overall
- 3 2. Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine MK II — The Best Record Cleaning Machine Under $1000
- 4 3. Record Doctor V-Record Cleaning Machine — Best Value for the Money
- 5 4. Klaudio KD-CLN-LP200 LP Vinyl Record Ultrasonic Cleaner with Dryer — The Most High-End Record Cleaning Machine
- 6 5. VPI HW-16.5 Record Cleaning Machine with 8 Oz of Solution and Cleaning Brush — The Fastest Record Cleaning Machine
- 7 What to Consider When Purchasing a Record Cleaning Machine
- 8 Our Final Take
|Vinyl Vac 33-Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit|
|Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine MK II|
|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. Vinyl Vac 33-Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit — Best Overall
Wet cleaning and air drying your records is all well and good, but often, it does not get rid of the dirt embedded in the grooves. For a thorough clean, you need a better tool.
The 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. Note that you should 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. The felt strips that are located on both sides of the suction opening protect your record because they prevent the hard plastic from riding on the record surface as you spin or turn it.
The included O-ring will facilitate a snug fit between the wand and your wet/dry vacuum hose. Also, the kit comes with a set of replacement pads. The spare pads 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. 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.
2. Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine MK II — The Best Record Cleaning Machine Under $1000
The 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.
The machine 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 and 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.
The entire vacuuming system is convenient because it is self-cleaning. In addition, it ensures the that the record is exhaustively cleaned which helps restore the rich and warm sound of your vinyl records.
The aluminum clamp which has a rubber insert ensures the record does not slip. Finally, the cleaning solution contains no harmful substances that will damage the record.
Note that the Okki Nokki machine is dedicated to 7” and 10” records. Also, it is important to remember that similar to other RCMs this particular machine will not fix scratches or skip problems.
3. Record Doctor V-Record Cleaning Machine — Best Value for the Money
The 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.
The cleaning machine comes fully assembled which means it is easy to use. The fluid applicator bottle has 4 oz. of cleaning fluid which is enough to clean dozens of records. That makes it convenient and pocket-friendly.
Doctor V comes complete with a dual-sided fluid applicator brush. The brush can access the minute grooves and facilitate thorough cleaning. Where you might not know what to do, the accompanying cleaning instructions ensure you do not get stranded.
The included hand record turner makes it easier to turn the records by hand. The felt cleaning strips are vinyl-protecting which means they will not damage the record. The 6 feet power cord gives you flexibility.
Finally, the soft brush and the specially formulated record cleaning fluid is safe for all your vinyl records.
4. Klaudio KD-CLN-LP200 LP Vinyl Record Ultrasonic Cleaner with Dryer — The Most High-End Record Cleaning Machine
The Klaudio is a high-end record cleaner that is fully automated. To start with, it features 200 watts of ultrasonic cleaning power. That is enough power to facilitate a deep and effective clean.
Second, it also features a patent-pending technology that requires no brushes or detergent. All you have to do is fill the machine with distilled water and then insert your record. Everything else is handled automatically. The lack of brushes and detergents eliminates the risk of hard-bristled brushes and inappropriate solutions that might damage the record.
Drying is also handled safely with blowers. As a result, there is no need to air dry the record. Air drying not only consumes time but might also facilitate the accumulation of dust. The machine has ultrasonic transducers on either side of the disc. They guarantee a maximum cleaning effect.
The technology employed has a special dampening that reduces vibration and noise. That ensures the machine is not irritating. It allows you to adjust the cleaning and drying process from 3 minutes to 9 minutes. As a result, you can save on time if you have numerous records to clean.
To facilitate user convenience; an LED progress bar displays the cleaning status. The stainless steel reservoir is reliable and durable. In addition, it has an integrated drain valve and reservoir access which facilitates 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 inches and 10-inch records.
5. VPI HW-16.5 Record Cleaning Machine with 8 Oz of Solution and Cleaning Brush — The Fastest Record Cleaning Machine
With 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. That means your record cleaning machine is durable and will last a long time before it breaks down. Second, torque motors have a high performance. As a result, you get precise motions.
The VPI HW-16.5 has a vacuum suction tube. It is self-aligning which facilitates an accurate clean. The vacuum is also high-powered, and that means it will facilitate a deep clean by ensuring it reaches all those tiny grooves.
The cleaning machine has an internal fluid collection system. That provides user convenience because you do not need to empty the dirty fluid. Additionally, the system is made from stainless steel which prevents corrosion.
The fluid collection system is also fully enclosed which helps avoid splashing or leaking. Note that the VPI HW-16.5 also comes with a record cleaning concentrate. The concentrate is 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. It is this solution that you are then allowed to use to clean the records.
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
Whether you want a manual record cleaning machine, an automatic one or semi-automatic one is an important consideration that will determine the machine you purchase.
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 is a kit which comprises a wand that you attach to vacuum hose. The benefit of kits is that they are affordable, but they do compromise on effectiveness.
Most machines in the market fall under the semi-automatic category. That is because semi-automatic record cleaning machines are midrange priced. 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.
The final category comprises of the fully automatic machines. With these, there is no manual operation. You simply insert your record, and the machine does all the work for you. While they are easy to operate, they tend to pricey.
Deciding which one suits you best will help determine the machine you purchase.
The Two Basic Cleaning Methods
It is vital to realize that you can either dry clean or wet clean your vinyl records. With dry cleaning, you use a brush—usually made from carbon fiber—to remove dust from the record’s surface.
With wet cleaning, you use a special cleaning liquid to get rid of the stubborn dirt and grime. Though all the machines discussed above are wet cleaning, it is recommended that one combines the two cleaning methods to maintain good sound quality.
It is ideal to dry clean a record before and after play to avoid dust accumulation. Wet cleaning can then be done periodically, maybe after every two or more months.
With this in mind, you should consider purchasing a dry cleaning brush in addition to the record cleaning machine you select.
Our Final Take
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 because they are not suitable and more often than not, they will damage the vinyl and reduce 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. Also, do not use fabric to dry your records because any fabric can leave scratches. If your machine does not have a drying feature, then air dry. Finally, use clean sleeves to avoid dust accumulation.