Finally, if you have the scratch, the biggest improvement you can make to your record collection is a vacuum cleaning machine. They are expensive, starting at around $600, but they make a world of difference! I'm a fan of the smallest, auto rotating Nitty Gritty model (1.5?) which I've used for over 20 years with no issues, other than replacing the cleaning pads from time to time. The VPI 16.5 is also excellent and runs around the same price as the Nitty Gritty.
Huh. Until I read this post I had no idea that record cleaning machines even existed. Or that even the basic ones cost more than the money I had put aside for a nice cartridge upgrade. Or that they were something I probably really needed (at least for a while).
As far as I can see the generally accepted protocol seems to be :
1. Buy an RCM new or used
2. Go a few months without sleep and clean all your records really well
3. Sell the RCM to someone else and sleep for a week
So there's a VPI 16.5 for sale on Kijiji, let's see what happens. Worst case I'll make a big mess in the kitchen.