The easiest way to keep vintage records clean is to gently dust them before and after each use. Vinyl records are delicate, and they can easily be damaged by harsh solvents and abrasive tools, though distilled water may be used without damaging the sensitive vinyl surface.
To clean a vinyl record with distilled water, begin by running a clean, lint-free cloth over the surface in a circular pattern to remove dust and small bits of debris. Moisten the cloth with room-temperature distilled water, and wipe the record clean with the same circular motions. Do not use tap water; it may leave harmful deposits on the record's surface as it dries.
Deep-cleaning is possible with a 20 percent solution of isopropyl alcohol, though it is important to follow this application with a thorough cleaning with distilled water. Alcohol, left in contact with the vinyl surface, can damage the record's grooves and impair the sound quality. Record store owners and the most committed collectors may choose to invest in a professional-quality record cleaner. This device, which can be prohibitively expensive to buy, applies strong vacuum pressure to the record surface to strip away deposits, dust and other contaminants. After cleaning, records should be stored inside protective sleeves at room temperature to avoid future damage.