HOW TO CLEAN VINYL RECORDS
Record collectors are constantly searching for ways to restore their vinyl collection to their original state. The vinyl 45 rpm was one of the most accessible means of distributing music from the 1950’s to the mid 1980’s. For many owners one of the easiest ways to keep track of your records was to use address labels. By sticking an address label to the record, one could easily identify who had brought which record to the party. For today’s vinyl collectors, these stickers can take away from the aesthetics of the label. They can also bring the price down significantly when it comes to selling vinyl.
Removing these stickers can be a challenge. Various record labels can react different based on the type of paper the label is printed on. If performed with care, Genesis 950 can make removing these address stickers a lot easier. Genesis 950, when mixed with water, can break the bonds of the adhesive holding the sticker in place. Once the bonds are broken, typically the sticker can be peeled right off.
in addition to cleaning labels, Genesis 950 can improve the sound quality of vinyl records. When used on the playing surface, Genesis 950 can reduce popping and background noise by pulling years of dust, dirt, fingerprint oils and grime off the record. It can also remove paint, candle wax or other buildup that might be on the record. In some cases, Genesis 950 can even remove skipping depending on what is causing the skips. if there is any buildup in or on the grooves, Genesis 950 can remove it.
Being a concentrated cleaner, water must be added for Genesis 950 to work. In the examples used, Genesis 950 was mixed in a spray bottle at a ratio of about 1/3 Genesis 950 to 2/3 water.
This record was a mess. At first glance, the record looks like garbage, but throwing “Shake A Tail Feather” by James & Bobby Purify would be an absolute travesty! This record came from a stack where the record label from one record adhered to this record. When the other record was removed, the label completely peeled off onto the James & Bobby Purify record.
The worn label could not be pulled or scrapped of without damaging the record. One advantage with this particular label, Bell, is that the label is printed on, therefore making cleaning up with Genesis 950 particularly easy. However Genesis 950 will also work on records that have applied labels. Scroll down to see how to remove stickers from records with paper labels.
The label that had bled on to this record was not just a visual eyesore, but it also impacted the play of the record. In the photo, there are visible portions of the record where the attached record label is also on areas of record play. Throughout the record, years and years of dust and buildup contributed to background noise and poor audio quality. Once cleaned with Genesis 950 the records sound quality was greatly improved.
Begin cleaning your record by lying it on a flat surface. It is advised to place a paper towel under the record to prevent the solution from puddling. While that might not be a major concern with a printed label like this, it is EXTREMELY important when cleaning a record with a paper label. With a paper based record label, any moisture incorrectly applied to the label may cause damage.
There are two ways to actually clean stickers off of a record label with Genesis 950. In this example, a mixture of 1/3 Genesis 950 and 2/3 water is sprayed on to a paper towel. The solution can also be sprayed directly on the record label depending on what the label is made of. Certain types of record labels are made with thin paper than can easily deteriorate. Other label types have a more resistant surface which will not absorb moisture. With this Bell label being printed on, the solution could have been sprayed directly on the label with no damage. As you begin to clean records with Genesis 950 you will have a better sense of how to apply the solution.
With the paper towel damp from the solution, blot the record where the label from another record, is adhered. In the event you are trying to remove an address label, or catalog sticker, this method can also be used. This method is highly effective in the event that the record label is paper like and may damage if moisture is applied. In those instances, be sure that the wet paper towel ONLY touches the sticker trying to be removed. The moisture will then go through the sticker to break the bonds of the adhesive. This in turn will allow you to remove the sticker (see example below).
Continue to blot the area you want to remove from the record. Allow the area you want to remove to fully absorb the mixture.Using the paper towel allows you to fully isolate the areas you want cleaned. Again, this is more critical when paper based record labels are involved. In this photo you can see where the label from the other record has begun to soak in the moisture from the solution.
