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A Vinyl Blog For Vinyl People

Why You Should Clean New Records

Magnified vinyl record grooves

A common mistake committed by many of us, bringing a new record home, ripping off the cellophane wrapping like a crazed madman and putting that sweet nectar to spin. All too often, we assume that because new records are fresh from the press, that they must be clean and ready to play. We couldn’t be further from the truth, new vinyl can come with a heavy static charge, inherited during the packaging and transport process. This article covers why static is harmful to sound quality, it’s removal and prevention

How does static affect your records?


Polyvinyl Chloride, the material records are made from, is a very good conductor of static electricity. And to make it worse, the purer the vinyl is, the more susceptible to static it is.

So, what’s so bad about static? The charge itself doesn’t affect the quality of playback, it’s more the dust/hair/pets that static tends to attract to your record surface. These dust particles end up causing the stylus to jump and skip in the groove, resulting in pops during playback.

With static being such an issue for record collectors, there is a wide selection of products available to combat it. How you go about keeping your records static and dust free really comes down to how much you want to spend.

Humidifiers - Static electricity is caused by an imbalance of neutrons on a surface, high levels of humidity can make the air it more conductive and help it absorb and distribute uneven charges. These work well for small spaces but can be expensive and cause issues with damp.

Static Guns - Unleash a hail of bullets into your vinyl collection, that should take care of any static charges and anyone standing behind them. But really, static guns do exist. Instead of bullets these guns fire ions, bringing balance back to the record surface. Prices for these can be anywhere between £30 - 50, so again, only really for those who want to invest heavily. And they only remove the charge, any dust already on the surface will remain.

Anti Static Brushes - These come in many shapes, sizes and material. The high end of the market can stretch to a whopping £100+ for the Levin goats hair brushes, the lower end being a more manageable £10-20. They usually use either carbon fibre or velvet to discharge static and remove dust. Below we show how well velvet brushes work.

To clearly demonstrate the need to clean and discharge new vinyl, we have chosen Sam Smith’s new album - The Thrill Of It All. The white vinyl makes it perfect to see the dust deposits caused by static charge. It’s important to note that this vinyl was completely new, we only opened it for the purposes of this demonstration.

Below you can see the surface of the record, a mixture of dust, paper and hair has attached itself to the record’s surface. If we were to play this now, you’d hear horrible pops and crackle.

Static on Vinyl Record

The static charge on the surface of the record is keeping all this grime firmly attached. It's not a case of simply taking a cloth and wiping it away. We've chosen to use a velvet cleaning pad to both discharge the static, and clear away the dust.

Sam Smith Vinyl Record With Anti Static Brush

We stock a wide range of anti-static brushes and pads. Suitable for all your record cleaning needs. See More...

To use the velvet pad, simply place on the record and move around the record in a circular motion in line with the grooves. You may have to make several rotations to clear the groove sufficiently. 

Life Hack - Spin your record on a turntable and simply hold the velvet pad in place. Less effort and a better result!

Build up of dust on vinyl record

It's clear to see in the image above that the velvet pad has successfully removed the dust from other areas of the record and this has led to it being built up in one strip. Next, simply brush away the build-up off the record. Now enjoy your dust and static free record! Just look at the results below.

Clean vinyl record

 

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