How to Clean Your Turntable Stylus
(And Why You Should)

When you listen to a record, it’s all about the grooves. No, not the musical “grooves” of your favorite tracks, but the grooves on the record itself. The literal grooves.

That’s where a record’s music information physically resides. Your stylus bounces around inside the record grooves, translating the information into musical playback. To enjoy the best possible sound, you need to keep your vinyl (and the grooves) clean. That way, the stylus can effectively read the information inside of your record.

A big part of keeping records clean is cleaning and protecting the vinyl itself. Most people know that. But cleaning your stylus is just as important.

Why you should clean your stylus after each listening session

Your stylus touches your vinyl throughout the entire listening session, so keeping it clean is essential.

If your stylus has dirt or dust on it, it can transfer those contaminants to every record you play. Over time, a dirty stylus can damage your vinyl, especially when the gunk it leaves on your records burrows deep into the grooves and hardens. It’s a common problem.

The solution is to prevent gunk from damaging your records in the first place by cleaning your stylus after each listening session. If you can get into the habit, cleaning it after every record is even better.

Cleaning your stylus is easy. Here’s how to do it.

Check out our video on stylus cleaning or just follow the steps below.

  • Grab some stylus cleaner. We recommend MoFi Electronics LP #9 Stylus Cleaner. It comes in a .5 oz. container and contains a little brush. It’s all you need for cleaning your stylus, and one bottle can last years.
  • Apply the cleaning solution to the stylus. Using the included brush, apply the solution to the stylus 2 or 3 times in a back-to-front motion. If you need a brush for your existing stylus cleaner, check out the Audio Advice Carbon Fiber Stylus Cleaning Brush.
  • Repeat after every session. Clean your stylus in this manner every time you finish listening. The whole process takes 10 seconds and it helps your stylus and vinyl last a lifetime!

Other ways to keep your records clean

When dirt or dust accumulates on your vinyl, it can transfer to the stylus. In turn, the stylus transfers dust and dirt to your other records. You can avoid this scenario by cleaning your vinyl regularly and protecting it from contaminants.

When it’s time to clean your records, there are a variety of different methods and products we recommend. Start with a simple Audio Advice record brush.

You can also buy record cleaning machines starting from a modest $79 Spin Clean Record Washer all the way up to the incredible $3,999 Audio Desk System Vinyl Cleaner Pro!

Clean vinyl is great-sounding vinyl.

All it takes to clean your vinyl is a few tools, a few seconds of your time after each listening session, and periodic cleaning of the records you play most. That’s it!

Just remember that cleaning the vinyl itself is only part of the equation. If you don’t clean the stylus, it’s hard to keep your records clean – even if you run them through a record cleaning machine on a regular basis.

Regardless of how you clean your records, the most important thing is that you do so regularly and thoroughly. If you always play clean records, cleaning your stylus after every listening session will ensure you’re always getting the most out of your vinyl.

Clean records can sound great for decades. They retain that warm, true-to-life sound that only vinyl can offer, all without a single speck of dust to sabotage the experience.