Looking for the best way to clean a turntable rubber mat shouldn’t be a huge ordeal. Rubber mats help dampen vibrations and also aid in sticking to the metal platter and record. In addition, the rubber mat allows the record to gain and hold momentum via the spinning platter underneath.
Cleaning any rubber products, be it a turntable rubber mat or other rubber product, is best accomplished using warm water and mild soap. Natural soaps are the best, maintaining a lack of chemical additives such as perfumes or moisturizers that could leave a residue on the rubber mat.
It may seem very straightforward to clean a rubber mat with soap and water merely, but there’s a little more to it than that, which you would do well to understand. After all, you don’t want to wreck that rubber mat by using the wrong soap or drying method. I’ll take you through a quick tutorial on adequately cleaning your mat, what soaps work best, and some other tips like proper drying methods, so stick around and let’s get this spinning.
The #1 Best Way To Clean A Turntable Rubber Mat
The best way to clean a turntable rubber mat is by using warm water and mild soap. But, if you want to keep that mat in great shape, you have to heed the water, soap, and drying techniques. So, let’s take a look deeper into rubber, soap, water, and drying.
Rubber – What You Need To Know
Rubber is an incredible invention of humans, first created from the sap of certain plants, such as the rubber tree. Rubber is a polymer, whether it’s the natural rubber or rubber created synthetically. As a polymer, the molecule is susceptible to ultraviolet radiation, extreme temperatures, ozone, and oxidation. (source)
Best Soaps For Rubber
When determining the best soaps for use with rubber, we need to take a few things into account. First, the best soaps for cleaning rubber are the most natural, with the fewest additives. Second, you may also find some specialty soaps for cleaning tire rubber, but without knowing if they will leave a residue, like those that would make your tires shine, I wouldn’t recommend using them on a turntable rubber mat.
Finding pure soap might be a bit of a challenge, but it isn’t impossible. Many people have allergies to perfumes and additives, so I’ve found that it’s pretty simple to find pure soap, but you have to know what to look for in a soap.
Try searching in grocery stores and pharmacies. Look where they sell the hand soap, and you will likely find either bar soap or liquid soap that does not have perfumes. You’re looking for natural, unscented, and without additives. Any additives, perfumes, or moisturizers will leave a film on the rubber that will transfer to your records. As that would be bad, we don’t want to use soap with additives like perfumes or moisturizers.
Water Types For Rubber Cleaning
When cleaning rubber, it is best to use mild soaps, but what about water? I mean, it’s just a turntable rubber mat, so I don’t recommend going to the effort of only using distilled water. We aren’t creating a vaccine in a laboratory. We’re just cleaning a turntable rubber mat, right?
Ordinary tap water should be fine for cleaning rubber. Use a warm temperature, and just make sure that the rubber is thoroughly rinsed after so no soap stays on the mat.
If you are a purist, then the best water to use is distilled. Distilled water is pure water and doesn’t have additives like chlorine, fluoride, or other such things. Although I think it would be a waste of time and money, if you have some distilled water and no other use, then have at it and go ahead with cleaning your rubber mat with it.
Drying Rubber – The Right Way
Drying a rubber mat is simple with some paper towels (if you like having to wash it all over again). But I don’t recommend using a towel, paper towel, or anything else. Why? They leave paper or cloth dust on the rubber, which negates your work to clean it in the first place.
The best method to dry your turntable rubber mat is to hang it to air dry. Using warm water will promote the warmth in the mat to aid in speeding evaporative drying. Also, by merely letting the mat air dry, you will not be covering it in paper towel dust or fabric dust from a towel or other drying material.
Should I Condition My Rubber Mat?
Many people who are aware of rubber decay will want to know if one can condition the rubber. After all, many automotive products claim to condition tires – and they are also made of rubber, right?
The issue with most tire rubber conditioners is that they cater to the car crowd who want to see shiny black tires on their vehicles. Unfortunately, that shiny sheen is the result of a leftover oily coating. Now that might seem cool – a shiny black rubber mat on your turntable. However, consider the dust that will stick to that residue or the shine residue that will rub onto your vinyl records. Worse yet, what if it reacts with the vinyl record?
In short, the best idea is to avoid any rubber conditioners. Although working well on rubber applications where a bit of residue is okay, even natural olive oil should never be used on turntable rubber mats. Keep them clean, keep them clear of residues.
How Do You Keep The Rubber From Drying Out?
Older turntable rubber mats will start to degrade over time. Unfortunately, there is no way around it unless you can store your rubber in a vacuum environment with zero light, and of course, no time.
As mentioned earlier, light (UV), ozone, oxygen, and temperature affect rubber decay. As a result, the rubber will inevitably become brittle and crack.
Unfortunately, if you have an antique turntable and the rubber mat has aged, there is little you can do to renew the mat. Likely, you will merely have to replace it.
How To Keep Rubber Mats In Good Condition
Rubber is a wonder of nature. The elasticity and other features have made rubber a part of many parts of our lives, including use on the turntable platter. However, aged rubber will let the record slip and no longer hold the sticky rubber qualities that made it a great connector for vinyl records to metal turntable platters.
A rubber band that is regularly used, regularly stretched, and allowed to spring back, will last longer than an elastic that sits idle. For example, if you were to experiment with two elastics, one stretched over a jar, the other regularly handled and stretched, you would find the elastic regularly handled and stretched would last longer.
There are two reasons why some elastic that gets handled last longer. First, your hands have oils on them from touching your face. Second, that oil actually helps protect the rubber from oxidation. But that same oil on your records is a bad thing because it traps dust and dirt.
The other reason why the elastic that gets handled lasts longer has to do with additives many manufacturers add to the rubber of things like tires and elastics. (source)
However, rubber mat manufacturers for turntables likely don’t bother adding these substances during the manufacturing process due to the lack of need for contraction or stretching of the rubber during regular use.
So, the only real thing that helps is again natural oils. But these same oils are not good on your records, so if you choose to oil your turntable rubber mat for prolonged life, it would be best to use a buffer like a slipmat. Using a felt slipmat keeps the oil residue from conditioning the rubber mat from getting on your records.
However, using a slipmat negates the need for a rubber mat in the first place. The choice, my vinyl-loving friends, is up to you. Either way, you know how to clean the rubber mat properly at the very least.
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