To clean 78 RPM records, you must employ a slightly different technique. The cleaning fluid used to clean vinyl records contains alcohol which is not suitable to clean 78 RPM records as it will eat in to the shellac.
Cleaning 78 RPM records is a good thing to do as soon as they are obtained. These ancient discs will surely have a great build up of grime that will inhibit playback performance. People are often astounded by what happens when they clean their 78s, as many had assumed it was simply age related wear that could not be improved upon.
The Good News: It’s Much Easier to Clean 78 RPM Records Than Vinyl
It is much easier to obtain the materials required to clean 78 RPM records as almost all homes will stock the required materials already!
There are various methods of cleaning 78s, and some are better than others.
The best way is by using a mixture of detergent and water. Simply add a few drops of detergent to a small bucket, fill it with lukewarm water and you have your cleaning solution ready to go.
Then, you can use an old toothbrush to trace along the record to clean out the grooves. I recommend moving around the record in a clockwise direction as this is the same direction your stylus will travel in when tracking the record.
The benefit of using a toothbrush is you will keep your label safely dry.
The Drying Process
After the scrubbing, simply rinse underneath running lukewarm water. Don’t run the tap at full blast – a gentle flow will do.
After the record is cleaned, pat dry with a microfibre towel or chamois. I have not had much success with bathroom towels as they tend to shed lint on to the record, causing the opposite of the intended cleaning effect.
After the record is superficially cleaned, the record can be left to completely dry. Putting freshly clean 78 RPM records in a dish drying rack is a clever way to go about the drying process.