Got an LP cleaner you want to make money on?

The subject has come up about cleaning vinyl LPs and how expensive some of the effective LP cleaners are out there. Usually out of the monetary reach of the average vinyl player who still would like to listen to clean, quiet LPs on their turntables.

I was wondering, since many of the members here may own such equipment, whether there might be a chance to connect through Audiogon some of the owners of these cleaners who may be willing to offer their use, for a price of course, with the vinyl lovers in their particular area.

At least they could recoup some of the cost and at the same time help out others of like interests, namely enjoying listening to LPs with the least amount of pops and snaps..

What do you think? Would you owners of such equipment be interested such a service?
I'm got an older rotel TT with Van den hul MM1 that I broke back out and listened to the other day at Audio Connection. They set it up properly and it sounded ok. Then I heard a record on the Clearaudio Concept i think it was and WOW...What a difference. I now am thinking of maybe selling off my table and getting a Rega 6 and Bellari phono stage, but no matter what I need a decent record cleaner.

I find your thread interesting. In order to keep your collection clean and static free, how often to you have to clean them on average? Is it worth spending the money to get a good cleaner instead of paying someone whenever you want them cleaned? What are some of the better cleaners out there that aren't over 300 or so? I can't even find a VPI or Nitty Gritty for sale used.

Your question is very interesting to me as I've been thinking about this for a few days now. How much would it cost to clean a record? Do you all use new jackets when you clean them? Hope I didn't hijack your thread, but I think some of my questions piggy back it. Thanks.
Steam, steam. Yes, water is expensive but it works better then most 'magic' solutions. Oh, it is a labor intensive process so many will be looking for a 'set it and forget it' approach. Beware, VPI, is coming out with an ultra machine. This will keep the profit machine going for another generation.
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To add to Elizabeth's posts, would the customer ask to listen to the difference on the owner's system (looking for improvement)? It could also be a half-day affair, talking-cleaning and such. What is someone's time worth?
Glad to see some responses. I've also received some personal positive ones that I hope to see repeated here in this forum. Although I was thinking of it more of a local thing where people could meet and discuss it, one was suggesting offering to do it by mail if necessary.

To Elizabeth: Thanks for responding. You've come up with a lot of reasons not to do it but I'm sure there are many who wouldn't have any problem paying $2 or more per record to have some records cleaned well. I have personally set up a system to manually clean mine that works well, but others I've spoken to are perhaps less 'do it yourself' than I am and have shown interest in such a service.

Most of us here are accustomed to many times spending a great deal of money for equipment to listen to our records. A couple bucks to clean one for less pops and snaps and a quieter sound is a drop in the bucket rather than spending another $1000 for a cleaning machine that actually works. And also rather than spending $100 on one that really doesn't.

Any other thoughts?
ctsooner: Uh oh... Now you've done it! Opened up a whole can of worms going out to listen to new equipment! But I'm always glad to hear people enjoying listening to LPs either again or for the first time.

And well the answers to some of your questions is part of why I posted this here. To maybe get a little conversation going on what to do with those LPs that may benefit from a cleaning. I buy quite a few thrift shop LPs many of which are in pristine condition, others not so much.. I don't waste my time if the surface isn't still shiny, but even then there can be dust on them that can lead to lots of pops and snaps. But after cleaning them the difference is remarkable and makes what would be difficult to listen to really enjoyable again.

But the cost of a good quality record cleaner can be staggering. So I was hoping to hook up those owners of these cleaners and who may be willing to offer their services a chance to get together.

As far as how often you clean I guess that's a personal preference, but let your ears tell you I guess is the best way to know. Less messing around with the surface to me is best, but if it gets too snap poppy it's time to do something. If the inner sleeves are really in bad shape and you think that by sliding the record back in there might just make it dirty again you can replace it, but having all the original stuff that goes with an LP to me is best. I have bought on eBay some new ones to have around to replace some that are missing in some of these thrift shop purchases.

Thanks for your response ctsooner
I'd be willing to have vinyl-philes in CT rent time on my Loricraft PRC-3. Cleaning fluids and instructions regarding best practices could be part of the deal. Flexible terms! Maybe even "FREE" if you clean one of my LP's (to my standards) for each one of yours. Warning: my standards are not easily attained. :-)



Once an LP is cleaned thoroughly, it should not need wet cleaning again. If it does, that just means it wasn't really clean the first time.

