How much isopropanol is effective but safe for viny?

I make my own cleaning fluid using isopropanol and distilled water but am aware that some think IPA is not good for vinyl. Since  the contact time is quite limited I think that it is probably OK to use a small amount as a solvent for greasy contaminants. What do you thing know is a safe level? 25  percent, 10 per Cent , or some other level??

I've used up to 25% with no problems ever, in the sense that cleaned LPs sound better, not worse, after exposure to my cleaning concoction.  But I ALWAYS use laboratory grade 98% isopropanol (also known as "isopropyl alcohol") as the basis.  Do not use rubbing alcohol or anything lesser than pure isopropanol.
Basically the same, 1 part 99% alcohol, 4 parts distilled water and 3 drops of surfacant.
Talking about jet dry? There's a guy on YouTube that uses distilled water isopropyl alcohol and a squirt of jet dry for his solution
Surfactant?? I can answer that. It is a substance that decreases the surface tension of a liquid to promote more efficient drying. Same as some dishwasher detergents that contain one to eliminate/minimize spots on dishes.I worked at Kodak for many years and performed industrial radiography. To process the xray films we used a hand processing method (like a home photographer would in his darkroom) to process the films. The final step in the process (after rinsing) was a dunk into a tank of water that contained a very small amount of a surfactant. The films then went into a dryer
Being it was Kodak we used their own product called Photo Flo. I worked for other companies that also did manual processing of films and some used non Kodak film but they always used Photo Flo for the final rinse. It is a very high purity product and is available from photographic suppliers and even Amazon.
Ericsch mentioned mentioned he used 3 drops of surfactant in his brew. Photo Flo in our application was just one cap full of the product bottle to a five gallon tank. So, whatever volume is mixed up, very little is required. It will eliminate drying spots.
Only my opinion. And I may be wrong.

The questions really boil down to what bad stuff is in the grooves and what will be remove it. The most likely foreign materials would be dirt, dust, oils. Maybe some grease. It ends up that Isopropanol is not a very good solvent. A weak solution of distilled water with a dish washing liquid, like Dawn, would seem a good solvent for this kind of material. Maybe only a drop or two in a quart of distilled water.  Thorough rinsing would be necessary. Very thorough. That kind of residue from a cleaning solution like that is probably not something very beneficial to a stylus or cantilever.

But I may be wrong. It might clean but leave a residue very difficult to remove.
I think I would limit the definition of a surfactant to a substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid in which it is diluted, in this case of water.  This allows the water to be "wetter", to penetrate better.  Whether this also results in faster drying may be true, but I am not so sure it's a good thing, if so.  If water plus surfactant (usually a nonionic detergent) dries, then it leaves a residue.  In addition to isopropanol, my RCM concoction also includes a few drops of surfactant per gallon or so, and I usually use Tween20 or Triton X100.  (I think Dawn is fine in this application, too.) But I always rinse with pure distilled water to avoid leaving a residue.  My results have been better since I added the distilled water rinse cycle.
My solution is distilled water with about 10% isopropyl and a drop of dish detergent. This is used with a very inexpensive cleaning machine. I wipe with a microfiber cloth until nearly dry.

Stubborn records, the ones which still have a lots of pops and clicks, I use a lint removal brush, a drop of detergent on the record and scrub with the solution above which creates lots of sudsing.  Then rinse under hot tap water and dry.  Several unplayable records have been recovered to play as "very good" to "very good plus" after scrubbing.  I have several records purchased as "very scratched" for between $0.05 and $0.95 which play as "very good plus".... amazed me.
I don't remember what it was, but I think there was some question about using Photo-flo for cleaning LPs.  Anyway, something I read did cause me to stop using it about 10 or more years ago, in favor of Tween20 or Triton X100, or even Dawn.
@invictus005 - OK, it may do no harm, but how is it effective as a cleaner?  It's not nearly the solvent as distilled water.  
Distilled water is a terrible solvent for what’s on a tipical vinyl. Alcohol is great OTOH. 
@ invictus005 - what are you trying to clean out of the grooves?  Water is the universal solvent.  
I’m surprised nobody commented alcohol is ten times more expensive than soapy water.
Yeah, it’s a dealbreaker. 91% is a $1 a bottle at Walgreens. If you can’t afford that, you should be in a different hobby, like collecting cans maybe. 
@invictus005 - You have yet to answer what kind of material you’re trying to clean from the grooves? Do you actually KNOW or are you just ignoring the reality of the process? Have you reviewed the issue from a chemical perspective? What did you discover in your materials research that you can share?

