It's a long established fact that regularly cleaning your stylus preserves the sound quality of your turntable set-up and extends the life of your vinyl.
The following dip-and-done stylus cleaners are an excellent alternative to dry brushes and liquid cleaners. They work by gently lowering the needle into a gelatinous material and lifting it up again, while the dirt gets stuck in the gel and off the stylus.
One thing to be careful about when using these types of cleaners is to make sure the movement of the stylus is vertical only, with no horizontal motion (like platter rotation), or you could snap off the cantilever while in contact with the gel. With automatic turntables, where you can't prevent your platter from turning by lowering the tonearm, you simply raise the 'gel' toward the stylus then slowly lower after contact, while the arm is still in the rest.
Here is our selection six stylus cleaners to dip your tip in.
Made by ONZOW Labo in Japan, the ZeroDust stylus cleaner has been around for years, becoming a must-have item for record collectors and vinyl enthusiasts. Housed in a small plastic box the active element is a blob of clear, ultra-soft gelatinous material surrounded by a thin membrane that attracts dust and debris from your stylus tip, without damaging the delicate mechanism. You gently lower the stylus onto the surface of ZeroDust's jelly bubble, quickly lift and repeat, and you're done. When it gets dirty, the cleaning element is easily washed with warm water and a mild detergent, ensuring the ZeroDust will last a long time. As a bonus, the container case has a built-in magnifying glass so you can inspect the condition of the stylus before and after cleaning.
The AT617a is a specially formulated polyurethane gel designed to safely remove dirt particles and other debris from the stylus tip, when this is lowered onto it. The cleaning process is fairly simple - remove the lid of the product, place it on the turntable platter, and lower the cartridge so that only the stylus tip touches the cleaner gel, and then raise it again. Repeat a few times to ensure the tip is clean. For a proper cleaning, do not push the stylus forcefully into the gel or leave it adhered to it for a long period of time. The gel's surface is washable for repeated use and will remain tacky for years.
The ST-50 stylus cleaner is the first audio accessory created by DS Audio, the Japanese company behind the world's first optical cartridge. Housed in an elegant nickel-plated aluminum casing, the cleaning pad is made from a transparent Urethane resin specially developed for engineering clean-room applications (e.g. semiconductor manufacturing facilities). In the same way that it prevents dust from contaminating the clean-room by absorbing micro-level particles, it effortlessly removes dust and dirt from the stylus tip. To use, place the ST-50 on the turntable platter, gently drop the stylus on its gel surface two or three times, and the cleaning is completed. The Urethane gel is also washable and re-usable. Simply remove it from the casing, rinse in water and let it dry at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The DS Audio ST-50 has a flat, low-profile design which prevents accidental stylus damage, while the underside of the small case is padded with leather, providing a soft surface to the turntable's platter.
This stylus tip cleaner from Momila, just like the ONZOW ZeroDust, uses a gelatinous plastic bubble that ingeniously removes dust from the stylus. This cleaning agent does all the work for you, just lower the stylus onto the ultra-soft Polymer bubble and all the debris will adhere to the surface, leaving the stylus tip dirt-free. When too much dirt has accumulated on the surface, the cleaning bubble can be washed with a bit of warm water and mild soap or detergent. The cleaner comes complete with a magnifying glass for stylus inspection.
The Solid State Stylus Cleaner is made of a polymer that seems like a soft gel-like solid, but it's actually a very slow flowing, high viscosity polymer. By having a higher sheer strength than the adhesive force between dirt and stylus, the cleaner can pull the dirt away without detaching itself and will not stick to the stylus. To use it, lay the cleaner directly on the turntable platter, use the tonearm cue to lower the stylus into the gel, and lift up immediately. Repeat as often as necessary, but do not leave the stylus in the content. When you consider that there's enough dirt trapped by the gel, just stir the content with a toothpick to bring up the clean material from below, and let it settle for about a day. Rated life of the Solid State Stylus Cleaner is 5 years.
The Dust Buster is a specially formulated oil polymer hybrid supplied in a small circular pot resembling those used to contain lip gloss or some moisturizer. Developed in 3 years by the guys at The Vinyl Passion Music Room and further tested for 12 months before it was finally launched, the Dust Buster claims to increase the life of your stylus tip by up to 1000 hours. The stylus is lowered into the gel, which is slightly tacky in nature, then raised at which point the dirt is retained within the gel and the stylus is left clean. When the gel becomes too dirty to be efficient, you can simply wash the Dust Buster under the tap and let it dry in the air.