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stevoz

The Definitive Stylus Cleaner thread.

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I know this topic has been covered before but I thought it might be good to have an ongoing thread regarding stylus cleaning methods and to showcase any new products/methods that may be released....and of course, to respectfully debate these different methods which are aimed at achieving what we all want....a pristine clean diamond!

My internet research:cool: has uncovered a variety of stylus cleaning methods and concepts:

---- Various brush types
---- Audio brand name liquids (usually expensive versions of commonly available and far cheaper chemicals)
---- Gels.....such as Onzow Zerodust, Moongel (an 'oilier' version of Zerodust) and VP DustBuster (all fairly expensive)
---- Iso Propyl alcohol (Recommended by Soundsmith but decried by Expert Stylus)
---- Non alcoholic lens cleaners
---- Ultrasonic cleaners (debatable cost/effectiveness that still relies on a liquid)
---- Green paper (WTF is that? I see Linn sells it's own version of this)

---- De-mineralized water
---- Distilled water
---- Vinegar
---- Vodka!!😵
---- The child's toy - Sticky Hands! (a Zerodust alternative)

Personally and I know some will back this method but maybe not the product used to undertake it......I use 'Sticky Hands'. I will explain why. Back at the start of my audio journey in the '70's, I used to use a Rotel stylus brush for regular cleans with occasional use of a brand name liquid (can't remember the brand). On my return to analogue a few years back, I read about the risk of stylus cleaning liquid' if wrongly used, ie: using too much, entering the cartridge via cantilever and potentially destroying it, so then I stuck to dry cleaning methods, ie: brush only. Realising this was not totally effective in the long term, I started using Magic Eraser and swore by it for quite awhile until I read that it is made of a dense conglomerate of micro fibres which can sometimes end up on the stylus. These fibres are quite abrasive (which makes them so good for cleaning surfaces) and could cause premature stylus wear or vinyl damage if they are still stuck on the stylus during playback. Worse still, some (clumsy, it has to be said) people have extracted their diamond completely off the cantilever using Magic Eraser. I then discovered Sticky Hands, a child's toy made of the same stuff (I believe) as Onzow Zerodust. Super cheap, super effective. Not wet but not dry.....sort of a 'Goldilocks' solution, no fibres, no motile liquid, no abrasion.....and in the hands of the non clumsy, no chance of diamond tip removal. Some may think, 'and no ego boost' but hey, it's actually just about having a clean stylus.....isn't it?

Here's some screenshots taken with my phone of just one of my 'Sticky Hand' results:

Denon DL103 before shot (after playing a newly bought but 'brushed only' second hand LP and obviously, before the LP was treated with Revirginizer!:cool:)
1388040801_Stylus-DL103beforecleaning.jpg.33c8205d3b2121982e9d6cc260692644.jpg

The same DL103 stylus after three light dabs of a 'Sticky Hand':
871212728_Stylus-DL103afterstickyhandsclean.jpg.af2e54401b1145fb0bea923b402ff193.jpg

Impressive result, wouldn't you say? I was challenged once on the use of Sticky Hands by someone who said that when you stick one of these toys to glass, it leaves a mark or a 'residue' behind on the glass......good point but I believe Zerodust does the same thing. So, I guess I'm a 'gel stylus cleaner type guy' but I'm sticking with 'Sticky Hands' as the 'go to' product.....it's a no brainer to me at about $2 for five of these things and they're cleanable, just like Zerodust, which costs anywhere from $35 to $70 for a small pot of, what is essentially, the same product.

These gel type stylus cleaners (and Sticky Hands) are made of 'plastisol', a thermal polyurethane (TPU), a melt blend of a mixture of poly (styrine-ethylene-butylene-styrene) triblock copolymer and plasticising oils. I have sent an email to a US company called Polyone, whose business is polymers, on what this toy is exactly made of and it's merits or contraindications as a stylus cleaner. I will report their reply.....that is, if they bother to reply.:)

 

I'm not here to convert anyone or to claim I have found stylus cleaning 'nirvana', just to share my experience and my resulting opinion. Everyone will have a different story/experience or maybe a similar one. Share your opinions and even better, back up your stylus cleaning methods/theories with some before and after shots with a 'scope. The USB type one's that revealed the above images are as cheap as and easy to set up and use......and we all love close up stylus shots, don't we?:frantics::)


Anyway, one vote here to 'Sticky Hands'......laugh if you must but I say 'once you go tacky, you'll never go back-y'😂** but simply let us know what you prefer.....and why.....with pic's if possible.👍

Cheers....and happy 'clean stylus' SQ to all.👌👍

** more appropriate edit....fair point @Hensa 👍


 

Edited by stevoz

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To take up a couple of things you raised.