Are the softeners used in the vinyl record leached out with the alcohol?  What harmful impact would that have on the life of a vinyl record?  

If you say isopropyl alcohol is 100% safe for cleaning, are you also taking 100% responsibility for our records if you are mistaken?  

My cleaning experience suggests oily residue is why dust won’t simply “blow” off a record. Imo the value of detergent and surfactants is not up for argument; as is the value of thorough rinsing. FWIW I have a significant collection accumulated over 50 years. I have found the Discwasher brush and the LAST products in particular very effective. I don’t wish to generate any comments from this,but, I feel records are somewhat like lovely feminine women with sweet personalities — they are tougher than you’d think. 
@invictus005 - And STILL you cannot provide a rational explanation for isopropyl alcohol.  In fact, you have yet to post a rational comment.
It will remove your drool and greasy fingers from chicken wings. Water won’t cut it.
I’ve been using my own mix for years. I have talked to some chemist friends and they advised against using IPA. They claim that the alcohol will leach out the plasticizers that keep the vinyl surface pliable and make the playing surface more brittle leading to greater surface noise. 

Dawn is a sufficient surfactant (degreaser) for most contaminents. I have at times used a little IPA, locally, to remove stubborn fingerprints.

I do use a few drops of a wetting agent like Photoflow to break the surface tension of the distilled water allowing it to get deeper into the grooves.

I do not reccomend microfiber cloths for wiping a record. I have discovered the fibers break off and lock into in the grooves. I discovered this when I kept finding small balls of whitish fuzz on my stylis after washing.

finally, for really dirty records I have a second TT set aside for the first play after cleaning. While the record is still damp (not wet) I play the record once. This digs out the soft gunk. The play quality improvement is dramatic.
Follow up...

I only use tap water for the first wash prior to cleaning. It’s distilled water after that.

If you’re really OCD about cleaning, look up the record cleaning method used by the Smithsonian Museum. They use lab-grade distilled water and a surfactant called Tergitol.

Here’s a little info on Tergitol:

Tergitol surfactants from TALAS ( Put 10-20 drops per each into a gallon of distilled water to form solution. Use as desired, by hand, in a RCM, etc. I use a full dunk in baking tins with a MOFI brush by hand, then distilled water rinse tub and air dry. Works great!

Reducing the static charge on your records will quiet them down and keep them cleaner. I am experimenting with an old bulk (Reel to Reel) tape eraser to completely discharge them on the cheap.

Obviousely, don’t put a cleaned record back into an old paper sleeve. Use the nice MOFI ones. I also think pulling records in and out of paper sleeves charges them with static...just a hypothesis right now. I will eventually confirm it.

Caution- keep the tape eraser away from digital hard drives....
What’s in the grooves?

Could be anything. My hunch is mostly sleeve dust and household dust. Older records from the 50’s and 60’s could have higher amounts of nicotine and cooking oils. 

Early Beatles records could have pizza sauce or Bonamo Turkish Taffy....;)

I have some records that refuse to quiet down, even after having them ultrasonically cleaned. In older records it could be the playing surface has just dried out and become brittle. I also read that the friction of the tip in the groove causes enough heat to temporarily soften the groove wall. If this is true then some of the accumulated crud in the grooves could become physically bonded to the groove wall making it impossible to remove.

