How do you clean your stylus?

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#1
I recently acquired a new cartridge. In the past I have been using a few different methods to clean my stylus, including the Last stylus cleaner fluid, the Onzow Zerodust bubble cleaner, a Flux HiFi electronic ultrasonic cleaner, and now SPT treatment.
I was told by my dealer NOT to use the following and for these reasons:

1) The Onzow Zerodust...can snag the cantilever and remove it when the Onzow is newer, also tends to wear down by loosing its grip..resulting in minimal cleaning. ( apparently he has had numerous problems with this issue...and the resultant snagged cantilever!)

2) The Flux HiFi ultrasonic...the mini hairs on the brush can snag the cantilever..and again cause damage.

3) The Last stylus cleaner, will tend to migrate up the cantilever and dry out the suspension.


Thoughts on these warnings...and what are you using to clean your stylus?

So far, I am ok with the SPT treatment, but it tends to not get the stylus quite as clean as i would like.
 
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Bodhi

Active Member
Apr 20, 2014
695
201
43
Melbourne, Australia
#2
Here is Mikey Fremer’s advice (go to @3:37)..


Personally I’ve heard good things about the DS Audio ST-50 stylus cleaner. Here is a write up by Michael Frener on Analogue Planet (incl: a video about how it works).
 
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mulveling

Active Member
Jul 7, 2017
109
61
28
#4
Long bristle brush, hit the stylus from behind (to front) with bristles positioned vertical, and then horizontal, a few times. Do this after each side. Also clean all up and down the cantilever to the hole where it enters the body, and brush off the top too since it accumulates cruft. Do the full cantilever clean each session. You don’t want this crud getting cemented on over time! Basically use the brush to carefully clean all stylus & cantilever surfaces from many angles. I just use the nice brush that came with my Shelter cartridges; nothing special. I don’t like the short bristle “pad” brush like what comes with Ortofons.

Magic Eraser. Use this once a session to keep the diamond polished like new. The simple dip & lift, often prescribed, is not enough! You must scrub with the ME for it to work. For this, I dip the stylus (using cueing lever) into the corner of a cut piece of ME, then very carefully rotate the piece back and forth while the stylus remains dipped, with stylus as the center of rotation to minimize shearing forces. Use only one finger at a time for the pushing to create rotation! I had to work through some jitters at first, but now I use this method religiously on my Coralstone and other primo carts. First time I read from a guy describing this method, I thought he was crazy! But it really works.

I’ve also used Onzow without issue over several years, but it isn’t as effective as the above 1-2 punch. It is only the most effective at simply removing large dust blobs, which can often be blown off anyways. I haven’t seen a dust blob accumulate in 2 years anyways, since adopting the above regimen and getting the Clearaudio cleaning machine.

I would not use a liquid cleaner regularly. It’s not needed anyways if you keep the stylus cleaned as above.
 
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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,486
376
83
North Shore of Boston
#5
Long bristle brush, hit the stylus from behind (to front) with bristles positioned vertical, and then horizontal, a few times. Do this after each side. Also clean all up and down the cantilever to the hole where it enters the body, and brush off the top too since it accumulates cruft. Do the full cantilever clean each session. You don’t want this crud getting cemented on over time!

Magic Eraser. Use this once a session to keep the diamond polished like new. The simple dip & lift, often prescribed, is not enough! You must scrub with the ME for it to work. For this, I dip the stylus (using cueing lever) into the corner of a cut piece of ME, then very carefully rotate the piece back and forth while the stylus remains dipped, with stylus as the center of rotation to minimize shearing forces. Use only one finger at a time for the pushing to create rotation! Had to work through some jitters at first but now I use this religiously on my Coralstone and other primo carts.

I’ve also used Onzow without issue over several years, but it isn’t as effective as the above 1-2 punch. It is only the most effective at simply removing large dust blobs, which can often be blown off anyways. I haven’t seen a dust blob accumulate in 2 years anyways, since adopting the above regimen and getting the Clearaudio cleaning machine.
I also use the Magic Eraser, but I very gently rub the stylus sides from back to front once or twice and occasionally dip the stylus before each play. I follow this with a dip into the Onzow to remove any residue or white dust from the ME. Stylus looks brand new and I've never had a problem. I sometimes brush the bottom side of the cartridge with a small, long haired paint brush to remove dust on the cantilever and rubber covering where the cantilever enters the cartridge body.
 
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DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#7
Onzow is apparently getting a VERY bad reputation with many in the industry, my dealer has had several damaged cartridges come back to him because of it.
Claims that the Onzow dealers, and he is one, are trying to get rid of them ASAP, hence the lowering of the price.
As for Magic Eraser, apparently same issue as Last, migrates up into the suspension and attacks the polymers and the rubber over time....not recommended.
A good brush is mandatory, but it won’t get rid of the caked on stuff that accrues....
Anybody else have any other suggestions?
 

mulveling

Active Member
Jul 7, 2017
109
61
28
#8
See if you don’t let the caked on stuff accrue in the first place, you won’t need more than a brush to clean it off. Prevention is the best solution.

I’m very skeptical of the ME attacking suspension theory. It’s not a liquid so it doesn’t have anywhere to migrate. Like Peter, I make sure to brush off any loose fibers after applying the ME. I’ll happily continue using it on my Koetsus. It’s wonderful.

I’m also quite surprised at the reports of Onzow eating styluses. I’d posit that if it happens, then the stylus wasn’t appropriately bonded/attached. How the heck would such a stylus last the trials and travails over hundreds more hours vinyl playback if a light touch from a semi sticky gel was enough to rip it off? I wish we had statistics of which brands/models were getting killed by the Onzow.

Edit: as another poster pointed out, user error is a likely root cause here.
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,360
827
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#9
Based on the techniques I am reading here I should stop using my precision water gun to clean the stylus.

