How often, and how, do you clean your stylus?

I used to brush the stylus before each side played but now I think that is excessive, so I check it with a jewelers loupe.  I also rotate between the brush and sometimes use Blue Tack instead of the brush.  


I clean it before each side played and you are wrong, that is not excessive.  Every time I check any of my styli under my microscope there is almost always a bit of debris clinging to the stylus or the cantilever.  I also use a record brush before each play and run records through my RCM fairly often.

It’s as much or more of a bother to look at the stylus with a magnifier as it is to just routinely clean it without inspection. I do so with a Stylast brush (no fluid; just the dry brush) or with Magic Eraser or with a brush and fluid I bought in Tokyo. Once a year or so I inspect using an Olympus lab microscope.

I use a self-adhesive stylist cleaner (drop the needle on the gel once) each side or two. 

I have a friend who uses his brush every single side. He has also had to replace his stylus 3 times in the last 3 years, so it seems like over brushing may do more harm than good.  He also Used to use the liquid, but the first time he had to have his stylus repaired the guy said it was covered in gunk.

I clean after 6 - 10 sides.  I rotate between Blue Tack, Disc Doctor cleaner / brush and a  cleaner / brush that was recommended by Lyra for their carts.  


Wow. Assuming he is not playing albums 8 hours a day, there is something very wrong. I have never replaced a stylist and only had two cartridges in the last twenty years. I probably played one album a day when home… so about 200 hours a year? 

The best and safest way to clean a stylus effectively.

Get a 1/8" wide artist brush and with a very sharp scissor cut the bristles halfway down and across at a right angle. This stiffens the bristles a bit. You can use it dry to knock of dust or wet to clean off residue. I use a little spray bottle of eyeglass cleaning solution. You do not want the brush too wet, just damp is fine. With an artist brush you can safely brush the stylus in any direction. 

Blue Tack is dangerous and ineffective. It will remove dust but not residue. One false move and you snap your cantilever off.

Lyra Stylus cleaner is awful especially when you consider the price. The eyeglass cleaner is way better and cheap to boot. It removes deposits quickly with just a few brush strokes. The Lyra frequently did not work at all. Alcohol will not effect the cement used to fix the stylus. Prolonged exposure to acetone would and perhap lacquer thinner. I once took an old broken cartridge  and tossed it in brake cleaning fluid overnight and the stylus was still well cemented in the morning. I have also done this with records with no noticeable ill effect.

I clean the stylus about once a week. I use a conductive sweep arm during play and the dust cover is always closed. I hardly ever have dust on the stylus, but a small amount of residue will collect above the contact patches. It does not affect play until it is severe enough to see with the naked eye.



I cut a round piece of Magic Eraser (lots of praise for this product used for this purpose) to fit into the cavity of a trimmed rubber furniture foot, which then sits on my turntable plinth between platter and tone arm rest. I lower the stylus onto the Magic Eraser as I'm cleaning the vinyl with an Oracle brush. Do this every side. Stylus is always perfectly clean, and the procedure takes no effort whatsoever, nor does it risk harm to stylus or cantilever. 

I do similar as @snilf only with the Japanese Onzow device on a little purpose-built riser. Volume on, to listen for contact.

Seconding @mijostyn ‘s concern for blue tack. There’s also a greasy component to that stuff (why you should also never use blue tack on paper / posters you plan to re-use or keep in clean shape) and I’m not sure whether that would affect the stylus (whether for better or worse).

I clean only when it sounds like it needs it. Couple of times a year with many hours of playing in between. With this hobby, I don't look, or listen, for problems that aren't there. 

As it is not mentioned, I will add it to the items that can be used to remove particulate from a Styli.

The product is Jewellers Putty, used to pick practical of Gem Stones.

Making a Match Type tool using a Tooth Pick will allow for it to be used as a probe, or a small ball to lower the Styli onto are both OK methods.

If a TA has a Cue Lift Lever, and the Volume is not turned down, the Styli can be lowered to just above the Groove, prior to it making full contact, this will show immediately if a particulate is present that will effect the sound to be produced.

If all is quiet above the Groove 99% of the replays will be quiet when making first contact with the Groove.

The isn't too many options to use as a safeguard to particulate collecting at the styli throughout the replay.   

Anyone use that Hummingbird Ultrasonic stylus cleaner?

I've heard that you don't want to use cleaning fluids on the stylus like alcohol. But maybe the Hummingbird uses water?