 

-   Using a fluid, especially those little bottles with a built in brush, is safe especially doing it 'in place' with the cartridge still mounted on the arm/headshell.  There's no way anyone could apply enough fluid to ever have it wick up the cantilever and into the cartridge.

 

- using Magic Eraser is also safe.  I did a torture test.  I scraped and ripped a stylus through and through a piece of ME, and nothing bad happened at all.  I think the myth about damaging styluses comes from nervous nellies, especially those using ME with the sound still turned up, and hearing the noise that results.  btw. ME does a VERY good job of regular cleaning.  If you have a really gooped up stylus, I think a bit of fluid may help though.

 

- ME fibres on the stylus?  Well I'd like to see proof.  The ME is a cell foam block, and I don't see fibres coming free.  I have never observed any on stylus I have photographed either  (will dredge up some photos later hopefully)

 

- I think the gels are good and work well too.  It annoys me how they collect dust and the lower and raise tonearm  procedure recommended doesn't work on some turntables easily, especially without removing the record and using the platter as a platform.  (I like to clean my stylus just after I put the record on the platter and before starting play - just a habit)

 

- green paper - that's fine grit sandpaper isn't it?   I don't like the idea of that.

 

- ultrasonic cleaners.   My experience of using u/s cleaners to clean drafting ink pens suggests it doesn't work well.

 

 

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Clean your records before play and your stylus will stay very clean.

 

I use Lyra SPT cleaner every now and then and a small brush.  Zerodust is a PITA to use and not convinced it does not leave something behind.

Edited by metal beat

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11 minutes ago, metal beat said:

 

Clean your records before play and your stylus will stay very clean.

   Zerodust is a PITA to use and not convinced it does not leave something behind.

Agree. I'm sure there's a residue sometimes.

Tele uses something similar but far cheaper, I have a chunk of it but have forgotten the name of it.

@Telecine

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Guest Hensa
52 minutes ago, stevoz said:

but I say 'leave the ego's at the door'

LOL - we are talking about stylus cleaners here, right? I very much doubt anybody retains their preferred method of stylus cleaning for the ego boost! 

 

I dry brush the stylus after every few sides. I do have an US cleaner which I use on all my carts once every 12 months or so but don't have any before and after shots and don't own a scope so not sure about the effectiveness but if placebo counts for anything, it does make me feel better. :thumb: 

 

I agree with Shane though, clean your records and the stylus will need minimal cleaning beyond the standard brushing.

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18 minutes ago, Luc said:

Agree. I'm sure there's a residue sometimes.

Tele uses something similar but far cheaper, I have a chunk of it but have forgotten the name of it.

@Telecine

A magic eraser although it has been mistaken for one of @djb‘s teeth ;) 

Edited by Telecine

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11 minutes ago, Hensa said:

I dry brush the stylus after every few sides.

 

You're lazy - c'mon, it's no big deal to do it after every side!  :tongue:

 

Quote

I do have an US cleaner which I use on all my carts once every 12 months or so but don't have any before and after shots and don't own a scope so not sure about the effectiveness but if placebo counts for anything, it does make me feel better. :thumb: 

 

Agreed!  🙂

 

Quote

I agree with Shane though, clean your records and the stylus will need minimal cleaning beyond the standard brushing.

