Buying vintage stereo equipment is a hobby that can turn into an obsession with collecting them in bulk. The look, feel, and sound of antique audio components have their own charm, and can often rival the quality of more expensive modern audio equipment. Unfortunately, antique parts that are rarely used are usually in poor condition so you will need to learn how to clean them before using them. The steps below will guide you through cleaning the interior of the audio component with a regular electronic cleaning product.
Method 1 of 2: Choosing Cleaning Products
Step 1. Purchase a bottle of electronic cleaning fluid labeled “safe on plastic”
This is very important. Electronic cleaners are sprays or liquids designed to remove corrosion on metallic electronic components that usually cause a rattling and popping sound when you press the volume control, rotary control, or buttons (to adjust settings, modes and sound source options) on the speaker. microphone or microphone cable, etc. While all electronic cleaners only clean metallic materials, they can damage the plastics and lubricants that are inside and outside each potentiometer and volume control switch.
Using an electronic cleaner that is both rejuvenating and non-destructive is the best option over using cheap cleaners. Remember, replacing original equipment parts due to a damaged or melted plastic coating is often impossible or very difficult to do. So you should not try to clean it with an obscure product. However, leave the stereo as it is until you find an electronic cleaner that really won't damage the treasure trove. You can usually buy quality electronic cleaners at major electronics stores or online, but make sure they can be delivered to your home as electronic cleaners are so flammable that they sometimes can't be delivered by certain delivery services or to certain areas
Step 2. Look for a product that dries quickly and leaves no residue as you won't be able to wipe the internal components dry
CAIG Deoxlt is a well-known electronic cleaning brand that sells a special “D5” product for cleaning antique stereo equipment without damaging the plastic components. This brand produces the best electronic cleaners for audiophiles, and offers product support and product recommendations for specific uses. The “D5” is a standard for the broadcasting industry as it can safely remove oxidation from metal without damaging the plastic scraps and lubricants found in almost all types of audio potentiometers.
Step 3. Avoid using products that do not guarantee the safety of the plastic components inside your vintage stereo equipment
Avoid using WD-40 (a well-known electronic cleaner, but not guaranteed to be safe for plastic parts) as it is not designed for use on appliances that have plastic parts or lubricants in them. You may not be able to do a test to make sure it's safe. So take advantage of online forums for advice before doing something that can't be fixed. This way you can avoid headaches and heartache.
Step 4. Read and understand all the writing on the label of electronic cleaning products, and don't use it when in doubt
Damage cannot be repaired. Equipment that is damaged or destroyed by electronic cleaning fluids that are not safe for plastic is sometimes sold on the internet (so that potential buyers can't try it) without a clear explanation. So, it's best to ask the seller whether the knobs of the stereo equipment can still be turned easily without strong force or if there are cracked parts and have been glued. You can usually buy inexpensive replicas of volume control models online and use them to test your electronic cleaning fluid to see which products are suitable and which are not suitable for your antique stereo equipment.
Method 2 of 2: Cleaning Equipment
Step 1. Unplug your stereo equipment
To ensure that no electricity flows through the internal components when cleaning, unplug the data cable of your audio equipment. Don't just turn it off; unplug the power cord from the power source so as not to endanger life. Note that you should be accompanied by a trained technician. Even if the technician may not be very good at choosing a cleaning fluid, he or she can help prevent you from being electrocuted or burned by contact with a fully charged capacitor that can even store power even when the mains is disconnected. Be careful and look at the electronic capacitors for information.
Step 2. Remove the cover of the stereo component
Component guards can usually be removed by loosening a few small screws or nuts. Often times, the screws are located on the sides, back, and bottom of the stereo unit. Not all screws are installed to secure the component guard. So, be careful when removing the screws and make sure they are correct. After removing it, save or place the screw in the numbered holder so that it fits into the hole where you can attach the sticker later. You can also take a photo to remember the position. If so, gently lift the component shield until it is removed from the frame.
Step 3. Spray compressed air throughout the interior of the unit as needed
If the interior looks dusty, clean it by spraying a can of compressed air. Do not wipe off dust with a cloth as there is a risk of damaging or displacing fragile electronic components, or scratching the glossy plastic finish.
Step 4. Spray the electronic cleaner onto the stereo component you want to clean
Electronic cleaners can be used to remove corrosion or dust that has stuck to the stereo's internal components, but usually you will also need to clean the problem parts that are not visible. Spray the cleaning fluid evenly over the parts you believe are having problems with oxidation and spray more on areas that appear particularly rusty. Spray unsoldered plugs, joints, buttons, or connectors, as well as the battery (if any) as these components usually cause the most problems and may require more effort to clean or replace if they are stained with acid alkali from the battery.
Electronic cleaners dry themselves in a few hours; You don't need to wipe it, but don't spray the liquid on areas you don't want to clean, such as rubber belts, friction wheels, pulleys, motor shafts, meter displays, light bulbs, audio and video heads, buttons, or glass. If the area turns blurry, you won't be able to clean it. Make sure not to wet the high-voltage power switch as this could burn it out. So, do not flood high-voltage parts with electronic cleaning fluid. These parts do not need to be cleaned and should be replaced when they are really dirty
Step 5. Clean the potentiometer with electronic cleaning fluid
Tubes or knobs are components that usually rust. To clean it, look for a small hole in the back of the tube or a large hole where the pins are soldered to the circuit board. Spray an adequate amount of cleaning fluid into the hole or separate opening that houses the potentiometer, then turn the knob back and forth for one minute. This method will spread the cleaning fluid throughout the tube.
Step 6. Clean the faders and buttons the same way you clean the tubes
To clean the faders and knobs, you may sometimes have to spray electronic cleaning fluid through the back of the controller when access from the inside can only be obtained by disassembling the device. After spraying the cleaning fluid, press the button or slide the fader repeatedly for one minute. The remaining cleaning liquid that drips on the face of the device can be wiped with a scratch-resistant microfiber cloth.
Step 7. Allow the stereo unit to dry for a few hours
After using electronic cleaning fluid to clean antique stereo equipment, leave the device in the open frame position for a few hours. This method is useful for making sure the cleaning fluid used is completely dry.
Step 8. Replace the component frame
Gently reattach the protective frame, then secure it with the screw or nut you removed earlier. Screw in by hand first, then tighten with a screwdriver. Make sure you don't screw in too hard or too tight as this can slip the ends and damage the plastic frame. Do you remember how tight the screw was before removing it? After the chassis works perfectly, you can then plug the power cable back into the audio device and test it. If there are any leftover screws, you'll need to re-examine the entire device as the screws are sure to hold one part together. Otherwise, the manufacturer will not install it to save time and spare parts. Good luck!
- The exterior of audio equipment can be wiped clean with an all-purpose cleaner or a mild soap.
- Be careful when cleaning the exterior of old equipment so as not to damage it.
- The above instructions should only be used for cleaning transistor-based equipment, not vacuum tube-based equipment. Vacuum tubes can store deadly electrical power for months after the power cord is unplugged and should only be serviced by professionals.
- Electronic cleaners are highly flammable. So, don't wear it near fire, lit cigarettes, or sources of extreme heat.