Onzow zerodust works amazingly well for me and as far as I can tell it doesn’t leave residue behind which is the main culprit. It will always be a problem unless you live in a cleanroom or heaven forbid use your table with a dust cover on. Not so sure about magic sponge. They are cellular and use melamine as the a cleaning abrasive. Unless you’re dropping the stylus straight down and back up I would use extreme caution. It might be viable solution but with the zerodust you can see easily what is being removed.

I clean mine *most* of the time after playing both sides of an LP. I don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner for my records...only a "good" vacuum system. While I get them very clean, I find if I examine the stylus with a magnifying glass that yes, it does need a little brushing with a stylus brush. Not much. Once or twice through, back to front and I’m done. I use the brush sometimes with a drop of the cleaning liquid that came with it. Groove Washer I think it was. Seems to do the job and so far, has caused no damage. As someone noted, in the time it takes you to examine the stylus with a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass, you could have already brushed the thing and been done with it.

I clean my stylus with the DS Audio ST-50 at the end of each listening session.  At the end of each third session, I also clean the stylus with MOFI stylus cleaner and brush.  I dry brush each side of the record before I listen.  Always sounds great!

Before every side with a Henry & Tosh TS-60 gel cleaner followed by LAST stylus treatment.  LAST stylus cleaner once per week.  All records (including new) cleaned in a SpinClean.  Never had any issues.

Dropping it slowly up and down a handful of times on a majik eraser every few albums is the best trick I ever used. Once a great while I use a drop of the ultra expensive lyra cleaning tiny bottle at the end of a tiny brush and carefully clean the stylus form back to front, using care not to touch the cantilever too much.

Forgot to mention I also own an Audioquest “ultrasonic” cleaner. The same cleaner has been sold under different brand names for decades. I don’t use it routinely but I’ve found it to be very effective. And it’s not ultrasonic. It vibrates at around 400 to 500 Hz.

Johnny, all directions on using ME to clean a stylus say to just drop the cartridge on to the ME. Back and forth motion is verboten. So don’t worry about ME users like me occasionally. But microscopic examination of styli does reveal that ME can leave tiny white particles on the cantilever. These are easily removed with a brush using an acceptable liquid. Also, I hope all these claims of effectiveness are verified by microscopic exam.

I'm quite a bit older now but I still clean my stylus and sharpen my pencil as often as I can. 

I clean before and after a listening session---I use the Mofi cleaning fluid and a little brush. Works well---no problems.

This is yet one of the reasons that streaming is popular.  Just use a swiffer duster on the top of the streamer and you are good for a month [or so].

I tend to clean my stylus when I start hearing sibilance or distortion. It usually means the stylus picked up a wad of crud. I use an old Discwasher stylus brush with a drop of Record Doctor LP cleaner. I don’t do detailed inspections as my LP listening is sporadic and my styli last for several years plus I rotate among a few cartridges.

FWIW:  I've lately been using an Onzow before every side and an Audioquest anti-static record brush.  When I'm finished playing albums for the day/night/etc., I'll do the Onzow again and then use MoFi LP#9 before I put the TT to bed.  Also, no album goes on my new TT before first having been run through my lash-up record cleaning system which incorporates an ultrasonic cleaning machine.  With regard to stylus wear, I've found the Stylus Timer to be a useful tool, once you get into the habit of not forgetting to set it.  Mark my words!  If, unbeknownst to me, this hasn't already happened, it's just a question of time before manufacturers begin building new TTs with built-in stylus timers, hype the hell out of this and charge a couple of hundred bucks (or more) for this extra option or feature that really should cost only a couple extra bucks.  Is this a great country or what?

I use a brush once a day. I have the Humminguru S-DUO, and a Hudson vibrating stylus cleaner (NOT ultrasonic even if sold as such). The S-DUO does work, but it is fiddly to use as you want to be sure not to get moisture inside a cartridge. Consequently I used it once and haven't used it again.

I used to use Stylast, but no more: it rusted out the armature from a Decca.

I have used all of these methods on previous cartridges. The stylus gets up to  1200 degrees Fahrenheit. And gum, oil, or contaminants will get infused onto that stylus. Not good because it can act like a barrier or cushion and lower the detail. You can buy ME sponges that do not have the chemicals or soaps on them. That is probably the only one I would use if you like the quick drop method. Leif from Ortofon says dry brush only. J.R. From Wally tools says dry brush then every three to four weeks you wet clean with a non alcohol cleaner. You can use a longer fiber brush to remove the dust on the cantilever. I have seen too many people damage the cantilever so be careful or don’t wet clean at all. Maybe even distilled water only. YOU MUST MAKE SURE YOUR CANTILEVER IS CLEAN WITHOUT DUST ON IT TO PREVENT WICKING UP INTO THE CARTRIDGE BODY WHERE THE WIRES AND MAGNETS ARE. It has been proven that contaminates will fuse onto the stylus like Onzow. If you are using a $150 cart do what you want. If you are using a cart that costs hundreds or thousands then dry brush only back to front before you drop the tonearm. 
I hope this helps. 