 

Yeah but look at the OP's cart in the 1st pic!  That is the most filthy stylus I have ever seen - and I don't mean that's a good thing (the way I think the young 'uns use the word)!  😁

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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Guest Hensa
8 minutes ago, andyr said:

Yeah but look at the OP's cart in the 1st pic!  That is the most filthy stylus I have ever seen - and I don't mean that's a good thing (the way I think the young 'uns use the word)!  😁

You need to pay better attention, Andy. The OP expressly states the first pic is after "playing a newly bought but 'brushed only' second hand LP". That is not what I mean by "clean your records". Of course, you may find a simple dry brushing of a second hand record purchase acceptable in which case, you should be brushing your stylus after every track rather than after every side.:winky:

Edited by Hensa

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6 minutes ago, Hensa said:

You need to pay better attention, Andy. The OP expressly states the first pic is after "playing a newly bought but 'brushed only' second hand LP".

 

I missed that, Greg.  👍 

 

But I never play any newly-bought LP (whether new or used) without cleaning it first.  🙂

 

Quote

That is not what I mean by "clean your records". Of course, you may find a simple dry brushing of a second hand record purchase acceptable in which case, you should be brushing your stylus after every track rather than after every side.:winky:

 

I used a Nitty Gritty for 20 years:

  • new LPs were cleaned once
  • used LPs were cleaned twice

... before they were played.

 

Now I have moved up to a 60kHz us tank - so I only clean them once.  🙂  But I still never play an LP without washing it first.  And still I clean the stylus every side.  :tongue:

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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Guest Hensa
1 minute ago, andyr said:

 

I missed that, Greg.  👍 

 

But I never play any newly-bought LP (whether new or used) without cleaning it first.  🙂

 

 

I used a Nitty Gritty for 20 years:

  • new LPs were cleaned once
  • used LPs were cleaned twice

... before they were played.

 

Now I have moved up to a 60kHz us tank - so I only clean them once.  🙂  But I still never play an LP without washing it first.

 

Andy

 

My point exactly. Clean your records properly and you will never have a stylus that looks like that first pic!:)

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28 minutes ago, Hensa said:

My point exactly. Clean your records properly and you will never have a stylus that looks like that first pic!:)

 

However, I still think a stylus clean every side is a good thing - even if you do clean your LPs properly.  :winky:

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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I usually use one of those little round stylus brushes. 

When you say Magic Eraser is it some fancy audiophile miracle product or this stuff?

2F796E73-7E14-4D02-A9A9-560D79F97DB6.jpeg.08a023407da73f44e5d915f999474260.jpeg

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13 minutes ago, buddyev said:

I usually use one of those little round stylus brushes. 

When you say Magic Eraser is it some fancy audiophile miracle product or this stuff?

2F796E73-7E14-4D02-A9A9-560D79F97DB6.jpeg.08a023407da73f44e5d915f999474260.jpeg

What you have pictured and available from your local supermarket.

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14 minutes ago, buddyev said:

I usually use one of those little round stylus brushes. 

When you say Magic Eraser is it some fancy audiophile miracle product or this stuff?

2F796E73-7E14-4D02-A9A9-560D79F97DB6.jpeg.08a023407da73f44e5d915f999474260.jpeg

It's that stuff.

And you can see the dirt as little black dots all over it but...I'm like Shane, I'm not completely sure that your not leaving a residue of gunk on it.

 

There is also the hassle when cleaning with a brush that you get threads of stuff that fold forward the way your brushing and as you can't brush backwards how do you get it off? I sometimes revert to fingers to pull the offending threads off but I also don't have an expensive cart.

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5 minutes ago, Luc said:

It's that stuff.

And you can see the dirt as little black dots all over it but...I'm like Shane, I'm not completely sure that your not leaving a residue of gunk on it.

 

There is also the hassle when cleaning with a brush that you get threads of stuff that fold forward the way your brushing and as you can't brush backwards how do you get it off? I sometimes revert to fingers to pull the offending threads off but I also don't have an expensive cart.

Yes, I have been known to use my fingers on those pesky bits when the brush isn’t effective. 

(Not that I’d admit to that in public.)

Edited by buddyev

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I use a brush to clean my stylus. I do this every side. As a matter of fact, I'm bloody anal about it, especially when using Shibies and the infamous Stereohedrons. I also check the stylus with a small powerful torch and Glasses. (No, not wine glasses). If after cleaning with my brush (No, not toilet brush Andy) and the stylus is still dirty, I now give it a swipe with some fine Emery. Job done and it takes no time at all as my table is sitting around 5 feet off the ground.