An occasional brush to remove stray cat hairs and specks of airborne dust should be sufficient. The only other thing required is neutralizing static buildup before and after each play. Static charges on vinyl attract dust like a magnet from miles around.

New inner sleeves are imperative IMO. My RCM cost $2M and it takes 20mins/side to get an LP truly clean (by my, somewhat hysterical standards). I'm not about to slide a carefully and REALLY clean LP back into a dusty, dirty, static-prone sleeve. I also put each newly cleaned and jacketed LP, and its cover, into a new outer sleeve.

Whether you, with a limited budget, should buy a RCM is an interesting question. It depends in part on the size of your record collection. If you don't have (or expect to have) many records, it might be more efficient to "rent" time on someone else's machine... per the OP's suggestion. For about the same money you might end up with cleaner records than you could achieve with an entry level RCM.
I have a Ultrasonic V8 cleaner. Here in San Antonio we have a local audio club. The Ultrasonic can clean 8 records at a time. I offer to any member a free cleaning and so far no one has taken me up on the offer although a couple of people have expressed interest. I guess for most people it is too much bother
There is an ebay record vendor who touts steam, plus VPI, plus ultra-sonic cleaning of his used records for sale and if memory serves, he also offers a cleaning service for customers to send him their records to clean. If you can't find him, i'll try and dig out his name.
Frankly, given the fact that you can buy a VPI 16.5 for less than 600 US, I don't think it is worth the trouble to travel, ship and deal with handling of records by a third party. Add some AIVS No. 15, a couple MoFi brushes and a 5 gallon container of reagent water, and you are in business. Perhaps not a Loricraft or Ultrasonic, but will get you pretty far along in your quest for a relatively minimal amount of money. And the VPI machine will last forever.
PS: if you have a couple friends who are local and similarly inclined, all of you could chip in and share a cleaning set up, as an alternative.
I have always wanted to suggest a similar idea with a Furutech LP flattener for the guys in my part of the world. Plus I think this device yields a more consistant positive result than a cleaner?
I have an early model Keith Monks that I maybe use once a year. I do offer it to friends to use if they bring their own fluid and the arm's O ring which goes brittle and breaks from not being used for months. Judging by the fact that I havent had a friend come back for a second run, I have stopped offering. Maybe it's mostly because the results dont always meet their expectations. Plus I wont sit there and clean half their LPs, I show you on the first 2 sides and then you are on your own!
Hey Guys...Should newly sealed records be cleaned initially as well??? I've heard that record manufacturers spray some type of solvent (scratch resistant) on them before placing them in the sleeves...any thoughts???
Ok, VPI or Nitty Gritty? Some company offers a Nitty Gritty head and you hook up your own vac. I have a variable speed canister that is perfect for this. I have a few hundred records and am thinking of a Bellari USB pre amp to save them digitally, but I'd still play them as they'll still sound better. I am now also looking at the Rega 6 with cart and selling the Rotel with a very very good Van den Hul MM1 as I know that's a good cartridge and folks will have interest. If I do this, I want to do it right. Thoughts on VPI vs nitty gritty.
I wouldn't clean a new LP. You want to maintain that pristeen surface as long as possible with careful handling.
Glad you asked though.
I too use steam with great success. Distilled water to minimize any buildup. Set it up so as to keep the label dry.
I bought a very clean 16.5 last year for a little over $300.
If that's not doable, I recommend a spin clean- under $100
Another answer to is find a few vinyl buddies in your area and split the cost of a used RCM. Perhaps the perfect start for a local hifi club?

Years ago there's was a store nearby that charged $1 a record to clean. I thought it was an OK service. Frankly, if I owned an audio shop, I would include in any TT purchase free lifetime record cleaning, limited to 5 LPs per visit to the shop.

Personally, I wouldn't advertise my home as a place to bring your LPs to clean for a charge. I far prefer inviting friends over and if they bring some vinyl to clean , that's great.
When I've seen stores/people offer a record cleaning service the price has usually been about $1.
It is advised by some that new records should be cleaned to remove any mold release that is still present
About twenty years ago, I owned a musical instrument shop. I had an audio department, & sold turntables & used lps. I had a Nitty Gritty & cleaned lps at $1 each, including a new rice paper sleeve. My customers were mainly young(under 30) & non audiophiles. They were happy to pay $1 each, & amazed at the improvement in look & sound of their lps. I cleaned enough lps to pay for the machine easily.

