Cleaning Records with Cleaning Fluid
The easiest, most efficient, safe and cost effective way to clean a vinyl record is with an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) based fluid.
There are people scared of IPA solutions as it's been mentioned repeatedly cleaning a record with strong IPA content can, eventually, give a toppy, staticy sound to your vinyl, stripping away a protective layer on the record.
This is not a problem if you don't use 100% IPA or high IPA content cleaner, along with the fact a record only needs to be "cleaned" once. New records will have their static removed and traces of vinyl particles left behind in the manufacturing process removed. Old records will get "as new" shine again (it will with Vinyl Shelter Cleaning Fluid). Once clean, before play just use a hand held dust brush as normal (not necessary when you've just cleaned it an hour previous but in the future). Unless you mistreat the record, drop it in a muddy puddle, cover it in fingerprints, spill energy drink all over it or such like, there is no point in cleaning it with fluid twice.
If you don't use a machine, you can use cotton wool pads or cotton wool buds (swabs/q-tips). I personally don't recommend micro fibre cloths as I have scratched a few records using those (very fine thin scratches). With a fluid dampened cotton wool pad, have the record on the deck, spinning and apply it from lead in to lead out. You can use this fluid in a spray bottle if you wish too. Vinyl Shelter cleaning fluid is a premium, quality fluid so please don't buy the cheapest cotton wool buds you can find, I recommend Johnson's, but even better is the Johnson's baby cotton wool pads.
That will get you great results alone but if you spend, say, £50 you can buy a cleaning machine (search "Knosti Disco Antistat") that is awesome value for money. Essentially you spin a record through a trough of the cleaning fluid through mounted brushes. You get terrific results and this is what the 1L Vinyl Shelter Cleaning Fluid was developed specifically for. It seems the included fluid isn't favoured by many, so get some of our fluid instead. Sales pitch you may think. It's not.
Here's a quick run down of how I use my Knosti Antistat machine & Vinyl Shelter Cleaning Fluid (I clean every record I sell, and have now cleaned some 8,000+ records):
The Knosti has been known to have a slight "rust" issue (the top critical Amazon review refers to this as a potential issue). To prevent this, follow the two BOLD pieces of advice, below.
Fill the trough to the top of the brushes with fluid (it takes 500ml) DO NOT FILL OVER THE TOP OF THE BRUSHES, just under is perfect. Clean your 15, or less, records (the amount the drying rack can handle). I rest the machine on two kitchen towel squares to catch drips plus rest the clamps on whilst putting the cleaned record in the drying rack. When cleaning I make 7 or 8 forward turns of the record and 7 or 8 back. I spin the record rather than the clamps.
The thread on my clamps went ages ago so I hold my finger against the side to keep it tight against the record. I've never damaged a label with fluid so don't panic, any leakage onto the label has vanished once left to dry. I see there is a version of the Knosti Antistat machine with a handle, not a necessary addition just something that can go wrong. When you have cleaned your records, you need to pour the fluid out of the trough, NOT BACK INTO THE FLUID BOTTLE THOUGH, I use an old Brita Water filter jug (WITHOUT THE BRITA FILTER, just using as an empty jug), tipping from the trough into one of these is perfect. Then clean the bottom of the empty trough with the pieces of kitchen towel. Pour the fluid back in the trough, via the filter(s) (part of the machine kit) and let it seep through fully. You will then need to top up the trough a bit with clean fluid as some will be missing and in the bottom of your drying rack (discard as this is the dirtiest fluid). Ready to clean 15 more and so on ... It is recommended to dry your trough after a cleaning session, a hair drier on the coolest setting is ideal.
Just a quick word about the filters that come with these Antistat machines. They can last quite a while and can be cleaned with running warm water quite easily. You should use 3 at a time and when washing, lay down 3 squares of toilet paper, place wet filters on, lay 3 more squares on top and filters are instantly dry & ready for reuse. You can buy a set of 3 filters on eBay very cheaply when you feel they need renewing.
Between cleaning sessions, keep the fluid stored in the trough if it's only a while until you clean more. It's worth noting that all the dirt will fall to the bottom of the trough overnight so when you pour it out don't be too concerned with getting it all out as the bottom sludge is pure filth. Kitchen towel time. If you're not planning to use the fluid for a while again, find an empty bottle to store it in. Don't mix used fluid with new fluid. Topping up with clean fluid is obviously preferable to murky fluid.
Repeat this process and when your bottle of fluid has run out (you've used the other 500ml to top up a few times) it's time to throw away all of it and renew. You'll see the fluid is very brown/yellow in colour.
To summarise, if you only have one or two records to clean, occasionally, go for a 500ml bottle. If you use a machine, as discussed, and have about 200-300 records then a 1 litre will see you through but if you have more or a constant stream of records to clean (like I do) then the 5L represents best value.
Hope that helps, if I can be of any assistance please do get in touch.