How to Clean Records and Turntables After a Fire

In the aftermath of a house fire you will feel overwhelmed. What can you save and what is trash? If you find yourself grieving for your damaged stereo cabinet and record collection, don’t despair. There’s a good chance you will be able to save some or even all of it.

Here’s what you can do to save and preserve your record collection:

How to Clean Vinyl Records

Some vinyl enthusiasts recommend cleaning records before and after each play, but we disagree. This puts more stress on the records than is necessary. Only clean your records when they sound scratchy or have visible fingerprints or dust on them.

Even if you have not suffered a house fire, you can use these three basic steps to clean your records:

  1. First, you have to remove as much loose debris as possible. Use a special record album vacuum (like this one) to get dust and soot out of the grooves of records. Using a specialized device puts almost no pressure on the delicate record surface and minimizes the chances of damaging the vinyl recording.
  2. Once the loose debris is removed from the surface, it’s time to use a cleanser. A bottle of Tergitol concentrate is what archivists at the Library of Congress use. Follow the instructions accompanying the product to make a cleaning solution with distilled water. Submerge the record in the solution for a few moments and then rinse it with more distilled water.
  3. Lay the record flat on a microfiber towel and gently blot dry with another microfiber towel.

If you have antique or one-of-a-kind recordings in your collection, it’s best to send them to a record restoration expert.

How to Clean a Turntable

Cleaning your turntable is the next step in getting your sound system back in business. These three simple steps only require basic household materials and can be used routinely to keep your turntable in good condition:

  1. Use your record vacuum or a regular vacuum brush attachment to remove as much loose debris and soot as you can.
  2. Moisten a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe away the remaining soot. Start in the middle of the turntable surface and wipe outwards.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol to clean soot off the stylus arm and the record player housing. Once the soot is removed, the housing can be wiped with furniture polish and a clean cloth.

How to Clean a Record Needle 

Here’s an easy hack for how to clean a record needle, also called a stylus: gently and repeatedly drop the needle into a dry melamine cleaning sponge until the stylus is free of debris. A magnifying glass will come in handy to check the tip. If the needle is damaged or won’t come clean, most record player needles are fairly affordable and easy to replace.

What if the Record Player Still Won’t Work?

Is your record player still not working? Perhaps the stereo cabinet was damaged by water from the fire department’s hoses. Components inside the turntable could be heat- or water-damaged. If your turntable won’t work following a fire, Electronic Restoration Services can fix it.

Call us at 866-225-5377  or request service online.

Audiophiles don’t just love their music. If your photographs, artwork, or figurines were damaged in a fire, our colleagues at Art Recovery Technologies can restore your items to their former beauty.