How to Clean LP Records

Updated March 23, 2017

LP records are great collector's items. Some people have saved these large vinyl recordings of their favourite music for many years. There are record stores that specialise in selling this older format of recorded music. Some people still prefer to play them on record player turntables. Some older music can only be found on LP records and are much sought after. Yard sales and flea markets are a treasure trove for the LP record collector. Some of the records may be in too bad of a condition to actually play anymore, but others may only need a little cleaning.

Hold the Lp record up under a good light and check its surface for scratches. Dirt will clean without hurting the sound of the record, but deep scratches may render the record worthless. Scratches make the needle jump as it moves along the recorded grooves. This will result in the music skipping or repeating over and over again. There is no way to clean up a record that has deep scratches in it.

Remove all of your rings, watches or bracelets before you begin cleaning the records. Even the slightest bump may add scratches or jabs into the vinyl surface. Run your fingers along the surface of the record, following the round grooves. Feel for scratches you may not be able to see.

Use hot soapy water to remove a lot of excess dirt and grime build up. Use a soft cotton cloth and wring it out well. Lay the record on a soft cloth on a flat surface. Rub it with the damp soapy cloth making sure you follow the circling path of the grooves. Turn the record over and repeat this on the other side.

Follow up the soapy washing with an alcohol rinse. Use a soft cotton cloth or cotton balls. Dip the cloth or cotton balls into rubbing alcohol. Wipe the LP record down with the alcohol. The alcohol will remove all traces of the soap film and will dry quickly, leaving the LP record clean, shiny and ready to play.

To prevent dirt build up and scratches, always keep the LP record in a protective sleeve. Try to handle the record by the edges only. Fingerprints smudges will leave an oily surface that will collect dust and dirt faster.


Store LP records in their jacket covers and lay them on a flat surface to avoid warping the vinyl.


Do not leave vinyl records next to a heat source. They will warp if the heat is to extreme or too constant.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dish liquid
  • Soft cloths
  • Towel
  • Cotton balls
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About the Author

Donna Thacker has been a writer/photographer for over 15 years. She held the position of associate editor/writer/photographer at Biker Ally Magazine. She currently is a photojournalist for The Biking Life, and has been featured on the front page of The Greenville Advocate, The Hillsboro Journal and The Sorento News. Thacker also designed and published several booklets of historical interest for local organizations.