There’s nothing like vinyl. Digital recordings may offer clarity, but they lack the warmth that comes from recording on vinyl. If you treasure your record collection, you know that the biggest downside of vinyl is that it can be easily damaged if it isn’t stored properly.
With that in mind, here are some cleaning and storage guidelines to help ensure that your precious vinyl will sound great for years to come.
- Never leave your records out of their sleeves for longer than necessary. Dust and other particles can accumulate in the grooves and cause permanent damage. As soon as you are finished with a record, put it away to keep it safe.
- When you return a record to its sleeve, never drop it in. Doing so can cause a jacket or sleeve to split open or tear, exposing your record to the elements.
- Go through your record collection and identify any records with torn or cracked covers and sleeves. Do not use tape to repair them. Tape has a tendency to dry out and yellow. When it does, the record may end up being exposed to the adhesives on the tape as well as to dust and dirt. Instead, place the record and cover into a high-density polyethylene sleeve.
- Never stack your records one on top of the other. Vinyl is delicate and prone to cracking and warping. The weight of other records can do irreparable damage to your collection. Instead, store your records sideways so each one stands on its edge. Do not cram them in next to each other, either – give them room to breathe.
- Make sure that the shelves you use to stack your records are strong enough to hold them. Vinyl is thin and it can be easy to underestimate its weight. Vinyl records average 35 pounds per foot of shelving. If you’re storing 78s, they are even heavier than that. You don’t want to risk having a shelf collapse, so invest in strong shelves for the health of your records.
- Place dividers every four to six inches on the shelf, and make sure that they are set up in such a way that the records are as close to upright as possible. Records that are stored at a slant can warp.
- Avoid storing your records in places that experience big swings in temperature. Attics and basements are not good choices. High heat can cause records to warp, and cold can make them brittle. The best temperature for storing records is room temperature or slightly below. (In case you are interested, the recommendation for storing archival recordings is between 46 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.)
- Humidity can also damage records. It is best to keep the humidity between 30% and 40% if you can. If you live in a very humid climate, you may want to invest in a dehumidifier to keep your collection safe.
- Do not store your records in a room that gets a lot of direct sunlight. Sunshine can warp and damage records.
- When cleaning your records, never use your t-shirt or a towel. Instead, use a record-cleaning brush, which gently removes dirt from the grooves as the record spins. In the event that a record needs a deeper cleaning, buy a vinyl cleaning solution and use a microfiber cloth to wipe your record clean.
As long as you follow these steps, your vinyl records will remain in pristine condition, providing you with enjoyment for many years to come.