How to Clean a Record Needle or Stylus? The Best ways and Tips

How to clean a record needle? Wait! Are you wondering why your record is suddenly skipping tracks or changing into a rough sound that you never heard before? One of the major reasons you experience this is having a dirty needle, otherwise known as the stylus. Worse than the affected sound would be the record's damage, especially if the needle gets extreme dirty.

The good news is that cleaning the record needle does not require rocket science, neither do you need to spend the whole day on the task. Just a few tips, coupled with a few seconds, and your work is done.


What is a Record Needle Anyway?

Your music record features several internal and external systems and features that cooperate to make the musical sound that you love a success. One of these features is the cartridge, which you can see on the top of the record.

The cartridge finishes off with a tip, usually referred to as a needle. Construction of either diamond or sapphire, the needle is the only direct contact with the record player. It is therefore made in strong and durable material, though it should be replaced occasionally.

Nevertheless, you don't have to change the cartridge whenever you need to change the needle. Record needles are sold on their own, and they are mostly the part of the cartridge that wears out fast.

Related: Best Turntable Cartridges

Why Should You Keep the Record Needle Clean?

Like we mentioned above, the needle comes into direct contact with the record and actually a major part of the produced sound. Therefore, if it is affected in any way, then the whole system fails.

Some of the reasons why you should clean your record needle include:

  • A dirty needle leads to skipping tracks, hanging music, and poor quality music.
  • If the dirt is debris that acts as an abrasive, it will cause damage to the whole record.
  • Though it is common to replace the needle occasionally, it will be damaged before its lifespan due to the dirt.

The Best Way to Clean the Record Needle

There are several methods that you can use to clean a record needle, and we will discuss them below:

1. Using a Stylus Brush

When buying a new needle, you may get some luck with a package that comes with a stylus brush. It is tiny and with a small round head, soft enough to clean the needle without causing any form of abrasion. Most of them are stylus brush vinyl, though there are other options.

If you are not fortunate enough to get the record stylus brush in your package, you can purchase one online or even from any record store near you. It is inexpensive, and the service lasts a long time.

So, how to clean a stylus tip with a stylus brush?

You have to undertake this task gently because the needle is just as delicate as it sounds. Ensure that you move the brush back and forth and don't make the mistake of moving it sideways. This way, you will be maintaining the needle for a longer lifespan. Besides, the record runs the needle back and forth, hence the best way to deal with it.

Ensure that you clean the needle with the brush at least before bringing onboard any new record. This way, you will only be wiping general dust off the needle, and your work will be simpler.

Besides, if you always keep the needle clean, you will not have to worry about dirt accumulating on the needle.

2. Needle or Stylus Cleaner

Though the stylus brush keeps the needle ever free of too much dirt, it may not eliminate piling grease. For this reason, you need to consider including a stylus or needle cleaner in your cleaning process.

However, you cannot always use the cleaner on the needle because it is not always necessary. The least duration you should take before reusing it should be a week, and this is for a consistent record player.

How do you use the needle or stylus cleaner?
Start by placing the stylus cleaner gel pad on the record player, right under your cartridge needle. Then, gently lower the needle straight into the cleaner, then pull it from the cleaner gently. Lower it and pull it up repeatedly until the grease and dirt are completely off the needle.

Since the needle cleaner is usually with a gel pad, you don't have to rinse the needle, as it will not be dripping. It will only be cleaner and more luring, for the record.

3. Use the Magic Eraser

Do you already have the magic eraser, which cleans off paint and resistant dirt from products? It is possible to use the eraser on your needle, especially if it is very dirty. It is a preferable alternative to the stylus cleaner. Usually referred to as the DIY stylus cleaner.

So, you will only require a small piece of the eraser, approximately 2 inches in all dimensions.

How to clean a stylus with a magic eraser?
Now, place the eraser right under the needle, just as with the stylus cleaner. Lower the needle into the eraser and back off repeatedly until the needle displays no more dirt.

Related: how much a record players costs


  1. Do You Need to Replace the Record Needle?
    Sadly, yes. Despite the high quality of the needle, its consistent interaction with the record calls for replacements once in a while. In most cases, the needle should last two years, with proper cleaning and maintenance observed.
    However, if it is scratched or damaged before, you will have to replace it to continue enjoying the quality sound.

  2. Is a Needle the Same as a Stylus in a Record?
    Yes, it is. The two names are not only interchangeable, but they have the same meaning. It is a tip that you find on the cartridge of the record.

  3. How Do You Clean a Record?
    Another way to maintain your stylus is to ensure that the record stays clean. Remember that the needle could collect dirt from the record, even if the needle is clean.
    You will need a record brush and a cleaner to clean the record, preferably the stylus cleaner. Apply drops of the cleaner on the brush, then clean the whole record, from the top to the sides.

Bottom Line

How to clean record needles at home? It is simple, taking a few seconds to a minute of your time. Now you don't have to bear with the noisy sound or keep replacing a record needle that did not require replacement in the first place.

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