Is Vinegar a Good Way to Clean Vinyl Records?

Is vinegar a good way to clean vinyl records? That’s a good question. Vinyl records are currently considered antique items collected by many, but many music enthusiasts still love them. In the last few years, vinyl has even made quite the comeback, and it looks like it’s here to stay, so keeping your old vinyl clean might not be a bad idea.

Vinegar, which is popularly known as the perfect natural cleanser, is also suitable for vinyl records. When properly diluted, vinegar aids in removing grime, dust, and oils from your vinyl records when applied with a soft cloth.

In this article, I will be taking you through reasons you should consider vinegar for cleaning your records, how to use it, some cons involved, and the best type of vinegar for cleaning vinyl records.

Can You Use Vinegar to Clean Vinyl Records?

Vinegar helps clean vinyl records; however, only plain white vinegar is appropriate in cleaning vinyl records effectively. It eliminates microbial organisms on your vinyl record. Vinegar can help keep your records clean and new; it’s non-toxic and cheap to make or buy. There are many reasons why vinegar helps to clean your records. (source)

Why You Should Use Vinegar

As stated earlier, vinegar is a popular natural cleaner; it is efficient, effective, and cheap. It is also safe to breathe due to its non-toxic nature, especially homemade vinegar solutions. (source)

There are lots of reasons why you should decide to use vinegar solutions to clean your vinyl records; these are the same reasons and outcomes I have experienced: 

  • When applied to the vinyl record, vinegar immediately breaks dust deposits on your vinyl records and breaks the grime. Deposits like cheesy fingers from eating chips or processed snacks are no match for vinegar.
  • The solution dries up fast and lets you have your record ready to play again in no time.
  • It is budget-friendly, and homemade vinegar solutions have also been widely effective among vinyl collectors and lovers like me.
  • The solution also has certain antibacterial features. So, you also have your records germ-free to some extent.
  • It is non-toxic, safe to breathe in the fumes without fear of toxic exposure, and not harmful to the health of humans when the fumes are inhaled or liquid touched. As you know, you can sprinkle it on your fries or fish and chips too.
  • It keeps your record looking polished, shiny, and neat, irrespective of how long ago it was cleaned last or how dirty it might be.
  • Vinegar does no damage to your records when adequately diluted.
  • When vinyl records are stained with grease or an oily substance, vinegar solutions clean them as effectively as they clean dust and dirt.

How Do You Use Vinegar to Clean a Vinyl Record?

There are a few precautionary steps to follow when using vinegar to clean your vinyl records; these steps also involve the quantity to use; these steps are essential and influential to the outcome, so it’s best to take heed:

  1. The first and most crucial step to using vinegar is to ensure you clean your record with a carbon brush first, wiping off the dust. This step is helpful for daily cleaning without any solutions and essential when using any substance or cleaning agents, including vinegar. Getting rid of loose stuff first is best, so you don’t smear wet dust into a groove.
  2. If there is a lot of dust on the record, it is not advisable to directly apply your vinegar solution on the vinyl record. Doing this will make it messy and sticky, and the answer to this is using PVA glue on your vinyl record surface, causing all the dust particles to stick to it. Then the glue is pulled out, and vinegar is applied to clean the record.
  3. The next step is to prepare your vinegar solution, and this includes a mixture of a 50 by 50 ratio of vinegar and distilled water. Many people add a few drops of dishwashing soap to the mix, which works well but is not mandatory.
  4. Ensure to use lukewarm distilled water in your mixture, avoid directly applying boiling or hot water on your record and avoid chilled water. The water used in the combination should be at room temperature before mixing and application.
  5. After you complete these steps and clean your record, check it for any residual solution. If any left, use soft linen cloth to wipe off the residual solution properly. Then use your carbon brush to remove any lint fibers left from the cloth.

Can You Use White Vinegar to Clean Vinyl Records?

In my experience, white vinegar is unarguably the best vinegar solution for cleaning vinyl records. 

Flavored vinegar, like chili vinegar and others, must not be used to clean vinyl records. The only good vinegar to use in cleaning your vinyl record is plain white vinegar. It gives excellent results, highly effective for cleaning, and perfect for your records. The white vinegar also kills bacterial organisms and keeps them free from microorganisms like dust mites. 

Killing microbes with vinegar is done using unflavoured plain white vinegar with a lukewarm distilled water solution to clean your records. Apple cider and rice bran vinegar are also not suitable for vinyl records; plain white is the only acceptable vinegar variant for your vinyl record (source).

Disadvantages of Using Vinegar to Clean Vinyl Records

Everything in life has a good and bad side, and the same goes for the act of using vinegar to clean your records. Vinegar is excellent for cleaning but is not perfect due to its acidic nature. 

The rare aluminum records might get destroyed by vinegar over time due to its acidic nature. They gradually corrode, and the best solution to this is to ensure that after each vinegar cleaning, wash your record with only the lukewarm distilled water and wipe off with a clean and dry cloth (source). 

After the record is dry, always use a carbon fiber brush to remove any lint left from the clean cloth used to wipe the record.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Vinegar Bad For Vinyl Records?

Vinegar is excellent for cleaning vinyl records. It kills disease-causing germs, wipes off any greasy stains, and is not toxic to humans.

Most cleaning agents like soaps and others usually leave residues that are hard to get off; however, vinegar residues can be wiped off with just lukewarm water and a dry cloth to keep it shiny, new, and clean. 

How Long Can Vinegar Be Used to Clean Vinyl Records?

There is no expiration date on the use of vinegar in cleaning vinyl records. 
People apply it multiple times to any vinyl record or as often as you wash them.
 It does not damage your record over time, as long as it is diluted accordingly.

How Do I Mix the Vinegar Solution for Cleaning?

Plain white vinegar is mixed with lukewarm distilled water to clean vinyl records; evenly measured. If you use two cups of vinegar, mix two cups of lukewarm distilled water to mix before use. Vinegar cannot be directly applied to a vinyl record by collectors because it is acidic and can corrode the vinyl record. It is mixed with distilled water to tone down its capacity and wiped off with lukewarm water and a clean, dry cloth after cleaning.

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