Record cleaning Q's - brushes and fluid

Hi all. I just picked up a VPI 16.5 here on Agon (thanks Lptube) and I've started cleaning 5 years worth of collected vinyl. Hoping to pick up a couple tips from the community here.

What kind of brushes are you using? I have the nylon bristle brush that came with the vpi and I'm not crazy about it. Doesn't do a great job of spreading the fluid and the handle is a hard chunk of smooth plastic. Difficult to hold and seems like it's dangerous to the lp if dropped, which I have done several times. I also have a mfsl brush, which has a nice microfiber velvet pile. Spreads the fluid really well and the handle is a nice soft rubber too. Problem is the brush is like 2" wide and all that fiber soaks up a lot of (expensive) fluid. Does anyone know of a brush type with the microfiber/velvet pile that's not quite as big? Before I spend a 100 bucks buying different brushes figured I'd look for some advice.

This brings me to the next question - how much fluid do you use? I'm using the audio intelligent 3-step (rinsing with whole foods filtered water though, not the AI stuff). I find it takes a lot more than the 1/10th of an ounce AI recommends to really saturate one side of an LP. Since none of my vinyl has ever been wet or vacuum cleaned, I'm using the enzyme cleaner to soak it for a while in step one. It seems to take as much as 1/3 of an ounce to really get the LP wet and keep it that way for a 10 minute soaking session without "dry spots" opening up. Am I using too much fluid? How wet does one need to get the LP to ensure a really good cleaning?

Thanks for any responses.
For a cheap brush to spread the enzyme solution I use a corner painting pad I got at Walmart for a couple dollars. Made by Rubbermaid, blue handle, short white nylon bristles on a flat pad.

10 minutes seems like a long soak. I do 4 minutes, brushing every minute or two during the soak to keep the record covered and move the fluid around. This seems ample to me but I admit I haven't tried 10 minutes. Life's too short!

For the second step(s) I use a MOFI or DD brush, same as yours. Once the brush is wet it only takes 8-10 drops of fluid/side. Any more is just wastage.

For the pure water rinse I use a dedicated Audioquest carbon fiber brush. The bristles force the water deep into the grooves and they don't absorb the water. Again, 8-10 drops/side is plenty.

I recommend you buy the Ultra Pure Water from AI or the equivalent from MOFI (when it comes out - it's still in beta testing). Filtered water is nowhere near as effective, and yes I've tried it. At 10 drops/side the cost per LP is just pennies. Seems worth it to me since the improvement is quite audible, at least in my system.
I have the diskdoctor brush and it is pretty good. i have also discovered a cheap but effective brush at Walgreens. It is a lint brush (they have a lint mitt) that has short but stiff microfiber bristles that easily equals the diskdoctor for three bucks. i use the mitt for cleaning the records using a vacuum system. I also include a steam cleaning regiment in the mix. i use the diskdoctor brush for my final water rinse. My cleaning solution is homemade but disk doctor, walker or aivs makes good solutions also. I tend to cheap out by making my own. If you are interested, the lint brush is made by evercare. As for as solution volume, i put plenty of liquid on the record. I am a firm believer in "dilution is part of the solution"
Hello Zaegoz,
Like you, (And Doug Deacon) I use the AIVS products, but use the full blown four step process, with the Ultra Pure Water Rinse at the very end.

For now, I also use the Mo Fi Brush Pads for each step.
I agree, the Pads, since they are are largish, do require a bit extra fluid to initially prime them, but after that, I'm probably using less than a Thimble full per each side of LP.

A trick I found with these Brush Pads, is after you apply the fluids to LP, slightly tilt the Brush Pad at a 15-20 degree angle touching the LP's surface to evenly spread the Liquid. I was noting the same thing as you, that I was leaving dry spots, and not getting even coverage.

I know Doug likes the Carbon Fiber Brushes for certain steps, and I'll have to give these a try myself in the future.

