In a world where digital has become the norm, nothing beats the rich sound quality of vinyl. Whether you have been hanging onto your 45s since the 1950s, or you are new to record collecting, there are practices that you can implement to keep those melodious sounds spinning for years to come. Amoeba Music created a helpful video on how to care for records. Read on for the most important things you can do to keep your vinyl in top condition.
Store them upright
If you’ve ever helped a record collector move, then you know that vinyl is heavy. All of that weight can negatively impact the grooves in your records. Rather than stack them on top of one other, store them vertically. This prevents warping and damage from the weight of other records, and it protects the packaging from wear.
Heat can damage your records. Keep them in a cool and moisture-free environment to prevent warping.
Records often have an internal and external sleeve. The original sleeves will protect your vinyl to an extent, but dust and dirt are drawn to the grooves. Sound Matters recommends using polyethylene sleeves to provide an additional barrier against dirt.
Keep them clean
Cleanliness is essential for keeping your records in good shape. Even if you store them properly in their sleeves, the very act of taking them out of the package can be a chance for dust to get into the grooves. All that spinning creates a static charge that attracts dirt. You should clean your LPs before each use, regardless of how clean they seem to be.
Clean your records with a soft brush to remove dust. There are carbon fiber brushes made especially for this. Apply little to no pressure with the dry brush, and move the brush in the same direction as the grooves.
If dry-brushing fails to remove dirt, then you will need to use a different approach. There are a number of methods for cleaning your records. One of the safest involves using vinyl cleaning fluid with a microfiber cloth. Dab a small amount of cleaning fluid onto the microfiber cloth, and gently wipe the record in the same direction as the grooves. Using too much pressure can scratch the record or press dirt more deeply into the grooves.
Don’t forget to clean your needle with a soft brush. Give your turntable a thorough dusting too.
Handle with care
Picking up a record is like picking up a photograph. You don’t want your fingers to touch anything holding content. Gently slide LPs from their packaging, and hold them by their edges. Touching the center label will not impair sound quality either. Just keep in mind that the oil from your skin can damage whatever it touches.
Vinyl records have unprecedented staying power and a sound quality that is all their own. Show them some love, and they be around for generations to come.
Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables.