I was looking at some Edison Diamond Discs at an antique shop several years
ago.  The dealer noticed me and said, "If you clean them with Pledge, they
turn out real nice."

And, yes, the discs smelled lemony fresh.


On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 4:03 AM, Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Over the years we have had lots of long and heated discussions of how to
> clean your records.  It was the most difficult subject we have.  As I
> have mentioned, a lot of record collecting discussion has moved over to
> Facebook, and a mixture of old hands and newbies have blended uneasily.
> Well, the cleaning discussion finally hit, and hit hard.  Two threads on
> "78 rpm records & cylinders fan group" opened up at the same time.  Once
> concerned STEAM CLEANING 78s!!!!  The other concerned mold and mold
> spores on acetates.  We explained that the steam would be great if you
> wanted to make a vase out of your record, and that there was no mold or
> mold spores on the lacquer disc, it was Palmetic acid.  Then came the
> suggestions to use WD40 to clean records.  Ammonia to clean 78s.  But
> finally, when we thought we had heard every possible method came word
> from a guy who feels that the Doctor's Miracle Record Cleaner is too
> hard on records but that he uses SPIT to clean his.  A thousand records
> a month he cleans with spit.  Then he rinses them with distilled water.
> Then after they are dry he plays them backwards and forward and
> backwards and forwards to clean out all the debris in the grooves.
> Here is his part of the discussion with my answers and a few other
> comments.
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> Greg Butler--- saliva is excellent
> Greg Butler--- yes a very worn clean cloth and a bit of spit rub in the
> direction
> of the grooves - never be tempted to use anything that includes solvents
> and I include "disc doctor"!
> Greg Butler--- clean off with distilled water and dry again with another
> old worn clean dry cloth
> Greg Butler--- amazingly shellac is very tough so some people us a
> scrubbing brush - the grey powder at the bottom of grooves is usually
> not shellac but steel needle residue that has been worn down by the
> record...
> Michael Biel--- Another reason why NOT to continue to play records with
> acoustical players and steel needles. You can't help what was done 70
> years ago but you can stop now. Plus, the Brits loved to use fibre and
> thorns which created a nice juicy gunk in the grooves. There are now
> some fully scientific studies being made on all sorts of cleaning
> methods, and if I had brought these two threads of comments to the
> recent ARSC conference where this was discussed, they would still be
> laughing.
> Doug Benson--- HI Greg Butler! Do you really spit on your records? Do
> you have any idea what all is present in human saliva?? And while I'm
> asking questions, have you ever actually tried Disc Doctor?
> [He never did answer that question -- his only cleaning fluid is spit
> with a water rinse]
> Greg Butler---  after cleaning, it is good to run the discs backwards
> and forwards and backwards and forwards a couple of times using a
> sacrificial stylus to clear remaining debris out of the grooves - we can
> do this quite easily with the numark decks we use for our radio shows.
> Michael Biel--- If the record is properly cleaned (e.g. not using spit),
> shoveling remaining debris out of the groove is unnecessary because the
> cleaning got all the debris. That there is debris shows the record was
> improperly cleaned.
> Greg Butler--- saliva is very mild it has natural enzymes designed to
> loosen debris from your teeth and is certainly less aggresive than any
> sort of solvent - it does of course need to be washed off afterwards
> with clean water - but very often - it is the only form of cleaner
> available! Mechanical removal is the most effective - but again great
> care is required and I always simply recommend a lint free cleaning
> cloth and/or fine brush - the record should be dry before playing
> backwards and forwards - but it certainly does help. The best method of
> dirt removal is highly dependent upon what the dirt actually is - and
> sometime you may have no choice to use something more aggresive - but as
> Michael Biel and others point out - as much care as possible is required
> to avoid anything that will actually damage the shellac! Not every case
> is the same - but without knowing the actual chemical makeup of the
> contaminant caution is required.
> Michael Biel--- Saliva is a dreadfully bad and inefficient cleaner of
> eyeglasses. If you can't even get your glasses clean with spit, it will
> be far worse cleaning records. Cleaning cloths are useless getting dirt
> out of grooves. ONLY a brush will do it. Even back in the 1920s it was
> recommended to use a brush. Every cleaning method uses a brush to get
> into the groove. Properly designed brushes are sized and shaped to fit
> the groove. If the record is cleaned properly there will be no residue
> to be removed by the needle. That you have much shows that you are not
> cleaning correctly.
> Greg Butler--- There would be something very wrong if you had the sort
> of dirt I often find on 78s on your eyeglasses! I think you are starting
> to be a bit ridiculous Michael I buy over 1000 records every month and
> some of them need more than a brush I can assure you!
> Michael Biel--- If saliva cannot get the small amount of dirt off of
> eyeglasses, why in the world do you think that you can get worse dirt
> off of the records????? Eyeglasses are the best case scenario -- the
> EASIEST stuff to clean off and saliva can't do it properly. And you
> think that saliva can clean the dirt off of your admittedly much dirtier
> records????? Are you sober???? Do you realize that you are suggesting
> the use of saliva to clean records???
> Greg Butler--- now you are just sounding stupid - have you actualy ever
> cleaned a really dirty 78? I can assure you saliva does work and works
> without damaging the record
> Michael Biel--- For over 60 years I have cleaned records using properly
> designed cleaning materials and surfactants like Disc Doctor and special
> 78 formulas, brushes designed to get into the grooves, and several
> different machines. And I never had to resort to clearing out debris by
> running a record back and forth and back and forth like you do because
> your spit and a cloth are not really cleaning the records. You admit
> that you use nothing but spit on initial cleaning and then have to rinse
> the record with distilled water. It is not working. If you still have
> stuff in the grooves after cleaning it is not working.
> Greg Butler--- You sound a bit obsessive Michael with obviously lots of
> time on your hands - when you are dealing with as many records as I do a
> deep clean valet using processes that might damage the records is not a
> realistic option. I suppose it just depends upon how OCD you are.
> Michael Biel--- SPIT? How much saliva do you actually produce if you
> clean a thousand records a month with spit?
> Greg Butler--- I seee it is the idea of using spit that revolts you Mr
> Monk
> Michael Biel--- It doesn't revolt me, it is STUPID.
> Mark Cederquist--- Everyone's got their own particular method of
> cleaning 78's.
> Michael Biel--- Everybody thought you were joking when you mentioned it,
> just like the joke about using chicken soup. Or 40 grit sandpaper. But
> it is becoming a sad fact that you are serious about this, and that this
> is going to be how you are known worldwide -- the guy who cleans his
> records with saliva.
> Greg Butler--- You do sound a bit like a cracked record Michael
> obsessing about this subject as if your way is the only way! My
> philosophy is if you can avoid any sort of aggresive solvent on these
> precious records you should - and a natural enzymatic cleaner works for
> me no matter how much you find it unpleasant.
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> So, my question to the ARSC Technical Committee and to the Library of
> Congress group which gave a presentation on cleaning lacquer discs, is
> SPIT a good cleaning fluid for shellac 78s???
> Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]