Using the paper towel, moistened with the solution, begin to wipe away the unwanted label. With this being a printed on label, the residue can be wiped off fairly easy. However on records where the sticker is adhered to a paper label, much more care is needed. in those instances, use a Q-tip, fingernail, or tweezers to be sure you are only impacting the sticker requiring removal.
For areas where the excess debris is tightly adhered to the record label, gently use your fingertip to roll away that sticker. You can see in the photo how this brings the unwanted label up in small rolled pieces. This method can be used on records with paper labels and in many cases is the best way to remove unwanted stickers. When doing so on records with paper labels, ensure your fingertip is dry so that it does not bring extra moisture on the portion of the record label not affected by the sticker needing removal. On paper labels, take caution to perform this step very slowly and very carefully, applying as little pressure as possible.
As you continue to clean the record, you will notice the difference. If needed, apply more solution to further moisten problem areas. There is a clear difference in the area that has been cleaned versus the uncleaned area.
Continue to remove all of the unwanted remnants of the label that had stuck to the record. There is no need to worry about any of the debris getting coming in contact with the playing surface of the record. The playing area of the vinyl can also be cleaned with Genesis 950. In the event that you are removing an isolated sticker from a printed label, you should not have this much excess. Typically with Genesis 950 those types of stickers are easily lifted upward. In the event you are cleaning a record with a paper label that has another record’s label wear off onto it in this manner, you should use your finger to lightly roll that attached label outward towards the vinyl in an effort to prevent it from collecting on the record’s label and releasing moisture to label areas that are clean.
After the unwanted label has been removed, use the damp paper towel to wipe away all excess debris from the label. If the label is paper DO NOT DO THIS unless it is a coated record label. If this is done to a lightweight, non-coated record label, it can pull up the original label. If you have debris on such a label, hold the record upward and use a DRY cloth or paper towel to gently brush the remnants off the record.
The record label is now clean. One would never know that this was the same record from the first photo. Prior to cleaning, one may have easily discarded this record as trash due to it’s appearance. Likewise, if one were trying to sell the record, it would bring in little attention. However once cleaned up, it becomes a sell-able record. In the event that your record collection has rare records, the value of the record is significantly increased from enhancing the label appearance.
NEXT CLEAN THE 45 RPM RECORD PLAYING AREA
Now that the label has been cleaned, it’s time to play the actual playing area of the 45 rpm record. This process can be applied to all 45 rpm records regardless of the label. When cleaning the record’s playing area, if you are able to make a cardboard cutout the size of a record label, you can place that over the label when initially spraying the record if you do not want any moisture to come in contact with the label. This however is not necessary so long as you are careful to spray the vinyl only, or if the record you are cleaning does not have a record label that can be damaged from moisture due to it’s coating, or as in this case, a printed on label.
To clean the playing area, spray the solution directly on the vinyl. The mixture used is the same 1/3 Genesis 950 to 2/3 water mixture that was used to remove the stuck on label. Genesis 950 is a surfactant based cleaner, so it works a little different that other cleaners. When mixed with water, it actually breaks the bonds of stains. When the bonds of stains are broken, they can then be rinsed away from the surface. After you have sprayed the record, allow it to sit for a few minutes. Records with minimal playwear do not need to sit long. However records with heavy buildup can sit longer. In extreme cases, let the solution sit for 5 – 10 minutes. Be sure this is done on a flat surface so that the solution does not run inward on the label.
After the mixture has been allowed to sit, begin to wipe the record clean. When wiping, wipe in a circular direction along the playing grooves of the record. Do not clean from side to side. As you run the paper towel along the record, it will pull up everything that has been broken down from the Genesis 950. You will be shocked at how much is removed. The cleaner does not just remove dirt from the surface, but it will also pull out everything from the grooves of the record.
Continue cleaning in a circular direction. If the record is very dirty, apply pressure as you clean, but not enough to break the record. After you have completed the circular wiping, use a dry paper towel to go over the record to remove any excess moisture. When you clean in this manner, you might notice the excess solution that runs off the outer edge will leave the paper towel brown from all the dirt. Depending on how dirty your record is, it might make the paper towel brown from all the residue. In many cases, you will even see the paper towel used to dry pull up enough residue to discolor it.
