The Proper Way To Take Vinyl Out Of A Sleeve

How to take vinyl out of sleeve might be a no-brainer for some people. But for collectors and vinyl enthusiasts, it’s part of essential vinyl record maintenance. Here’s a step-by-step process of how to do it.

Proper record handling is one of the basics when it comes to vinyl record maintenance. Getting your vinyl record in and out of the jacket is part of the process. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Wash your hands before touching anything.
  2. Carefully open the jacket 
  3. Pull out the inner sleeve
  4. Open the inner sleeve and let the record slide into your hand

Not only will this article give you the proper vinyl record handling process, but it will also give you additional tips and tricks you can use along the way. You’re welcome to keep reading for more information on how to maintain your vinyl record collection.

How To Take Vinyl Out Of Sleeves

It’s a frequently asked question in the vinyl record community, and most people don’t get it right all the time. Fortunately for you, this article is here to assist you with a four-step process that will get the job done the right way. 

But first things first, you have to understand the protective layers behind vinyl records. 

The Protective Layers Of A Vinyl Record

You must ensure that you protect every vinyl record with the following layers: 

  • The outer sleeve
  • The jacket
  • The inner sleeve 

All three layers must be in place. It’s part of efficient vinyl record storage and handling. 

The outer sleeve is usually a plastic sleeve that goes over the album. When you buy a new vinyl record, the vinyl records don’t come with an outer sleeve. What happens is that the manufacturers shrink-wrap them. It’s your responsibility to purchase an outer sleeve once you have removed the shrink wrap. 

The inner sleeve is what is in direct contact with the vinyl record. You can also consider it as the sleeve that sits inside the jacket. Experts recommend using poly-lined inner sleeves. Collectors use these types of sleeves for higher-quality vinyl records. 

However, just a plain paper sleeve should still do the job well. Please note that if you bought an old or used vinyl and the inner sleeve was absent, the previous owner did not store the record efficiently. 

At this point, experts recommend thorough and careful inspection of the vinyl record for damages. 

How Do You Remove Vinyl Sleeves?

Now that that’s out the way, it’s high time to get to the article’s core, the sleeve removal process. Remember that everyone is different in how they handle their vinyl records. However, this step-by-step process is highly recommended and should help you properly maintain and handle your vinyl records.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Wash your hand before touching any part of the vinyl record

Vinyl records are magnets to dirt or dust. Should you play the records while the dirt is on the surface, you could damage the record or even the stylus.

 For that reason, before you remove the sleeve, make sure that your hands are squeaky clean. In some cases, collectors will choose to handle their vinyl records using a pair of lint-free clean white gloves. 

Kindly don’t assume that the use of gloves is going into an unconventional extra mile. If you love your vinyl records and are will to go the extra mile, knock yourself out. However, the point remains, keep it clean. If your hands aren’t clean, kindly keep your hands to yourself. 

Tip 1: When handling the vinyl record, ensure that there’s no food or drink in its proximity. The goal is to create a surface of cleanliness. Having any food or drink on the work surface goes against that. 

Tip 2: You must not touch the grooves on the record. You want to handle the record with as little contact to the grooves as possible. What can you touch? You can touch either the center of the record or the edge of the record. 

The grooves are off the table. It’s just an essential tip before going into the handling of the record. 

  1. Carefully open the jacket

First, you want to separate the jacket and the outer sleeve. It’s essential always to have these layers when storing vinyl records. In my experience, storing it in this layering format has brought many benefits to the overall upkeep of vinyl records. 

The next thing to note is that you want to open the jacket towards you in an upward direction. You don’t want the vinyl record to drop and crash on the floor. 

  1. Pull out the inner sleeve

Now that both the outer sleeve and the jacket are gone. It’s time to get the last protective layer of the vinyl record, the inner sleeve. 

You want to separate the inner sleeve from the jacket. Pull it out without pulling out the record first. The keyword in this entire process is ‘carefully.’ 

Inner sleeves come in two ways:

  • Inner sleeves that cover and protect the entire record.
  • Inner sleeves that have a hole and are parallel to the record’s label. 
  1. Open the inner sleeve and let the record slide into your hand

Now that the inner sleeve is out of the jacket, you want to open it and let the record slide into your hand. You want to use your thumb and middle finger for this part. 

You want to touch the center of the label with your middle finger, and the edge of the vinyl record should touch your thumb. And voila, you have successfully removed your vinyl record out of the sleeves. 

Helpful Vinyl Record FAQs

1.Should You Open The Record Sleeve Facing Upwards Or Outwards?

The goal is to remove the record securely, so you want to open the record’s inner sleeve both upwards and outwards. Ensure that the opening is facing your direction. The record will slide into your hands, and you need to catch it by the edge. Remember not to touch the grooves on the vinyl record. 

2. Should You Remove The Stickers On The Sleeves?

It’s honestly up to you. If you want to keep the stickers, by all means, knock yourself out. If the sleeve isn’t damaged and can still protect the vinyl record, all is well.

However, if you confuse the shrink wrap with the outer sleeve, the shrink-wrap may come with stickers; those will come off with the shrink wrap. However, some sleeves do come with stickers. But there should be a guideline from the manufacturer on how to handle that. Check their website for further information if you’re unsure. If you can’t see it right away, check the manufacturer’s FAQs or send them a direct message. 

3. Where Do You Place Your Inner Sleeve Once You’ve Removed The Vinyl Record?

The goal is to ensure that no speck of dirt or dust gets on the vinyl record. Before removing the vinyl record, clean the surface or area you’ll be placing the sleeves once you’ve removed them. 

You also want to ensure that the area you’re working with isn’t next to a window or somewhere where the conditions are dust-prone and not conducive for vinyl record storage. 

Once you’ve removed the sleeves, place them on that clean surface, and it should be fine. It should be as easy as pie as long as the vinyl record is safe and away from dust and dirt. 

May the odds be in your favor. 


  1. Jenna Miles, The Beginner’s Guide to Vinyl Records: How to Build, Maintain and Experience a Music Collection in Analogue (Massachusetts: Adams Media,2017) Accessed August 14th, 2021.
  2. Steven Williams, How to store vinyl records, Discogs, Accessed August 4th, 2021.
  3. Record Sound and Research Center, Care, Handling, and Storage of Audio-Visual Materials, Library of Congress, Accessed August 4th, 2021. 
  4. Vinyl Record Life, The Complete Guide to Handling Vinyl Records, Vinyl Record Life, Accessed August 4th, 2021.