How to Clean A Turntable Needle (The RIGHT Way)

Updated on February 5, 2019

How to Clean A Turntable Needle (The RIGHT Way)

If you’re playing records on a turntable, you need to keep your needle clean to ensure that you are getting the best quality music playback. There are many ways that DJs clean their needles, but it’s important to do it thoroughly. In this article, we’ll guide you through how to clean a turntable needle effectively and why it’s such an important step in your equipment maintenance routine.

Why You Should Clean Your Record Player Stylus

There are many reasons to keep your record player stylus clean. Whether you’re a professional DJ or just like to play records for fun at home, a clean record stylus ensures that you will get the best sound quality from your records.

Dust affects your needles and records in a variety of ways.

A dirty needle can collect dust and debris over time, which causes a static sound on the record. A clean record player stylus will stay in the grooves of the records cleanly, without any slipping or extra air that would interfere with the sound quality. Of course, you’ll need to keep your records clean as well to ensure that this works.

Another reason to keep your needle clean is to prevent damage to your records. Since a dirty needle is more likely to slip out of the groove than a clean one, it’s more likely to cause scratches and smudges, which are very damaging to the record.

Over time, the record will wear down and be unusable if this keeps happening. Dirt and debris also wear down the needle itself, meaning that your needle won’t last as long if you don’t clean it. Cleaning helps you get more use out of your turntable and save money in the long run.

How to Clean A Turntable Needle Properly

There are many methods you can use to clean a record needle. Whichever one you choose, it’s important that you are very gentle with your stylus, because it is very fragile and easy to damage accidentally.

1. Use a stylus brush

Vinyl Buddy stylus brushThe traditional method of cleaning a turntable needle is to use a brush designed for this purpose.

One of the good options out there is the Vinyl Buddy brush. This fiber brush developed specifically for the purpose is both cheap and efficient.

Gently slide the brush across the needle from back to front in the same direction that the record spins. This will separate the debris from the needle without damaging it.

Ideally, you should use this brush every time you play a new record or change sides. It only takes a few brush strokes along the stylus to get things nice and clean.

2. Use a gel cleaner

Using a gel cleaner for a turntable stylusYou can also use a gel cleaner like the Onzow Zerodust to clean dust off of a turntable needle. To use this cleaner, all you must do is gently dip your stylus into the gel and repeat until the stylus is completely clean.

With a gel cleaner, you don’t have to use a hard bristled brush. Many people argue that this method yields less damage to the stylus than e.g. using a brush. Additionally, the Onzow Zerodust can be cleaned with tap water.

As a nice little bonus, it comes with a magnifying glass that allows you to closely inspect the current state of your turntable needle.

3. Use a Magic Eraser sponge

Magic eraser spongeAnother similar and more affordable technique is to get a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge and gently touch the stylus to the eraser until you can see that all the debris and residue is gone.

If you are going to use this technique, make sure you use the dry side of the eraser that does not contain any cleaning products or chemicals. You should also be very careful with liquid cleaners in general.

Many people recommend liquid cleaners for your turntable needle, and while there are some effective ones out there, there are also some that can wear down your stylus with heavy chemicals. If you aren’t sure if a cleaning product is safe, it’s always best to go with something you know you trust.

How often should you clean your turntable stylus?

There are many differing opinions out there on how often you should clean your turntable stylus. However, generally, it’s better to clean it more often than less to ensure the longevity of your player and your records. Many people like to clean their stylus every time they listen to records for peak sound quality.

Cleaning your records after every use is also recommended. If you’re a heavy user or a professional DJ, make sure to clean your stylus at least once a week. If you are only a casual record listener, you can clean your stylus every other week. Make sure you always have a good stylus cleaning product on hand, so you can polish it up whenever you want.

We recommend you clean your stylus once a week

Keeping your turntable needle clean is very important if you want to ensure the highest quality music and sound from your record player. It’s easy to do but will have a big impact on how long your record player lasts.

Since record players and a good record collection are quite an investment, taking care of them is a must-do for any avid listener. Use the techniques listed here to clean your turntable needle. Be sure to read your owner’s manual for any information or instructions that are specific to the model or brand you own.