Spin-Clean Vinyl Record Washer (LP Cleaner) Review
Spin-Clean Vinyl Record Washer System Mk II (LP Cleaner)
Having been recently re-introduced to vinyl records and seeing as how it seems that records and LPs are making a strong comeback in the music world, I am looking to grow my current record collection which right now consists of about 100 LPs. In the interim, I want to take the best care of my growing record collection, so I started looking into record cleaning systems that would allow me to seriously deep clean the LPs (especially those old, dusty and well used albums that had not been played in decades). That said, most of the records cleaning machines or kits that I have come across are usually far too expensive to justify for a small LP collection like mine. My search for an economical and easy to use LP cleaner led me to the Spin-Clean Record Washer System Mk II. The Spin-Clean Record Washer System has been manufactured and hand assembled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) since 1975. After 35 years on the market, the new Spin-Clean Record Washer System Mk II started shipping in June of 2010. Major improvements were made to every aspect of Spin-Clean, including everything from redesigning and refinishing the molds, to developing higher precision rollers, to manufacturing fluffier and more gentle drying cloths. To my knowledge the Spin-Clean Record cleaner appears to be the least expensive thorough record cleaning and washing system available. The Spin-Clean Record Washer System retails for $79.99 and includes everything you will need to start washing your records except for water which you should be able to find easily enough. Besides the low cost, there are a couple important items that make the Spin-Clean different from most other LP record cleaners. The record washing system requires no power at all as the cleaning process is completed powered by you. Another feature that makes the Spin-Clean record cleaning unit unique is that each side of the record gets cleaned simultaneously - most other cleaners will only clean one album side at a time. One more thing to note, not only does the Spin-Clean accommodate your regular 12-inch vinyl records, it will also accept and clean your 7-inch (45 rpm) and also 10-inch special sized albums (including 78 rpm).
Photograph 1: Spin-Clean LP Record Washer System Mk II
The Spin-Clean Record Washer System Mk II was neatly packaged inside a cardboard box which containted the following:
- Washer Basin and Lid
- Washer Fluid 4 oz
- One Pair Brushes Mk II
- One Pair Rollers MK II
- Two Washable Drying Cloths
- Owner's Manual (instructions)
TIP - Before you get started it is best to pre-wash the drying cloths before using to make them fluffier and more absorbent.
Drying Cloth Washing Instructions: If washing other clothes with the drying cloths, wash only with whites, detergent and bleach. DO NOT use any fabric softener or dryer sheets. The drying cloths are re-useable so wash as required.
Brush Pad Washing Instructions: Gently and with a soft toothbrush scrub the brush pads under warm water to remove stubborn dirt particles.
Photograph 2: Spin-Clean LP Record Washer System Mk II Contents
Using the Spin-Clean Vinyl LP Record Cleaning System
I must admit that I was anxious and somewhat excited to get started cleaning my LP record collection, some that date back to the 1970s and 1980s that I had not played in eons. I set up the Spin-Clean as per the instructions that were included in the record cleaning kit. Setup of the record cleaner is very easy. Start by inserting the 2 rollers within each side of the basin unit to match the album size you will be cleaning. Next, insert the 2 brush pads which slide tightly into the sloted midsection of the washing basin. With the cleaning brushes in place we next need to fill the Spin-Clean washing basin with distilled water. It took about 650 mL (22 oz) of distilled water to fill the record cleaning basin to the level indicator line. The final step to setup the Spin-Clean is to pour 3 capfuls of the washer fluid directly over the 2 brush pads. The special record washer fluid that is supplied with the record cleaning kit is a flocculant - which works by encapsulating the dirt and forcing it down to the bottom of the cleaning basin. This prevents any dirt and debris from being suspended in the cleaning bath and being re-deposited back onto the record while being cleaned. The Spin-Clean Record Washer System is a brilliant honey-bee yellow in color for a reason. The sunny bright yellow color allows you to easily see all of the dirt as it accumulates at the bottom of the basin. This will help you visually assess when it is time to replace the water and cleaning fluid.
