Spin Your Way to Cleanliness / Chris Meloche
Chances are that if you have any serious amount of vinyl in your collection, you’ve thought of getting a record cleaning machine at some point. However, once you begin checking out the prices of machines from folks like Nitty Gritty ($900) or VPI ($550 – $2250!), you start to think twice. Perhaps the Spin-Clean might be the answer. This is about as simple a way to clean your records as you can get (besides the Kitchen Sink Method – KSM – which can often provide quite satisfactory results). For around $79.99US, you get a package consisting of the following: a Spin-Clean Record Washer unit (with lid), two rollers, two cleaning brushes, two ultra-absorbant cloths and a 4 oz bottle of Spin-Clean fluid.
The unit has three sets of slots into which the rollers can fit. These are meant to accomodate 12″, 10″ and 7″ records. After placing the rollers in the slots (you can see the three different slots on the top view photo), the unit is filled with distilled water to a line at the bottom of the rollers. The brushes are then put into place in the center slots within the unit. After the brushes are in place, three capfuls of cleaning solution are poured over them. You are now ready to start cleaning records. The record fits down between the brushes and rests on the rollers at either end. First you spin the record three complete rotations clockwise and then repeat in the counterclockwise direction. After that, you lift the record from between the brushes and let some liquid drip off. At this point, I employ some of the techniques that I previously used with the KSM. Lay the record flat on a clean, dry, lint-free towel. Fold the bottom half of the towel up over the LP and blot dry. Finish drying the record surface with the absorbant cloths provided with the unit. You record is now ready to go.
Each session should clean 40 to 50 LPs depending on how dirty the water in the reservoir gets. Once you’ve gone through your first batch, you’ve got the routine down pretty well and it goes quite quickly. I have had very good results with the Spin-Clean system. I’m quite convinced that any noise left on the record after it has gone through this cleaning process is likely the result of groove wear or damage or some kind. It certainly won’t be because of dust or dirt in the grooves. And remember… nothing will cure worn or damaged grooves. It’s also good to know that the Spin-Clean solution does not contain alcohol and is therefore safe for use on 78 RPM shellac discs.
Simon adds : I’ve seen this for around £80 at UK suppliers (don’t you love the way UK suppliers automatically keep the unofficial $1 = £1 exchange rate come what may?! I’ve even seen it applied to downloadable software), while some US mail-order places do offer shipping to the UK. The Spin-Clean website has more info and videos, but you cannot order direct. We did learn that the unit is actually made in Pittsburgh NOT China, and was launched in 1975.
Or you could rifle the junk shops for a Ronco Record Cleaner, a device which had a battery powered motor (“cordless operation system”) to rotate your album against dusters and used a vacuum cleaner to suck the dirt out! It didn’t work very well.