The 10 Best Vinyl Record Washers
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2017. Audiophiles will debate all day long whether digital files or vinyl are the best way to enjoy music, but no one will argue against the fact that a clean disc sounds better than a dirty one. We've included a range of affordable dusters and professional-grade machines to help you get the grime, dust, and fingerprints off of your favorite singles, EPs, and LPs quickly and easily. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 25, 2020:
For this update we've added two high-end options for audiophiles and those who deal with records in a professional capacity. The Record Doctor V is essentially a direct step up from a fully manual scrubber like the Spin-Clean MK2, as it not only wipes your records clean but also applies high-powered suction. The iSonic P4875II is even more expensive and is probably overkill for many, but for those who need the deepest clean possible it's hard to do better than an ultrasonic device like this. On the other end of the spectrum we also added the Vinyl Buddy Original Record Cleaner, an affordable option for small jobs that can pair well with or even replace a carbon fiber brush like the Record-Happy Premium. Besides cleanliness the sound of your records is also affected by the quality of your player, so you may want to check out our articles on various types of turntables such as those with USB or models specifically designed for DJs.
July 06, 2019:
Audiophiles know that the clicks and pops that many associate with vinyl records can be caused by dirt or dust hiding in the grooves. Keep your discs shiny and clean and those distracting noises are greatly reduced, if not eliminated altogether. A vinyl washer, like those you see in our selections, is an essential piece of equipment for anyone who is serious about their record collection.
In this update, we evaluated products based on their effectiveness and value for the price. We added the Retro Musique Kit in one of our top slots because it offers everything you need for a worthwhile price, all packed into a handy storage tin.
The Miraculous Resurgence Of Vinyl Records
Yet, the vinyl record is perhaps as vital now as it ever was.
It isn’t often that a technology that has been made smaller and more convenient over time sees an older version of itself revived in the minds of consumers. Classic cars are perhaps one example, particularly because the average Joe can work on their engines without a computer nearby. I know a few poets who like a good typewriter because it forces them to retype their entire poem any time they want to make a change. But you don’t see very many people reaching back for the cell phones that came out in the 1980s, or for cave walls instead of cotton canvases. Yet, the vinyl record is perhaps as vital now as it ever was.
There was a time when it seemed that vinyl would fade out behind the emergence of small, inexpensive cassette tapes and CDs that, when paired with a decent stereo, could create audiophile quality soundscapes. Both media were exceedingly portable, and by the time digital music rolled around, few would have placed their bets on big, unwieldy records.
The problem with digital music, especially in the early days of 56K downloads, is that it suffered from a lot of compression to keep its file sizes at a minimum. Even today, with streaming services flying across cable Wi-Fi networks, the default streaming settings in most apps are about half the file size of songs on an average CD. More than any other part of a mix, the low end tends to suffer from this level of compression, and the explosion of bass-heavy headphones like beats by Dre and others is in part a response to this problem with digital music files.
For the consumer who prefers the in-home listening experience, vinyl records, which were abundant and dirt cheap at garage sales and thrift shops around the country, offered a high-fidelity solution at a fraction of the cost of modern stereo equipment. What’s more, collectors of a certain age began to wax nostalgic for the days when they could hold a piece of art in their hands that was designed to accompany a given musical experience. The tangible quality of vinyl was undeniable. Add to that its unparalleled, lossless sound quality, and you have the beginning of a revolution in music collection.
For many listeners, streaming works just fine for the car or the gym, but many savvy fans understand that this method of consumption provides the artists they love with next to nothing in revenues. Often, you’ll see fans invest in the vinyl of the bands the listen to most on streaming services, both to support the artists and to hear the records they love with a deeper, more complete sound profile.
Perhaps future generations will be so far removed from the concept of physical entertainment media that the vinyl record will eventually see meet its maker. Until then, records serve as a great way to consume your favorite music.
The Different Types Of Vinyl Record Washer
Whether your vinyl records have just accumulated a little too much dust over the years, or they’ve encountered a more hazardous substance, a simple cleaning may be all they need to restore them to their former glory. There are a few different ways to go about cleaning a record, and the diverse options on our list are evidence of that, but with a little consideration, you’ll find the cleaner that’s right for you.
Some even utilize liquid cleaning solutions to take the cleaning to the next level.
Possibly the biggest divide between cleaners on the market is in whether or not they provide you with their own platform for holding and spinning the record as you clean it. Some units go so far as to create a stage that mechanically spins for you, so all you have to do is hold a provided cleaning utensil in place and let it do its thing. These can be tricky, however, as you don’t have as much control over the rate of spin as you would with a manual cleaning setup. They can also force you to put too much pressure on the record in places where it might not be fully supported, and that might subtly warp the disc.
Other options provide you with a stand in which the vinyl can sit in a vertical orientation. These stands are often equipped with brushes that clean the record as you or a motor spins it around in the stand. Some even utilize liquid cleaning solutions to take the cleaning to the next level.
There are also cleaning kits out there that provide you with little more than a brush and some solution, or sometimes a wand that can attach to a vacuum cleaner. These all necessitate a manual rotation, handheld cleaning, or a cleaning session that takes place right on your turntable.
Other Essential Vinyl Accessories
If you spend a lot of your listening time interacting with vinyl records, you may be aware that there are some things you can do to take that audio experience to the next level. Most of these are relatively simple purchases, though some are significantly more involved.
They have everything you could need to enjoy a small record collection, and they’re pretty inexpensive, as well.
Listeners who are new to vinyl might want to start with a simple, portable player. These are easy to set up just about anywhere in your home, and you can take them with you to parties and other events as needed. They have everything you could need to enjoy a small record collection, and they’re pretty inexpensive, as well.
More serious listeners are going to want to have the best turntables, cartridges, and stereo systems they can afford. A good setup, with proper amplification, will allow you to hear every nuance of a record, even the mistakes that might have been buried in the mix.
Of course, no quality of stereo system can make up for a disagreeable taste in music. If you share your space with anyone who doesn’t want to hear what you do, after you spent all that time and money amassing a collection and perfecting your setup, perhaps a good pair of audiophile headphones could save the day.