Applicator for manual cleaning machine

Aug 7, 2015

I have a Record Doctor V vacuum machine and was wondering what fluid applicators I should buy? There are many out there and I am sure people have much more experience with various products than I do. Currently I am using those Last branded microfiber applicators that are a couple of mm wider than the distance from the edge of the LP to the label. I'm just not sure these are optimal (though they may well be) as the microfiber on them is a very thin layer and I really wonder how well it gets into the bottom of the grooves. The applicator that came with the machine seems to have a better-cushioned, deeper layer but it is a relatively narrow applicator and in any case, you would want to throw these things away on a regular basis and use a fresh one.

Whatever I use needs to be fairly inexpensive, designed specifically for the purpose. Please note I am not asking about the actual fluids - that is the easy bit. And my "default" purchase would just be those last microfiber "sticks" again, unless someone gives me something alternative to think about.

One product I was considering is the Disc Doctor brush, since that seems easier to handle and has replaceable pads. It seems to get some good endorsements too, but it is not clear whether that relates to dry cleaning or for what I want (which is obviously wet cleaning immediately followed by vacuum).



Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
Northern NY
I use disk doctor and mofi velvet applicator brushes. The mofi are a bit wider, cover more grooves and are cheaper than disc doctor and essentially clean just as well with your cleaning fluid of choice, imho.
Aug 7, 2015
Thanks Christian. I don't think I can get those - I am limited to what Acoustic Sounds stocks as we do not have proper MoFi distribution here in Australia. I am starting to look at actual brushes and maybe they may do a better job. I can get the Nitty Gritty one or for around $50 US the VPI "handled" brush.

Bill Hart

Active Member
May 11, 2012
I use a variety of brushes, pads and applicators in conjunction with different machines. Here's my take: The Disc Doctor (and the MoFi which is a larger copy of it) do a good job if you are from the "agitation" of fluid school because the pad is somewhat absorbent, and allows you to move it back and forth on the surface of the record- something that is encouraged with certain fluids, like the Audio Intelligent No. 15. The downsides are that the pads absorb fluid and need to be pre-wetted, and you will consume more fluid using them than with a brush. Among brushes, I've been using a variety from Keith Monks, Osage Audio and a couple of others. I also have a few of the VPI brushes which are very stiff. I don't think the VPI brush will harm or scratch a record, but it isn't as compliant as some of the others I use. Those, depending on the fluid, seem to do a better job in getting the fluid applied with no fuss. The other applicator I like is the one made by Walker Audio, which is sold separately from his kit of fluids. It is a plush pad type applicator, with a handle of sorts- not quite as easy to manage as the Disc Doctor or MoFi. The benefit of the Walker is that the plush is directional and does a good job if you are doing an "agitation" type fluid application.
One potential downside for you--I can't remember if your machine has an automated turntable- I think you'll find that the pad type applicators have more resistance than a brush, so if it is necessary for you to hand-spin the RCM turntable at the same time you are applying fluid, you might find a brush to be easier. The brushes will splatter fluid if you use too much. The Monks runs at a far higher RPM than a machine like a VPI, so you run the risk of flinging fluid everywhere until you learn how to use the 'right' amount, which you'll figure out pretty quickly. You'll also want to keep your brushes or pads clean during and after cleaning. I use a toothbrush on the pads and soak and rinse the brushes (occasionally using a mix of 99% isopropyl and lab water), then rinsing with lab water. You should probably try a variety and see what you prefer, since part of it is just a question of comfort and work flow. (I do a fair amount of record cleaning of older records and have tried a lot of different fluids in addition to using multiple machines).
good luck.
Aug 7, 2015
Thanks a lot Bill. Great detail there with stuff I had not thought of. Since I don't get many records and don't have a large collection, the manual turntable style cleaner was the way to go for me. I just have a working platform away from the cleaner to do the wet application and brushing, so brush resistance is not a problem for the actual device, though I imagine it can make the manual part tricky in any case.

I had not thought that much about spillage with brushes but now you've mentioned it, I can see it being a potential pitfall, especially as I am pretty clumsy. This isn't really a problem with the microfiber style brushes though as they tend to hold the fluid better.

I had read great things about the Keith Monks brush but from what you are saying, there are others equally as good. I'm a bit put off by the width of the Disc Doctor / MoFi brushes as I wonder if the large contact surface makes it more difficult to do the manual cleaning bit. The Nitty Gritty brushes, for example, just present a smaller area which I know from using the Last applicator, works well (at least in terms of the physical work involved, not necessarily actual effectiveness.

I think from my experience preparing the records with the fluid, I would want a bi-directional brush (I think the directional ones would be best suited to the fully automated cleaners). So I am getting the feeling with everything I've read, I might just keep it simple and get the Nitty Gritty ones. Afterall, my cleaner is effectively an OEM Nitty Gritty so those brushes are probably made with the manual cleaning process firmly in mind.

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