I have never heard of Magic Eraser. I used to use the short, stubby, hard bristle brush, moving from back to front, and StyLast (?) occasionally on the stylus tip.
 
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hakujin

New Member
Oct 18, 2018
1
0
1
39
#10
DaveyF, will you elaborate a bit on the Onzow damaging cartridges? "Snag the cantilever" -> do you mean if one is inattentive and moves the platter or arm when the stylus is lowered?
 
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DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
133
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#11
Ok, so here’s what I was told...

The Onzow is snagging the cantilever on some of the more high end cartridges that typically use a boron cantilever, ( which most of them do). The slightest wrong pull In the very sticky gel and the cantilever can be damaged.

I would suspect that inattention is a major factor, but my dealer was quite specific in that it has happened regardless of attentiveness . He claims that Onzow is juat an accident waiting to happen, the distributor apparently knows this and is fazing out the product.

Unfortunately, IME with some records, just one play can result in caked on gunk on the stylus.
Ron, using Stylast is certainly a benefit, imho.
 
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Uk Paul

Member Sponsor
Sep 27, 2012
358
24
18
UK
#12
I use a trimmed brush for the stylus Davey, cut at an angle so stiffer at the shorter part and softer at the back, and when neccessary, I use a drop of this Zeiss lens cleaner on the brush. I decant into a tiny plastic dropper bottle and use that. This cleaner leaves no residue, and is safe for stylus adhesives. Cost is good too..

 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
650
263
63
#14
I'm kinda fanatical about stylus cleaning.

I check the stylus before every play using a loupe mounted on a stand and a small LED flashlight. This yields a vivid close-up of the stylus and cantilever.

Turntable light and loupe-small.jpg

I don't want any dust, bits of stuff, etc. on the stylus. After checking it via the loupe, I use a Joe Miller 50/50 round size 00 artist brush that is made of sable and a little bit of nylon for stiffness. It has a v. small pointed tip that is slightly stiff with a little flex. I use that brush and a small brass magnifier to view the stylus and gently, ever so gently, brush just the stylus, occasionaly the cantilever. I can see the dust/stuff float off into the air. Then check again with the loupe.

Keeping the stylus clean every play and keeping my records clean with my DIY Ultrasonic record cleaner increases the likelihood that the stylus stays clean and stuff does not get baked onto it from the heat generated as it rides the groove. If that happens, it is harder to keep that from continuing to happen. Sometimes presents with a yellowish tint.

In the odd event where something does really attach itself to the stylus, I use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, melamine foam - a small cube on the end of a stick. You only want to use the WHITE ME, not the blue. And don't wet it. I dip the ME up to the stylus. 1-3 dips is usually all it takes. Be careful. I only do this as needed - that might be once a month. Edit: be sure to brush the stylus after using the ME as it will leave pieces of itself behind.

Mr clean - melamine foam.jpg

I've tried the Onzow - it's so so; it can be sticky - and only works on very clean styli to start with - and only removes dust. But I don't really care for it. I've used the LAST stylus cleaner and found zero problems with it migrating up the cantilever - kinda pricey. The Lyra SPT works well with one drop on the short stiff bristled brush - back to front - that comes with it. The now Mobile Fidelity (formerly Record Doctor?) No.9 stylus cleaner is okay with the same type brush. By and large I use liquid cleaners as a last result.

I tried the Audio Technica electric stylus cleaner - a lighted vibrating pad - from some time back. Think I still have it. Best kept as a museum piece.

Gentle brushing with the artist brush works well for me as a regular technique.
 
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jfrech

VIP/Donor
Sep 3, 2012
1,577
14
38
Austin
#15
Ok, so here’s what I was told...

The Onzow is snagging the cantilever on some of the more high end cartridges that typically use a boron cantilever, ( which most of them do). The slightest wrong pull In the very sticky gel and the cantilever can be damaged.

I would suspect that inattention is a major factor, but my dealer was quite specific in that it has happened regardless of attentiveness . He claims that Onzow is juat an accident waiting to happen, the distributor apparently knows this and is fazing out the product.

Unfortunately, IME with some records, just one play can result in caked on gunk on the stylus.
Ron, using Stylast is certainly a benefit, imho.
This happpened to me on my Goldfinger Statement. (ouch)

I use the Lyra Stylus treatment and the lil paint brush that comes with it. I use it dry a few times then a tiny drop just to wet the bristles (shake off excess before use)
 
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PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,486
376
83
North Shore of Boston
#16
Based on the techniques I am reading here I should stop using my precision water gun to clean the stylus.

I have never heard of Magic Eraser. I used to use the short, stubby, hard bristle brush, moving from back to front, and StyLast (?) occasionally on the stylus tip.
Ron, I used the ME when you visited me, but I should have been more elaborate with my demonstration. It works great and I've had no issues with it. A serious vinyl guy in CT named Doug Deacon first introduced me to the product.
 
Likes: mulveling

dminches

Active Member
Oct 22, 2011
801
70
28
#17
In the odd event where something does really attach itself to the stylus, I use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, melamine foam - a small cube on the end of a stick. You only want to use the WHITE ME, not the blue. And don't wet it. I dip the ME up to the stylus. 1-3 dips is usually all it takes. Be careful. I only do this as needed - that might be once a month. Edit: be sure to brush the stylus after using the ME as it will leave pieces of itself behind.
Can you post a picture of the ME setup you use?
 

dminches

Active Member
Oct 22, 2011
801
70
28
#18
Ron, I used the ME when you visited me, but I should have been more elaborate with my demonstration. It works great and I've had no issues with it. A serious vinyl guy in CT named Doug Deacon first introduced me to the product.
Peter, which ME do you use? Aren't the pads pretty large?
 

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