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This inexpensive record cleaner will keep your albums sounding great

When buying used albums, one of the first things you should do is clean them. Save money on this cleaner, so you can spend that extra cash on new records.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Spin Clean recorder cleaner.

The Spin Clean is incredibly simple to use and can even be cleaned in your dishwasher.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

When a dear friend first got me into vinyl years ago, I had no idea just how expensive this hobby would be. The quest for the best-sounding vinyl your budget can afford is equal parts joy and frustration. You'll find yourself not only buying new LPs but used ones as well. Why buy used? Here's one reason: Some records are out of print and used is the only option.

When you buy a used record, one of the first things you should do is clean it. But how? Look into record cleaners and you'll very quickly realize you can spend just as much on a cleaning device as you did on your turntable or a dozen new records.

Also: Love listening to records? This simple, sound-enhancing gadget is a must-have

The good news is you don't have to. Among all the fancy electronic vacuum and ultrasonic record cleaners, there's a manual cleaner that I've found does a great job cleaning gunk off old records to make them sound almost like new.

That record cleaner is called Spin Clean. I've been using one of these cleaners for years and have been beyond satisfied with the results. The Spin Clean record cleaner can be purchased from Amazon for only $79.95 and it's worth every penny.  

View at Amazon

The Spin Clean comes with the following:

  • Patented vinyl record washer basin and lid.
  • 4 oz of specially formulated alcohol-free cleaning fluid.
  • One pair of premium record-cleaning brushes. 
  • One pair of rollers.
  • Two lint-free drying cloths.

Also: The best speakers for your vinyl collection (plus tips for improving sound)

That's everything you need to start cleaning your records. I will suggest, however, that you also purchase the larger bottle of the cleaning fluid, as you'll go through the 4 oz pretty quickly (depending on how many records you have to clean at the start). When I first purchased my Spin Clean, I had a large number of older albums to clean, so I went through the small bottle within a couple of months. A 16 oz bottle of the Spin Clean record cleaning fluid runs $19.99 on Amazon. Since I took care of the initial cleaning, that 16 oz bottle has lasted me quite some time.

The 16 oz bottle of Spin Clean cleaning fluid.

Do yourself a favor and buy the 16 oz bottle of cleaning solution.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Another suggestion: Buy a few cloth baby diapers, as they make drying your albums considerably easier. Plus, after drying a couple of albums, you'll find the two supplied clothes are too wet to soak up any more moisture.

Using the Spin Clean

Using the Spin Clean is quite simple. Fill the basin up to the line with distilled water (I use water from a Reverse Osmosis filter). Insert the two rollers into either the 12-, 10-, or 7-inch slots. Insert the two brushes into their slots, pour a cap full of cleaning fluid over the brushes, insert the record to be cleaned, and carefully turn it clockwise three rotations. Next, turn the record counter-clockwise for three rotations. 

A top view of the Spin Clean record cleaner.

Pads and rollers in place to clean 12-inch vinyl records.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you've rotated the album both ways, remove it, place it on one of the cleaning cloths, and use the other to dry one side, flip it over, and dry the second side. You can also opt to place the record on a dish drying rack and let it air dry.

I cannot say enough about the great results I've had with the Spin Clean. I've purchased albums that were sold as "near  mint" and arrived covered with fingerprints and other suspicious smears. A quick six turns in the Spin Clean and even the dirtiest albums come out sounding great. And even albums that look fine but are filled with static will often sound considerably better after a cleaning.

Also: The best Bluetooth turntables, according to vinyl experts

From one vinyl fan to another, you owe it to yourself to purchase one of these cleaning devices. Yes, this might be a gateway to you buying a more expensive tool for the job, but anyone on a budget would do well with this cost-effective cleaner.

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