How to Clean a Turntable Record Player

Cleaning a record player

Maybe it’s the way the needle strikes the fine hidden groves on the vinyl records to produce crisp clear high pitched soothing sounds that always leave you in a trance… or maybe it’s the classic sophisticated classic look and status the “music time-machine” oozes from the corner of your living room, but one thing’s for sure, it feels awesome to own one. A quality record player, like the Pro-ject Debut Carbon (link to review), is one of the greatest gifts from our glorious past that music lovers can enjoy holding on to for the next couple of decades. That is if we can keep them clean and operational for that long… right??

Cleaning a record player
The stylus is the most delicate part and needs to be cleaned regularly.

So how do you clean your one of a kind record player? How do you ensure that the quality of music it plays is always crisp and flowing without any annoying skips or loops or even that your stylus (needle) doesn’t suddenly snap off due to clogged dust or dirt?

Or even worse, can you imagine that all time favorite vinyl record from your collection, you know… I’m talking about that priced hand-me-down from ol’ grandpa Jones, the 1959 James Brown’s album “Please Please Please” or that Bob Dylan original record. Can you imagine that record getting a crack or a mean scratch and it’s totally ruined just because you decided it was okay to neglect your record player?

Now, just like anything else in your home, record players (especially the old antique ones…), need some love and care for them to continue operating properly and blaring those cool tunes we love so much. Your vinyl records do too…


Why You Need To Clean Your Turntable Record Player On A Regular Basis

There’s some simple grade school science that goes on while playing music from a turntable record player which leaves the needle, the vinyl record and the turntable surface (platter) very attractive to dust particles. All the dust just wants to fly and settle there! As the needle and the vinyl record rub together, static charges are created on both surfaces and any speck of dust floating around there just can’t stay away from the record player. No matter how clean you think your home is! I once took my old record player’s cartridge for repair because the thing just stopped working, only for it to be sent back after a day with a note that read:

“Dear Tom,

We are deeply sorry that you had to miss your 5 o’clock dose of smooth Jazz yesterday. We know how much you enjoy that. Anyway, we are glad to tell you that your cartridge is fine and the problem was only caused by some little built up dust on your stylus. Be careful to keep your record player clean each time you use it. Before and after Tom… before and after, okay?

Kind reargds,


SpeakOut Classic Music Shop”


What You’ll Need For Cleaning Your Record Player

  • Two pieces of cloth – one lint-free, the other should be antistatic
  • Compressed air can if necessary
  • Cleaning (or rubbing) alcohol
  • A stylus brush… they have these in most record shops
  • Soft paint brush or Q-tips where the stylus cleaning brush is unavailable


How To Clean Your Turntable Record Player – Step By Step

Step 1: Start with the Playing Mechanism

The first step is to clean the platter and the needle.

The Platter

This is the circular turntable surface that spins the vinyl records. Take the lint-free cloth and dampen it with a little rubbing alcohol then clean the platter in circular-spiral motions. Remember, it’s advised that you start from the center heading outwards. Make sure to remove all dust and debris sticking on the surface. Use the can of compressed air to blow any loose debris on the platter if necessary. Using your mouth to blow off dust means there’s a risk you might leave your saliva there.

The Stylus

You’ll need the stylus cleaning brush for this. The stylus should always be cleaned using back and forth strokes (following the direction of a playing record) and never sideways! Thorough cleaning may require you to deep the stylus cleaning brush in some bit of rubbing alcohol but generally you can do it with the brush only depending on how often you clean your stylus.

Using your fingers to remove dust from the needle is very much discouraged. Chances are… you might leave some sweat or oil on the stylus which would accelerate the buildup of stubborn dirt. Use the soft brush or stylus brush all the time. Remember also not to blow the stylus with your mouth. The high-pressured can of compressed air is not advised either. Just keep it to the brush and you’ll be fine.

Step 2: Clean the Rest of the Record Player

The second step is to clean the record player casing

The Outer Case

Use a damp cloth to wipe the outer casing clean. Most record player come with a wooden or hard plastic casing which can easily be wiped clean. However, it’s better to use the anti-static cloth for this for obvious reasons. Another thing to consider when wiping the casing is to avoid getting any liquid in the ports or wires. Use the compressed air can to blow out any dust or debris trapped inside the ports. After cleaning the record player’s case, make sure you cover it well with the enclosing cover it came with. If it didn’t, use a clean piece of cloth large enough to cover the entire record player from all sides.


Bonus Tips

  • Always clean the stylus before and after playing any records
  • Always clean your vinyl records before and after playing them
  • You can cover the record player while playing records to reduce the accumulation of dust due to the static charges