Just a hunch. 
@invictus005 - Wow...  Maybe you just don't know what you're trying to clean.   
I mistakenly called a degreaser like Dawn or Tergitol a surfactent when it is a detergent. A surfactant, like Photoflow, is a wetting agent- reducing the surface tension of water allowing it to penetrate deeper into the grooves.

My apologies.
voiceofvinyl....Congrats for clearing up your statements about what chemical is a degreaser and which is a surfactant. In my earlier post I tried to explain how Photo Flo is used in the final rinse of photographic and xray films to eliminate drying spots. As others have mentioned, a very small amount of surfactant is needed to perform it's job. As a final rinse it is added to a large volume of distilled water.I know very little about wet cleaning of vinyl. I only know that the purpose used on films is to eliminate drying spots. If it could enhance the effectiveness if the detergent/degreaser during the actual cleaning process due to the "wetting" properties...I don't know. Perhaps others may be interested enough to conduct their own experiments.I'm not a chemist. I mentioned in my earlier post that some of the more popular dishwasher detergents include a wetting agent in their product to minimize drying spots on dishes. Whether that addition of the wetting agent also helps in the actual cleaning process...again I don't know.Sounds like an ambitious person may be curious to experiment.
The label on my 91% Isopropyl says the other 9% is distilled water. Since we’re all diluting our various alcohol formulations with distilled water anyway, why does 9% already added make Isopropyl unsuitable? Does it contain other impurities? Is the distilled water it contains not distilled enough?
Not criticizing, seeking knowledge.
BTW, have you tried making coffee with distilled water? It’s quite different: pure coffee flavour, with no added mineral tastes. I love it... but coffee is a very personal thing...
91% isopropyl is perfect to use on records. Fully soak a large cotton ball until it’s dripping wet and with a good amount of pressure wipe the record back and forth in the direction of the grooves. After going around the entire thing several times and covering all tracks including runout, get a new cotton ball and repeat the process. Keep doing this until the fresh cotton ball remains white and no longer picks up residue. Wave to dry and start on the next side. Use carbon brush several times prior to playing to clean off any small fibers.
Not all surface debris is light fluffy dust — some is gritty and abrasive. Wiping "with a good amount of pressure" worries me, it might grind that stuff in, drag it around, and premanently scar the vinyl. Have you encountered that, Invictus?
I have just spoken with Duane Goldman (The Disc Doctor) who called on a different topic.  Duane has spent his life studying record cleaning as a chemist.  Duane mixes record cleaner used by the Library of Congress and other archiving organizations.   He s VERY familiar with the vinyl compounds and record material contaminants as well as foreign materials that find their way into record and lacquer grooves.  I asked Duane specifically about using isopropyl alcohol on vinyl.  

Duane contributed the following FACTS to the discussion, but won't post. If you want to confirm this, just call him and ask for FACTS about using isopropyl alcohol on vinyl records.

Without posting his string of "colorful descriptions" of those who would ruin their records with Isopropyl alcohol, he indicated that the use of 0% of isopropyl alcohol is the acceptable threshold, but not more than 0%.  

NO ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL ON RECORDS.  This issue was resolved in the late 70's but some people still choose to ignore the actual scientific facts related to this topic.

Isopropyl alcohol does not dissolve the specific foreign material in the grooves which is the mold release and associated mildew.  

I described the @invictus005 method using cotton balls and 91% isopropyl alcohol.  He said it would leach out the plasticizers which can never be replaced.   Use  NO ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL ON RECORDS.

So the readers of this thread can either take the word of a chemist who has been studying record and lacquer surfaces his entire life or @invictus005 who is someone who can't even identify what the material is that he is trying to remove.

I do not use as I read, that overtime it can cause vinyl to become brittle. That’s reason enough for me to stay away....far away.

