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Spotless Records: How to Clean Vinyl Records with an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Vinyl CleaningAccording to a May 11, 2021, report by Statista Research Department "Data on vinyl album sales in the United States from 1993 to 2020 shows consistent growth since 2006, and in 2020 a total of 27.5 million vinyl albums were sold, up by over 30 percent from the previous year."Whether purchasing new, reissued, or vintage vinyl, audiophiles should know how to clean vinyl records to preserve the sound quality they value.

Of particular interest is the interest in "old vinyl"Collectors are looking for and paying for vintage vinyl as reported in this CNBC report noting "vinyl records lying around in your garage could be worth thousands."Paying big bucks for classic vinyl will have collectors looking for a safe but efficient instruction on how to clean vinyl records.

In fact, the demand for restoring and/or maintaining the high quality of vinyl records has encouraged both dealers and collectors to seek out the best method to clean vinyl records that is both fast and thorough.

Options for Cleaning Vinyl Records

Common methods for record cleaning has often been based of some kind of brushing, washing or vacuuming.Unfortunately, this approach often results in damages to the record surface via the introduction of micro-scratches due to mechanical contact made by pads or wands.

Another issue with conventional cleaning methods is their inability to penetrate to the bottom of the grooves due to the relatively coarse nature of the cleaning tool.

In contrast, ultrasonic cleaning is touch-free and is able to penetrate into the smallest features at the bottom of vinyl record grooves.

The ultrasonic method is a proven safe and effective way to remove dust, dirt, oils and other contaminants from delicate objects, and is widely used in industrial and scientific environments.

For the audiophile, ultrasonic cleaning is the only method that can get into the extremely fine record grooves and restore them to the pristine state that produces the analog high-fidelity sound they demand.It answers the question how to clean vinyl records.

How it Works

The primary components of an ultrasonic record cleaner are a tank to hold the cleaning solution (water and detergent) and ultrasonic transducers attached to the tank. The transducers create ultrasonic sound waves that in turn create microscopic bubbles in the cleaning solution.

When these bubbles contact the record surface they implode and carry away contaminants on surfaces and grooves without damaging the record itself.

An Automated Answer to How to Clean Vinyl Records

Unlike hand cleaning and brushing, ultrasonic cleaning is much more effective in removing particles from the intricate grooves of vinyl records.

As noted, the microscopic bubbles reach into the finely etched grooves of records much more effectively than any cloth. The bubbles do not abrade or wear down the surface of the record. Ultrasonic cleaners can also accomplish the task of cleaning records in a fraction of the time of most other methods.

For serious collectors and owners of record shops we suggest taking a look at the CleanerVinyl record cleaning system available in five options from iUltrasonic.

One example is the Elmasonic P60H unit incorporated in the CleanerVinyl Pro system operating at user selected 37 and 80 kHz ultrasonic frequencies.The lower frequency is employed for particularly contaminated records.This is then followed by finer cleaning at 80 kHz.

Adjustable power on the Elma P60H also lets you set a cleaning cycle that maximizes cleaning efficiency while restoring the fidelity of the records.

In other words, the Elma P60H CleanerVinyl Pro system can be tailored to the task at hand.

How to Set Up your Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Cycle

First Step:

Add a record cleaning solution to the tank fill line. We suggest 2-4 drops of a wetting agent (such as a dishwashing liquid) per gallon of distilled water.

Next Step - Cleaning

Follow the instructions that come with your CleanerVinyl Pro System.

1. Stack the records on the shaft of the drive motor, alternating with spacers. With the Pro System you can clean up to 12 LPs or 45s per bath.

2. Slip the end cap over the last record with slight pressure and tighten.This will hold the records in a fixed position as they rotate through the solution.

3. Slip the bearing support over the drive shaft end and position the unit on the cleaning tank rims.

4. Clamp the drying fan assembly on the short dimension of the tank.

5. Activate the variable speed motor to rotate the records through the cleaning solution.

Next Step - Drying

Cleaning time varies based on the condition and number of records being cleaned. You'll establish a routine and can use cleaning time to attend to other matters.

At the end of the cleaning cycle, either

1. Turn off the drive motor

2. Drain the tank solution into a container for later use if not using the Lift-Pro assembly

Or

1. Raise the optional Lift-Pro assembly and records above the level of the cleaning solution.

2. Turn on the drive motor and activate the fan

3. When all droplets have evaporated your cleaning, operation is completed.

Disassemble the unit and enjoy the improved sound of your clean classic records!

Where Does the Dirt Go?

Ultrasonic cleaners are used in applications ranging from cleaning automobile transmission gears to surgical and medical instruments.Whatever the application, including how to clean vinyl records, contaminants accumulate in the cleaning solution.

To extend the useful life of your ultrasonic record cleaning solution an option is a 1-micron particle filter that continuously recycles the solution while the unit is in operation. Periodically examining the filter will let you know when it's time for a replacement.

A Last Bit of Advice on How to Clean Vinyl Records

Ultrasonic energy will raise the temperature of your record cleaning solution.

If the temperature rises above 160° Fahrenheit, it may damage or warp the vinyl. If your ultrasonic cleaner is equipped with a heater, keep it set at off or at the lowest level. If you run continuous cleaning cycles monitor the temperature and shut the unit down if it gets too high.

Contact iUltrasonic for answers to your questions on how to clean vinyl records and expert help in selecting the right equipment that meets your requirements.

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