I am amazed that audio shops & especially lp shops don't provide this service. It gets people in the shop repeatedly, giving you more chances to sell other stuff. In my shop, I sold an amp & preamp to one of my lp customers. A number of them upgraded their turntables with me as well.

As far as new lps, I prefer to clean them. I used to clean my lps every time I played them, but later changed to just once each. I heard no difference. That is just my way. Your mileage may differ.
With respect to the OP, who admits he has little experience, all records should be cleaned - including new ones. There is no significant risk if proper techniques are used. There is, however, a real risk of vinyl damage from playing uncleaned records.

The vinyl plug that's placed in the mold to make an LP releases chemicals during molding and cooling. Residue from these chemicals is often called "mold release" compounds. Many people misinterpret this term to mean that the manufacturer coated the mold with some release agent, which remains behind on the LP. That is not the case, however chemicals released from the vinyl during molding do remain behind.

These should be removed before play, as otherwise they smother sonics and gunk up the stylus. Further, they provide a sticky medium that grabs onto any stray dirt. Imagine what happens when a sharpened diamond drags a piece of dirt acrosss a soft vinyl groovewall... the resulting damage cannot be repaired.

Mold release residues can harden over time, making them more resistant to removal on vintage LPs. IME, 50s-60s era Decca/London records are among the toughest to clean (if they've never been) but once you do... wow!


Record manufacturers do not "spray some type of solvent (scratch resistant") on them. A new record, after cooling, comes out of the mold and goes straight into the sleeve with nothing added but a visual inspection (if we're lucky).
I've just sent two boxes of LP's to Dave Burton for cleaning after reading this:
I've been playing records since the 60's and that's the first I've heard of needing to clean them before playing. Not sure about that one. New LPs have always sounded great. Could that be one of those urban legends?
As you've never cleaned a new record it's meaningless to say, "it sounds great"? You have no basis for comparison.

If this is the first time you've heard of this, you haven't spent much time reading forums like this one. Not that anyone would blame you! Playing records is way more fun than cleaning them, or reading about cleaning them. Try the "Record Playing Rituals" thread stickied at the top of this forum. Search for relevant keywords here or on VA. I'm far from alone in this experience and it's no urban legend.

In my system (listed) the improvements from effective cleaning of virtually any record are instantly obvious, to me and everyone who's ever visited. That includes a dozen or more Audiogoners over the years.

Please note that the sonic indicator of a truly clean LP groove is NOT a lack of clicks and pops. That's the easy part. The real test is the audibility of low level detail, upper order harmonics and micro-dynamics. Anything less than a perfectly clean groove will mask these to some extent. A trained ear that knows what to listen for helps.

Caveat: if all you play is rock/pop music with a typical MM cartridge, you may not hear many differences. My listening tends toward acoustic instruments and unamplified vocals, especially authentic instrument recordings of classical era and older music. Such recordings are many times more revealing of minor problems anywhere in the reproduction chain, including groove grunge. My preferred cartridges are extraordinarily sensitive to low level musical detail. In other words, my setup is biased toward revealing things that other systems may mask.

More than one visitor has brought over a record they swore was clean, or was new. The sonics were muffled, at least to me. Despite their insistence it wasn't necessary, I've sometimes cleaned the record for them and re-played. It's no exaggeration to say that their jaws hit the floor.

