Are you new to vinyl collecting and wondering how to clean your records? Or maybe you’ve been collecting for awhile and wonder what those in the vinyl industry do to maintain their records? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s break it down!
We recommend that you keep your records stored upright (see below). This means that you won't be able to stack them on top of each other, but believe us, this is for the best. Never stack your records flat for a prolonged period of time. The more weight that is placed on a record, the higher the chances are for the records to warp or become damaged. Stacking records horizontally may also cause ring wear on the jackets. It’s also a good idea to keep records stored in a temperature-controlled room and out of direct sunlight. Keeping vinyl in hot weather can cause warping, as well.
Another routine that will keep your vinyl (and your turntable's tonearm needle) fresh is removing dust before placing the needle on the record. Some people will even remove dust before they put the record on the turntable. This can be achieved by using a can of compressed air to remove dust and debris.
Aside from compressed air, we suggest using a record brush to remove any remaining dust. Run a record brush along the grooves in a circular motion as the record is spinning. Once the dust is removed, you can place the needle on the record. Along with keeping your equipment in better shape, a clean record also lends itself to a better listening experience with fewer possible pops and crackles. The brush will remove larger pieces of debris, but sometimes, however, that’s not enough. Especially if you’ve bought some new or used records that haven’t been taken out of storage for a long time. The next step is to clean your vinyl!
To clean your vinyl records, a good method involves using a microfiber cloth to remove unwanted dirt and grime. First, lightly wipe the record down with a cloth to remove debris, and then dampen the cloth with a cleaning solution designed for vinyl cleaning, and wipe it down again. Move the dampened cloth along the grooves, but make sure to avoid the center label (which does not need to be wiped down). After wiping with a damp cloth, use a dry microfiber cloth to absorb any moisture left on the record. This should have your vinyl in top shape and ready to spin! If you're a big spender and looking to up your record cleaning game, several companies offer portable machines that literally will wash your vinyl records and even vacuum them!
One important thing to remember when handling vinyl is that every time you touch your record to something, the risk of scratching it increases. When handling your records, try not to touch the actual vinyl as little as possible. To hold your vinyl, the best way is to rest the record in your hand with the center label pressed to your index or middle finger, and the outside of the vinyl resting against the crook of your thumb. When holding a record with two hands, or when placing a record on or off of your turntable, a good rule of thumb is the hold it from its edges with your palms or fingers. NEVER touch the grooves of your vinyl records!
Wrapping Up with Extra Credit Care
Technically speaking, there is no wrong way to store your records (at the very least, though, do store them upright). Everyone has their own way of caring for their records. Find something that works for you! If you're looking for other advice, however, here are some other ways that collectors choose to store their records. They aren’t 100% necessary, but will help keep them in pristine condition:
- Use poly sleeves - There are sleeves available to house your records in that will keep all dirt and grime off your records.
- Wear gloves - Some collectors go as far as to use cloth gloves when handling their records. This will help keep oils, dirt and debris from getting on jackets, sleeves, and vinyl. It will also prevent scratches.
- Slipmats - Some choose to use cork slip mats to protect their records from the turntable’s aluminum platter. Cork slip mats help considerably by cutting back on static electricity. (You can get some themed slipmats from our ÆON FLUX and Firefly Trilogy box sets!)
- Turntable dust cover - A cover protects the record and turntable while the record is playing.