Updated 6/22/17 from an article originally published 9/29/15.
Vinyl records are treasures you and your family can enjoy for many years. Quite often, they are passed down from one generation to the next, as loved ones share the music of their days.
However, if you’re a true vinyl collector, you understand the importance of preserving your records. They must be treated with care, as they are very fragile and can be easily damaged. Records that are scratched, scuffed or bent can result in skips in the music – or worse, not play at all!
Here are some tips on how to properly store vinyl records to preserve and protect them, no matter their age or condition.
How to Store Vinyl Records
1. Remember to clean your records before putting them in their jackets.
First and foremost – do NOT use your t-shirt to clean your records! No matter how soft or clean you think your shirt is, the fibers and traces of dirt can definitely scuff and scratch your vinyl. Use the right tools for the job.
If you collect records, you probably have a record cleaning brush. If not, you can purchase one online or at local music stores. These brushes are a quick and easy way to remove dust and dirt. You just hold the brush on the record while spinning it slowly.
If you have a record that needs a more thorough cleaning, you can purchase vinyl-cleaning solution. Simply spray the solution onto the record, avoiding the record label, and wipe with a microfiber cloth in a circular motion. Do this every six months to ensure your records continue looking – and more importantly, playing – like brand new.
2. ALWAYS store records in their album jackets.
The only time the record should be out of its jacket is when it’s being played according to most vinyl experts. That means putting your a record away as soon as you are done listening to it. By leaving it on the turntable longer than necessary, you are allowing dust and dirt to accumulate on the records, which can then impact sound quality.
3. Store your vinyl collection in an upright position.
Vinyl records need to be stored in an upright position to ensure they stay in good condition. Records that have been stored at a slant for an extended period of time can warp because of the uneven pressure that has been placed on them. This is why records are often kept in crates that position them upright. Crate dividers make sure your records stay evenly upright with little or no slanting.
4. Never store records stacked on top of one another.
Stacking your record collection could permanently damage your records, whether they’re in their jackets or not. The weight will lead to warping of the vinyl and even possible cracking or scuff marks. You’re also putting the album jacket artwork at risk when you stack records in storage.
5. And make sure you’re playing your records properly.
When you go to pick up your record, make sure you do not touch the surface – only the very edge! By touching the surface of the record, you are inadvertently transferring oils from your fingers to the vinyl, and over time, this can greatly affect the quality of the record.
Another vinyl faux pas is trying to find a certain song on the record by hand. According to records-plus.com, when you place the needle down on a random spot on the turntable, you have a very good chance of putting it into the wrong groove and causing damage. The suggested best practice here is patience. Start the album from the beginning and wait for your song to come on.
Vinyl records used to be a thing of the past. But nowadays, more and more people are starting – and growing – their collection. By following these storage, cleaning and playing tips, you can ensure your collection lasts for many years to come.
Did we forget any vinyl storage and maintanance best practices? Let us know in the comments below!