There is a setup consultant, Stirling Trayle @ Audio Systems Optimized. Pretty thorough as to TTs and cleaning stylus. He attacks the whole system as to static electricity, clean contacts etc. His website has some great info including stylus cleaning.


26 posts


I clean only when it sounds like it needs it. Couple of times a year with many hours of playing in between. With this hobby, I don't look, or listen, for problems that aren't there. 

OK...Stop with the common sense!


One of many on the market.  Easy and effective.  IMHO, using a record brush is a no no.  Why do anything that could push surface contamination down into the grooves?  Just strikes me as bad holdover from days gone by.  Cheers.


That eMag thing looks like a re-branded version of what I bought in Tokyo last May but have not used because it scares me a bit in that I fear it might loosen the bond between stylus and cantilever.  Or the Onzow.

Here's why I wrote that waiting until the stylus "sounds like" it needs cleaning (which will be a different threshold for each of us) is whistling in the dark.  Because if you wait that long, it is possible that your stylus has been permanently damaged (assymetrically worn) by junk accumulated on it that you did not sense was there. I realized this when I started using a lab grade microscope to examine styli on various cartridges, none of which "sounded like" they needed cleaning.  Many of them were gunked up, not so much on the stylus tip as at the base of the stylus and along the cantilever, which cannot be good for maximizing the capacity of the cartridge to trace the groove accurately.  So I recommend periodic inspection using a decent magnifier of some sort, which I would do every few months, depending upon use, but not after every LP by any means. If you do that, you can monitor the effectiveness of any cleaning method you routinely use, and alter the method if you see problems.

Not necessary, in my opinion, but not wrong either. If you are referring to microscopic exam of the stylus.  Maybe a little lax, if you are referring to cleaning the stylus tip at least perfunctorily.

@lewm You bring up a good point about the Audioquest electronic cleaner. This topic is actually worthy of a slightly deeper exploration:

- With a few exceptions, the Audioquest, Audio-Technica, Flux, & similar products are marketed as "electronic", not "ultrasonic." As noted above, they may operate at around 400Hz, far below the freq of a Degritter, or even a toothbrush.

- At those frequencies, I suspect that they clean through friction of the bristles, not through cavitation. If the latter, though, remember that cavitation requires passing sound waves through a liquid. No cavitation occurs in dry media.

- On SteveHoffman, one user posted before-and-after photos that showed the Flux cleaner to be remarkably effective. Just one use case, but still worth a peek.

- The biggest concern I’ve heard over the years about these cleaners is the risk of damaging a cartridge’s suspection or cantilever bonding. But like so much audiophile ephemera, really, who knows? Some forum doofus or online influencer makes an unsupported conclusory statement and it gets repeated ad infinitum. Why would an oscillation at 400Hz be more or less likely than one at other frequencies to physically damage a cartridge? Maybe it would, but in the absence of supporting data, that’s just conspiracy theory.

- Mikey Fremer wrote a short ad hoc review of the Flux (still posted on AnalogPlanet), but other than that, I haven’t seen much in the way of hard data. So who knows for sure if this -- or any other stylus-cleaning tech -- does less harm than good? This seems like an opportunity for a formal comparision by someone who knows what they’re talking abou. Are you listening, WallyTools?

FWIW, I’ve used an Audioquest electronic cleaner for decades and, despite mfr recommendations, I use it dry. At one point, I examined my Adcom microline stylus after many years of use (under a consumer microscope) and saw a spotless stylus. And I never heard anything that would suggest physical damage to the cartridge (assoc’d eqpt: Quad ESLs, factory-restored Quad 2 Class A monoblocks, PS Audio 4.6 passive-preamp phono stage). Years later, WallyTools professionally analyzed my higher-end Ortofon cartridge and again photographed a clean stylus. So although I'm loathe to draw conclusions from personal anecdotes, it seems as though whatever I’m doing is working. A +1 for electronic stylus cleaners?

By the way, I suggest doing a little research before using Blu-tack (or any other gel cleaner). There have been credible reports in the press of these cleaners leaving sticky residue on stylii. I seem to recall Mikey or Boisclair publishing photos showing exactly that.