You now have a clean 45 rpm record! Not only is the record visually improved, but the sound quality has improved. Prior to cleaning, the record sounded garbled and had heavy distortion. Cleaning the record removed years of dust buildup within the grooves. As a result, the record is now worthy of being put in a jukebox, being added to a collection, or being listed for sale.
PLAYING THE 45 RPM RECORD AFTER CLEANING
After you have cleaned the record, you will want to play it. Even after drying the record, Genesis 950 is still within the grooves breaking down any sediment. The first time you play your record after cleaning, you might not make it through the whole record without some issues. As the needle runs along the grooves, it will pull out everything the cleaning solution has broken down that you were not able to remove with your paper towels or cloths. You will be amazed as to how clean your record becomes. Typically, by 1/3 of the way through the record, your sound might be muffled. This is not from the record. It is from the grime being removed from and building up on the needle.
Here is an example of the buildup that occurred 1/3 of the way through playing this record. If the sound becomes muffled after cleaning, lift the needle to see if there is buildup. Run your finger under the needle from back to front in order to remove the debris. Continue to play the record. When you first play the record after cleaning you will actually be able to see on the vinyl which bands the needle has played. You will also hear a stark difference once you replay those bands after cleaning the needle. The difference in the vinyl’s visual appearance and sound quality are unbelievable.
CLEAN 45 RPM RECORDS WITH STICKERS ON LABELS
From the 50’s to the 80’s it was often very common to mark a record as yours with stickers or address labels. Stickers can be a little trickier to remove when they are on a record that has a paper label. However it is not impossible. The first thing to know is that you should NEVER try to remove these stickers by peeling them off. Because the sticker has a glue like adherent, pulling the sticker away will typically result in pulling the record label up with it. This particular record from the 70’s has a sticker designed specifically for use on 45 rpm records. During this time, the Atlantic labels were coated, as were most major labels. Because of this, the sticker is easy to remove from the label when Genesis 950 is used.
Using the same mixture of 1/3 Genesis 950 to 2/3 water, spray the sticker. Because the label is coated, it does not matter if the mixture gets on the label. Coated labels allow and excess moisture to be wiped off. However be careful not to allow too much on the label, as excessive amounts of water can cause the label to bubble. If the label is not coated, apply the solution directly to the sticker with a Q-tip or with a paper towel being sure to only get the solution on the sticker. Non-coated labels will quickly absorb any moisture applied to them and in turn can become easily damaged.
Once the sticker has been sprayed with the solution, use a damp cloth or paper towel and rub the top of the saturated sticker. This will ensure that the solution is absorbed by the sticker. As the mixture passes through the sticker, it will come in contact with the adhesive backing which has attached to the record label. When Genesis 950 meets the adhesive backing, it will break the bonds of the sticker. Once the bonds of the stain have been broken down, the sticker no longer sticks!
Once the mixture has broken the bonds of the adhesive backing, you can then begin to peel the sticker upward. Start at one end of the sticker and peel VERY SLOWLY. Try to pull outward and up rather than straight up. This will ensure that you are not pulling any of the label up with the sticker. The slower you go, the better your outcome will be. Use the tension of the sticker being lifted up to your advantage.
Continue slowly pulling the sticker off the record. As you pull the sticker off, you might notice some spots where the adhesive is still on the label. In this example, you can see some of the adherent beyond the “C” of the Atlantic logo. You will also notice that there is a little bit of sticker not pulled completely up at the bottom of the sticker. If you see this happening, do not focus on it. Stay focused on peeling the sticker up. If you are seeing the label coming up stop! As indicated this is more of an issue with non-sealed labels which will be addressed below.
After the sticker has been removed, use a paper towel and clean off the residue left behind. This works best if the paper towel is dabbed with a very light amount of the Genesis 950 / water mixture. Do not over saturate the paper towel. The gum like residue comes off best if wiped in small circular motions.
