For the collector, the tactile experience of playing a vinyl record can amplify the enjoyment of their favorite albums. Continued enjoyment of your vinyl, of course, depends on maintaining it with proper handling, cleaning, and storing practices. Whether a new or longtime collector, make sure that you know how to care for your vinyl so that you can enjoy it for decades to come.
Handle a record by its edge or label and avoid touching the playable surface. Your fingers transfer oils to the record that increase the build-up of dust, which lowers sound quality and can damage a record if it isn’t cleaned regularly.
Use the cueing lever to guide the needle into place; a nervous twitch of your hand could scratch your record. Likewise, let the platter stop completely before you pick up the record. If the platter is still moving, you may scratch the opposite side as you lift the record.
Clean records before each listen to clear away debris that could damage the record while it plays. Use a dry carbon fiber brush to clear the surface: don’t press down, use light contact to clear away any debris. Move the brush in a circular motion that follows the grooves of the record. Do not use a t-shirt or a cloth rag to clear the record as they are likely to scratch your record and spread lint.
For a deeper clean, use a microfiber cleaning cloth and a cleaning solution (there are various cleaning tools to consider if you are willing to spend some extra money) You can use distilled water or make your own cleaning solution, though ordinary soaps will leave residues that may damage the record and suggested recipes are often unsound. Pick up a specialty cleaning solution meant for records at a local music shop or online. Apply enough of the solution to dampen the microfiber cloth and gently wipe the record, with minimal friction, in a circular motion following the direction of the grooves. Your turntable’s needle will also accumulate dust and need regular cleaning with a soft, fine tip brush.
After cleaning, let your records dry before playing them. If you play your records wet, the needle can push debris further into the record’s grooves and make dust and muck even harder to clean. This is why you should avoid wet playing which, though suggested by some as a way to reduce surface noise while playing a record, will seriously damage your vinyl.
After use, gently slide a record into its sleeve in order to minimize exposure to dust. Buy inner sleeves for records that do not come with them already, and use outer plastic sleeves to further protect your vinyl from dust. Store your records vertically and never stack them on top of each other, as the weight can be uneven and cause warping. Store them vertically and leave some space on the shelf. Keep your records in a cool and dry place, at or below room temperature, and out of direct sunlight. Visit the library of congress for more information on media storage.
Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including Rock Vinyls.