Liquid Stylus Cleaners

I know that some of the cartridge makers, including Soundsmith, say not to use liquids and many of you don’t. From a manufacturer’s standpoint, I can definitely understand why - god only knows what some of us dopes (including myself) will be swabbing on there. I have used LP#9 after every side since 2005 when I returned to vinyl, and never had a problem. And I haven’t been surgically careful either. I do use a lighted magnifier to see what I’m doing, but I’ve brushed crap off the cantilever and never had anything migrate into the cartridge or experienced any of these horror stories I hear. So IMO at least, these warnings about liquids are somewhat exaggerated. Do you use them?



I use Nagaoka 801 liquid stylus cleaner after playing a side. Also use Stylast before playing  a side. No problems noted!

The finer the stylus tip is, the harder it is to ’see’ with the naked eye, so I start with a magnified mirror below the stylus. Curved makeup mirrows, I have a light coming in from the side and lift/rotate the mirror to get a great view of all surfaces.

$6. MAGNIFYING MIRROR to VIEW STYLUS (two). 3-1/2” DIAMETER, One: 10X; One 20x + 2 tweezers

Next: brush? Gel? Fluid? Nothing, all is well.

I apply fluid as a standard precaution every twenty plays or so, cleaning the cantilever as well as the stylus, some fuzz might have clung to the bottom of the cartridge body. Always back to front, never side to side, never front to back.

Inexpensive glued on stylus tips: the fluid might soften/dissolve the glue, then not too often, and use a brush right after the fluid to minimize the fluid on the glue.

Owners of cantileverless cartridges (Decca, Ikeda) or super short cantilevers (Dynavector Karat) should probably avoid using stylus liquids. It is far too likely to get into the body of the cartridge, where it can cause all sorts of corrosion. I've had the coils come unglued from an armature in a Decca this way.

I use bulb syringe to blow the dust off. It's a lot better than just with mouth, because you can actually spit on it. 

I use liquid around once per year or few, but not habitually.

I am definitely no expert. But I always cringed at brushing stuff on my stylist… which I did on my previous cartridge (a Frog). A couple of common brands… one from Last. Nothing bad ever happened. I stick now with a gel pad when it gets dusty. I just find it hard to believe there isn’t some residue.


Perfectly safe imo, if used with care. It’s not necessary to use after every side. And just hit the Diamond stylus with liquid; obviously it’s not good to douse the cantilever or undercarriage. If the glue dissolves from a quality stylus cleaner then it wasn’t going to be an effective bond anyways. 

I've got a veritable circus of stylus/cartridge paraphernalia at my disposal. Depending on my mood, I might give the stylus a single back-to-front brush with a rather stiff Last Brush, or brush it with an unbranded soft brush I got with a stylus cleaning kit sometime in the distant past. I might lower the stylus onto a "Professional" battery-powered stylus cleaner, either with or without first wetting its brush with a bit of  one of the stylus-cleaning juices I keep nearby. I occasionally put a bit of StyLast lubricant on the needle. Sometimes I'll use an artists' brush to clean the detritus that collects on the cartridge body. I'll occasionally dust the turntable's platter with a soft cloth. I just don't want to embed a grain of dust or sand in the record when I clamp it down with my Belex Audio record clamp.

Usually i do dry cleaning, with manufacturer's brush (mostly), or Last's stylus cleaner brush, or onzow zerodust, what mood indicates. An artist's small brush is always good for cleaning cartridges body. Last stylus cleaner is mostly the fluid that i use after some lp sides. Clearaudio elixir of sound rarely.




I've personally found that the Last stylus cleaner really does improve the tracking.  I tried the Magic Eraser bit, but it left the stylus sounding flat, until I cleaned it with the Last stylus cleaner. 

I’ve largely avoided liquids but when I had Lyra cartridges, they promoted a liquid so I used it periodically but mainly relied on dry brushing.

I stopped using any dunk-em type cleaner- whether the Zerodust (which, to me didn’t do much more than a dry brush), Magic Eraser (which could really get the crud off) of any of the Blu-stuff that Peter L. recommends. Why?

I don’t want to unnaturally torque the cantilever assembly- that pulling down when dunking now gives me the willies. I have no anecdotal reports of mishaps, but I don’t want one either with the cost of high end cartridges today.

I dry brush using a brush with longer softer bristles than the typical stylus "pad" type brush. I did buy some AIVS liquid stylus cleaner that I’ve used once. I keep an eye on the stylus using loupes and magnifying glasses.


I use Last or stylast, with no problems. If your concerned about liquid use onzow the sticky pad. I had no problems with either. 

I use BruTak (per Soundsmith) to clean off any build up on the stylus. Also use a Disc Doctor fluid on the included stiff carbon fibre brush to make sure there’s nothing left on the cantilever or stylus.  Not sure of the availability of the Disc Doctor products.

I have always used liquid occasionally- e.g. every two weeks or so, using the Audio-Technica stylus fluid.  Never had an issue with stylus / cantilever upwards of 1500 hours on cartridges.  

There are certain deposits that require the liquid to remove.  One brush and followed with the stylus cleaner brush.  

After every play I use the dry brush. 

Anecdotally, I had a stylus that had less than 200 hours on it, and I used to Onzow Zerodust regularly.  One channel simply went out on the cartridge, and apparently somehow some wire in the left channel in the MC above the cantilever was simply broken.  I really have no idea what caused it, but since then, I stopped using the Onzow. 

I had always (past 25 years) used a short stiff bristle brush and occasionally, after 6 - 8 LP's, a drop of Disc Doctor fluid, no problem.

A few months ago I did another cartridge upgrade to a quite expensive ($3600) new cartridge, which I am very happy with. I decided to make a inquiry to the maker. I received a reply in about 6 hours, quote his reply here.

"The cartridge needs no maintenance except for occasional cleaning of the stylus tip. Use a soft stylus brush to brush only from back to front in order to avoid damage. If a deposit appears on the stylus tip, use a small quantity of alcohol and distilled water mixed half and half."

So, that is what I do.

I use a tiny drop of Stylast on a fine artist’s sable size 0 or 00 brush, when required. As I clean all my records on a Keith Monks RCM, I only need to wet clean the stylus rarely. Wet clean the records and the stylus keep clean.

Never tried a liquid product, but I’ve been using the Onzow pad for quite a while now and am very satisfied with results. Amazing what this thing can pull off of a stylus, even after playing a cleaned lp.. and I use the the magnifier to see before and after. I use a variety of contemporary and mid-50’s cartridges/stilli and it cleans them all perfectly.. when reproduction starts sounding like crap, this will pull off even the odd dust hair and restore clarity. I use it before each play and during play as needed. I wash it after each session. 

When my dealer installed my Lyra Kleos he told me not to use the fluid that comes with the cartridge.