Can You Clean Vinyl Records With Baby Wipes?

Think you can clean your vinyl records with baby wipes? You might want to save those wipes for actual babies.

You can’t and shouldn’t clean vinyl records with baby wipes. Although these wipes seem soft and harmless, they also contain chemicals that strip your records of their protective coating and harm them in the long run. Always use cleaning agents specially made for vinyl records.

In the next section, I’ll explore the topic — can you clean vinyl records with baby wipes — in greater detail and suggest alternative materials to use for cleaning your records. Then, I’ll go into detail on how to clean vinyl records, so stick around until the end.

Can You Use Baby Wipes on Vinyl Records?

In theory, using baby wipes on vinyl records seems like a good idea. After all, baby wipes consist of microfibers which probably won’t scratch your records. But that doesn’t mean baby wipes are indeed suitable for cleaning vinyl records.

You can’t use baby wipes on vinyl records because they can’t adequately clean vinyl records. Here’s why:

  • Baby wipes contain phenoxyethanol.
  • Baby wipes have ingredients that leave a residue.
  • Other substances are more suited to clean vinyl records.

The following sections explain these reasons further.

Baby Wipes Contain Phenoxyethanol

Vinyl records consist of 96 percent PVC/PVA polymer. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, has the perfect durability for a vinyl record. It’s flexible enough to have grooves carved into it and is strong enough to withstand constant scratching from a turntable stylus. Also, PVC can accommodate large quantities of music and is relatively cheap to produce.

Baby wipes contain, among other things, phenoxyethanol. Phenoxyethanol functions as a preservative and stabilizer and is a common ingredient in cosmetic products. 

When PVC absorbs phenoxyethanol, the former can deteriorate by up to 20 percent. Since vinyl records consist almost entirely of PVC, the latter shouldn’t be anywhere near phenoxyethanol. 

Baby Wipes Have Ingredients That Leave a Residue

Aside from phenoxyethanol, baby wipes have oils, fragrances, and other substances that leave residue on your vinyl records. Even if you think you’ve wiped down your vinyl record thoroughly, tiny particles from the substances above may remain. That said, avoid baby wipes when cleaning your precious vinyl records.

Other Substances Are More Suited To Clean Vinyl Records

Anything that comes into contact with a vinyl record must:

  • Not sacrifice the integrity of the materials comprising the record.
  • Be free from even the tiniest impurities.
  • Have as little contact with the record as possible.

So what specific materials meet the above criteria? Let’s talk about those in the next section.

What Can You Clean Vinyl Records With?

If you despair at the idea of not putting those baby wipes to good use, don’t worry. Plenty of other materials can clean vinyl records instead.

You can clean vinyl records with the following:

  • Record cleaning machines
  • Distilled, deionized water
  • Alcohol-free cleaning solutions
  • Specialized cleaning solutions

Let’s go into more detail about the above materials.

Record Cleaning Machines

If you have the cash to spare, the best way to clean a vinyl record is with a vacuum cleaner or a record washer.

When I say “vacuum cleaner,” I’m not talking about the one that removes dust balls from your living room floor. I’m talking about vacuum cleaners designed especially for vinyl records. 

For example, the Record Doctor Record Washer (available on Amazon.com) is a vacuum cleaner and record washer rolled into one. All you have to do is secure your record using the machine’s platter and turner, turn it by hand and let the record washer work its magic.

Record Doctor – High Performance Vacuum Cleaning Vinyl Record Washer and LP Record Cleaning Machine, Includes Complete Kit and Applicator Brush

The only downside to record cleaning machines is the price. Unless you have enough vinyl records to fill up an entire room, you’re better off with more budget-friendly options. 

Distilled, Deionized Water

If you think you can use regular tap water to clean a vinyl record, think again. Tap water contains impurities that build up residue over time. 

You don’t want to use regular bottled water, either. Like tap water, bottled water may contain tiny particles that damage vinyl records.

Instead, you need to use purified water such as the Crystal Geyser Since 1977 Purified Water (available on Amazon.com) that can function as a record cleaner and drinking water. 

Alcohol-Free Cleaning Solutions

Contrary to what you read in some places online, isopropyl alcohol is the last thing you want anywhere near your vinyl record. Although alcohol is strong enough to remove the kind of dirt that settles on vinyl records, it’s also potent enough to strip away its protective layers. 

Unfortunately, many record cleaning products contain isopropyl alcohol. Before buying any record cleaning product, check the ingredients list first. 

Specialized Cleaning Solutions

Luckily, you can buy record cleaning solutions online. The good ones have the following characteristics:

  • Low surface tension: If a cleaning solution has low surface tension, it can penetrate the difficult-to-reach areas of your vinyl record.
  • Zero reaction to PVC: As noted earlier, PVC comprises over 90 percent of your vinyl record. Therefore, your cleaning solution mustn’t react negatively to PVC.
  • Residue-free: The cleaning solution shouldn’t leave even the smallest amount of residue on your record once it’s dried off.

One reputable brand of record cleaning solution is GrooveWasher. In particular, the G Groove Washer Record Cleaning Kit from Amazon.com. It comes with a special brush, so you don’t have to worry about buying a cleaning cloth separately.  

GrooveWasher Walnut Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit

Now you know the “what” of cleaning vinyl records. What about the “how?” If you don’t have a record cleaning kit or don’t want to buy one because it’s too expensive, I’ll give you a quick walkthrough on cleaning vinyl records with the materials you have on hand. 

How To Clean Vinyl Records

As I said earlier, vinyl records are delicate. If you’d rather not spend a fortune on record cleaning materials, you can still clean your vinyl record — though you have to be more careful than people who have specialized cleaning tools.

Brush the Surface With an Anti-Static Brush

Before using your cleaning solution, you must first clear dirt and other particles from the vinyl record’s surface. Otherwise, if you spray your cleaning solution right away, the dirt might stick deeper into your record and make it harder to clean. 

Using an anti-static record cleaner brush, brush your record while following the groove lines. If your record cleaning kit doesn’t already have a brush, you can buy something such as the Boundless Audio Record Cleaner Brush (available on Amazon.com). This record cleaner brush safely removes dirt and dust.

Boundless Audio Record Cleaner Brush - Vinyl Cleaning Carbon Fiber Anti-Static Record Brush

Spray Cleaning Solution, and Wipe With a Microfiber Cloth

Earlier, I outlined the possible cleaning solutions you can use to clean a vinyl record. Whichever you choose, spray it over your record and wipe it off using a microfiber cloth. If you’re using water, distill and deionize the water first.

When wiping off your record, make sure you do it in a circular motion that follows the groove lines. Also, put as little pressure on the cloth as possible, lest you scratch or damage the record.

Dry With a Clean Microfiber Cloth

If you have a dry and clean microfiber cloth, use that to wipe the cleaning solution off your record. 

If the vinyl record wasn’t cleaned in one go, repeat the steps above in order until your record is spotless.

Related article: A Step By Step Guide To Cleaning Vinyl Records With Microfiber

For a quick guide on how pros clean their vinyl records, I recommend that you watch this YouTube video by Deaf Man Vinyl:

Conclusion

Baby wipes aren’t the best tool to clean vinyl records. Instead, buy record cleaning solutions online that won’t break your budget. Don’t forget to take care while cleaning your precious records.