I use an Audio Technica pad and DIY fluid (80% filtered water, 20% iso) to clean records before each play. This works great on albums that are already fairly clean.
For used/bargain-bin records I've just acquired, though, I perform my initial cleaning with those disposable cotton makeup pads (so as not to contaminate my Audio Technica pad with God knows what) + my fluid. I do this on a sheet of plastic I have near my turntable.
I'll then play the album and if it shows promise (I like the performance and no groove damage), I will then deep-clean the album thusly:
- With the album on my spinning turntable, I apply a fat bead of my fluid to my Audio Technica cleaning pad, and apply this to the album, making certain I've covered the entire playing area.
- I immediately toss an old beater album on top of the now-wet album I'm cleaning.
- I pickup both albums as a stack, and flip it. Now side 2 of the album I'm cleaning is facing up and the beater album is on my platter.
- I put another fat beat of fluid on my pad and apply that to this side of the album.
- Again, I immediately toss another beater album on top, and I now have the album I'm cleaning covered with my fluid on both sides, sandwiched between the two beater albums. These beater albums are preventing my fluid from evaporating.
- I let this sandwich sit anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or two (no, I don't get mold/mildew, the alcohol prevents that).
- When I'm ready, I remove the top beater album and use my pad with a little fresh fluid to perform a more typical cleaning of that side.
- Once that side has air dried, I remove the other beater album and repeat step #7 for this side of the album.