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  1. #1

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    Default Steam Powered Record Cleaning

    If you do not listen to LPs in your system, feel free to NOT leave any negative reasons why other shouldn't and simply move on to another thread.

    In my virtual travels, I have come across various methods to clean LPs. Just about all methods include a variety of steps using several different types of retail or user mixed liquid cleaning solutions. As I have not read any mention of a steam cleaning process on the forum, I created this quick post for all.

    I found some information on using a steady stream of steam to cleanse a LP. The steam is produced by a hand held steam generator. Threaders: you can find the method details in the thread “Deep Cleaning Records with Steam?”. A steam cleaning kit is available from Mapleshade providing all the necessary items for cleaning LPs.

    I procured a hand held steam generator from a local shop. This unit will supply a continuous stream of steam and has various accessories for directing the steam or cleaning items. The one accessory I find most useful and might be worth looking for is a right angle adaptor to direct the steam down when the unit is held level.

    Prior to testing the steam unit, I was mixing a Tergitol solution as per the formula specified by the “Library and Archives Canada” for use on a VPI HW-16.5 RCM. This formula was provided to me by Polk’s Kenneth Swauger. Once again, many thanks for leading me to this formula.

    I am using the RCM as a platform for cleaning the records instead of following the outlined method. While the record is rotating on the RCM platter, I direct a steady stream of steam onto the record from about six inches above. This is done for one complete rotation. I immediately follow this with a normal cleaning using the Tergitol solution followed by a rinse using ultra purified water.

    All I will say is that after this cleaning process, playback quality is significantly improved. In comparison, cleaning with just the Tergitol solution is adequate and does not produce anywhere near the same results.

    I also tried to warp some old abused LPs with the stream of steam from a height of six inches. After a very significant blast, no problems were encountered. The only issue I had was than the LP was very clean and sound much better.

    After cleaning some LPs last night, I decided next time I will try vacuuming the condensed steam from the record before applying the Tergitol solution. I might even use a carbon fiber brush to see if this further loosens any particles from the LP surface.

    Highly recommended.


    Edit

    I use the McCulloch MC-1220 hand held cleaner. This was the only model available locally. It is robust and provides a good stream of steam.

    I would suggest looking at the linked thread as it provides some alternative units to try including the one in the Mapleshade kit. The Mapleshade kit includes the steam generator as well as additional items for cleaning LPs.
    Last edited by jm1; 11-16-2007 at 01:52 PM. Reason: additional info

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    Interesting; the warpping was the first thought that crossed my mind.

    What generator are you using? Can you provide a link?
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    I saw a thread or 2 mentioning this on Audiocircle. We've got a steamer that we use to remove wallpaper, kinda loooks like a handheld vacuum cleaner. I might have to give it a whirl.

    Edit: looking at that Mapleshade link, it also looks like a more robust version of what they're offering, and we sure as heck didn't pay $150!!
    Last edited by strider; 11-16-2007 at 01:21 PM.
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    I would not recommend the steamer that you use for the wallpaper to clean your records! It does let out steam, but it also spits out drops of water that could possibly melt the groove imprint because of the duration of time the drop of water sits on a specific area and the associated temperature.

    If you try it, do so on a record that you would not be torn apart if it was damaged. ;)
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

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    Thats a pretty neat approach and a lot cheaper than the fancy record cleaning machines. If you get a chance could you load a picture of the process? I think I get it but a pic would be nice.

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    I've been researching this and speaking to (you too JM1) on this and have been vigorously searching for the right steam cleaner. Thanks for all you info it is very, very helpful.
    Last edited by hearingimpared; 11-16-2007 at 04:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by treitz3 View Post
    I would not recommend the steamer that you use for the wallpaper to clean your records! It does let out steam, but it also spits out drops of water that could possibly melt the groove imprint because of the duration of time the drop of water sits on a specific area and the associated temperature.

    If you try it, do so on a record that you would not be torn apart if it was damaged. ;)
    Thanks for the heads up.

    I may try to find one of the ones listed in the Audiogon link then.
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    I have a Euro Pro steam cleaner that I picked up at a thrift one time for next to nothing. I may fire it up and see how it does. It puts out a good head of steam. Hadn't thought about using it to clean records.

