New Hobby Ultrasonic Record Cleaning

Purchased a cheap $199.00 stainless steel digital ultrasonic cleaner with a very nice record cleaning attachment off Amazon and I am having a blast.

This thing is heated, has a timer and an electric motor to rotate the records in the US tank. It is a 6L unit and it is made in China. Seems well built and it cleans records like a much more expensive machine.

I have cleaned a half dozen albums that are 40 plus years old and have only been cleaned with vacuuming machines and this thing is great. The albums I have cleaned sound darn near new and my wife thought I bought another new cartridge or phono pre-amp.

Can not recommend this type of cleaning system enough.

Rediscover those old albums.. if this thing lasts a couple of years I will be a happy dude. 

FWIW - this paper Vinyl Record Manual Cleaning Process ( Section VIII gives a basic intro to surfactants, and Section IX shows the differences between Triton X100 and Tergitol 15-S-7 (that you cannot buy) and Tergitol 15-S-9 that you can buy ( Tergitol 15-S-3 and 15-S-9 Surfactant | TALAS (

Tergitol 15-S-9 is a preferred non-ionic surfactant for record ultrasonic machines because you only need about a 0.01 to 0.025% solution for both superior wetting and some detergency and it has a high cloud point.  This low concentration equal to 100 to 250 ppm allows you to forgo the rinse step.  Triton X100 is a 50-yr design, and is not as efficient - it requires ~4 times to do the same, and because of the high concentration you really need to rinse otherwise you will leave surfactant behind. 

Tergikleen is a blend of  non-ionic surfactant Tergitol 15-S-3 which is not water soluble and Tergritol 15-S-9 which is water soluble.  Tergikleen will not foam because the Tergitol 15-S-3 is also a defoaming agent, and no Tergitol 15-S-3 + Tergritol 15-S-9 does not equal 15-S-7.

BE CAREFUL with alcohol.  There are DIY formulas using alcohol - and 20% used at just a few mL for vacuum RCM at room temp is a limited risk.  BUT, 20% alcohol is FLAMMABLE with a flashpoint of 85F.  So if you are operating that ultrasonic at 85 to 95F (with 100's to 1,000's mL), all you need is a spark (cigarettes are not a credible ignition hazard) and that tank (and maybe you and your house) just lit up.  And the vapors coming off the tank can form an EXPLOSION hazard - all that is required is a spark at 77F.  No ultrasonic tank you can afford is explosion-proof.  If you are dead-set on using alcohol in an ultrasonic tank keep it 2.5% or less.

One last item for this post - keep in mind that what you are mostly removing from the record is very small particulate - less than 50 micron and you cannot see it.  If you wait to change out the water until you see that it is cloudy, you probably waited too long.  There are many reports of people who cleaned with ultrasonic and made the record worse.  There is no easy way to measure particulate - TDS meters only measure dissolved ionic impurity.  But, there may be a correlation that is just based on time.  So, many DIY ultimately install a filtration system - small pump and standard Pentek 10" cartridge housing with ~0.5 micron nominal sediment filter - the lowest entry price for system that will work is about $100.   If interested - I can offer a design.  Note that the best filtration system with 0.2 micron absolute filter is about $350.

Hope this is of some help and as @slaw there are other posts here on Audiogon, and there is a running post at VPI Forum • View topic - Record cleaning, as well as on other audio forums, the conflicting info on what cleaner works best notwithstanding.
Thanks @antinn,

I keep referring to that particular thread for:

(1) There' seems to be many new US cleaner threads started seemingly without searching first for existing threads
(2) There's a lot of good info there from many people from different areas of expertise
(3) I detail my personal thoughts in real time from my Audio Desk to a Chinese tank, Vinyl Stack, filter set-up.

I am so happy that this was a productive post, even if I did take into the weeds a couple of times.

@antinn thanks for the productive input.

drained after 40 records and ran through a filter media to see results. Was quite surprised and I the Pro Ject Vac system and it leaves a bit behind.

I will just change water more frequently as I am not rigging a pump and filter.