Unless you've tried something...
I'm glad Doug took that one on, and diplomatically, to boot. As to cleaning new records, there are a number of issues going on, aside from the mold release compounds (which are part of the plastic nuggets now, and not a spray, like PAM*):
if you look closely under good light at a new record, you'll often find fingerprints and other detritus (in addition to paper liner 'lint'). It is a manufacturing process with all that entails.
Aside from cleaning new, out-of-the-shrink records, I often re-clean after initial play. The stylus will dredge up material- whether this is the result of not de-horning metal parts used in the manufacturing process, or simply the result of the stylus in effect 'cleaning' the groove, I find that some new records are actually quieter after first play and re-clean.
If new records are sleeved in paper, static is almost inevitable. I find the Zerostat to be overkill (and to often do more harm than good in creating a charge) and dry brushes to be ineffective at getting into the grooves.
As Doug noted earlier (whether in this thread or another one, resleeving is pretty essential, unless the record was originally packaged in a high quality inner sleeve). And, apart from fingerprints and other crap on brand new surfaces, those cheap paper sleeves used on major label releases often leave paper lint.
Some new records benefit sonically more than others from a clean before play, but it is noticeable. To make a valid comparison, you'd probably have to compare two identical pressings, and assume that there is no copy to copy difference in sonics. (Since, if you play, then clean, you've added a variable in your comparison by playing the record first, before cleaning, see above).
One of the biggest gripes I've heard over the years, apart from the time and effort involved in cleaning, is the sonic signature left by cleaning fluids. These fluids have improved considerably over the years, and there are many home brew formulae as well. The trick, in my estimation, is to get the cleaning fluid OFF the record once it has done its job.
I'm currently using a combination of methods that includes enzyme cleaning and lab water rinse, which does a good job in removing the residue of any cleaning fluid. (That's what makes records sound noisier or muffled by cleaning- fluids left on the record). I also use a commercial ultrasonic machine with a small amount of surfactant. The newest commercial ultrasonic device designed for records uses no surfactant whatsoever, and some users substitute lab water for the distilled water usually recommended by the machine manufacturers.
Clean stylus is key here too.
I buy used records 10/1 over new records, because i'm looking for early pressings, rather than reissues. (Most of the new records I buy are new releases, not reissues). Used records definitely require cleaning and I've brought some records back from virtually unplayable to better than VG+, sonically. (Many times, the old records have been abused on grotty tonearms and the grooves are just chewed up- cleaning isn't going to 'fix' that).
You said you didn't want to spend big dollars on a state of the art cleaning machine, whether a Monks type or ultrasonic. Thus, my earlier recommendation of a basic vacuum machine with a two step process- the AIVS No 15 (which has both enzymes and detergents, simplifying what is otherwise a multi-step process), followed by lab water. This can get you pretty close; I haven't fooled around with steam, I know some folks swear by it.
And since you said you have records from the 60's, you'll probably be surprised at what a good cleaning can do to those, sonically, even assuming you've taken good care of them.
*I think in ye olde days, the release compounds were applied, not mixed into the plastic compound. But, there is considerable debate about the effect of this stuff, even today.
Got to say I'm still a little suspect at this cleaning of new LPs.. You can read all sorts of things on the internet forums these days and I always take them with a grain of salt. And some people can get a little carried away.
I've used shibata and fine line tips listening to mostly jazz and classical with very capable gear. So it's not as if I've been listening to Metallica with a penny taped to the end of the tonearm of a portable stereo and wouldn't know good sound when I hear it.
I am however all for trying to wring out the last drop of good sound, so if others feel the need for this I say go for it. But let's just leave it at that.
My local analog shop in Seattle rents out nitty gritty cleaning machines (he sells them also). I always clean new records.
To keep this posting from getting too far off track here, let’s say all new records should be cleaned before their first use. And this type of deep cleaning can only really be done effectively with a capable LP cleaner, using both liquid and vacuum methods.

These type of cleaners are not cheap, thus the purpose of my posting. The majority of people who own turntables and enjoy listening to vinyl will not be able to budget for a $1000 cleaner.

So.. Are there any people who are fortunate enough to own such a cleaner who may be willing to connect with others in their area, or possibly a mail in service, to offer their units for use. So that everyone can clean their vinyl records before their first use?
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Totally agree with your premise. I've no interest in providing a mail-in service (lack of time, real job, etc.). But I'm very open to local (CT area) vinylphiles visiting to use my RCM.



Your casual, fun approach is just as valid as others' no-holds-barred efforts... and way more dancin' for the money! But I'll take a teensy issue with, "This leaves the plasticizer on the surface of the vinyl, and that is 'better'."

There is no "plasticizer" on the surface of a vinyl LP. The plasticity of vinyl is a function of its molecular structure and no sensibly chosen cleaning solution is chemically capable of altering that. That was bit of red herring. ;-)
Wonderful responses! Thanks!

