How to Clean a Record Player Needle

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Last updatedLast updated: May 20, 2021
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Record players are basically quite robust, reliable and user-friendly devices. However, regular, professional care and maintenance are required so that records can always be played back with optimal sound quality and without interference.

Of course, it is advisable to regularly remove dust from your turntable and to close the dust cover when not in use. However, special cleaning is helpful and necessary so that the device can perform its service for a long time and work satisfactorily. This is why we will teach you how to clean a record player needle.

So, how do you clean the delicate component correctly without damaging anything or impairing the scanning function? This question is being asked by more and more home users because of the growing sales of classic vinyl records and the corresponding playback devices. In this article, we’ll show you why it’s necessary to clean the record player needle, when you should clean it, and several methods of cleaning.

Why should a record needle be cleaned?

A record needle is soiled by normal house dust, which can be found everywhere, and around dirty records. If the record player is covered with dust, dirt, or grease residues, these particles will also stick to the needle. Failure to remove this dirt regularly can damage your vinyl.

So that your records can always be played back with optimal sound quality and without dropouts or interference, the records and the record needle must be cleaned regularly. If one of the two components is neglected, the other can be damaged.

How often should you clean it?

How often the stylus is cleaned depends on how frequently you spin the records. On average, you would need to clean it once a week. You must clean the record needle thoroughly with the right accessories at regular intervals.

Best ways to clean a record player needle

How to Clean a Record Player NeedleWhen cleaning a record player needle, each person has their trick. However, there is no secret or magic formula when it comes to cleaning the needle of a record player. Yes, there are various cleaning fluids and kits that are more or less effective. In many cases, what they serve more is almost as maintenance than as general cleaning.

To clean the record player needle, you will need the following:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • Brush with soft bristles
  • Small cotton balls
  • Liquid soap
  • A magic eraser
  • Cleaner for electronics devices
  • Lint-free cleaning cloth

With a stylus brush and alcohol

  1. First, clean the dust from the turntable. It is best to remove as much of the dust and dirt as possible with a soft bristle brush and a vacuum cleaner. Other times you need an air compressor and you will have to blow the dust carefully.
  2. Once this is done, the cloth must be moistened in an area of ​​liquid soap for five times of water, and proceed to clean the housing. The cloth mustn’t be wet, as you could damage the mechanism that the turntable has. When you clean the marks or labels that can be erased or that simple humidity can destroy, it is best to be careful.
  3. After this, the parts of the turntable must be cleaned, all with a soft bristle brush. Clean the platter, the speed selector switches, the size selector, speed selectors, control buttons, and of course, the audio outputs.
  4. These parts of the turntable must be blown gently with the compressor so that the hidden dust can come out. As soon as there is no dust on the main parts, continue cleaning the tonearm.
  5. When you should be most careful is when cleaning the turntable needle itself. If you damage it, the records will not sound well and you will need to have a professional change it.
  6. Prepare a solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol.
  7. Gently wipe the tip of the needle. Use a needle brush or a stiff brush with short bristles to dry clean it.
  8. Brush the needle in your direction, from the back to the front. Clean the stabilizer in the same way with the brush as with the needle. You must repeat this every time you hear a record.
  9. Clean the needle with a needle brush that is dipped in the isopropyl alcohol, which is recommended for cleaning with liquid.

With a stylus cleaning gel

How to Clean a Record Player NeedleYou can also clean with a specialized cleaning gel for the sensitive turntable needle. Various manufacturers offer special solvents, gel, and liquids that are ideal for cleaning the turntable needle. One of the best-selling stylus cleaning gel is the ZeroDust Stylus Cleaner from Onzow.

The use of such cleaning products is relatively simple. Once you have decided on a product and would ultimately like to use it on your turntable at home, you should lower the stylus gently on the gel.

Repeat this process until the stylus is clean and stops leaving residue on the gel. With this method, there is no risk that drops of cleaning fluid will get onto the turntable and, in the worst case, flow into the interior of the device. After the cleaning process with the gel, which contains special substances that are ideal for careful needle cleaning, you can now enjoy the perfect sound quality.


  • As we explained in the previous method, it is advisable not only to clean the turntable needle regularly but also the vinyl records themselves. Just like cleaning the turntable needle, caring for the record itself is as easy as taking the desired record out of the cover, wiping it gently and thoroughly with the brush, and then enjoying wonderful sounds.
  • The manufacturers of turntable needle cleaning fluids often supply the appropriate brushes, which are ideal for cleaning the records. These brushes have fine bristles with which the rings of the records can be carefully and gently cleaned of dust and dirt.
  • Record brushes with special carbon fiber bristles are particularly suitable. These have an antistatic effect and thus ensure that dust does not adhere to the record and the sound carrier is effectively and thoroughly cleaned of particles so that it can later develop its full sound quality when playing.

With a liquid stylus cleaner

How to Clean a Record Player NeedleTo clean your needle and records and to get the best possible sound quality, you can also use the liquid stylus cleaner. The Record Cleaner – 4 in 1 Vinyl Record Cleaner Kit is one of the most recommended by our experts as it comes with a cleaning brush and the cleaning fluid.

  1. Follow the instructions in the cartridge manual and the cleaning product, if they exist. Very gently, wipe the tip of the stylus.
  2. Then use a bristle brush or stiff brush with short bristles for dry cleaning. Brush the needle in your direction (from the back to the front of the needle).
  3. Clean the stabilizer, if it exists, with the same brush movement. Repeat this every time you listen to a record.
  4. Dip the soft brush included with the stylus cleaner in the bottle of liquids and clean the stylus gently.
  5. Brush the needle in your direction (from the back to the front of the needle).
Warning: If too much liquid penetrates the internal technology of the turntable, this can lead to damage in need of repair or even complete defects. To avoid this and to be able to clean the turntable needle optimally, you should remove it. Hold it in your hands and then clean it specifically. It is advisable to sprinkle the needle with the liquid, then let it take effect, wipe off any dirt and finally dry the needle again.

With a melamine eraser

You can also clean the stylus with a melamine eraser, also called a magic eraser. It can be found on Amazon or just any hardware store.

First, cut off two inches square of the eraser. Then place the square on a platter, a plinth, or anywhere a tonearm can reach easily.

Lower the stylus gently on the eraser. Repeat this process until the stylus is clean and stops leaving residue on the eraser.

How to maintain a record player needle

Remember, you should clean your record player needle at least every week if you’re always busy with it all week.

You should also blow the parts of the turntable regularly and gently with the compressor so that the hidden dust can come out.

Experts argue about the merits of dry or liquid cleaning. Regular dry cleaning and only occasional liquid cleaning is recommended to remove grease and grime.

Don’t try to make a needle cleaning solution yourself; You will probably end up leaving deposits of the solution on the needle. There are commercial cleaners, but using alcohol is probably the safest option.

Final thoughts

The needle is responsible for capturing the sound that the grooves that your vinyl make. This stylus is what determines if the final sound you are going to have will be great or not. As you have seen, the needles are not only a very important element of your turntable, they also need good maintenance and care so that they can remain in good condition as long as possible.

With the various methods we have put you through, we’re sure you now know how to clean a record player needle. You should commit to keeping your needle and the turntable in general in optimal condition all week. With the right aids and cleaning agents, properly maintaining and caring for your turntable and the associated vinyl records is a child’s play.

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