Chances are that if you have a serious vinyl collection, you’ve thought about getting a record cleaning machine at some point. However, once you begin checking out the prices of machines from companies like Nitty Gritty ($900) or VPI ($550-$4,000), you start to think twice.
For me, with only 250 vinyl records in my collection, Spin-Clean is the answer. It’s about as simple a way to clean your records as you can get. For around US$80 (I got mine for C$100 from Sonic Boom in Toronto) you get a package consisting of a Spin-Clean Record Washer unit (with lid), two rollers, two cleaning brushes, two ultra-absorbent cloths, and a 4 oz. bottle of Spin-Clean fluid.
The unit has three sets of slots into which the rollers can fit. These are meant to accommodate 12″, 10″ and 7″ records. After placing the rollers in the slots, the unit is filled with distilled water to a line at the bottom of the rollers. The brushes are then put into place in the centre slots of the unit, and pour three capfuls of cleaning solution over them. You’re now ready to start cleaning records.
The record fits between the brushes and rests on the rollers at either end. First, spin the record three complete rotations clockwise and then repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Lift the record from between the brushes, let some liquid drip off, and lie it flat on a clean, dry, lint-free towel. Fold the bottom half of the towel up over the LP and blot dry. Finish drying the surface with the included absorbent cloths, and the record is now ready to go.
Each session, in theory, should clean 40 to 50 LPs depending on how dirty the water in the reservoir gets. I personally limit cleaning to only 20 LPs to lessen cross contamination. Once you get through the first batch, you get a routine down pretty well, and the process is quick. It takes about three minutes per LP, so the entire process of cleaning 20 records for me was about 90 minutes.
I’ve had very good results with the Spin-Clean system. I’m convinced that any noise left on the record after it has gone through the cleaning process is likely the result of groove wear or damage of some kind. And sadly, nothing will cure worn or damaged grooves. It’s also good to know that the Spin-Clean solution does not contain alcohol and is therefore completely safe for use on 78 RPM shellac discs.
Of course there is a trade-off when compared to the much more expensive systems, which will typically clean vinyl automatically with the push of a button. With the Spin-Clean, you need to do it manually. But the automatic machines aren’t much quicker – just less tiring if you’re dealing with a stack of LPs. If you’re willing to take the time and do it yourself, the Spin-Clean is a great option.