How to Clean a Turntable Needle or Stylus

There are several ways to clean a turntable needle or stylus, and it’s important to have a clean needle for optimal playback. You can clean a needle using a stylus brush and some type of cleaning solution as an effective method. 

I’ve been making and listening to music since I was a kid. I’ve worked in the music industry and love listening to vinyl records. I know through first-hand experience how to clean a turntable needle or stylus. 

This post will show you all the steps to clean a turntable needle or stylus effectively. I’ll explain why this is important and provide several methods to make it happen. Keeping your needle clean is important for everyone who owns a turntable. 

Let’s dive in. 

Key Takeaways

  • Keeping your turntable needle or stylus clean is important because it removes dust and debris that can stick to it and interfere with playback or potentially cause damage to your records. 
  • You should clean your needle about once a week for optimal performance, although many people clean it much less frequently. 
  • There are several methods for cleaning a needle or stylus, but not really one best way. As long as you get it clean, many methods can work.

The Importance of a Clean Needle or Stylus

Many people who like listening to vinyl records do so because it offers superior sound quality to other forms of digital music. There is something special about listening to that analog feel that records provide. 

To get the best sound possible from your turntables and records, you must pay attention to the details. And cleaning your needle or stylus often is vital to getting the best sound possible during playback. 

The needle on your turntable can collect dust and other small debris during regular use. This isn’t anything to worry about and is also impossible to avoid. When the needle gets gunked up, it will affect playback, resulting in a scratchy sound that is less than ideal. 

To get rid of this, you want to keep the needle clean at all times. This is easy to do, and I’ll walk you through all the steps to make it happen in the sections below. I recommend cleaning your stylus once a week, but you can also clean it before you play a record.  

How to Clean a Turntable Needle or Styles

I’ll walk you through several ways to clean a needle or stylus in this section. It doesn’t really matter which method you choose as long as you clean your needle often and keep it in good shape.

Method 1: Cleaning with Stylus Brush and Cleaning Solution 

There are products available that will help you keep your turntable needle clear and free of dust. You don’t technically need special equipment for cleaning, but getting these products can make the process super simple. 

You can order a Stylus Brush and Needle and Record Cleaning Solution to get the job done quickly and effectively. These products are available online or possibly at your local record store if you still have access to one nearby. 

With a stylus brush or any type of brush used for needle cleaning, it’s important that you clean the needle in the same direction that the record spins to keep things functioning properly. So keep this in mind before getting started. 

All you need to do to clean your needle is wipe it a few times in the same direction that the record will spin. This will remove the dust and grime that has built up and the needle and get it cleaned up and ready for action. 

Some stylus brushes will come with a cleaning solution that you can dip the brush in before you wipe the needle. The solution isn’t necessary, but it doesn’t hurt anything, and some people like a little extra product when cleaning. 

A small soft paintbrush can also work instead of a proper stylus brush. Just follow the same process and clean in the proper direction. 

Method 2: Cleaning Stylus with Alcohol 

If you don’t have a stylus brush or other type of brush, you can also use alcohol and a cotton ball to clean it. This is a simple solution that you can do with household products that are readily available. 

It’s always a good idea to make a cleaning solution of half water and half alcohol for this. Straight alcohol can cause premature wear to the needle, so it’s better to water it down before applying it to the stylus. 

Simply dip the cotton ball into the alcohol and water solution and then clean the needle with it. Be sure to wipe the needle in the same direction as the record spins to avoid damage. You might need to repeat cleaning several times this way. 

Method 3: DIY Stylus Cleaner

One DIY method for cleaning your needle and stylus involves using an eraser. You’ll need to find or purchase one of these from a store, but all you’ll need is the handheld eraser that is pink or white. 

Hold the eraser in one hand and gently press the needle into it. Then pull the eraser off. This will effectively clean the needle and is a cheap solution. You can also cut the erasure into a smaller size if that works better. 

Method 4: Cleaning Stylus with Toothbrush

I’ve seen people use a toothbrush to clean their turntables, but I don’t think this is a good method. While toothbrushes are easily accessible, they are too stiff and can cause damage to the needle. 

A toothbrush will remove the dirt and debris from a needle. But it can also damage it because it’s much stiffer than a proper stylus brush or a soft paintbrush. I don’t recommend using a toothbrush and think the DIY eraser method works better if you don’t have the proper tools.  


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to how to clean a turntable needle or stylus. 

Can I clean my stylus with alcohol? 

You can clean your stylus with alcohol, and a 50/50 solution of clean water and alcohol is recommended. If you use straight alcohol, it can be too harsh and wear down your needle over time. 

Do I need to clean the needle on my record player? 

Cleaning the needle on your record player is a must if you want the best sound possible. This will keep dust and debris from building on the needle and prevent any scratching sounds caused by build-up. 

How do you deep clean a record stylus? 

A stylus brush and a cleaning solution is an excellent way to deep clean a record stylus. You can use a dedicated stylus brush and premade solution or a soft paintbrush and make your own cleaning solution out of alcohol and water. 

Can a dirty record damage stylus? 

Yes, a dirty record can damage the stylus on your turntable. If a record is very dirty, it can cause excessive buildup on the needle, which can wear it out quickly and lead to other issues. Cleaning your records can help with this. 

Final Thoughts

You can also purchase cleaning gel and other products that will give your stylus and record a really deep clean. I think this is overkill, but some people like to go overboard when cleaning their turntables. 

Regardless of how you clean your turntable’s needle or stylus, it’s important that it happens. If you clean your needle often, you’ll enjoy top-notch playback every time you put a record on. 

Do you know of any methods for cleaning a needle or stylus that I didn’t mention here? Let me know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *