Can Steam Save This Record?

Back in April a reader sent me a box of flood-damaged records. I said then that I would try to resurrect them. More than 7000 people read that post and have been waiting with baited breath for almost six months! Finally, they can remove the worms from their mouths. I took one of them and attempted to use steam to clean it. (I mean the record, not the worms). Watch:

alacayo22's picture

wow talk about a cliff hanger!!

Jim Tavegia's picture

Now you remember why you kept that old Dual TT with the Shure M91ED on it....for the first play anyway. 

This would be a good run for your Spin-Clean with the old set of brushes you kept somewhere. Just the $1 gallon bottle of Gerber water will work fine here to start. 

Jim Tavegia's picture

I love your  science projects. 

Mistermuse1's picture

 the condition of this seemingly old record before the flood did it's thing?

Michael Fremer's picture

I don't know since it wasn't my record. But now that it is relatively clean it appears in good condition. I can't get to it for a day or two because my system is not configured at to play records! I'm reviewing a big digital rig for Stereophile and running direct out of it using its built-in volume control.

missouricatman's picture

I've successfully cleaned many, many records in similar condition, have read up on various steam cleaning methods, but never seen it done the way you did.  I'll be very interested in your results. 

liuj88's picture

Would you mind sharing your method for cleaning records in such poor condition?

missouricatman's picture

Sorry, I haven't been to the site for a day or so.  My comment about not having seen a steam cleaning process done quite that way was based on only having seen it done with records held vertically, so the condensation would drip off and never having seen anyone use a brush on a steamer.  I don't consider a record that has remmants of a paper inner sleeve stuck to be that difficult to deal with.  For the most part, any means of wetting the paper will get it off, although you do need to take care if it's on the label, particularly if the label is of a type or in condition where even water on a moist cloth for a few moments can penetrate it.    I see MIkey got the job done, by following the steam cleaning up with a wet-vac and then an ultrasonic, so all's well.

John G's picture

I hope the person had insurance to cover the loss.  I wouldn't have the patience to go through the hassle to clean more than a few irreplaceable disks.  Even so, without the label, I'd just assume throw them in the skip.

Since the label is trashed, it might be easier and less time consuming to start the cleaning process using tap water, dish detergent and a painters pad.  Works great with my used albums using a label protector to keep the paper label dry.

Michael Fremer's picture

The label is not trashed. Not mint but not trashed. Were it my collection I'd do a few at a time until they are all done—assuming the playback is successful..

John G's picture

Oh that's good.  Look forward to seeing a better picture after you have given it a good cleaning and playing on your rig.  To be honest, I think I would loose the will to live if I had to clean a substantial amount of records in that condition.  It might be bad enough to make me consider going digital if it had happened to me.  The covers must be a lost cause.  

Paul Boudreau's picture

Probably worth doing only for rare discs but still.

SethBaer's picture

Did you notice any warping of the vinyl during the steaming?  What if you placed the record on a platter and spun it while cleaning so heat would be distributed?

juenh77's picture

Steam can be good for cleaning not that dirty records? I mean can be a good thing to do before a vacuum cleaning process? I saw another videos that uses steam in the cleaning process but I never try it with my own records

Brown Sound's picture

Please give us an update, sir.

Ortofan's picture

Were you ever concerned about handling or inhaling the contaminants liberated by the steam cleaning process?

Michael Fremer's picture

I did it outdoors and found it didn't cause any respiratory issues.