Does something brand new really need to be cleaned? If it’s a vinyl record, then the answer is a resounding yes!
In this article, we’ll cover why it’s such an important part of taking care of your records, and how you can make sure you’re doing it right.
New vinyl records should be cleaned before their first play to remove any dirt, dust or debris that may have been sealed inside the record sleeve during the production process. Cleaning a new record also helps to reduce the static build up it will have accumulated.
So what kind of dirt will a new record be carrying? What is static charge and how does it affect a record? Why is cleaning a new record beneficial and how best to do it? We’ll get into all of this below…
New Records, Despite Being Brand New and Sealed, Are Dirty
When a new record is manufactured and then pressed in the factory, it’s not just the music that can get embedded into the grooves.
During the whole pressing process, a number of different agents and solutions will be used. For example, a release agent is applied to the new record’s surface to ease the release of the pressing plate that “stamps” the music onto the disc.
Remnants of this release agent are often still present on the record when you unseal it from its fresh packaging.
Then there’s the fact that a record pressing plant can be quite a grubby environment, with plenty of dust and atmospheric debris floating about. These contaminants will always find their way to a newly pressed record’s surface (more on how and why further down!).
So, when you combine all these factors, it stands to reason that a new record’s playing surface can get pretty congested with undesirable material.
Also, tiny bits of the record’s packaging, such as very fine shreds of paper from an inner sleeve, will also add to the mix.
And that’s just a brand new record. Imagine what a used, second hand one could have collected, even a near mint condition used disc.
Records Are Statically Charged, Even When They Come In Brand New Sealed Packaging
All records get statically charged. This build up of static electricity on the record doesn’t just affect how it sounds – it results in crackle and pop – but it also compounds the accumulation of dirt, dust and other muck on your records.
Static is a fact of life for all vinyl enthusiasts. Even with a good cleaning routine, eliminating static charge on a record entirely isn’t possible, it’s just a case of minimizing it as much as you can.
But while you might expect static charge on a used record that’s seen a fair few plays, it’s also always present on a brand new record too. The record will usually carry some charge from its creation process at the pressing plant, and the packaging it came in will have added to that too. Taking the record out of the sleeve will also help to top up the static.
All this static attracts dirt, dust and other debris, and also makes it cling to the record once it’s landed there.
Why Is It Beneficial To Clean a New Record?
Ridding the record of as much of this dirt as possible prior to its first play is important in getting the best possible sound, but also in preserving the record.
Dirt that isn’t removed from the surface of a record will quickly impact further and further into the grooves. This will cause a build up that, over time, can cause damage such as scratches to the record surface.
Removing as much dirt as possible from the very first play will also help to protect the stylus of your turntable. The stylus is delicate, and even a small amount of dirt can affect its performance and cause damage to it.
The sound quality of the record is the other major benefactor of a proper clean of a new record, and a continued good cleaning practice. A little crackle and pop can be very atmospheric when listening to a vinyl record, but it’s also a sign of static charge which in turn means the record is accumulating dust etc.
How To Clean a New Vinyl Record
There are some basic steps and practices you can establish to ensure that your records are in the best possible condition, starting with the very first clean right out of the packaging of a brand new record.
Our step-by-step guide to cleaning vinyl record safely covers the major points you need to be fully aware of, the different ways in which you can clean your records, and also how often you should clean your records.
And a top tip for when you buy a new record, is to replace the inner sleeve with a new anti-static one – I use and can highly recommend these ones – and to buy an outer sleeve to protect the jacket.