How to Clean 78 Rpm Records

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you have just inherited a collection of 78rpm records or are a long-time collector, cleaning your 78rpm records is essential in order to preserve and enjoy them for many years. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your records clean.

Rinse the 78rpm record with tap water, taking care not to get water on the paper label.

Mix 28.4gr dishwashing detergent (a mild variety such as Ivory without additional additives) with 1 qt. of water. Apply to the record using a clean, soft washcloth or a clean paintbrush. Use light pressure to move stubborn dirt spots. Wipe the record in the direction of the grooves, never across the grooves.

Rinse the record again in tap water to remove the detergent solution, again taking care not the wet the label.

Follow the tap water rinse with a rinse of distilled water if your tap water is hard and tends to leave spots on your dishes.

Dry the clean 78rpm record by dabbing it with a clean, lint-free cloth. Do not wipe across the grooves.

Let record stand in a record stand or lie flat on a lint-free cloth overnight to dry completely.


Special brushes and cleaners are available for 78rpm and 33 1/2 vinyl records (see Resources).


Many 78rpm records made before 1946 were made of shellac, which dissolves in alcohol. Unless you are sure that your record is not made of shellac, never use a product containing alcohol for cleaning your record. Many commercial LP cleaners contain alcohol--take extra caution before using these on 78rpm records. Labels that are water damaged or bubbled will reduce your 78rpm record's collectable value. If the label needs cleaning, use a barely damp cloth and dry immediately, or try a kneaded eraser. If your record is an Edison Diamond Disk, acetate or Hit of the Week, do not use water to clean it. Dry brush only or seek a restoration specialist in your area.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild hand dishwashing detergent
  • Soft washcloth or soft paintbrush
  • Distilled water
  • Lint-free cloth
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