As for a soak, I do about a 2-3 minute on average soak with the Enzymatic, and Super Cleaner Formulas, then for the Archivist Formula, and Pure Water Rinse, I use a little less time, usually about 3-5 revolutions with the Pad, perhaps taking 25-30 seconds. I figure the last two steps are actually rinse steps, to remove any traces of cleaners-residue-nasties that the Vacuum hasn't picked up previously. Mark
Thanks for the responses. I'm going to check out the DD brushes and maybe pick up of the recommended paint pads or lint brushes just to give them a whirl. I'm sure they're just a few $ compared to the specialty record brushes.

Oilmanmojo, will you share your homebrew fluid recipe? I might be interested in trying something like that at some point.

I should clarify, I'm using the whole foods water from the filtration machine recommended by some on this forum, that goes through several filtration steps as well as RO. My rig is not the most hi-res, so for $0.50/gal I think it works for me. Maybe I'll pick up the AI pure water next time I re-order and see if it makes an audible difference.

I also got a nice response from Jim, from Osage Audio, in regards to my original post. He was very helpful and also pointed out that the dry winter weather will speed the evaporation of the cleaning fluid, which I had not though about. I'm going to experiment with shorter, perhaps multiple, steps with the Enzyme cleaner with more scrubbing, vs one long soak, and see how that does for me. I have been getting good results, nice clean records, with AI so far, but I just want to gather all the advice I can.

Steam cleaning sounds intriguing as well, but I don't think I'll dive in to that for a while yet . . . I'll save my really dirty records.

A CF brush works well for the final pure water rinse. (Audioquest is better than the brand sold by Acoustic Sounds).

They become more of a pain with actual cleaning solutions. Residues clog up the fibers and make them cling together, which defeats the purpose. Enzyme solutions clog a CF brush especially quickly. Record cleaning is onerous enough without having to do constant brush rinsing.
Zargoz one other thing you will discover is a big static build up on your vinyl after using 16.5, I use a mapleshade anti static gun right after cleaning.

If you can ground your turntable spindle it will help.

The spindle on 16.5 is grounded and static is still built up.
If anyone has found a way to cut down on static using 16.5 lets hear it.

The static build up is the only negative i have with 16.5.
Jon; i have a couple of recipes that has proven to work for me. I use distilled water, dawn dishwashing detergent and isopropyl alcohol as a basic wash. It is very good for lightly fouled albums. For one quart of solution, i use 28 ounces of water, 4 ounces of pure isopropyl alcohol, and about 1 teaspoon of detergent. it has worked for me over the years pretty good. I find the detergent offers the surfactant and dispersant characteristics needed to be an effective cleaner.

I have recently used an enzyme based cleaner for my "yard sale or thrift store" finds as i found my normal solution took several cleanings to work. The enzyme cleaner actually was a door to door sales that my wife had purchased. I had noticed it did a fantastic job cleaning greasy or stained materials and tried some in my normal cleaning mixture. eventually i mixed separate formula just using the enzyme mix with distilled water and isopropyl. with it i use 24 ounces of water, 4 ounces of concentrated enzyme cleaner and 4 ounces of isopropyl. I use it with steam cleaning and the results are fantastic. It works very good without steam cleaning but i find the heat that is added with steam cleaning results in the best cleaning action. One tip for any cleaning regiment. you must rinse after cleaning because most cleaners will leave a residue.
Two points....

1) Static -- I've found that static build-up is more or less of a problem depending on the fluid used. For instance the RRL/MoFi fluids tend to have more of a static problem than the DD fluids. The one thing that will ensure a really bad static problem is if you let the record run for several revolutions under the vacuum wand.

I live in a dry climate and static is always a problem. So far the best solution that I've found is to wipe the record down with a microfiber cloth (dampened with distilled water) immediately before play. I have the cloth rolled up, add a little bit of distilled water, start the platter, and hold the cloth perpendicular to the LP. This picks up any surface dust on the LP and also seems to do a very good job of neutralizing any static. Since I started doing this I haven't had a static problem at all and the relative humidity of my listening room has been dropping into the low teens. I keep the cloth in a ziploc bag to make sure that it doesn't get too dirty.

2) Record cleaning... Please do yourself a favor and wear earplugs when doing a massive cleaning run. The 16.5 is anything but quiet and LPs will be a lot less fun if your hearing is compromised.