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Reasons to Clean Your Vinyl

Published on August 23, 2023 By
Noah Abbott

Dirt and dust can accumulate in the grooves of vinyl, causing damage to the stylus and affecting sound quality. Regularly cleaning your vinyl records can improve sound quality, extend the life of your equipment and records, and even increase their resale value. Check out our reasons for using cleaning solutions and machines to help safely and effectively clean your records.

Vinyl offers the listener a tactile experience you can't get from streaming, but with that added experience may come some added work. When I started listening to records, I had yet to learn that vinyl maintenance went beyond blowing the dust off everything before I started. It did work great for a while, but after a few months or so, I began hearing problems. 

When I finally "checked under the hood," I realized how dirty my records had become, and my stylus was utterly worse for wear. I learned the value of regular vinyl maintenance the hard way.

With our extensive experience in the audio space, Audio Advisor dealt with vinyl long before they were cool again. Cleaning your records can sound like a hassle, but by the end of this article, you'll know just how important it can be and maybe even get a few tips to get started. 

Cleaning and Maintenance Affect:

  • Listening and Sound Performance
  • Equipment Health
  • Vinyl Longevity
  • Resell Value

Listening and Sound Performance 

A light surface cleaning can be beneficial, but it will only do part of the job. Vinyl has grooves, and although incredibly shallow, there is still plenty of opportunity for dirt, dust, and other grime to work its way down into them. Once that happens, you could experience cracks, pops, and disruptions in the sound that can take away from the higher-quality listening experience that you should be having. But maybe you like a slight crackle; I get it; who am I to judge? Either way, letting it get out of hand can pose more severe future problems. 

 Equipment Health 

One of those severe problems is that you could be doing significant damage to your stylus, which could mean buying replacements more frequently. Over time your needle can start to collect the dirt and dust from your records which can cause build-up. This build-up continually damages your needle/stylus and can produce unwanted effects on sound quality. Too much build-up too often, and you could be in the market for a new stylus sooner than you think. 

Vinyl Longevity 

Vinyl are built to last but meeting them in the middle is always helpful. Cleaning frequently and ensuring everything is in top-notch condition will allow you to enjoy your records longer. 

Marc Henshall from Sound Matters says, “Dirty records not only sound bad, but they also exacerbate stylus wear and contaminate your turntable – spreading the muck across your precious vinyl collection.” If you plan on building and maintaining a collection, or even if you only have a few records that you hold dear, there's immense value in ensuring your records are there and ready when you need them, whether in a year or 20 years from now. 

Resell Value 

There are many reasons why someone might resell a record, and one of the most significant contributors to reselling price is condition. A dirty record that has stayed dirty can take significant dips in quality, meaning a major price drop. While this is hardly ever the only factor and exceptional circumstances may vary, near-mint or even very good-condition vinyl have the potential to be worth hundreds or even thousands more than if they were in poor condition. 

“near-mint or even very good-condition vinyls have the potential to be worth hundreds or even thousands more than if they were in poor condition”

Quick Recap 

So again, do you have to clean your records... The short answer? No. Cleaning your records is unnecessary to enjoy them as long as you take some general care. Long answer? Whether they are fresh from the factory or uncovered at your local flea market, routinely cleaning vinyl can dramatically improve the quality of your listening experiences. Not only does your vinyl hygiene affect the record itself, but your equipment as well. Taking the time to care for and clean your records consistently can save you money in the long run and help maintain the value of your prized collection. 

Getting Into the Nitty Gritty

OK, so you understand the message and are ready to get serious about cleaning your vinyl. What now? Thinking about digging into the grooves of your vinyl or washing them might scare you a bit, but it shouldn't! You can check out this article on how to clean your records, where we outline some great options and tips to ensure your cleaning won't harm your records.

If you know how to start, we recommend checking out products from Record Doctor. They offer everything from cleaning solutions and sweeping brushes to a vinyl record cleaning machine that handles your cleaning. There are also many online resources with home remedies that can clean your records safely and effectively.