cleaning gritty surface noise on LPs

Back in the '70s I used a Disc Preener to clean my records.  At times I, or perhaps a roommate, might have gotten the Disc Preener too moist, and the result has been a low-level, gritty surface noise on some of those old records that are otherwise in good shape.

I've tried cleaning them with various record cleaning solutions (mostly alcohol-based) with my Nitty Gritty RCM, and nothing has lessened this particular noise, even though they have worked fine with other LPs.

Has anyone encountered this problem and solved it?


Yes. It is pretty easy… but requires a bit of effort.

For most albums the answer is a vacuum disk washer. There are many on the market… like VPI, I use the German Nessie… there are many. Some are ultrasonic, these may be slightly better than traditional - dispense fluid / vacuum up type.

I have 2,000 albums. A few hundred from the 70’s, heavily played. With an audiophile table (these reduce surface noise by a huge amount), and cleaning… they sound nearly pristine. Inexpensive vacuum cleaners like VPI sound a lot like a jet landing… better quality ones are smaller and MUCH quieter.


But owning vinyl and getting the most out of it requires a vacuum cleaning device.


After a thorough vacuum cleaning, I apply LAST record preservative. Seldom does a record need vacuum cleaning again. . I use LAST general cleaner and their brush before playing… to keep the dust off the album and stylist.


There are a few albums… for me I have found maybe 1%… that are hopeless. If a vacuum cleaner doesn’t do it… then either live with it or toss it. 


Thanks for your response, but you missed my mention of using a Nitty Gritty Record Cleaning Machine, which is a vacuum cleaning machine.

I have used very similar practices to yours--LAST preservative, then routine cleaning with a carbon-fiber brush after using a Zerostat gun.  I also use the LAST stylus brushes, Onzow Zerodust stylus cleaner and LAST stylus preservative, and my stylus has over 1000 hrs. on it and still sounds fine. 

For deep cleaning I've used the LAST "First" cleaner, Nitty Gritty fluid, Disk Doctor and others, and I'm afraid these particular records may be like your hopeless 1%.  It's a shame because they are otherwise largely free of "ticks," "pops," and what-have-you. 

I'm wondering if something different like the MoFi "enzyme" cleaning fluid or Dawn dishwashing detergent (well-known for cutting grease, removing fingerprints, etc.) would give any different result than the cleaners I've used.


Oops, I did not read carefully enough. I still use VPI cleaning fluid… non alcoholic. Long ago I did a ridiculously deep dive into cleaning fluids. One rule was no alcohol. I have tried a few fluids. My take is that if you have a really good table and cartrige and a good vacuum cleaning doesn’t do it… then nothing is going to change that. Toss it.

I mention the table, because when I got my first audiophile table the noise level dropped dramatically, particularly in my ancient heavily played albums. I believe because the stylist is a fraction of the size of the ones I used way back when… so they drop down to pristine vinyl. So, a cleaning and a really good cartridge can eliminate the noise.

Ethanol and isopropanol (one or the other, ethanol preferred) are beneficial additives to an LP cleaning solution along with a nonionic detergent. If you’re using pure water alone, your solution cannot dissolve oils or lift and solubilize dirt deeply in grooves. This has been discussed here ad nauseam.

ghdprentice, Better be careful, when my hair stylus found out about my cartridge stylist, all hell broke loose! 😁

I'm afraid you will not be able to fix these records. Cleaning, as you have already noted, does nothing. Somewhere down the line something happened to them, maybe played with a bad stylus. In a last ditch effort, incase somebody sprayed them with contact cement, you can spray them off with brake cleaning fluid. It will not damage the record, I have done it to prove a point.

The best approach will be to buy new copies of the music you cherish.

Ultrasonic cleaning is a fad and the process has extreme limitations.  

Could that “something” that happened to make LPs noisy have anything to do with using one or more of those LAST products? Perhaps a very long term effect manifested after a few decades? I don’t have an opinion; just wondering out loud.


Ultrasonic cleaning is a fad and the process has extreme limitations.

That's a remarkable statement from someone who previously claimed that most LPs needed no more cleaning that could be provided by a simple conductive sweep arm.


Ultrasonic cleaning is a fad and the process has extreme limitations.  


