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Explanation how alcohol damages the stylus, and how to clean the stylus

Dear Walter,
  • Can you please let me know if Last stylus cleaner or Stylast have any alcohol in their content.
  • I would appreciate your comments about these products potentially causing damage to the cartridge and how to avoid that.  I would really like to continue using these products, but, want to make sure and avoid damage to my cartridges.
  • [ Ed. note– A. also outlined his practices in cleaning the stylus and wanted feedback on them]


Hello A.

Please forgive the delayed response.  I wanted to provide the most thorough response that I could.  For years, numerous manufacturers/suppliers have been producing products that claim to have the ability to completely clean a users playback stylus.  And, unfortunately, most of those products consist of either Isopropyl or methyl alcohol and some water.  And, for the most part when damage occurs, it is to the tiny rubber and elastomeric rings and pads that are the suspension system for the stylus assembly (Not to the coils or wire).  This is because these two alcohols (in general) rob the rubber (elastomer) of the very compounds that make it “rubbery”(elastic).  This is not true for all alcohols, but it certainly is for Isopropanol and Methanol.  AND, those two offenders are used because they are Cheap, Available, and can be turned into a “Product” with nothing more than a Turkey Baster to transfer the alcohol from a drum into small bottles. 


LAST Stylus Cleaner does not contain any harmful alcohol as part of its formula.  It does contain cleaning agents and components that hold contaminants in solution/suspension, so as to successfully remove them from the stylus assembly. 

In my own system, the practice is this: Just prior to play the stylus tip is provided one (at most two) quick passes with the STYLAST in cap, applicator brush. I then play the record.  At he end of the record, If I can see an accumulation or build up of dust or debris on the stylus tip – OR heard any mistracking or distortion, the stylus tip receives a careful cleaning using Stylus Cleaner.  If none of the mentioned occurs, the stylus tip receives just a touch of STYLAST prior to play. The very process of applying STYLAST, safely and immediately removes small amounts of dust and contamination from the stylus tip, thereby preventing any build up. 

In reading your letter, you mention using Stylus Cleaner and STYLAST after every side.  That might be over-thinking best practices.  Be willing to relax the regimen and don’t be obsessive about the cleaning operation.  I think that you care very deeply about your music recordings, and want to preserve them long into the future.  Let some of the performance designed into the STYLAST, come to your aid.  It can simplify your procedures, reduce the ritual, and increase the enjoyment of the music (more music=more pleasure).

Let me know what you discover.  Best Regards,  Walter