How To Clean Mold Off Vinyl Records

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Mold can be quite the issue for vinyl records. If you have had vinyl records in storage for some time, they can develop mold which should be removed before handing the vinyl let alone playing it.

So how do you clean mold off vinyl records?

Mold should be cleaned off using isopropyl alcohol and microfiber cloths. It is important that vinyl records are stored in relatively dry areas as moisture will cause mold to grow.

I’ll take you through the best and safest way to clean vinyl records, as well as some tips on avoiding some bad methods. I’ll also point out some alternative ways to clean your vinyl if you don’t have isopropyl alcohol on hand.

How To Clean Mold Off Vinyl Records 

One of the most important things to remember is that vinyl records can be damaged if the right cleaning process is not followed. If possible, check the record sleeve or other information to find out if your record is made from vinyl or shellac.

Vinyl records can be cleaned using isopropyl alcohol.

  • Shellac, which is commonly what 78 RPM records are made of, will break down if you apply any type of alcohol to them.

The natural oils from your hands can cause damage to the vinyl, so always hold your vinyl by the outer edges or the center. You will also need proper cleaners and microfiber cloths as well as a clean, dry surface to do the cleaning on. Gloves may also help.

Prepare your cleaner by mixing a solution of 0.5% isopropyl alcohol with 99.5% distilled water in a spray bottle.

You should use at least 90% strength isopropyl alcohol for this task. You also want to get some disinfectant wipes that are around 50% alcohol.

Mold is extremely toxic and should not be inhaled. If your vinyl and jacket sleeves have visible mold, you should wear a mask during the cleaning process. Inhaling even a few mold spores can be detrimental to your health.

Set up your cleaning space by laying a clean piece of fabric on a flat surface. First, put the record on the fabric, and then apply the cleaning solution from the spray bottle.

Make sure to carefully spray only the vinyl, trying not to get any solution on the inner label. It is worth covering the label with a piece of plastic or other water-resistant surface to prevent random drops getting on it inadvertently.

Take another microfiber cloth and wipe the record in a circular motion, (going with the groove!) Repeat as often as seems necessary but do not use a lot of force or pressure.

As it is easy for the surface to be scratched, when cleaning the other side, place the cleaned side on a new cloth.

Once finished, let it air dry upright for an hour or so. Use a piece of dowel or similar to hang the vinyl from, or run string through the hole and dry similar to a clothesline. Direct sunlight can be used but too long may cause melting.

  • After your successful cleaning, don’t undo it by putting it back into a dirty sleeve. 

If there is also mold on the label of a record it can be tricky to get off. Mold is almost always going to bring with it damage to the label, as well as the cleaning process.

Try using disinfectant wipes but before using squeeze excess moisture out of them. If the wipe is too moist, it can saturate the paper of the label. Go slow and wipe away the mold as best as you can. 

The disinfectant wipes should also kill the mold so a thorough wipe will be enough.

A similar approach can be made with the record sleeve. Mold likes to grow in damp, warm areas so look into the corners. After wiping it down, set the sleeve to dry in a dry environment.

The best way to clean Mold of vinyl records is of course without ever touching the surface. This can be achieved with an ultrasonic record cleaner.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean Vinyl Records?

It is possible to clean vinyl records with vinegar but it’s not recommended. The vinyl that your records are made out of is quite delicate and sensitive. 

You should only use white distilled vinegar. Other types will contain a lot of natural material and tiny particles which can scratch your vinyl.

Vinegar is acidic and may promote mold growth. Any aluminum parts are vulnerable to acid attack, such as the vinyl player. Wipe any excess off and make sure the record surface is dry. 

Check out this YouTube video.

What Household Items Can You Use To Clean Vinyl Records?

Other types of wipes may bring some success. You can use cotton pads or felt pads, or stain pads that you find in the hardware store.

Given the sensitive nature of vinyl records, most commercial cleaning products will likely cause damage. The majority of cleaners are too strong and may even contain small particles to aid in the scrubbing process that would scratch vinyl records if used.

Vinyl records should be stored in areas with low humidity and moisture. Dark, damp areas will be a breeding ground for mold and so find areas away from heaters and direct sunlight.

Can You Clean Vinyl Records With Soap And Water?

Soap and water can be successful at removing mold on a record. However it can cause issues that can ruin the vinyl if not done properly, and it won’t be that effective of a clean. 

It is important to make sure all traces of water are removed after cleaning as it will cause more mold. It is important to particularly check the grooves to make sure they are free from any obstructions.

In the end, soap and water are much better at removing dust and dirt rather than mold.

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