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    Default amazon has it $35

    http://www.amazon.com/review/product...owViewpoints=1


    ....i believe this is the same as Mapleshade

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    Quote Originally Posted by dee1949 View Post
    http://www.amazon.com/review/product...owViewpoints=1


    ....i believe this is the same as Mapleshade
    I'm looking at the Mapleshade "handbook" now and that thing looks like a dead ringer!!! Hmmm $35 vs $150 . . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by capecodder View Post
    Thats a pretty neat approach and a lot cheaper than the fancy record cleaning machines. If you get a chance could you load a picture of the process? I think I get it but a pic would be nice.
    I don't think that this is supposed to replace the vaccuum cleaner as opposed to augmenting it. You still have to suck the crap off the surface of the LP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD View Post
    I don't think that this is supposed to replace the vaccuum cleaner as opposed to augmenting it. You still have to suck the crap off the surface of the LP.

    BDT
    Definite augmentation, but a fellow Polkie JM1 has given the thumbs up on it as it really gets to the bottom of the grooves. I'm definitely going to give it a try especially now with the new cartridge in place. It is amazing with the type of stylus on my Airy3 getting way down to the bottom of the groove, even records that I considered pristene, when done playing one side of a record, there is a black clump of dirt coming off onto the Onzow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hearingimpared View Post
    there is a black clump of dirt coming off onto the Onzow.
    not to worry, I read somewhere the government was doing some testing in your area. although I would not recommend planting any tomato's with your "clump" of dirt.......

    However you loosen the gunk agree the vacuum is the ticket to get it off the record.

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    Lots of Carver stuff and a pair of LSi9's

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    From the “Deep Cleaning Records With Steam?” thread posted by “Crem1”:

    “As for the process its quite simple. First, you bring the steamer to a head of steam. Using eye and hand protection hold the LP away from your body and face,and steam the groves of the LP. Gently wipe with a soft cloth of choice, re-steam with a liquid record cleaner that has been spread/lightly scrubed with a record cleaning brush re-steam , lightly dry and steam again to remove any residue of the cleaner before hand drying. That's it ... Unless you own a record cleaning machine (RCM) as I do. I combine the two as to steam , vaccum/clean , steam ,vaccum/clean, steam and dry. Using both methods a steamer and RCM cleans lp to perfection. One disclamer : Steam Cleaning can not remove manufacturing defects or prior owner inflicted abuse to a recording. Gunk can go but nothing can save deep gouges and scratches.”

    The steam process can be used by itself to clean records. You would need to acquire the items detailed in the thread or you could purchase the Mapleshade kit which includes all the items and a “proprietary Deep Rinse Additive for the steamer”.

    If you have a RCM, a blast of steam can be incorporated into the cleaning process. As I mentioned, just using the cleaning fluid on the RCM is only adequate as compared to the combined cleaning fluid and steam cleansing. All LPs cleaned thus far have considerably benefited from the combined processes.

    I am also going to try replacing the carbon fiber record brush with something else. The bristles clump together after a few records. I need to have a look around to see what is available locally.

    After once again reading the above quoted text, I will try changing the cleansing method by adding another blast of steam between the fluid cleaning and rinse:

    steam, vacuum, fluid cleaning, vacuum, steam, rinse, vacuum

    IIRC, the Steam Fast SF-227 is also available at Wal-Mart in the US. It is not available in Canada so I need to find an alternative.


    Cheers!! to blowing off some steam before relaxing and listen to some music.
    Last edited by jm1; 11-21-2007 at 12:38 PM.

  16. #16

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    Doh! Duplicate post.
    Last edited by jm1; 11-21-2007 at 12:37 PM.

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    Try the MFSL brush...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyD View Post
    Try the MFSL brush...

    BDT
    I use one with the Tergitol cleaning solution.

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    I use the MFSL brush in the final clean & rinse stages, it really gets down into those grooves. I just got some extra pads; I'm thinking about replacing the strips on the vacuum tube. That's the piece that wears out and causes me to have to keep buying replacement tubes . . . argh.

  20. #20

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    Anyone try this yet?? I thought some of you vinyl guy's would be on this immediately.

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    I've so many new things going on here that I need to get accustomed to them first before trying anything more new.

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    Hello,
    Thanks to everyone who provided information on steam cleaning LPs. I bought a steam cleaner and tried it out last night with great results. I combined it with my normal record cleaning procedure and the results were very impressive. Big difference in background noise and far less tics and pops. I used a record that I had already cleaned the previous way and listened to it; then re-cleaned using the steamer and Nitty Gritty with liquid cleaner and things were much quieter. There seemed to be more inner detail and definition from a reduction in background noise.
    Again, thanks!
    Ken

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    My wife has one of these Rowenta Commercial garment steamers she uses instead of ironing.



