Most turntable cartridges and needles require little maintenance. The most important aspect of all things turntables is cleanliness. The easiest and most healthy step to getting long life out of cartridges – and your vinyl collection – is keeping everything as clean as possible. This article will cover phono cartridge maintenance and cleaning.
Cleaning the dirt and dust off a stylus is rather easy. Most phono cartridge kits come with a small soft bristle brush for just this purpose.
Basic Cartridge Cleaning Steps
- Lock the tonearm in place.
- Carefully remove the cartridge from the tonearm.
- Holding the cartridge upside down, carefully brush the dust off the styli. Be sure to only brush towards the tip of the needle, going up the “ramp” of the needle, not into it. Brushing into the needle can easily damage it.
Sometimes a more aggressive approach is required to remove many nights of built up dirt and grime on your styli. There are a variety of liquid cleaners on the market. Stanton and RCA both make a stylus cleaner that works decently well.
Magic Eraser Needle Cleaning
Another great way to clean styli is using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Yes you read correctly! The densely populated fiber structure of this miracle sponge is great for kitchen countertops, and DJ needles too!
Magic Eraser Needle Cleaning Steps
- Cut a small piece the magic clean eraser, small enough to fit under the needle when mounted on the tonearm.
- Position the sponge under the needle.
- Using the drop lever, drop the dirty needle onto the sponge.
- Raise the lever again to pull the needle out of the sponge.
- Repeat a few times until the styli looks brand new!
Warning! Do not move the needle front to back or side to side when using this cleaning method! The sponge can grab the stylus quite strongly, and moving it any direction other than straight up and down will damage the stylus!