I do clean mine with an 'alternative' method. But wouldn't mind trying one of these machines myself to see if the results are any better. Who knows, I might even try cleaning a brand new one, after listening to it first of course.. So anybody in the central Ohio area with one of these nice cleaners who is willing to share let me know.
I had mentioned in an earlier response to this thread that there is a vendor of used records that offers a cleaning service. He is located in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. I have no idea if that is near you, but here's his home page. (I've bought a few records from him over the years, typically old U.S. pressings, and didn't really care one way or the other about his cleaning service, since I'm happy to do it myself but he's been around for a few years):

Good luck.
Bill Hart
I live in the SF Bay Area and would be happy to welcome anyone wishing to clean lps to use my VPI machine free of charge.
Send me an email.
I look at my stylus with a 10x loupe with a maglite behind it and it's as crystal clear as the day I bought it - because:

- I ALWAYS clean new records using a 2-Step Process: AVIS #6 + Ultra Pure Water (and have never read or seen an RCM company say you should) because it makes good sense. For used records I'll employ the longer 3-Step Process: AVIS Enzymatic+Premium+UPW

I would never send my LPs out to be cleaned. Once they're home, they're here to stay.

I clean friends records occasionally when they come over and want to hear an LP they love. Many times tho, I look at it and educate them its not worth it i.e. 'it wont help a bit your rekkid is trashed.'

Offering a cleaning service - with anything other than an ultrasonic machine (using distilled water only) - would be cost prohibitive IMO. Fluids+My time=$$$

Cleaning vinyl has changed the way I buy music. I used to buy records on a whim - any and all. Then get them home and ponder whether or not it was worth cleaning. Having an RCM made me think twice about it's worth in my collection. Why clean a record that you will only listen to once, possibly twice. Ever. I'm not a collector. I'm a music lover. I play it. I want music in my library that I listen to often and stands the test of time. Yes, it is taking me a while to clean my whole collection and it's a work in progress to this day. A labor of love. This is the best thing an RCM has brought to the table for me. Not to mention making my listening experience better SQ-wise and increasing the longevity of my stylus to boot.

We have approx. 2000 LPs to date. Of which 250 are cleaned - this is the pool of records we have to listen to. I have to WANT to hear a record badly because it's gotta be cleaned first. I look at the "unclean" and weight its value to us. If it fails that test it goes up for sale. Its helped a lot getting my collection down to only the essential.

Cleaning vinyl does suck. But once you're done its worth it. Just wish I could train me kids to do it as a chore ;)
Thanks Bill, that's about 160 miles away from me, but really enjoyed reading about his cleaning processes. I too use steam, and have access to a large enough ultrasonic tank to clean them as well. The steam process I use helps makes the thrift shop finds salvageable and listenable again. I'd like to rig up a way to vacuum dry them, as it is I wipe off the majority and air dry them.

I'd kind of like to see a continuous hook up of cleaner owners and vinyl lovers so let's see if we can't keep this going. Too many newbies think vinyl is short lived because they may not be aware they can be cleaned back to life and may be missing out on a really valuable source of good, quality sound.
What a thread, lol. i have been really learning a ton on this subject. I have spoken to a few audiophiles I trust. It's well known and has been for a long time that cleaning a new LP is needed. My old dealer used to let me bring in my LP's along with distilled water and let me clean for days. Even the engineers of a couple of TT companies he sold would tell you that you should clean a new LP and then brush them until they needed cleaning again. I didn't realize that this was even up for debate anymore, but I guess it is.

I'm in CT as many here seem to be also. Very cool. I have decided to just get a VPI 16.5 new since a used one may not be in great shape as many part can age poorly over time. In the end, it's not that much to spend as it's just as important as a top phono pre or cables. It directly affects the sound as a dirty record will ruin your records and playback equipment as has been stated. I wish I could afford an ultrasonic cleaner as it seems like most of the vacuum types are similar in what they do. You seem to pay for how automated you want. I have a few hundred records, so to me it makes sense to just get a machine and get them all clean and then be able to clean at will. It's cheaper than the 1-2 dollars most want per record. JMHO.
Congratulations on your upcoming VPI 16.5 purchase. Are we to expect you'll be offering it's services for others in your area?

Just curious.

How many people here personally own LP cleaners?

How many also bought $600-$2000 LP cleaners when you bought your turntables?

How many people still have stores that sell vinyl in their area?