    There is no way she would let me put any vinyl cleaning solution in it. I wonder if you were to clean the LP then steam it and then vacuum it...if that would work?
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    Hello,
    The procedure that i used was to put the record on the platter support of my record cleaner. Then as I turned the record with my left hand, I held the steamer (Shark model bought at K-Mart, yes "Christmas at K-Mart!") filled with distilled water. After waving the nozzle back-and-forth across the radius of the turning record, as it turns, I used my Dr. Record cleaning brush and my own home-brew cleaning liquid to brush the record's surface. Flip it over and vacuum off the liquid and do the same for the other side. Then I use Dr. Record's general day-to-day cleaning liquid and finish up with a final vacuum (you could use distilled water for this). I do this final rinse to get rid of any residue from the cleaning liquid.
    The only way you could use the steamer your wife has is if it has an attachment to concentrate the steam to a single point. The steam needs to be focused to a small area to effectively dislodge any grime in the record's grooves.
    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Swauger
    The only way you could use the steamer your wife has is if it has an attachment to concentrate the steam to a single point. The steam needs to be focused to a small area to effectively dislodge any grime in the record's grooves.
    Ken
    It does have an attachment that will do that. It may be worth a try. Thanks Ken.
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    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenneth Swauger View Post
    Hello,
    Thanks to everyone who provided information on steam cleaning LPs. I bought a steam cleaner and tried it out last night with great results. I combined it with my normal record cleaning procedure and the results were very impressive. Big difference in background noise and far less tics and pops. I used a record that I had already cleaned the previous way and listened to it; then re-cleaned using the steamer and Nitty Gritty with liquid cleaner and things were much quieter. There seemed to be more inner detail and definition from a reduction in background noise.
    Again, thanks!
    Ken
    Glad it worked for you. The combination of the Tergitol solution and steam provide a very effective cleaning process. Once again, thanks for the lead on the Tergitol.

    Quote Originally Posted by shack
    It does have an attachment that will do that. It may be worth a try.
    Your unit is larger than the hand held units and may generate more steam. I would suggest starting with a height greater than the 6" away from an old LP.

    Let us know how it works.

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    Mr. Swauger, I have heard about your TT rig from some senior members of this forum and know what kind of level you are at when it comes to TT's. Thanks for the follow up post as I will be getting one of these shortly. The attention to detail / procedures in what you wrote is priceless to an "LP Virgin" [again], such as myself. Close to 20 years have passed since I've had Vinyl in my rig and only recently have I gotten back to vinyl. I've got the dual sided Nitty Gritty but I'm still experiencing a little grain in some tracks and pops (occasionally) from material still apparently embedded within the grooves.

    Your comments are appreciated.
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

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    Hello Treitz3,
    No problem, I'm glad the information was helpful. I have the original Nitty Gritty, solid oak and loud as anything. I have to wear ear plugs to keep the noise down. But, I must have cleaned thousands of records over the years. In the past the best sounding record cleaner was made by Torumat and I used it for years and years. But, unfortunately the person who developed that has passed away and it can no longer be found. I talked with him once on the phone and he was a very nice person. There is an audio shop, somewhere on the west coast, that knew this person very well and hoped to eventually make the cleaner available. That would be great.
    The Turgitol blend seems to come closest to what I remember the Torumat being, but who can remember how two record cleaners sound. The only clue I can give it that with the Torumat I would, occassionaly, get the distinct impression of smelling either cigar smoke or beer when I was cleaning a record (I can hear the chuckles now from Forum members). I thought I thought I was having flashbacks, but I was cleaning some records for a friend and I smelled cigar smoke. Then it dawned on me, this guy smoked cigars and then it made sense. The Torumat was releasing the microscopic film of cigar smoke or spilled beer as it was cleaning the record. So, sniff your records!
    Where have you been finding most of your records?
    Ken

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    Thanks to both you John and you Ken. I think I'll get the Shark from K-mart tonight.

    When I look at my records under my handy dandy Radio Shack hand held microscope I see nothing but groove. If this steamer really works then I'll be shocked. Not that I don't believe you but I clean the daylights out of my records.

    Oh and Ken, I've smelled cigarettes, cigars, sour milk, and booze on some used records I've cleaned. I've also seen the nasty yellow waste from the nicotene in my drain hose.

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