And one last thing: If you’re still interested in electronic cleaners, Hudson makes a knock-off of the audiophile-targeted products that is still available on Amazon for under $25.


Of course the electronic stylus cleaners do not work through cavitation and could not possibly do so. You need a liquid medium in which to generate the bubbles.  There is no claim that I ever saw that they operate by cavitation or that they are even truly ultrasonic.  Somehow, that descriptor got attached to those gadgets, maybe because ultrasonic record cleaners are so in vogue. The Audioquest is said to operate at 480Hz, but I am sure there is quite a lot of variation in frequency from unit to unit, which is why I originally wrote "400-500Hz".  My guess is they literally shake the dirt off the stylus and cantilever.  The first time I used mine, to clean a well used Koetsu Urushi, a big gob of dust came out of the workings of the cartridge.  Which made me think that one conceivable advantage of the electronic cleaners is that they may do a decent job of shaking out dust that is on the "top side" of the cantilever, the side closest to the cartridge body, which is normally not accessible for direct cleaning, unless you're working under magnification and with fine tools.

You suggest that Audioquest mentions using their electronic cleaner "wet". Where did you see that, and how would that work? (I'll look in the owners manual, which I have here somewhere.) I am not fearful of damage from the Audioquest; the cartridge structure is well designed to deal with the frequency range of its operation, which is audible as a 400-500Hz tone.  And I use it for no more than 10-15 seconds at a time. I WOULD be hesitant to expose a cartridge to anywhere near the frequencies at which ultrasonic cleaners operate, which would probably be ineffective anyway without an aqueous bath.

Just for the record (!) the S_DUO does have a shallow distilled water bath that the stylus is immersed in. It comes with several rubber washers to make the sidewall of the bath, so that the height of it can support the cartridge with just the stylus and cantilever tip getting wet. The stylus is not supposed to touch the bottom of the water bath. As I said, very fiddly to use. However it does work (I posted before and after photos here) and I do believe it is ultrasonic in nature.


For the past few months, a DS Audio ST-50 when I feel like it, typically every 5 or 6 sides. Before that, a slice of Magic Eraser on a business card. If I can actually see anything on the stylus, I touch it first with the short- bristled Ortofon brush that came with my A90.

Humminguru s-duo. For the man with cojones. Never heard of it before now.

I use the stylus brush supplied with my Hana ML before every play. Every 5 records or so MoFi liquid cleaner recommended by my local dealer (Audio Advice). I also use a Humminguru ultrasonic cleaner for my records.

I use a thin sliver of ME and very, very lightly brush back to front one or two times  after each side.

Been doing it this way for over 15 years now.


To simplify the barrage of informative opinions above, Stylus cleaning can either be a consistent procedure that you do each time you play a new record, or it can be more subjective, largely depending upon now clean and pristine you maintain your record collection. 

Records that have gone through a thorough "restoration cleaning process should not require that the process of stylus cleaning be implemented each play. 

That being said, I would still recommend the use of one the stylus cleaning devices shown in other blogs above, after approximately 5-6 record plays.

Additionally, even though all of a person's record collection has undergone thorough restoration/cleaning process, the use of a "goat hair" barber brush for the purpose of removing air borne particulates that are usually present in most homes, and always show up every time you take a record out of the storage sleeve, This can be done quickly, via a sweeping process across the entire record grooves before putting the stylus on the record.."Sweep until the particulates are visually  gone." This is a definite plus and will also help reduce the need for stylus cleaning procedures. 

The need for stylus cleaning should also be noticeable if the record playback shows any distortion, clicks or pops on a formerly clean particulate free recording.

In addition, I have found that experience dealing with this issue in your own environment, is the best teacher to determine how often to clean your stylus.

Of course, don't forget that you records will always need an occasional "quick clean" to maintain their best playback performance.

One final note: I'm certain that you have read manufacturers approximations pertaining to the number of playback hours to expect until a quality diamond stylus is worn to a point of needing replacement. Be aware that these wear approximations are estimated under ideal conditions. DIRT is the biggest villain that will end up greatly reducing the "wear hour" expectation. Replacing a stylus in a high-end MC or even MM cartridge is very expensive.  So never forget, " Clean records reduce the need for stylus cleaning and will prolong the life expectancy of your stylus.



Every side. Drop and lift a few times into a Magic Eraser.

Keeping records spotless is important.

If stylus gets gunked, add a few drops of isopropyl alcohol to Magic Eraser.