My records are sounding awesome!
I have found that ultrasonic cleaning alone is not sufficient when cleaning very dirty records like the ones that you pick up at garage sales, flea markets and Goodwill. For those I first use my old trusty Spin Clean. A good scrubbing removes the real grunge and my $200 Happybuy cleans deep down into the grooves which the Spin Clean can't do. For cleaner records the ultrasonic works
great! I purchase a lot of Analogue production and MoFi including one step vinyl.
I am always amazed at the amount of debris that a ultrasonic cleaning pulls out
of these brand new high quality records!
Vinyl Rules!

Your process of pre-clean first with a spin-clean (or vacuum RCM or manual in sink) and then final clean with ultrasonic is a time-tested record cleaning process when working with water-based cleaners.  

Large automated industry does essentially the same thing sometimes pre-cleaning with parts-washer and then ultrasonic or they have multi-bay ultrasonic units.  But, essentially, the process is the same:  pre-clean to get the big stuff and then final clean to get the small stuff (that is under the big junk)
Thanks for the link. Seems like a generic design adapted to vinyl cleaning use case per the below review:

I have a Pro-ject vacuum cleaning RCM. I wonder how much better this might be of the Pro-ject? 
concerns about heat are unfounded. Currently using one of George Merrills cleaners.

it is a bit messy but if you have a utility sink somewhere like I do it does a fantastic job

After applying the supplied cleaning fluid, I've got enough water pressure that I use hot water from the tap to rinse with a hand sprayer after I blast them with a handheld steam cleaner and never warped a record, even those really thin ones. Try it yourself on a throw away record

there was a lengthy, really lengthy thread, a few years ago about using a steam cleaner... I won't rehash it ... but it works,, something like this which is the one I am currently using

I second Herman's post about the Gem Dandy Record Cleaner. I still use my Ultrasonic V-8 machine for a final treatment after the Gem Dandy treatment. I add a few tablespoons of alcohol and a 6-8 drops of Photoflo to the tank, per David Radcliffe's recommendation (RIP David). Nonetheless, the Gem Dandy beats the pants off of ultrasonic cleaner otherwise. I did steam cleaning for a few years as well and it came nowhere near as close to these other methods. Nothing beats high pressure tap water to clean records.
Like what @lewm said anything is better than nothing.

No way I am putting Texas tap water on my LP’s.

Close enough to Austin, on lake Travis shores, if anyone would like to share their love of audio in my house of stereo I would welcome them.
"No way I am putting Texas tap water on my LP’s."

My tap water isn't great either. It's not about the quality of the tap water, though filtering can be used to improve it, but rather what the water does under high pressure to clean the record. I still use the ultrasonic as a rinse. Nothing beats it.
Thanks for all the informative posts in this thread. Unfortunately, I'm a little late to the party and the Happybuy cleaner is out of stock at Amazon. I see that there is a separate record spinning attachment available but it appears to be out of stock too. The record spinner on the Happybuy looks better built than the separate one.

I'll keep checking Amazon for new stock. I'm guessing that whoever is making these things will do quite well and I'll be surprised if they don't raise the price but this is a great idea. If anyone locates a supply of this cleaner or the a good spinner attachment please let us know.
In 2017 I purchased a 6L Chinese-made ultrasonic cleaner w/timer & heater for $100. on Amazon. Made my own rotating set up with a 2rpm 12VDC motor (Amazon $20.), some 1/4-20 threaded rod, rubber grommets and large plastic nuts as spacers (Lowes) and to secure the records to the rod. I cleaned 2 LPs (or 45s) at a time, spaced evenly in the tank. The entire thing cost me about $160. and took an hour to build the frame from scrap wood, mount the motor to it and configure to the tank. Was it pretty-no, but it sure did the trick! TergiKleen is best ($28. Amazon), but Triton X-100 works great as well. I used NO alcohol. Distilled water in all the processes. Run the tank empty 15 mins. to de-gass before each new tank. I got about 22-25 LPs before needing to change. Heat settings at 32-35 C are fine. Cleaned most LP’s about 8-10 mins. After cleaning, I took the rotating spindle out and slid it into my cordless drill. I took a 1-gal pump sprayer w/distilled water in it, sprayed off the records while rotating them at slowest speed in the drill. After that, I used an ionized hair dryer ($13./Wal-Mart) and dried them with that while spinning them on the drill at fast speed. Took a bit of practice, but kept the entire process hands free as to the record surfaces, and was much faster & preferred over rack drying. Slid into new inners and done. Yes-it’s a bit time consuming, but I cleaned well over 800 albums that way. I saved my pennies and recently bought a Degritter- and I am loving the hands free "drop it in and let it go" start to finish. Before I bought the Tergikleen I made my own cleaning solution-4-6 drops of dawn dishwasing fluid, and about 10 drops of Jet-Dri to each 6L tank of water, mixed slowly with a large plastic spoon and it worked beautifully. I got 3 yrs. use from this, and everything still works- so in the end the cost was pennies per clean. I just got the Degritter now. If I had to say the difference in using Tergikleen VS Triton, I would say the Triton seems to reveal a bit more "bottom end" to the records, and Tergikleen is a bit more neutral. You’ll need to experiment yourself, but either one is fantastic. Tergikleen has a 2 yr. shelf life, Triton has none that I know of.
@ jehowlind,

