In a world where everything is digital, vinyl records are considered gold. The funny thing is you won’t find them in many homes, except for people who are music enthusiasts. If you have a Vinyl record, you must take extreme care of it to ensure that it lasts you a lifetime.
To make your vinyl records last, you will need to store the records at a cool room temperature, with low humidity. stored clean and upright with support, protected by both an inner and outer sleeve.
It can be a daunting task to take care of your vinyl records because every time you take them out of their cover, you risk causing damage. It is because there is a high risk of it collecting dust and dirt, which can create pops and tics, preventing the smooth flow of music. Furthermore, if the tonearm is heavy, you risk having it scratched.
Since vinyl is pretty delicate, you must be extremely careful when removing it from the cover, placing the tonearms, and above all ensure that your house is not dirty or dusty. So how do you ensure that your vinyl records last long?
The way you store your records when you are not playing them determines how long they will last. So what are the best ways to store your vinyl records?
Do not place your vinyl records on top of each other. Vinyl is easily malleable; therefore, stacking them up may make the records warp or bend due to the weight.
Warping causes pops and tics, which result in the record skipping some audio parts or playing at a different speed.
You should store the records in vertical order, mostly on shelves. Make sure to use sturdy dividers to separate your records. You can use wood. When placing them on the shelves, ensure they are leaning on one side to lessen the pressure on the edge of the records.
It keeps them strong, and they can last longer. That’s why you will find most record shops display the vinyl collection vertically.
You can either use crates or containers to store your vinyl records. However, avoid containers that will require you to place them diagonally as they may cause warping or bending. Containers are better as they keep dust out. I recommend that you store them away from light and vibrations.
How you handle your vinyl records when removing them from the cover and placing them on the turntable also affects their lives. So always ensure that you touch only the outer edges when removing them from the cover. It is because if you touch the record’s surface with an oily or dusty hand, it could damage it.
Also, the more you use your record, the higher the chances of it deteriorating due to wear and tear. So ensure that you have a variety so that you can switch them up.
After playing your records, make sure to clean them thoroughly before storage. When you clean your records right, they will last, but they will be damaged if you do it wrong.
If your vinyl records are new, use an anti-static brush to brush them to remove dust and any other debris that may have collected on its surface. If you store it without cleaning, the dust particles may be embedded too deep in the record, making it difficult to remove. And the next time you place it on the turntable, the stylus will further entrench the dust into your record. And this is what leads to tics and skipping when you are playing it back.
Consider giving your vinyl record a deep cleaning if you notice that they are not in good condition. Use gentle strokes to avoid scratching the vinyl.
- Brush the records to remove dust particles using a soft brush
- Then check for smudges, discoloration, and fingerprints, and pay special attention to them
- Spray some vinyl cleaning solution on the surface, but ensure that the liquid does not contact the label as the epoxy may come off or cause discoloration of the name. Rub the cleaning solution in a circular motion using a soft cotton fiber cloth to remove the fingerprints and marks. Always avoid touching the label.
- Once you finished, rinse and dry the disc. Its best done under a running tap to remove the remaining cleaning solution. Then use a clean cloth to dry it. Then check to make sure that no fingerprints or blemishes are left.
If you have an extensive collection, it might be quite a task to clean all of them. So invest in a cleaning machine that will apply the cleaning solution and then vacuum the liquid off. Although it’s expensive, it’s worth every penny.
You can read more about how to clean your Vinyl collection in these articles:
- A Step By Step Guide To Cleaning Vinyl Records With Microfiber
- A Complete Guide To Properly Cleaning Your Vinyl Records
- How To Properly Use WD-40 To Clean Vinyl Records
- Why You Should Never Use Windex To Clean Vinyl Records
- Is Vinegar a Good Way to Clean Vinyl Records?
If you want your records to last, you must ensure that the temperature is right. Always maintain the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Because once it goes above and reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the viny loses its resilience. And this is when it warps or bends. Do not expose it to direct sunlight for extended periods. So your storage must be away from the windows.
It’s good to store your vinyl record in the proper humidity to prevent mold formation. Ensure that the humidity ranges between 45 to 50%. Unfortunately, some cities are generally humid, and to ensure that your discs are in tip-top condition, invest in a dehumidifier. It will not only reduce static charge but also help in preserving your collection.
You must ensure that your vinyl record cover is designed to protect the disc. Some of the sleeves to use on the inner part of your cover include:
Paper: this is the most common and cheapest inner sleeve to use. And if you’ve ever bought a new record, you might have noticed that the inner part is layered with paper. However, they also pose a certain degree of danger because they may scratch your disc as you slide it out and in. In addition, the paper sleeve may collect dust. And since it’s paper, it wears fast, and as such, it may rip or fold over. However, they are better than storing them without.
Poly: Also known as polypropylene. Although it’s more expensive, it is more durable than pa[er sleeves. It keeps dust away. And due to its nature, your disc will not be scratched when sliding it in or out. The good thing is that they simplify removing it from the cover and some poly sleeves are rounded, making disc storage easy. (source)
There are several inner sleeves in the market, so try out several until you find what works best for you.
One rule of storing vinyl records is never stacking your records horizontally. Vinyl is delicate, therefore stacking may result in warping or bending of the discs. Instead, use crates, which you can easily find on amazon. Alternatively, you can place them on the shelves and use dividers after every few of them. Ensure they are leaning on each other to prevent putting pressure on its edges.
You must well maintain the turntable and stylus to ensure the longevity of your vinyl records. A vinyl record player is not cheap, and in some places, it’s considered an antique. So do not play your vinyl discs on a cheap player as it may destroy them. Invest in a quality turntable to prolong the life of your records.
The most common way many people cause damage to their disc when playing is if there is a lot of friction causing groove wear. So, make sure that the stylus is not too tight to cause friction by adjusting it accordingly. Although it’s challenging to notice groove wear, you’ll notice a variation in the sound quality. So be keen when listening.
What are the Common Mistakes People Make when Storing Vinyl Records
Some of the mistakes people make when storing their vinyl records that reduces their lifetime include:
- Exposing them to sunlight.
- Stacking them on top of each other, thus causing them to warp or bend.
- Putting them in a cover with no inner sleeves. Thus allowing them to collect dust or get scratched.
- Storing them in the attic or the cellar where the climate is too hot or humid for the records.
- Using weak shelves. And since vinyl is heavy, the racks may break, placing your records at potential risk of damage.
If you want your vinyl records to last, store them in a cool and dry place free from direct sunlight. You must also handle them with care and avoid touching the surface of the disc. And as long as you clean them regularly, especially after playing, you can be assured of having them for a long time.
If you have a vast vinyl record collection, use the tips above to maintain them in tip-top condition for years to come. And avoid the mistakes discussed above that most people make.
- How To Protect Vinyl Records, Wikihow, https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-Vinyl-Records, accessed November 2, 2021.
- How To Take Care Of Vinyl Records, Rollingstone, https://www.rollingstone.com/product-recommendations/electronics/how-to-clean-vinyl-records-850080/, accessed November 2, 2021.
- Annika Lindström and Minna Hakkarainen, Biomacromolecules 2007 8 (4), 1187-1194, DOI: 10.1021/bm070001k, Designed Chain Architecture for Enhanced Migration Resistance and Property Preservation in Poly(vinyl chloride)/Polyester Blends, https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/bm070001k, accessed November 2, 2021.
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