The owner's manual suggests to use distilled water rather than ordinary tap water to wash your vinyl LP records. Distilled water can usually be purchased from a local grocery store and will typically cost less than about $2 for a gallon (4 Litres). However, the Spin-Clean owner's manual also indicates that if distilled water is not available, tap water can be used as a substitute. I recommend that you only use distilled water when washing your LPs and records. The reason being that tap water will often contains salts and other dissolved minerals that may cause water spots and streaking, or a build up of tiny particles that can get trapped within the grooves of the records.
Photograph 3: Use Distilled Water with Spin-Clean LP Record Washer System
To test out the Spin-Clean LP and vinyl record washing system for the first time, I started with one-third of my 100+ album collection (about 35 LPs). The records I selected for cleaning varied in age and condition from new with very little play to well used dusty and streaky LPs, some already a few decades old. The record cleaning process is very simple, gently push the LP in-between the cleaning brushes and down into the washing basin; rotate the LP 3 times clockwise then 3 times counter-clockwise; and wipe the LP dry with the drying cloths. The record cleaning system holds the LP securely and tightly in place, so in order to spin the album, press your inner palms firmly on the outside edges of the record and rotate. Remember, you don't want to touch the surface of the record. Once the LP had been cleaned in the washer, I used the two supplied drying cloths (which are very similar to cheese cloths) in each hand and folded in-half to carefully lift and remove the freshly cleaned LP from the record washing basin. The final step in the cleaning process is to wipe the record dry in a circular motion using the drying cloths. The record dries quickly using the supplied drying cloths. To make sure the LPs was completely dry, I let the LPs air dry for a few minutes on each side. As an optional cleaning step, I zapped the freshly cleaned LP records with a Milty Pro Zerostat 3 anti-static gun before returning to the record record sleeve to make sure the record does not pick up any dust. Voila! You now have an incredibly clean and shiny as new record (that certainly doesn't visually appear to be 30 years old). Once I got into the swing of record cleaning I found that the whole process went by fairly quickly and it only took about 2 - 3 hours to thoroughly clean 35 records. Not bad IMO for accomplishing this level of deep cleaning. The instructions indicate that the bath water will be good to clean up to as many as 50 records. The actual amount of LPs that can be cleaned will vary somewhat, depending on how filthy or not so dirty your records really are. I found that after cleaning 35 records (some which were quite dirty), the bath water was ready to be replaced. The amount of dirt and sediment that had collected at the bottom of the basin was absolutely remarkable! Who knew that my records were so dirty? Seeing all this dirt at the bottom of the basin really confirmed that the Spin-Clean does a very thorough job deep cleaning your vinyl records and left me with a smile on my face.
Photograph 4: Spin-Clean LP Record Cleaner in Action
TIP - The cleaning brushes will "break-in" and loosen up after the first couple of uses, so don't choose to clean 78 rpm records first (as they are the thicker than LPs and 45s).
Photograph 5 below shows a before (left) and after (right) photo of a Supertramp LP that was cleaned with the Spin-Clean. The cleaned record looked like it was fresh of the press.
Photograph 5: Before / After Supertramp LP Cleaned with Spin-Clean
Final Thoughts - Spin-Clean Vinyl LP Record Cleaning System
I was very impressed with not only the visual appeal of the pristine shine on all of the cleaned records, but more importantly with the improved sound quality after the record cleaning process. My LP records, especially those that are most dear to my heart, now sounded fantastic! After cleaning the records, surface and background noise was hardly noticeable - seemingly pushed off deep into the background. All I could do was sit back and relax and enjoy my old albums all over again. The Spin-Clean record cleaning system does a very thorough job deep cleaning your LP records. Provided that you don't mind putting in a little elbow grease to clean your records, the Spin-Clean will do an excellent job cleaning your records on a budget. Because of the cleaning method, the Spin-Clean is best suited for washing several records at a time. I give a strong recommendation of the Spin-Clean record cleaner to all value conscience vinyl enthusiasts. If you have any questions about the Spin-Clean review, please feel free to ask them in the Spin-Clean LP Record Cleaning System (Mk II) thread on the forum.
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