There is an on-going thread here  Degritter Users | Steve Hoffman Music Forums that you may find of interest.  When reading be aware that those in UK cannot buy Triton X100; it is an environmental hazard (kills fish) and eventually will stop all worldwide manufacture sometime in the future.  And, as I said above - non-ionic surfactant Triton X100 is very different from Tergikleen that has a non-soluble ingredient and appears by the thread (very recent entries) above to leave a residue.
Thanks for the thread, I will certainly check this out.
I also have a thread to post, this is from the Audiophile Man, who is based in the UK. He has a fantastic site with lots of information, reviews, etc- many based on his own experience.
In addition to ultrasonic cleaners and methods, he goes into quite a bit of detail as to surfactants for cleaning.
I highly recommend checking this out.
I have cleaned nearly 1,000 discs using the V-8 ultrasonic cleaner.  Heat is not an issue if it is less than 45 degrees centigrade.  I have never had a record warp with this ceiling.  Heat is beneficial for cleaning and improves the activity of the surfactant and in my opinion, should be used.  I currently use Rushton Paul's formula for the ultrasonic bath with excellent results (0.13% Triton X100 and 5 % isopropyl alcohol in distilled water).  Prior to this I used Dave Radcliffe's recommendation of distilled water with several drops of photo-flo.  Paul's formula is far better.  So much so, I am recleaning my previously cleaned lps with audible improvement on lps that I thought were as clean as possible.  Pops and ticks aren't changed, but the imaging is sharper and more lifelike.   I initially used a 15 minute bath, but after reviewing the Kirmuss technique, I now do 3 5 minute applications, with a distilled water rinse with an osage brush and vacuum on vpi after each bath cycle.  If you use a surfactant in the ultrasonic bath, you should do a final fresh water rinse. Paul recommends 3% ethanol in distilled water to further reduce the surface tension of the rinse. I was skeptical that this would make a difference, but it did. I put the disc on my vpi and use a different osage brush for four revolutions and vacuum dry. I have been using the 3 cycle Kirmuss modification with interval washes for about 3 months on my favorite previously "clean" lps.  Unfortunately, the sound difference is significant.  I initially wondered if I was imagining the sonic difference, until my wife commented that after recleaning a UK first press Quadrophenia, that for the first time ever, she could clearly make out all the lyrics clearly in Love reign o'er me. 

Note of caution:  5% IPA has a flash point of 50C (122F); so when heated to 45C (113F) and above you start getting close; and yes I know you have never had a problem.  Not to belabor the risk, but as equipment ages from use, the electrical contacts wear, capacitors age and the risk for arcs & sparks increases.  

Otherwise, 3% IPA  can lower the surface tension of water from 72 dynes/cm to ~55 dynes/cm, so at least for IPA, the small amount of IPA causes a pretty big drop.  I do not have surface tension the data for ethanol (which will likely have methanol as the denaturant).
Antinn, Amazon carries the Tergitol 15-S-9 surfactant, but it’s $160.00 for 500 ml. It sounds like a better product from what you said, but that’s a bit pricey, for me anyway. I guess I’ll go for the Triton X100 instead at $20.00 for the same amount. It would have been nice to have the detergent factor the Tergitol product provides, but unfortunately one has to live within their means. Thanks for the recommend anyway.


