How to Clean Old 45s and 33 1/3 Records

Marion asked: How do I clean old 45s and 33 1/3 records? They have been around since the 1930s. Some are from the 1920s, used on my grandmother’s gramophone. Some are one sided and flat on the back.

There are several methods for cleaning vinyl that are popular, but most “home remedies” have drawbacks. For example, soap can leave a residue, while water that isn’t purified can include abrasives that might wreck your vinyl. Harsher chemicals, such as lighter fluid and alcohol, may damage your records. So to be absolutely safe, use a product made for the job. Here’s what to do.

You Will Need:

  • Record Cleaning Solution
  • Microfiber towels
  • Solution Applicator (Comes with most record cleaning kits)

Steps to Clean the Records:

  1. Spread a microfiber cloth over your work area. Lay the record on the cloth.
  2. Apply cleaning solution to the applicator (not directly to the record) until it is wet.
  3. Clean the record with the brush, using light pressure and circular strokes for 1-3 minutes. Dirtier records may require more cleaning time.
  4. Wait five minutes (longer for dirtier pieces), then dry the record with a clean microfiber towel.
  5. Turn the record over and repeat the steps above to clean the other side.
  6. Allow the records to air dry completely before storing.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • To keep records clean, store them in rice paper or a poly-lined sleeve.
  • To maintain top condition, it’s recommended that you use a carbon fiber brush on records before and after you play them. This will remove any dust and dirt that may have accumulated.


  1. Poka says:

    I did not like your advice for getting the old records clean. They should not be washed, even with the brush…truly stupid.

  2. Theseer says:

    Poka, you underestimate vinyl there. It’s actually pretty sturdy and doesn’t care about water, as long as it’s not hot. The problem with tabbed water is limescale that could get in the grooves and cause noises – but the microfibre takes care of that. Or you can use distilled water.
    One of my favourite tricks in vinyl cleaning is missing: cleaning with wood glue…I didn’t believe it until I tried it…fun and effective…and you kinda get a second “record”.

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