How to take care of vinyl records
May 16, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
There’s something special about listening to music on a record. The experience is unique in our modern world and reminds us how powerful music can be. But having a record collection (whether it be 78s, 45s, or LPs) can seem like a demanding hobby. Allow us to provide some basic tips that will boost your collecting confidence. With our help, you will be well on your way to hosting living room concerts in no time!
How to handle vintage records
There are a few simple things to keep in mind when considering how to take care of vinyl records. Firstly, be cautious when handling them. Wash your hands (or wear gloves if you can) prior to interacting with your collection. You want to apply the same procedure with the cleaning materials. Oil and grime will transfer from your fingertips to the bristles or cloth, so keep that in mind when you start your cleaning routine. We’ll walk through that later on in the article.
Do not touch the playing surface of the record, but handle it by the edges or the label. When you are removing the record from the jacket, bow the jacket open and let the vinyl slide out gently, grabbing it carefully. Please note that maintaining the record also includes the playing conditions. Keep your turntable level; do not drag the needle across the record at any time. The surface grooves are the heart and soul of vinyl, so their integrity is important in all aspects of care. We’ll revisit this again in the cleaning section.
How to store vinyl records
When you buy your new treasure, take a brief survey of its existing state. If you see an old plastic sleeve encasing the record be sure to remove it. Over time these inner sleeves can stick to the vinyl, causing harm. With your record now safe from sleeve danger, the next step is to find its ideal storage environment. For this you will want to look for a dark, relatively cool (around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry area. The best spot will be clear from air pollutants and grease, so no smoking and steer clear of the kitchen!
Don’t lay the records flat, but keep them vertical on a sturdy shelf. While the shelf doesn’t have to be metal, it is recommended as wood can transfer moisture. Moisture and dust are two common enemies of vintage records, so if you do store them out of sight be sure to check up on them from time to time.
How to clean vinyl records
As mentioned above, dust is the record’s chief rival. It is recommended that you dust before you play the record, as well as after. To begin this process, use a soft cleaning brush and lightly dust with the direction of the grooves as the record rotates on the player. Once you have done this for a few rotations, remove the brush with a quick, gentle motion that is perpendicular to the vinyl. The stylus of your record player can also be prone to dust. Clean this gently with a camelhair brush.
If you notice dirt on your record, don’t fear. This affliction can easily be cleaned with distilled water and a static-free/lint-free, soft cloth. Work slowly and do not wet the paper label. Remember, softly wipe with the cloth and be sure to not transfer oil from your fingers to the surface.
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For our readers: What’s your favorite vinyl record? How do you store your records? Tell us in the comments below!