How to Look After Vinyl Records
How to Look After Vinyl Records:
Taking good care of your record collection can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment. Here's a guide on how to future-proof your vinyl records.
Although some beginner vinyl collectors may regard it as a burden, there are many considerations to ensuring your look after vinyl records appropriately. Whether it’s making sure that your LP covers remain free from damage to ensuring your records are kept clean, it’s a hobby that requires regular attention and avid maintenance. Vinyl is an analogue medium, after all, and the listening experience you enjoy can adversely suffer if you don’t exercise care and responsibility. With this taken into account, here is our guide on how to look after vinyl records:
1: CLEAN THEM REGULARLY
Vinyl records regularly attract static and dust after playback, so it’s important that you clean them regularly to keep them in good condition. In all honesty, if you held a gun to their heads many vinyl collectors would probably admit they don’t clean your records as much as they should, but it’s important you do so in order to safeguard the longevity of your collection. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say that every time you listen to vinyl, you should be prepared to clean it. It’s a small price to pay for proper vinyl ownership.
After you’ve finished listening to your record, simply brush your vinyl with an antistatic brush or wipe it with an antistatic wipe to get rid of static before you pop it back in its sleeve. If you notice there’s still dust present (or, dare we say it, smudges) you can spray it with a record cleaning solution and wipe it with a microfibre cloth. Ideally, you should do this after each listen - the longer blemishes linger the more damage it can do, so it’s important you remain diligent. For a guide on how to clean vinyl records, you can read our article on the subject here.
2: HANDLE YOUR VINYL CORRECTLY
Most of the biggest problems related to vinyl records deteriorating in quality stem from not being handled correctly. If you’ve ever picked up a second-hand vinyl from a bargain bin, you may notice marks on the lacquer disc where grubby fingers of a previous owner have been holding it like a frisbee. Since your fingers contain body oils, this can often stick to the record and cause dust to become trapped in the grooves. Over time, this can affect the playability of the record, leading to more surface noise and distortion.
This can easily be avoided by handling your vinyl record in the proper manner. Putting it simply, you should never touch the grooves with your fingers. Instead, favour resting the edges of the vinyl against your hand or thumb and using your forefinger on the circular label to hold it. This is the safest way to ensure that no sweat inadvertently makes contact with the record itself. We’ve prepared a more detailed guide on how to handle vinyl so that you have a better idea of how to do this. From the moment you remove it from its sleeve, you should be treating your vinyl records with the care and respect they deserve.
3: STORE YOUR RECORDS AT AN APPROPRIATE TEMPERATURE
Make sure you keep your records away from heat (such as from radiators) - which can cause warping - and avoid putting them in direct sunlight. It is known that UV rays can cause the spines (and even the covers) of your records to discolour, which is the last thing any vinyl collector wants. The temperature should be a major consideration for how your store your records in order to look after them responsibly. Both attics and cellars have their pitfalls, as the humidity in both can cause mould to spread over time due to fluctuations in temperature across the changing seasons.
It’s worth noting vinyl records can be subject to the variable extremes of hot and cold. It’s fair to say that heat is its biggest enemy, due to the risks of warping, but even colder environments have their setbacks, due to dampness. Instead, aim to store your records in a room where the climate is fully under your control, preferably at a temperature of 65°to 70℉. Room temperature can often be fine, but some of the many die-hard collectors insist upon using a dehumidifier to keep their records safe throughout the year.
4: SHELVE THEM VERTICALLY
You must always store your vinyl records in an upright position, just like books on a shelf. We would recommend buying box storage units that you can get from Ikea to do this. If your records are leaning diagonally at an angle for a prolonged period of time, the pressure can warp your records and cause them to crack. Stacking them horizontally is also ill-advised, due to similar reasons, as the weight of all the vinyl records stacked on top of each other could permanently damage them.
As a result, you should invest in a decent storage unit and line up your collection in an upright position with all the pride of a librarian. Vinyl crates are a useful alternative, particularly as you can buy crate dividers to ensure that your records remain in an upright position to protect them from the dangers of warping. Additionally, never leave vinyl in a flat position for long - obviously, it’s fine while you are listening to it and the record is still spinning, but once you’re done, it’s best to put it back in its sleeve and on the shelf where it belongs. Gravity can be your biggest foe, so always remember that.
5: USE OUTER AND INNER SLEEVES
It’s quite important that you do your best to ensure that you protect the outer sleeves of your record too. Part of the beauty of having a vinyl collection is to admire the artwork, and if you’re constantly pulling it out of a shelf to listen to it, it’s not unknown for scuff marks to appear. To protect your record against this, invest in plastic outer sleeves that you can slip your vinyl records inside. Not only will this help you avoid scuffing your record covers, but it will also help keep dust at bay as they linger on the shelf.
A little-known fact is that the inner paper sleeve the record comes inside can also attract dust and deposit paper residue in the grooves over a long period of time. If this is a concern to you, you can buy anti-static sleeves to replace the paper ones. An anti-static sleeve will help reduce static build-up and protect your record from damage as you pull it out of its sleeve. Not every vinyl collector does this, but it’s a worthy investment nonetheless. By considering every option available to you, you can rest assured that you have done your best to ensure your vinyl records are looked after and well-cared for.
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