After the label has been cleaned, clean the playing area of the record to ensure that no solution has dried on it. This is the same process as outlined with the James & Bobby Purify Record. Simply spray the playing area of the record and allow it to sit for a few moments. Since this record was in good playing condition prior to cleaning, not a lot of solution is needed, nor does it have to sit long.
After the mixture has been allowed to sit, wipe the record clean with a paper towel or cloth. Again, clean in a circular direction running with the grooves.
After you have wiped the record clean, use a dry cloth or paper towel to ensure any broken down residue is lifted. Even though this record was not particularly dirty, you can still see the difference in the shine from the first photo to the final photo. You would never even know that there had been a sticker on this label! Imagine being able to clean up your collection!
CLEAN 45 RPM RECORDS WITH ADDRESS STICKERS ON LABELS
One of the most common record owner identifiers is the address sticker. With these stickers, one could easily tag their record with no writing required. In the 50’s & 60’s most of these stickers used an adhesive that was licked, then applied to the record. During the 70’s stickers like these often had a backing that did not require licking. Regardless, either can be easily removed with Genesis 950.
Apply the mixture directly onto the address label. because this 45 rpm has a coated label, the mixture is sprayed directly on the sticker. If the record label is a non-coated paper surface, apply the solution using a Q-tip swab or rolled up paper towel so that it only comes in contact with the address sticker and not the record label.
Allow the mixture to soak through the label. If needed, use a paper towel to ensure the entire sticker is absorbed by the solution. As the solution works through the label, it will then break down the sticker’s adherence.
Ensure that the entire address sticker has absorbed the solution. If it has not, the adhesive under the sticker may not be properly broken down and can pull up the record label when lifted. In this example, you can see where the solution has been allowed to touch the actual record label. Again, because this is a coated paper, it will not damage the label and will dry up quickly. With non-coated paper labels, using the Q-tip will prevent the solution from coming in contact with areas you don’t want affected.
Once the sticker has been completely saturated, bring an end of the sticker upward and SLOWLY begin to pull it up at an outward angle. The slower you pull the sticker off the better. This will prevent it from pulling the label up with it.
***For records with non-coated paper labels it sometimes works best to avoid this step and allow the solution to completely dry. Many times, after the solution has broken down the solution and then dried, the label will flake right off. However you can still attempt to remove the sticker from non-coated labels by pulling it up. If you choose to try to pull the label off such a record, be sure to go VERY slowly. If needed, tweezers can help this process. In the event the label starts to tears, use an exacto knife to cut around where the sticker has pulled up the label.
If, as you are pulling the sticker off the record label, parts of the sticker try to remain on the label, do not pull harder. Allow that adhesive to be left behind. This can be cleaned up after you have removed the bulk of the sticker. When portions of adhesive are left behind, it simply means that the solution did not saturate the sticker thoroughly, or was not given enough time to break down the adhesive.
On records with coated labels such as this one, the remaining adhesive can be cleaned away using a fingernail or paper towel.
***On non-coated labels be very, very cautious in removing remaining adhesive. This is also another reason to allow the solution to completely dry on the sticker for non-coated record labels. Trying to pull off a damp sticker may result in the removal of parts of the actual record label.
After the label has been removed, allow to dry. In this photo you can still see the outline of where the sticker was. However once this does dry, that outline will not be visible.
CLEAN 45 RPM RECORDS WITH CATALOG STICKERS ON LABELS
Remove catalog number stickers from 45 rpm records using Genesis 950. Use the same process as outlined above.
If you are a vinyl record collector, Genesis 950 is the best way to clean your record collection. If you are trying to find how to clean vinyl records to either increase the sound quality, or to increase the monetary value of your records, Genesis 950 can help you. Genesis 950 will help you clean vinyl records for a better playing experience. Clean 45 rpm records to restore them to their original state.