How about $21.75 for a pint -  Tergitol 15-S-3 and 15-S-9 Surfactant | TALAS (  What Amazon and the labs are selling is spectrographic grade with a nice brown bottle and label and a certificate of analysis (CoA).  Otherwise, they are the same, and the Talas source is what I specified in my paper.  Talas is re-packaging, but so is most everyone else - DOW does not sell Triton or Tergitol surfactants to the general public in small quantities.
@ antinn
Thanks for your concern.  Perhaps there is little to be gained and a lot to be lost by not going from 5% to 3% isopropanol.  I'll think I'll make that change. It's also cheaper.  Thank you.
@escscott482  I noticed that your link has the machine running at 40Khz oscillation rate.   The Kirmuss states that it is unsafe and doesn't work well to use smaller bubbles at Degritter's 120KHz rate.  Kirmuss uses a "70 KHz resonance to a standard 35 KHz sonic" rate.  I think AudioDesk uses 70KHz.  Who's correct?  I can afford $1,000 or $2,000 system but I tend to like the Kirmuss for safety and ease of use (I have 25,000 LPs and 7,000 78s, 12" and 10" records).  I have been using Disc Doctor with a VPI 16.5 (latter for 30 years-works perfectly as upgraded but doesn't clean every record like new, pops and clicks often remain on records previously played while dirty or with a dirty stylus by prior owners).  35KHz is the recommended maximum frequency (size of bubbles/wave/timing of cavitation at the record surface) with a maximum temperature of 95F degrees.  Anyone contradict this analysis?   
@ fleschler
"Not 45, not 80, not 90 kHz. NEVER 120 kHz or higher. All are proven to damage records over time."  I have never seen any data that can confirm this and I think it is likely hyperbole.  None of the other ultrasonic manufacturers would be in business if this is the case.  I read a post on another forum of someone who ultrasonically cleaned a record repeatedly over a hundred times and found no macroscopic or sonic detriment.  One guys experience and may not be valid.  On the other hand, I can categorically refute "AVOID HOME MADE SYSTEMS WHERE TEMPERATURES EXCEED 95°F, (35°C) as these WARP RECORDS and affect groove integrity."  This is easy since warping is grossly macroscopic and easily detected.  I have cleaned over 1000 lps, some repeatedly, with a bath temp between 40-45 degrees centigrade.  I have never had one change in the flatness of lps.  Period.  His statements, in my opinion, are sometimes self serving and may not be factual.  The warping issue at the temperatures described is pure fallacy.

The Kirmuss statements on ultrasonic frequency are pure nonsense.  The science of ultrasonic cleaning is well understood and well documented such as detailed in this book -  Particle Adhesion and Removal | Wiley Online Books.  Fundamentally the lower the frequency the larger the bubble that is created. So, a 40kHz unit will produce bubbles in the size of about 75 microns. These are not going to get into the record groove. The Degritter 120kHz will produce bubbles about 20 microns and these can get into the groove. But, the larger bubble produces more energy when it collapses (cavitation) so there is fluid agitation around the collapsing event that can provide cleaning. How violent the bubble collapse is determined by the amount of power provided by the transducers. So, a low power 40kHz unit may be safe for soft metal (jewelry) while a 40kHz high power unit (used to clean carburetors) may not. The higher kHz smaller bubble by their size are limited to how violent they can collapse - so a high powered 120kHz unit has less potential for damage than a high power 40 kHz. So, fundamentally, if you follow the logic - the lower frequency units (40 kHz) are good for larger soil surfaces and particles while the higher frequency units (80-132kHz) are better at removing smaller particles.
You are correct in your information. Kirmuss has been proven to be incorrect in his statements, and recently his products & statements have begun to fall out of favor. While expensive, the Degritter US cleaner is currently the best unit on the market for this type of cleaning. I also agree with @orthomeade- I made my own DIY US cleaner and NEVER had any issue with heat damaging my records, and I cleaned over 800 LPs, plus several hundred 45s. Heat (in the correct temp range) does, in fact aid in the cleaning process. If you are mechanically inclined, you can make a very good DIY US Cleaner for around $150-$200. There is a LOT of info on this out there.
Antinn, thanks for the follow-up on the pint of the Tergitol surfacant for $21.75 from Talas. That's a much more reasonable cost.