Here is THE question... Why do people want to use isopropyl alcohol? What factor does isopropyl alcohol have that would lend itself a great cleaning agent on vinyl records? Have the Isopropyl alcohol proponents tried/used other methods? If yes, let's hear of them and their/both long term affects.


Sorry but your post makes no sense to me.

Happy Listening!

@slaw My post makes perfect sense.  Isopropanol should NOT be used on records.  Period.  It does not clean off the substances that need to be removed from the grooves of vinyl records and removes the plasticizers that need to remain on the records.

So you are saying it removes plasticizers that need to remain on records is the best thing?

I think you need to re-word your post my friend.
Yes, the plasticizers are needed to preserve the vinyl.  Sorry for the confusion.
invictus005 - you dispute chemistry and facts?  Really?  And who is the crazy one?
Nobody uses this anymore there are great fluids without alcohol.Good luck though.
bpoletti, After a search of the scientific literature to support your claim (which I have heard before this) that alcohol removes plasticizers from LPs and could by that mechanism damage them, I found exactly one reference, which is contained in a review article published in 1991.  Unfortunately, I cannot access that article in order to evaluate the evidence for myself.  Can you provide same?

I have a feeling that the plasticizers are associated with the PVC in such a way as to at least inhibit their leaching out by alcohol, and moreover that the cautious use of alcohol at a dilute concentration would be harmless.  (I would not use 98% isopropanol.  No. And I don't wash my LPs more than once or twice, usually right after purchase and maybe once more if there is stubborn surface noise on an LP I otherwise adore.) 

And despite ebm's characteristic declarative single sentence opinion on this subject, I would wager that more than 50% of us use some amount of isopropanol in our RCM concoctions, for good or ill.  There certainly is no profound negative effect.  In US machines where the cleaning fluid is also heated up by the US energy, perhaps the elevated temperatures might enhance any damage that could be done by alcohol.  I really don't know. So maybe I would not use alcohol in my US machine. Anyway, the heat would also drive off the alcohol, lowering its concentration.
I found this, from an article written by a chemist:

"Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions related to plasticizers – for example, about phthalates “leaching out” and “easily dispersing/gassing out” from PVC products. This is actually unlikely to happen unless very abrasive detergents or solvents are used or if the items are exposed to extreme conditions for an exceptionally long time. Plasticizers do not readily migrate or leach into the environment from items because they are physically bound within the PVC matrix. If they could readily migrate, flexible PVC would not remain flexible and perform as intended."

Feel better now?  (Phthalates are one kind of commonly used plasticizer.) The key words are "physically bound within the PVC matrix".

As I indicated, my information came from The Dick Doctor who has spent his life in research and development of products specifically related to cleaning records. I would prefer to err on the side of caution rather than risk damage to my collection. Your collection is NOT my concern if you choose to gradually destroy it because of your own arrogance in the face of facts.
Yep, I am sure you do consult the Dick Doctor. 
I've already asked, what are your "facts"?  State your case.  My own "arrogance" is based on trying to find the truth, only.  If I were to find well conducted science that proves your point, I would be more than happy to accept it.  What I have found so far casts doubt on the notion that diluted isopropyl alcohol, used once or twice per LP, could do any possible harm.  I am open to your logical counter-argument, but not your BS.  Have you accepted the fact that cartridges are inherently balanced devices, yet?

@lewm Stop feeding the troll. You can leave a vinyl record submerged in 100% alcohol for 10 years and it will be like new after removed.

Do you have years of research on, or really (any) research on how isopropyl alcohol affects a vinyl record from becoming brittle over time? Huh? Cummon’?

Seemingly, you’ve left a vinyl record in a vat of isopropyl alchohol for 10 years. How else could you make that claim? Even more.. it’s not how it will look after a ten year bath, it’s how it will hold up 50 years down the road.

Put up and shut up! Your type of ignorant comments affect me since I do spend time trying to perfect my cleaning methods, and overtime have done so with remarking here. What about you?