It should be obvious that a clean record makes for a better listening experience. There are a multiplicity of ways to clean your records. When you pull a rock through a canyon (which is what a record player does) it really helps to remove small boulders and sludge impeding its progress. Some methods involve machines with either fluids or vibrating hydromechanics to suck or shake foreign matter from a record’s grooves. One outer-limits fringe methodology even uses Elmer’s white glue to pull crap out of your grooves. There are better, less sticky methods. But however you do it, cleaning your records not only makes for a better sound, but it also reduces excess wear to your turntable’s stylus caused by foreign matter in your grooves.
One of the least expensive, non-DIY complete cleaning systems is from GrooveWasher. While not the most involved or heavy-duty cleaning system, the GrooveWasher Mondo record cleaning kit ($79.99) (buy at Amazon) could be perfect for removing manufacturing-process mold and remaining traces of fluids from the manufacturing process on new records and for quick touch-up before-play cleaning for all records.
What Makes the GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning System Special?
- Unlike bulky vacuum or hydro-vibration systems, the GrooveWasher system consists of a GrooveWasher’s Walnut record cleaning kit (reg $37.95), Walnut display block (reg $21.95), Stylus cleaning kit (reg $19.95), Big G cleaning mat (reg $11.95), and 8 oz. of G2 record cleaning fluid (reg $15.95). Purchased separately their prices come to $108.75, so the Mondo system saves you $28.80 over the separate prices.
- The Mondo system addresses not only dirt on the record, but also includes a brush and fluid for cleaning your stylus’s tip as well.
- The Velcro cleaning pad on the primary record cleaning brush is removable so that it can be periodically cleaned and refreshed. Many other brushes are not re-cleanable like this one.
- With no mechanical parts to wear out (except perhaps the Velcro pad, which is easily replaceable) the system should remain in service for many years. Except for purchasing additional fluids, this system will require little maintenance to remain functional.
- Since it has no motor or vibrating engine, the GrooveWasher is much quieter than motorized cleaning systems. You won’t wake the baby when you clean a record.
- GrooveWasher has complete instructions for use on their site, including best practices and techniques.
Why Should You Care About the GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning System?
GrooveWasher’s basic methodology has been around a while. I purchased my first Discwasher record cleaning brush and fluid in the early 1970’s. Since then, the design and methodology has been copied by many manufacturers. Looking through Amazon’s offerings I see record cleaning systems from EVEO, Big Fudge, Boundless, Cue78, and Collector Protector, all based on the Discwasher design, just like GrooveWasher.
What makes GrooveWasher superior to these other similar products is that it is a more complete system that includes tools and methods for cleaning not only your disc but also your stylus. Also, none of the others mentioned include a mat for cleaning or separate specialized cleaning fluids for the record and stylus. Judging by their website, GrooveWasher offers more support (as well as a 30-day return period) than similarly designed options.
Some Things You Might Not Like About GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning Kit
- As with all record cleaning systems, how clean you get your records depends on your cleaning technique. The GrooveWasher system relies primarily on the user’s skill, and there is a learning curve.
- The GrooveWasher system uses a brush as the primary means of removing the fluid and grime from your record. A brush does not remove material as well as a vacuum or spin-dry system.
- Unlike record cleaning systems that utilize a stiff brush during the cleaning process to move fluid around and into all the grooves, the GrooveWasher system uses only the record cleaning fluid’s ability to lift off dirt. On used records that need a deep cleaning the GrooveWasher’smethod may not be sufficient to remove the most intractable debris.
- Some of the competing Discwasher-based designs are 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of the GrooveWasher.
Listening to the GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning Kit…
While it would be easy for me to do a “before and after” comparison between an uncleaned and a GrooveWasher-cleaned record, I didn’t, and I won’t. My phono cartridges are far too valuable to subject them to an uncleaned record. If I did a before and after, even on a new record, the results would be less groove noise and no issues with the remnants of transfer fluid in the grooves. I suppose, if your cleaning technique was especially bad, you could make a record sound worse, but you would need to really screw up, like using half a bottle of fluid on one record…
More Resources For Record (LP) Cleaners
- Read a review of the Disc Washer VI record cleaner by Steven Stone (buy at Amazon)
- Brian Kahn takes a look at the Marantz TT-15S1 turntable (buy at Amazon)
- Michael Zisserson reviews the Rega Planar 1 turntable (buy at Amazon)
- The Schiit Mani 2 $249 phono preamp is a great way to get started with a high end turntable setup without breaking the bank.(buy at Amazon)
Does The GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning Kit Have Any Resale Value?
Why would someone sell a GrooveWasher kit? As long as you still have records that you would like to make sure are as clean as possible before playing, you’ll be using the GrooveWasher record cleaning system. If you must sell, don’t expect to get much more than $15 for the whole system, especially without fluid.
Who Is the Competition for the GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning Kit?
I mentioned a bunch of similar products available on Amazon, all based on the basic Discwasher design. Other options are more expensive, but they are also do more. Vacuum cleaning options begin with the Record Doctor VI ($329) (buy at Amazon) which offers a complete deep-cleaning solution. Another Vacuum-based system is the Project VC-E Record Cleaning machine ($499) (buy at Amazon) which comes with a concentrated cleaning solution you can dilute into a working solution. One of the record cleaning machines with the longest production history (my unit is over 30 years old) is the VPI HW-16.5 ($1,135). It’s been my reference LP cleaning device since before the days of downloads and will probably be in use until the day my last LP touches my turntable.
Another technology for cleaning records uses ultrasonic vibrations in a liquid bath to lift grime and grease off a record’s surface. The Isonic CS56.1 ($999) is Isonic’s least expensive ultrasonic cleaner. It’s for those who buy, own, and need to clean a lot of records. It can clean ten LPs in a single batch but does require access to a sink during use.
Final Thoughts on the GrooveWasher Mondo Record Cleaning Kit…
I clean all my newly acquired records before I play them. My primary method utilizes the VPI HW-16.5 record cleaning machine. After that cleaning I unusually give the record a final sweep with an anti-static fiber brush before playing. With the addition of the GrooveWasher system I sometimes substituted the GrooveWasher brush with a bit of fluid on it to remove the last bit of hitchhiking crud on the record.
I think the GrooveWasher brush/fluid combination does a better job of removing that last bit of stuff compared to just a carbon fiber brush. The brush pushes stuff around and then, hopefully, by way of static, holds it. In comparison the GrooveWasher brush and fluid retains the stuff that’s pushed around via its brush/fluid combination. Of course, technique matters – if you employ too much fluid it will invariably seep into the grooves and require a deeper brush penetration to remove it all. That would be less than desirable. Yes, I did that the first couple of tries, but with a bit of practice the GrooveWasher system is easy to use correctly…
If used habitually the GrooveWasher Mondo system (buy at Amazon) will, almost invariably, deliver cleaner records than they were when you purchased them. But for the best results the GrooveWasher should be used as part of a complete cleaning regime that also employs some kind of record cleaning machine, be it a vacuum system, like the VPI HW-16.5, Project, or Record Doctor, or a ultrasonic hydro system such as the Isonic CS56.1. The mechanical systems do the heavy lifting while the GrooveWasher is perfect for that final finishing touch.