Skypunk: You were right about the fast shipping.  I got mine in two days.  This machine is excellent.  For those of you who may be on the fence about a purchase, if this machine becomes available again at the same price buy it.  It really does work.  It replaces a Record Doctor 4 which is still a good machine but I think this is better.  The best thing for me is that I can now clean both sides of a record at the same time.  For the price it's a great deal.  
Ditto garyalex. Fedex just dropped mine off. I need to go inventory the parts now as a few of the Amazon reviewers complained about missing parts. It really looks nice and well made at first glance. Again thanks Skypunk for bringing this ultrasonic device to our attention. Can’t wait for the surfactant to be delivered to get started.

That's a real bargain.
I paid a little over $300 a couple years ago. Mine looks almost the same except that it takes up to 5 LPs. However, the space in between LPs is so narrow, and I just use three LPs at a time. Using Kodak Photo-Flo 2000 for solvent. I do spin clean with distilled water after US cleaning. 
About 2000 cleaned so far. 
Recently bought a motor unit that holds up to 6 LPs with more space in between. Still many more LPs to clean.
Well, as usual, I'm late to see this discussion.
Following the link to me to the product with this note:
"Currently unavailable
We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."
Will keep an eye out for one in the future.
Thanks for the "heads up"!
Now says only 1 left. Hurry if you want one. I suppose they may eventually have more like this time, not sure if the price will keep going up.
Bought one yesterday and see its out of stock today. 

BTW I see suggestions to use the Tergitol surfactant 15-S-9 along with it for cleaning. How much would you add per gallon of distilled water/use? 
I'm using 10 drops of Tergitol 15-S-9 per gallon of distilled water.  But I'm new to ultrasonic record cleaning so that might be the wrong amount.
Wow, they charge as much for shipping as the product! Any other alternatives to this product to be used with the US cleaner? 
So based on the OP and others I purchased one of these Happybuy machines. Mine came about three days after the order via Amazon. I got it out of the box today and with a slight bit of trial and error since the directions are a little sparse I got it all together. Not being a chemist and being impatient with all the various DIY formulas that are out there I just bought some Degritter record cleaning fluid (made specifically for an ultrasonic cleaner) from Music Direct. I figured out you use about 5ml of the fluid concentrate per gallon of distilled water. I ran a half a dozen LPs through the cycle (5 minutes) and wiped them with a microfiber cloth that I had also purchased from Amazon.  My initial test was with the water in about 25°C. I do plan to run subsequent tests with a little more heat but I was anxious to give the machine a try and so did not give long enough to warm up the water.
Once they were nice and dry I gave them a play and they were considerably quieter than they had been before. I purposefully used some LPs I had bought at a garage sale in the fall and had never played or cleaned. I did a before and after on each of them and it was very very noticeable.
The machine is easy to use and I have gotten good results in my modest test so far. Now, could I have gotten just as good of results with a good scrub at the sink or using my Discwasher system more heavily? Unknown at this time. I certainly don’t feel like this was money wasted, especially considering the namebrand alternatives run 10 times this cost or more.
@larryincmhGlad it worked out for.

I love passing on what I think is a great find/deal.

10 drops = about 0.5 mL; 1-gal =  3785 mL, so 0.5/3785 = 0.0132%.  I wrote the following as the 1st post of this 2nd page of this thread -  "Tergitol 15-S-9 is a preferred non-ionic surfactant for record ultrasonic machines because you only need about a 0.01 to 0.025% solution for both superior wetting and some detergency and it has a high cloud point. This low concentration equal to 100 to 250 ppm allows you to forgo the rinse step."

So, your 10 drops/gal is in the zone. 


In the same post I referenced above, I also said:  "Triton X100 is a 50-yr design, and is not as efficient - it requires ~4 times to do the same, and because of the high concentration you really need to rinse otherwise you will leave surfactant behind."  Triton X100 you can buy Amazon.  Depending on your system (how resolving is it) and your own hearing (how acute/sensitive) you may not hear the effect of the residue which tends to effect the higher frequencies >5000 Hz.
Thanks for explaining @antinn . I think I'll just go with Tergitol if its better in the long run. 
Thanks Antinn.  I appreciate the information.
@rajivhifi - Agreed about the shipping cost but given how little you have to use it should last a long time.