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I'm guilty of not cleaning my new records which I suppose should be done, too.

I used the brush, but it gets a bit difficult after a few wines....hard to see too.

 

So I started using this (DS Audio ST-50) with good results, simply lower it into the gel type substance, a few times and your good to go, imo you can clean it more often without worrying about damaging the stylus, especially if your had a few too many drinks..

 

 

20180624_182821.jpg

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8 minutes ago, Bass13 said:

I'm guilty of not cleaning my new records which I suppose should be done, too.

I used the brush, but it gets a bit difficult after a few wines....hard to see too.

 

So I started using this (DS Audio ST-50) with good results, simply lower it into the gel type substance, a few times and your good to go, imo you can clean it more often without worrying about damaging the stylus, especially if your had a few too many drinks..

 

 

20180624_182821.jpg

I've done this with Bluetac sitting between two 20 cent pieces so that no dust falls on the Tac. Seems to work ok, but I'm a bit worried about residue.

Edited by Wimbo

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1 hour ago, Luc said:

There is also the hassle when cleaning with a brush that you get threads of stuff that fold forward the way your brushing and as you can't brush backwards how do you get it off? I sometimes revert to fingers to pull the offending threads off but I also don't have an expensive cart.

That's the beauty if the Zerodust or Moongel. It quickly lifts those bits off the stylus.


I used to blow like hell and hope they fell off, rather than put my clumsy mitts near the pointy end.

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26 minutes ago, Wimbo said:

I use a brush to clean my stylus. I do this every side. As a matter of fact, I'm bloody anal about it,

 

I see there's some good in you, yet, W!!  😁

 

Quote

If after cleaning with my brush (No, not toilet brush Andy)

 

Even I wouldn't think you were that "anal", mate!  :tongue:

 

Quote

and the stylus is still dirty, I now give it a swipe with some fine Emery. Job done and it takes no time at all as my table is sitting around 5 feet off the ground.

 

Perhaps, in addition to your brush, you need to invest in either a 'gel' cleaner (Zerodust or equivalent) or, better, a us stylus cleaner?  😁  (Emery paper is only for Linnies - and we all know how weird they are!  😁 )

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr

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30 minutes ago, Wimbo said:

 I also check the stylus with a small powerful torch and Glasses.

 

 

I use this -  a magnifying glass with LED lights and can fold itself to a stand, or be hand held.  And it's less than $5! -

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/16x-30mm-LED-Illuminated-Magnifier-Magnifying-Glass-Loupe-Folding-Stand-Han-B6F6/232795008577?epid=787066604&hash=item3633a9ee41:g:UE4AAOSwxupbGF4A

 

 

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3 hours ago, aussievintage said:

- I think the gels are good and work well too.  It annoys me how they collect dust and the lower and raise tonearm  procedure recommended doesn't work on some turntables easily, especially without removing the record and using the platter as a platform.  (I like to clean my stylus just after I put the record on the platter and before starting play - just a habit)

Not sure why I don't use the platter as a platform  before putting on the record, when using the gel type pads.

 

Anyhow, I just hold it below the headshell in midair and lower/raise the headshell a few times.

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1 minute ago, Citroen said:

Not sure why I don't use the platter as a platform  before putting on the record, when using the gel type pads.

 

Anyhow, I just hold it below the headshell in midair and lower/raise the headshell a few times.

You'll probably find it sits too high on your platter Cliff.  I use my iPad (in its cover) as a rest just to the side of the platter.  It takes the Zerodust to just the right height to be able to drop the stylus.  I don't trust myself to hold the Zerodust steadily enough by hand. 

 

@andyr you'll be horrified to hear I only clean my stylus about once every 20 LP's or so, unless it's dirty (I check before playing pretty much every LP using the loupe on the Zerodust).  Just about every record that goes onto my TT is US cleaned, so even after 20 LP's the stylus is clean.

 

Every now and then I use the Last sylus cleaner, but more often than not, it's the Zerodust for me.

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12 minutes ago, 08Boss302 said:

I use a small carbon fibre brush thingy, then check with led light.

 

I think you'll find the CF fibres are not stiff enuff to clean the stylus well.  IE. great for records - but not for styli.

 

Andy

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