How to Properly Care for Vinyl Records

There’s nothing worse than playing a vinyl record and finding out that it is damaged. It’s skipping, or worse, it is repeating like those dreaded horror movie moments you have nightmares about!

If you’re new to vinyl record maintenance or you found your dad’s or grandma’s old records from the ‘60s, it’s time to act. Preventative care is necessary to maintain the life of your vinyl.

Let’s talk about the most straightforward ways to care for your vinyl records—from cleaning to storing and protecting.

Check Your Vinyl Records Often

Look at the playable surface of your records, and make sure they’re free of dust, blemishes, debris, and grime. Some older records may even show signs of mold and mildew if you fail to store them correctly.

Handling a Vinyl Record

In this digital age, you may not have learned the proper way to hold a vinyl record. So, how do you handle a record? 

The main rule is to hold a record by the edges or by the label in the middle. Never handle a vinyl record’s playable surface with your hands! The oils from your hand will transfer dust and other nastiness directly into the grooves of your vinyl leaving you with subpar sound and possibly no sound if not cleaned properly.

Cleaning, Storing, and Protecting Your Vinyl Records

Clean Your Vinyl Records the Right Way

Ultimate care requires cleaning a vinyl record every time you want to play it, but it’s okay if you’re not as diligent. Just be sure to not let it go too long in between cleanings.

For daily cleaning, use an anti-static record brush. These dry, carbon-fiber brushes are designed to be gentle for the surface of your records. Simply put your record on the turntable, let it spin, and lightly hold the record brush on the surface of the vinyl.

If you’ve picked up a used record, you might find it is covered in blemishes. Don’t worry. Start by using the anti-static record brush to remove surface dirt and dust. Then, you can use any over-the-counter cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth and softly run it over the surface of the vinyl record ensuring you are following the circular paths of the grooves in a clockwise motion.

Store Your Vinyl Records the Right Way

Here are some quick tips for storing your vinyl records correctly:

  • Keep your vinyl records away from sunlight.
  • Store vinyl records in a cool, dry place.
  • Prop vinyl records upright—stacking them on top of each other can lead to warping and damage to the jacket of the record.
  • When propping upright, give your records some breathing room. If they’re packed together, there is still a chance that warping will happen.
  • Keep your vinyl records in a paper or other anti-static sleeve, then put it all in its cardboard jacket. If it doesn’t come with a cardboard jacket, you can opt for a plastic sleeve.
  • When a record is not in use, store it immediately.

If you actively listen to the vinyl record, you don’t have to be as strict with the temperature and humidity levels, but if you’re storing vinyl records for a long time, be careful about putting them in an attic or a basement since the temperature and humidity may fluctuate causing possible permanent damage to your precious audio disks.

Don’t Forget: Clean the Needle and Turntable as Well

The needle on your record player’s stylus, unfortunately, collects dust and debris as well. Take a fine-tipped brush that is soft to the touch and gently swipe it a few times across the needle, and voila. You’re done.

The Takeaway

The main point to avoid that nightmarish scratching situation—regular maintenance with easy tools like a brush and proper storage will extend the life of your vinyl records giving you the chance to listen to your favorite tunes over and over.

Stay ahead and you’ll gain a lifetime of musical joy.