A Fad???? LOL that is the most ridiculous comment I have ever read (well maybe not the most but damn close)   I get the most Amazing results with my cleaning mix in a Ultrasonic bath and a distilled rinse and Vacuum dry.  I have been doing this for over a year and will not be stopping.


Unless you have an industrial clean room in your house using any vinyl cleaning method that uses an evaporative drying technique, air or fan simply re-contaminates the record with the crap floating around in the air. Records have to be vacuum dried which is why so many machines do this. The companies that rely on air of fan drying need to take a class in environmental science. So, if you are going to try cleaning your records ultrasonically you also have to buy a machine to vacuum dry them. This is an expensive messy process and a royal PITA. While you are trying to dry one side the other is being contaminated dripping all over your machine. Machines like the Nessie effectively clean one side at a time and vacuum dry it immediately then you flip to the other side. If time is a consideration, which it is for me, get a Clearaudio Double Matrix Sonic Pro which is handily the best vinyl cleaning device on the market as it cleans and vacuum dries both sides at the same time. 3 minutes and you have a clean record. 

I repeat ultrasonic cleaning of vinyl is a silly proposition. It is great for Jewelry. Have fun wasting your time and contaminating your records. 


                    Sorry didn't mention this,  I have a vacuum machine I dry the record with and no I do not live in a "clean room"   Boy your a bit Snarky with your "Wasting time and I'm contaminating my records" comment. My records go into new either Mofi Anti static sleeves or Invest in Vinyl sleeves right after listening to the results. My results for my cleaning process (which ends with my Ultrasonic Machine then distilled rinse and Vacuum dry) Blows your "Wasting time and Contaminating my records" Out of the Water.   Anyways Happy Holidays to you and Yours. 

Kindest Regards,


I'd be a bit suspicious about all those LAST products too.

@mijostyn I must disagree with you in your blanket condemnation of ultrasonic cleaning. If used wisely, it certainly improves on a vacuum RCM, and by wisely I mean addressing the issue you raise about air-drying. For example, I remove as gross contamination as possible with a Loricraft point-source vacuum machine, mostly to avoid contamination of the solution in the Degritter which follows it. Then I do a distilled water rinse on the Loricraft and dry the record on that same machine. I have experimented with changing the order of the machines and with all sorts of solutions, and I think I have it right now. It doesn't make very much difference whether I use a detergent based solution or an enzymatic one: either gets removed by the final rinse and so residue contamination is not an issue. And the final vacuum drying reduces static from air-drying, so that is dealt with (I admit I still use a Furutech Destat III and a blower brush before each play to be sure.) A record treated like this will usually be silent and can be played a dozen times before needing a repeat clean.

I do agree in one respect though, if the Degritter breaks down (as they seem to eventually do) I shall likely continue with the Loricraft alone. It seems to do all the heavy lifting as about 80% of records will be silent when cleaned on it without the Degritter, as I discovered by using it for twelve years before I added the Degritter. That has made a record with surface noise quite the rarity now, the exceptions are usually older records that have had a hard life with previous owners or with me before I learned that cleaning was so important.



All you have to do is use the Loricraft, a fine brush and a good fluid. What you are doing is exactly as I described. However, being a very impatient person, the single most important factor in record cleaning is spending as little time as possible doing it. I know the Double Matrix is expensive, but IMHO worth every cent because of the time it saves doing the best job possible. 


You are right, I am a very snarky person.

Happy Black Friday. I suggest you hide the credit cards:-)

Follow the Neil Antin' Manual Cleaning Method

There is a result I have attained from using this Method, that I can only describe as a Purified LP once cleaned.

When set up last Winter to Batch Clean I could comfortably complete 10 LP's per hour, with the first cleaned LP being replay able after approx 20 Minutes. 

Is there methods that are speedier than this?

What is the outlay /$'s required for the added luxury of machine cleaning and extra speed?

For the record, I have a redundant US Tank


They may well be damaged beyond repair, but I would try washing them in the sink with some Dawn and free-flowing water. Sometimes the amount of rinsing you can get on the nitty gritty is not adequate to remove all the residue. No need to wet the labels. After the sink wash, use a regular fluid on the NG to remove tap water residues. Worth a try I think. 


Thanks.  A nice, inexpensive solution.

I've also ordered the MoFi cleaning solutions, to see if any of them work better than the ones I've used.

When cleaning records a rinse is always required after any cleaning. An often over looked verity in record cleaning.