And how many of those stores offer to clean LP's?
I purchased a Nitty Gritty 1.5Fi about 3 years after getting into this hobby.
Then went to a VPI 16.5 about 6 years ago(soon to be for sale).
Just purchased the Audio Desk and it is the easiest and best record cleaner I have ever used. The records look brand new after cleaning with the machine. The records sound better even if they were cleaned prior with the VPI.

The only issue I can see about cleaning records for people is if the records get damaged in shipping. I get damaged records from web dealers they can replace them, I cannot and will not.
It's pretty much settled science that sealed records should be properly cleaned before playing if you have a worthwhile system. After paying close to $800 for my first 2m Black I have been a little more fussy about this practice. DougDeacon explained it very well.
Now I don't want to start a great big argument, but I have an old American Optical/Reichert Stereo Star Zoom 0.7X to 4.2X scope and am able to actually see right down into the actual grooves of an LP.

I also have a brand new pressing of Carol Kings Tapestry (yes, I'm an old fart). Let's just say after looking at it under the scope right out of the sleeve for the first time, claims that even a brand new LP's grooves are full of junk are shall we say slightly over exaggerated.. I see nothing that shouldn't be there. Clean, pristine wiggles cut into the vinyl.

HOWEVER! Even after a couple very careful playings, what looks to the naked eye as a still clean LP under the scope starts to look a little scary. If anything this would make me clean them maybe a little more often than I normally would..

So... There's another piece of actual, first hand, with my own eyes, information to chew on.

I think steam or the ultrasonic of the Audio Desk are best for actually getting stuff out of those microscopic grooves. The "microfiber brushes" claims used by some cleaners are in fact so relatively large that they would straddle several of the truly microscopic grooves of the LP instead of getting down in there and cleaning them out as some claim. Although certain chemical release solutions and a vacuuming should be effective too.

And yes, the mailing option for offering your own cleaner for use might not be for everyone.
Altaylor- most of the stuff I've seen on new records is visible to the naked eye- sleeve detritus, fingerprints, etc. Stuff on the surface isn't the same as what is in the grooves (thus, a record that has surface scratches can still sound fine while one that looks pristine can be irretrievably chewed up by past abuse), but the concern, aside from pops and ticks, is grinding that stuff into the grooves by playing it without cleaning. As to your experience with Tapestry, good for you. (That's one of the few Classic Records that I have that sounds better than the original pressing if memory serves).
But more to the point, I wish we could edit after submitting, not everybody can afford $4K for a truly effective LP cleaner like the Audio Desk Hevac1 has.

And that's why I was trying to get some people who are fortunate enough to own a good LP cleaner to offer their machines for use to others who may not be able to afford one. That's the real purpose of this posting.
No Whart, if you'll read my posting again what I was looking at was not the surface but down into the actual grooves of the record.
I did read your post. You said that the issue of detritus on a piece of vinyl was exaggerated and that you used a scope on your copy of Tapestry. My point was, in the instances where I buy new vinyl that is 'dirty' it is usually pretty obvious with the naked eye, and doesn't require using a scope. We good?
Sure Whart, if you see something on your record clean it off. Absolutely. Common sense.

I was addressing the notion espoused by some, more than likely originating from makers of LP cleaners, and then repeated by others that there are artifacts left in the grooves from the manufacturing process.
Continuing from my last post..
Stuff does eventually get down into the grooves however and no amount of wiping of the surface will get that.. Thus the need for a good effective LP cleaner.
There is a difference between wiping the dust off the surface with a padded padded velvet covered Discwasher brush and cleaning the record.
If what some have been talking about when you say cleaning a record is using one of those padded velvet brushes on a new LP, I would advise strongly against doing that. That's as clean as that LP surface is ever going to be.. I just blow off anything that might be on there for as long as possible without ever touching the surface with that brush or anything else. I do use one of those padded velvet brushes occasionally, but only as a last resort and after the LP having been played many times.

If you think that tiny diamond tip maybe catching one or two pieces of lint is capable of causing problems, think about what problems you're causing by dragging that big wide padded velvet brush over the entire new pristine surface, under a great deal more pressure than 1.75 grams, and that is still embedded with all the stuff from every LP you've ever wiped with it. No matter how much you think brushing it off on your pant leg cleans it off.